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Blog
How to pack for a move
Add value to your home
06 August 2021

How to pack for a move

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

When it comes to moving house, there's perhaps nothing as divisive as packing. For some, it's a cathartic opportunity to sort through their old life, get rid of anything unnecessary, and create a foundation for their new start. For others it's a stressful, time-consuming, and emotional process.

In reality, it's often a mixture of the two. It's an exciting moment in your move: preparing for your future in your new home, but, it's also a time to say goodbye. And often, you'll have to pack whilst getting on with your normal day-to-day responsibilities too.

If we can offer just one tip when it comes to packing for your move, we'd recommend that you start the packing process early, and do a little, often.

In this article, we'll look at the best ways to approach the task of packing for a move, as well as providing some moving and packing tips for specific notoriously difficult items, like kitchenware, and televisions.

Preparing to pack for a move

Although not strictly packing, the preparation you do before you start putting things into boxes can make a huge difference to the time and stress of the moving process.

Start by clearing out

Clearing out before you start packing will mean you have less to pack, less to move, and less to unpack when you get to your new house. It'll also give you a good opportunity to assess if there's anything you'll need to buy for your new home too.

A popular way of tackling this stage is to split your things into three categories: 'to donate or sell', 'to throw away', and 'to keep'. While much of this initial stage is down to personal choice - and how much space you'll have at your new home, there are a few general tips to help you get started:

  • Throw out any hazardous substances - things like weed killer, fertiliser, detergent, can be dangerous to transport - particularly if you're making a long distance move. It's best just to give or throw them away.

  • Book pick ups in advance - if you're planning on donating anything large, like a sofa, or dining room furniture, make sure to book your pick up slots in advance, so you know exactly when they'll be taken away.

  • Eat as much of your food as you can - you're not going to be able to transport all the food in your freezer to your new home, so make it your mission to eat as much of it up as possible in the weeks preceding your move.

  • Pack an 'on the day' bag - this should include anything you might need in the first few days at your new home, think: a change of clothes, important documents, snacks, toilet paper, towels, cooking utensils, chargers, scissors, and screwdrivers.

Figure out how you're going to transport things

Another vital thing to prepare before you start packing. Knowing how you're going to transport everything will give you a sense of how much space you'll have, the shape of it, and how many trips you'll have to do.

This will make it easier to decide how to pack your things. For example, if you're doing lots of trips in a car, or by public transport, you may find it easier to use suitcases and bags, rather than large, heavy boxes. On the other hand, if you're working with professional movers who will help you lift and arrange things in a big van, boxes are a sensible option.

Booking your moving company or van hire in advance can often be cheaper too.

What you'll need for moving and packing

Once you've sorted out what you're actually taking with you, and how you're going to get it there, it's time to start packing!

To make packing easier, it's good to have the following items to hand:

  • Markers and coloured stickers - for labelling your boxes and bags

  • Moving boxes - cardboard packing boxes are a cheap and efficient way to transport things

  • Suitcases - particularly good for transporting heavier items, like books

  • Protective materials - such as: bubble wrap, packing peanuts, newspaper or packing paper, and old clothing

  • Bin bags, or assorted plastic shopping bags

  • Scissors

  • Tape

  • Tools for dismantling things

Where to find packing supplies

If you don't have any boxes or other packing supplies on hand, you can pick most things up at stationary shops or your local post office.

However, if you're looking to save money, there are a few ways you can get packing supplies for free:

  • Free newspapers - start collecting the newspapers and leaflets that come through your door as soon as you know you're moving. These will come in handy for wrapping up kitchenware, or protecting picture frames.

  • Online marketplaces - People move house all the time, and many will put their used packing supplies on online marketplaces like Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace for other people to use for free or a small fee.

  • Supermarkets - Ask at your local supermarket if they have any spare boxes or crates. Often bananas will be delivered in large cardboard boxes that are perfect for packing, and they'll usually give them to you for free.

How to pack for a move: General packing tips

It can feel pretty overwhelming being faced with a whole house full of things to pack. However, there are a few simple ways to make it a bit more manageable:

  • Pack room by room, rather than all at once

  • Pack things together by function

  • Use clothes to protect more fragile items

  • Pack things inside other things

  • Old plastic bags or plastic wrap around things that might spill (a great use for all those old supermarket shopping bags that get stored away around the house)

  • The last box you pack should be your 'moving day' box - include all the things you'll need for the first few days at your new house

How to pack glasses for moving

There are three main ways to pack glasses for a move:

  • In a specially designed sectioned box

When you buy glasses in sets they'll often come in specially designed boxes with sections that protect each glass from hitting against its neighbour. These boxes are incredibly handy when it comes to packing for a move.

  • Wrap in socks

If you haven't saved, or can't manage to find any specially designed boxes, socks are an effective alternative. Start by balling a single sock inside the glass. Then slot the glass inside the second sock. This will help protect both sides of the glass. For extra protection surround with further soft packing materials.

  • Wrap in bubble wrap

While the sock method works well for stemless glasses, if you're packing stemmed glasses such as champagne flutes, of wine glasses, it can be useful to use bubble wrap, as it's easier to wrap around the more delicate parts of the glass. Remember to secure the bubble wrap in place with tape so that it doesn't fall off during the move.

How to pack plates for moving

There's divided opinion on the best ways to pack dishes.

One group suggests that it's best to wrap each plate individually and then stack them together - as you might in your cupboard. Then this stack of plates should be placed in a box and surrounded on all sides with soft packing material such as clothes, newspaper, or bubble wrap.

The other group believes the best method is to fill a box with packing peanuts, and place wrapped plates into it vertically, like vinyl records.

Both of these methods for packing dishes work, so choose whichever fits into your boxes best.

Packing tips for moving books

While books may seem like one of the more simple items to pack, it's important to do it right, otherwise you'll end up with extremely heavy boxes, or worse: boxes that break with the weight halfway through the move.

When approaching your bookshelves, consider the following packing tips:

  • Suitcases with wheels are perfect for transporting heavy items like books - they reduce the need to lift except when necessary

  • Don't fill boxes all the way - filling boxes and suitcases all the way with books increases the chance that they'll be too heavy to lift, or that the bottom with fall out mid-transit

  • Always pack the largest and heaviest books at the bottom of the box - this will make the box more stable

  • Any particularly valuable books should be packed separately - you may also want to wrap the books in packing paper, or something soft first, for extra protection.

How to pack a TV

Televisions and other large screens can be tricky to transport. Not only are they usually quite valuable, they also have a large fragile surface, that making them particularly susceptible to damage during travel.

  • Take a picture of the back before packing - this will help you remember where all the different cables plug in

  • Remove the base or stand carefully - you'll usually need a screwdriver for this

  • Tape any screws to the back of the television

  • Wind up cables carefully in loose loops

  • Wrap up with layers of bubble wrap or clean soft clothing - secure the protective materials with some tape on so they don't fall off mid-transit

  • Place both the screen and the looped cables into a moving box - cushion with other soft packing materials or packing paper

How to pack up a removals van

Once everything is packed into boxes, bags, and suitcases, you still need to transport it.

If you're using a large van, or moving truck to transport everything, there are a few general packing tips that are worth bearing in mind:

  • Pack your furniture and largest boxes first

  • Stack packing boxes next - heaviest items at the bottom and lighter items at the top

  • Keep your 'on the day' box, and a bag of essentials with you, rather than in the van

Note: If you're working with professional movers, it's best to let them pack up with the removals van. They have the experience to pack and move everything efficiently and safely. You may also invalidate any insurance policy you have with them, if you interfere.

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