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Pack Like a Pro

There's no question that hiring a professional packing/moving service can save a significant amount of time and effort. But packing up your belongings on your own can be a real money-saver. Read our packing and moving tips to help you pack like a pro.

Box Basics

Your belongings are more likely to arrive safely when wrapped well and placed in appropriately sized and shaped boxes. Whenever possible, pack items like small appliances, stereo equipment and electronics in the original packaging.

Wrap It Up

Before packing your boxes, you'll need to wrap most items to protect them from scratching and breaking. There are a variety of materials available, but most professionals use bundles of clean, unprinted newsprint.

Start by placing a small stack of paper on a table or countertop. Glasses and jars can be rolled in two or three sheets of paper. Fold the paper from the corner, rolling and tucking the sides as you go. Where the corners come together, secure with tape. And when in doubt, use more paper.

Before packing each box, pad the bottom with a few inches of packing peanuts, wadded-up newspaper or old pillows and blankets. Pack heavier items first and lighter, more fragile items on top.

As each layer is completed, firmly fill empty spaces with wadded-up newspaper. Then add newspaper or cardboard as a level base for the next layer. Be sure no sharp points, edges or rims are left uncovered.

Don't overload boxes; limit carton weight to about 50 pounds. Strive for a firm pack that will prevent items from shifting. Tape boxes securely and label.

Labeling Hints

Label boxes to spare yourself some confusion when you begin unpacking. Clearly mark each box with:

  • Your name.
  • A general description of the contents (e.g. "Books").
  • The room in which the box belongs.
  • A separate, unique number that corresponds with a numbered moving inventory.
  • Additional information, like “FRAGILE” or your bill of lading number.

Note: There are certain things you should never pack. Check out a list of commonly restricted items. Also, most large appliances and some furniture require special attention and disassembly. It's best to leave these items to professionals.

Packing Tips for Special Items

Small Appliances. Whenever possible, pack small appliances in their original packaging. If your appliance has pieces that could fall off in the move, secure them with tape.

Large Appliances. Check the owner's manual for special instructions before packing your large appliance. Tape down any parts that could come loose, including electrical cords. Wrap the appliance with furniture blankets and tie securely with twine or strapping.

Electronic Equipment. Pack stereo equipment and electronics in their original packaging.If that is not possible, wrap equipment in plastic bags and bubble wrap, and then place in a cushioned box.

Furniture. Wrap exposed legs in bubble wrap. Tape drawers shut, and put all small hardware in a sealable bag and tape directly to furniture. Wrap in a furniture blanket and tie with twine.

Kitchenware. Wrap kitchenware in packing paper (clean, unprinted newsprint) or bubble wrap. Place wrapped items in a well-cushioned box, putting a sheet of bubble wrap between each piece. Load plates vertically to use their maximum structural strength. Label boxes with “FRAGILE.” Also, the use of dish and glass kits is strongly encouraged.

Mirrors and Framed Art. Tape an “X” of masking tape across mirrors and glass-framed art. Wrap in bubble wrap and mark as “FRAGILE.”

More Packing Tips

Pack items that are out of season a month or two before the move.

Pack similar items together.

Keep all parts or pairs of things together. Small hardware items should be placed in plastic bags and taped securely to their corresponding item.

Wind electrical cords so they don't dangle.

Use newspapers for cushioning only. The ink can rub off and embed itself onto fine china.

Pack small, fragile items in small boxes, and then collate these small boxes in a single large box.

Have the kids pack a box of their "special" items, and make sure it's one of the first boxes you unload.

If you want more packing and organizing tips, you can find them in our Packing section.

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