All Packing Tips
Although most moving companies offer packing and unpacking services, many people would often choose to pack their belongings themselves. Those of you who will choose the moving help option or will rent a truck; packing up the right way can be a challenge.
Always remember: DO NOT pack any flammables, combustibles, or explosives. The safety of the shipment is the primary concern. Movers are not supposed to transport items of that nature. Consult our Moving Guide Items to learn more.
If you decided to save some money by doing the packing by yourself, consult the following topics to learn how to become a packing professional.
- Types of packing supplies
- Planning your packing process
- General packing techniques
- Packing tips for different types of household goods:
- Dishes, china, glasses and various kitchen appliances
- Mirrors, artworks and lamps
- Books and CD’s
- Large appliances
- Other items
- Unpacking tips
Types of packing supplies
First, learn about different packing supplies that you might need for your move:
Packing boxes: Packing boxes are specifically designed in various sizes for various purposes and the contents they contain. You’ll need many boxes in assorted sizes. All boxes should be in good condition, and must have covers on them in order that they can be closed up and sealed.
The rule-of-thumb here is that small, heavy articles, such as books, records, canned goods, etc. would go in smaller boxes. Bulky but not so heavy articles, such as pots and pans, linens, small kitchen appliances, etc. would go in somewhat larger boxes. Very bulky, lightweight articles, such as blankets, pillows, toys, large lampshades, shoes, etc. would go in the largest boxes.
The various containers that movers use are specially designed for the purpose. They’re double or triple-walled, with reinforced corners and their sized and shaped for specific uses. Many do-it- Edmonton Movers make the mistake of thinking that all boxes are about the same, often resulting in damage to the contents in transit.
You might want to start collecting cartons from your grocery store and liquor stores. All too often grocery store cartons have the tops removed, but if you have a talk with the store manager he/she would probably be willing to save you some cartons with the covers still intact. Liquor cartons are excellent packing cartons. They are sturdy and contain dividers, which make them ideal for packing glasses, goblets, etc.
You can purchase cartons from your mover or from any packaging store. Purchasing boxes from the moving company, however, can be very expensive. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Different types of moving boxes are:
- Crystal/China Cartons:
These small cartons are used for packing small, very fragile items which are then put into other cartons.
- Small Boxes:
The small box is a small carton used for heavy items such as books, CDs, canned food, tools. The heavier the contents, the smaller the carton.
- Medium Boxes:
The medium box is often used for mid-weight, midsize items such as pots, pans, clothing, shoes, and nonperishable food items.
- Large Boxes:
The large box is generally used for items such as bedding, linen, towels, lampshades, toys, etc.
- Dish Boxes:
Dish boxes are used for kitchen items such as dishes, pots and pans, and china. Usually come double-walled for extra protection.
- Wardrobe Boxes:
Extra toll closet style box with metal bar good for hanging clothing, as well as large houseplants, dining room chairs and draperies.
- TV/Electronics Boxes:
Double-walled protection boxes for TVs up to 27″, microwaves and computer monitors
- Mirror/Picture Boxes:
Those flat boxes are specifically designed for paintings, large photos and mirrors.
- Lamp Boxes:
Tall, narrow boxes, suitable for transportation of tall objects such as lamps, tall plants and golf clubs.
- Mattress Cartons or Mattress bags:
These cartons or bags come in every size for every mattress and box spring type.
Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap can be used to wrap very delicate, fragile items such as figurines. It is also very helpful to protect fragile surfaces such as mirrors, monitor and TV screens, fish tanks, etc.
For similar purposes you can use tissue wraps, foam sheets and Styrofoam peanuts. All those supplies can be purchased from packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Packing paper: You are going to need plenty of wrapping paper, and for that matter old newspaper can be used. Keep in mind, however, that the ink on newsprint never thoroughly dries. Consequently, the goods you wrap in newspapers are most likely going to be soiled and will require cleaning after unpacking, and before you put them away. For items you prefer to keep clean it would be best to purchase some packing paper.
Unprinted newspaper usually comes in 10 lbs, 25 lbs, 50 lbs and 100 lbs packs, and can be purchased from your mover or from packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Packing tape: The best tape for this purpose is plastic tape. It is not recommended to use masking tape for moving purposes. Buy good packing tape and a quality tape dispenser. Cheap tape may not hold the pressure, and poor dispenser will certainly spoil your packing mood.
You should use packing tape at least 1.5” or 2” wide. You can purchase good packing tape from your mover or any packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Labeling markers: Used to label the contents of cartons. It is smart to mark your boxes with additional information, such as “FRAGILE”, “THIS SIDE UP”, etc.
Get wide-tip markers of different colors (red and black markers can prove to be very useful). You can find them in any office supplies, hardware, or packaging stores.
Useful hardware tools: Some tools such as scissors and knife for opening boxes can prove to be very useful, and should be at hand when you pack and unpack.
Miscellaneous: You can use some of your own items and materials to cushion your breakable objects. Use crumpled paper, blankets, pillows and clothing as a buffer between fragile items.
Planning your packing process
Professionals can normally complete the packing for an average move on same day, (usually the day before the van arrives) “Edmonton Movers” should allow more time, several weeks if possible. It’s unlikely that you will be able to drop everything to devote a full day to packing, so try to work it in between making necessary pre-move arrangements and your regular activities.
To pack or not to pack First decide if you want the movers do the packing for you, or if you want to save some money by doing all or some of the packing by yourself. Second, decide what you would want to take with you and what to leave behind. Consult the following tips to make your decisions easier:
- Before you start packing, determine the items you want to throw away, give away or sell. You will save money and have less to pack and unpack.This is the perfect time to unload unwanted items or call a local charity to remove items for you. And remember donating goods is a tax credit.
- If you decide to do your own packing or partial packing, remember that the moving company is not liable for damage to boxes packed by the customer. For the safety of your items, tell the movers which boxes you packed. They are required to inspect each box prior to shipping.The driver has the right to refuse to accept any carton that may be improperly packed. If the driver has to re-pack cartons that the customer has packed, additional charges will apply.
- You can save a lot of money if you do the bulk of the packing on your own. Limit yourself to non-fragile items such as books, linens, clothing and shoes; and replaceable items such as plates, dishes (not fine china or expensive silverware), and small kitchen appliances. These items will be cheaper to replace in case of damage as opposed to hiring workers for the extra labor. Leave the furniture, mattresses, and heavy appliances to be packed by the mover.
- Dresser drawers do not need to be empty. Movers usually move chests of drawers with the contents of the drawers left intact. Do look through all drawers and remove any breakable articles for packing in boxes. Be sure that the contents of a drawer are not too heavy. Too much weight in the drawer could cause damage to the drawer while your furniture is en route.
- Important items, such as photographs, wills, jewelry, home videos, and any other important documents, should be packed separately so that you can personally carry them with you on same day movers. Another alternative you might want to consider is placing these belongings in a safety deposit box until after the move.
- To protect themselves, movers will not disconnect your major appliances. Make sure your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer are all unplugged and ready for the move when they arrive.
Start collecting boxes early. If you decide to do your own packing, get packing supplies and start collecting strong boxes suitable for moving. Consult the following tips:
- Look for boxes that have a uniform size, rather than just grabbing any old box you can get your hands on. The reasoning behind this is that such boxes are far easier to safely stack both in the truck and on a dolly. If a mover can take eight of these boxes out on a dolly in one trip and stack them all easily so they’re no risk of falling, it’s a win/win situation.
- Get more boxes than you think you will need. Most people tend to underestimate the amount of boxes needed for their move.
- It may be necessary to purchase from your mover some of the specialized cartons that will be impossible for you to find elsewhere. This would include such cartons as mattress cartons, wardrobe cartons, containers for large pictures and mirrors (telescoping boxes), and possibly some large size cartons for tall table lamps (lamp boxes).
- Use towels and blankets to protect fragile items. Instead of just packing your towels, blankets, comforters, etc., use them to cushion delicate items like china and glassware.
- An easy way to store cartons so that they won’t require a great deal of storage space is to open both ends of the cartons and flatten them out. You can open them again and re-seal the bottoms with your mover’s tape when you are ready to use them.
Start the packing process early. It always makes good sense to begin packing well ahead of the move. Most people have no idea how much energy and time packing requires. If you start too late and can’t get the job done before moving day, you may either have to pay the movers to finish or change your moving date
Complete all packing by moving day. You will be busy enough on moving day to have to worry about packing. You could start in areas where the goods are not in frequent use, such as the cellar, attics, garage, closet shelves, etc. Any items that you don’t need for your daily living routine should be packed first.
There’s no reason older children shouldn’t do some of their own packing. It will make them feel a part of the process and save you some time and effort as well. Just keep an eye on how and what they’ve packed before the containers are sealed.
Designate a room for the boxes and prepare adequate workspace. Consult the following tips to make your move more organized and quick:
- You might consider setting up packing headquarters in a spare room, if available, so it’s ready to use when you can devote even a little time to the job.
- Prepare a convenient place to work. The dining room table makes a good work surface. Be sure to cover it first with a heavy quilt or blanket. It’s handy, also, to have a covered card table on which you can line up the things to be packed.
- Before starting the packing, separate your boxes by size, and place appropriate size boxes in each room. Have all supplies (i.e. tape, bubble wraps, packing paper) lined up next to your boxes when packing.
- If possible, put packed and sealed boxes in one room. This will minimize the disruption you and your family feel as the packing process continues, as well as speeding up the loading process when the movers arrive.It is recommended to designate a room closer to the door. Remember to leave a clear path, in case certain items need to be put at the front of the truck.
Pack on a room-by-room basis. Don’t get overwhelmed. Try to concentrate on one room at a time and do one area of the room at a time. Consult the following tips:
- It’s best not to mix items from different rooms in one box. For example, don’t pack articles from the living room in boxes with articles from the kitchen. This will save much confusion later when its time to unpack.
- Keep related boxes together so they will end up in the same room in your new home. This will cut the carrying time and make the move more efficient.
- Don’t tape your boxes closed until you’re about to go, so you can add items as you see fit.
- Put things in boxes with a view to where they’ll be in the new house, not where they were in the old one.
- To prevent small items from being lost or mistakenly thrown out with the packing paper, wrap miniature knickknacks and other small items in brightly-colored tissue paper before placing them in the box.
- Be sure that every box is clearly labeled by room and item.
Labelling it is important to label each box carefully, with respect to the contents and its destination in the new home. Consult the following tips on how to label your boxes right:
- For each room in your new home assign a number, for example, dining room – “1”, living room – “2”, kitchen – “3”, etc. Write the number on each side of each box, and make it big. Use a broad, felt-tipped marker.
The reasons to use numbers instead of full text on the box are 1) if you have a lot of boxes it is much easier to write a number on each box instead of “Master bedroom”, especially when you are in a hurry, 2) you don’t want to attract too much attention to your boxes with tempting descriptions written on it.
- To mark your boxes you can also use different colors for different rooms – as long as you plan the unloading carefully and mark the door of each room with appropriate colors (using colored balloons, for example).
- If you do specify specific items on the lid of the box, try to avoid mentioning anything that might tempt someone to make off with your belongings.
- It is important to have your name and new address written on each box, especially for long distance moves. It might be difficult to do given huge number of boxes you might have. But in case one of your boxes is lost in the process it would be much easier for the moving company to find and mail it to your new address.
- To be more efficient, you can print the labels with your computer and tape them to your boxes. You can also ask your children write this information on the boxes so they can become familiar with their new address.
- Use red marker to indicate “FRAGILE” on delicates, and “THIS END UP” where appropriate. Make sure those notes are clearly visible and written on each side of the box.
- Make a master list of all household items and your belongings. You can also number the boxes, but make sure you don’t confuse those numbers with the numbers of rooms already written on your boxes.
Prepare for arriving at your destination. It may take some time to unpack everything when you get to your destination. It is important that you prepare for that when you plan your packing. Consult the following tips to make your unpacking more comfortable:
- Prepare for the first night in your new home by packing essential items in a separate bag or box and carrying it with you. This bag or box should include:
- Basic tools such as flashlights, pocket knife, hammer, screwdrivers, nails, masking tape, tape measure, and light bulbs.
- Bathroom essentials such as hand towel, soap, toilet paper, shampoo, and shower curtains.
- Personal items such as a change of clothes, toothbrushes, and prescription drugs.
- Kitchen goodies such as paper towels, coffeemaker and filters, paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, dish detergent, a sponge, pet foods, dishes, can opener, and trash bags.
- Keep an emergency medical kit available. Make sure any medication you are taking is packed in the emergency kit, along with any other over-the-counter medication you may need, such as aspirin.
- When everything is packed and ready to load, make sure the items you need least are loaded first.
General packing techniques
Packing with good technique and the right materials can mean an easier move, but most importantly, proper packing can mean you avoid losing valuable items to breakage in transit.
Packing techniques for heavy and light items.
- Basic rule of thumb – pack light items in large boxes and heavy items in small boxes. The heavier the box the harder it will be to move. Pack no more than 50 pounds per carton.Don’t over-pack a container, even the small ones. Don’t make them so heavy they’re difficult to lift without straining. And always remember – lift the box with your legs, not your back.
- When packing a box place large, heavy items on the bottom and lighter, more fragile items on the top. Group items of similar size and weight. Separate the items with bubble wrap or packing paper to prevent scratches caused by rubbing.
- Pack boxes to the top. This prevents them from being crushed when they are stacked. Fill each box as much as possible using crumpled packing paper, bubble wrap, towels, pillows and blankets to fill empty space to prevent shifting and breakage.
Make sure tops and sides of boxes do not bulge or sag. Under-packed boxes may collapse and over-packed boxes may rupture.
Packing fragile items.
- When packing small fragile items wrap each one individually with packing paper or bubble wrap.
- Stuff boxes with fragile items with wads of paper, sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. This prevents shifting, rubbing, and possible breakage. Do not pack items too tightly, however when you shake the box the contents should not move.
- The boxes with fragile items must be clearly labeled “FRAGILE”. Always stack them towards the top of your piles.
How to work with a moving tape.
- When building a box start by taping the seam where the two flaps meet, leaving 1′ of overlap on each side. Add two more strips in the same direction, on both sides of your first strip, approximately half way between your strip and the edge of the box. For additional reinforcement, add two perpendicular strips equidistant from each other and the edge of the box. Use a tape dispenser to make the job easier. You can see how to do it right on the following chart:
- Tape the top closed tightly when the boxes full. Run two strips of tape along the side and one strip down the center. If the box is still not strong enough, apply more tape to the sides.
- Don’t apply tape directly to polished or painted wood finishes. Removing the tape could ruin the surface.
Keeping track of your belongings.
- To keep track of your belongings create a complete and thorough inventory of what you will be moving to your new address.
- It can be useful to photograph or videotape your valuables. It can help you later in case things will be damaged or missing.
- It’s also advisable to write down the serial numbers of you electronic equipment.
Packing valuables and important documents.
You should personally pack and transport you valuables and important documents. Examples of these items can be found in Our Moving Guide Items.
Some common household items cannot be included in your shipment because they are hazardous materials. Examples of these can be found in Our Moving Guide Items.
Movers will not transport living things such as your plants or pets. If you do not wish to give them away, don’t forget to prepare them for the move. To learn how, consult Moving Guide -> Moving Pets and Plants.
Other important tips.
- Plates, books and things of a similar shape, should be loaded vertically to utilize their own maximum structural strength.
- To keep large items clean and sanitary, use mattress bags, furniture bags, and stretch wrap.
- Use moving blankets to wrap furniture, appliances, TV’s, or other large objects.
- When disassembling furniture, beds, lamps, etc. put the hardware and bolts into a plastic bag along with any assembly tips and tape it onto the item itself.