Updated Oct 10, 2022
If you’ve ever moved, you know the process is a pain. Along with all the technical aspects of moving homes, you’ll face the laborious task of transporting your belongings between spaces.
While moving, you’ll likely realize you own more things than you thought. Luckily, you can take steps toward a stress-free move, starting with the packing supplies you use. We’ve looked at different items, brands, and prices to find the best packing materials for a frenzy-free move.
This article will cover these essential materials and provide moving tips to make packing and unpacking a breeze.
The following sections will go over affordable packing options, DIY supplies, and moving hacks that will ease you into your new home.
Sturdy boxes are one of the most important supplies you can select for your move. If you use boxes that are old, rotten, and falling apart, you’re setting yourself up for disorganization, frustration, and broken items.
We suggest using letter boxes to move the majority of your stuff. These sturdy, solid cardboard boxes include handle holes for simplified grabbing and lifting. They also come with lids that allow for easy stacking.
You can buy a 10-pack of letter boxes on Amazon for around $30. We know this isn’t cheap – especially if you need dozens of boxes for your move. For this reason, you’ll want to save the supplies you buy for your next moving project.
Alternatively, check with your local library, post office, and grocery store for leftover boxes. These establishments often have sturdy packaging excellent for moving. The best part is that you’ll likely be recycling boxes the stores would throw away.
Labels will make organizing and unpacking a breeze. Even if you just use a piece of duct tape and a permanent marker to label your moving boxes, you’ll still be setting yourself up for a stress-free move.
Amazon sells premade color-coded moving labels for the ultra-organized homeowner. They include labels for different rooms, items, and warnings you might need throughout the process. We suggest looking at premade labels online and modeling your DIY tape labels after them.
Consider the following specifications to organize your boxes:
The key to using labels for your move is to code and organize them in a way that works for you. You may want to pack by room or by item type. Either way is acceptable as long as you label your boxes accordingly.
Tape is an essential packing material for your move. Good quality packing tape allows you to assemble and seal your moving boxes so they won’t fall apart during transport.
Opt for polypropylene packing tape when sealing your moving boxes instead of duct tape. This packing tape is often used for shipping packages because of its adhesive strength and water resistance. Packing tape is pressure-sensitive, which means it will stick to a box when you apply pressure.
U.S. Packaging and Wrapping suggests using heavy-duty packing tape for packages over 15 pounds and those holding loose/shifting items. Select a string-reinforced shipping tape for cumbersome boxes or those holding breakables.
Packing foam sheets help you move fragile items without stressing over scuffs, dents, and damage. Packing foam is a thin sheet of expanded polystyrene foam often used in food packaging products. It’s a valuable packing material because it cushions breakable items without using too much space.
Amazon sells a 100-pack of foam sheets for $18. Otherwise, you can find sheets or a roll of packing foam at any home improvement store. Foam sheets are great for stacking plates, picture frames, and glassware. Rolls are handy for wrapping large items like mirrors and posters.
Wrap the material around glass furniture tops to prevent scratches and breaks during the move. Or get the job done with a roll of industrial strength plastic wrap.
Plastic bags of all sizes are handy for your big move. They keep small items together, organize loose knickknacks, and protect your belongings from dust and moisture.
Purchase various sizes of Ziploc bags to pack important documents and small items like nuts, bolts, and screws. You can store the nails and picture hangers as you remove items from the wall. When you get to your new home, you’ll have all your hanging materials in one place for easy unpacking and assembly.
The plastic garbage bags in your cabinet are also handy packing materials. Avoid paying for wardrobe boxes by using trash bags to transport hanging clothes. Remove the clothes from your closet, leaving them on their hangers.
Poke a hole through the bottom of a plastic garbage bag and stick the hanger handles through. You’ll have a dry cleaner-like bag that moves your clothes without a fuss.
Bubble wrap is a lifesaver when it comes to moving fragile items. It’s a thin plastic sheet covered in air-filled cells that reduces damage from bumps and vibrations.
Wrap glassware, frames, mirrors, and decor items in this bubbly packing supply for a safer, less stressful move. If the wrap takes up too much space, use packing paper to cushion flat items like plates and picture frames.
Bubble wrap isn’t ultra expensive – a couple of rolls might cost you $20 or so. However, it’s also not the most eco-friendly moving product. Bubble wrap consists of petroleum-based plastic that’s not recyclable or biodegradable. Consider using towels instead of bubble wrap to cushion your items without increasing your carbon footprint. Place dish towels between plates and bowls to minimize your move’s plastic waste.
Lifting straps are an innovative and helpful tool for packing heavy items. The straps allow you to lift and maneuver furniture and appliances without straining yourself or damaging the floor.
Popular brands like Shoulder Dolly and Forearm Forklift sell lifting straps starting at $20. You can find these items online or at your local home improvement store. They come in sets of two to equip you and a moving partner.
Use your lifting straps by securing the vest onto your shoulders and slipping the straps underneath the item you want to move. Then, use your legs to lift the item off the ground. If you’re transporting your bulky items in a moving truck, make sure you lay down furniture pads to protect the items’ bases.
Thomas Dent from Shoulder Dolly explains how to effectively and safely use lifting straps during your move:
A hand truck or “dolly” is a must-have packing tool if you don’t hire a moving company. Hand trucks are L-shaped devices with wheels that leverage and transport hefty packages. These nifty little trolleys are perfect for moving stacks of boxes without breaking a sweat.
A new hand truck costs around $150 at most home improvement stores. Alternatively, you can rent one for around $20 a day.
If you plan to use a hand truck for your move, brush up on proper dolly techniques before starting. Middle Georgia State University provides the following hand truck safety tips:
Now that you know some packing tips, we’ll cover other ways to destress your move.
Decluttering before you pack is crucial to a smooth moving process. You likely have mounds of items you no longer use, like old clothes, books, dishes, and toys. Simplify your move by getting rid of these items ahead of time. You’ll have fewer belongings to organize and pack and a lighter load to unpack at your new place.
Prepare a thorough moving checklist to guide you through the process. Book professional movers well in advance to ensure you get your desired moving day and price point. Add a check-in on your schedule to confirm details with the movers before the big day. This will alleviate the stress of any last-minute schedule changes or booking misunderstandings.
We suggest planning your checklist according to the weeks leading up to your move. Include items like “cancel utilities” and “file for address change” to keep the process running smoothly.
Packing smart is just as important as using the right packing supplies. Smart packing involves staying organized and starting well before your move. Avoid packing last minute to prevent yourself from sloppy storage and inefficient item placement. Start packing about a month before your move and pack room by room, grouping items according to their uses. Packing in increments makes the project more manageable and less overwhelming.
As your move grows near, pack frequently used items like toiletries and cleaning supplies in an accessible location. We suggest keeping a few of these items handy in case you need them on the first night in your new house.
These packing supplies are sure to make your move smoother and less stressful. You’ll be able to start your new chapter knowing your items are organized, safe, and well-packed.
We recommend keeping packing materials from your move to use for your next project. You’ll save money on buying brand-new supplies and practice eco-friendly moving habits.
If you need extra help toting your things between homes, check out our moving company guides for reviews, price points, and more. We’ve got loads of resources to make your move as hassle-free as possible.
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