How to pack like a pro
If you’re going to be doing your own packing, it’s worth knowing how to do it properly so that you protect your valuable, precious items, and spend less on replacements (and on the cost of your move). We take great care when we’re handling your goods, but we can’t see inside each box to check how well protected its contents are. This little guide gives our top tips for the art of packing like a pro.
1. Some things are already packed
Take a quick look around your home and you’ll notice that many of your items are already safely stored in drawers, freestanding cupboards and other moveable containers. Sometimes, the best way to protect items is to leave them exactly where they are and move the entire piece of furniture with everything still inside. You may have to remove heavy or fragile items, but lighter things like clothes, bedding, towels and toiletries can often stay put, as long as you securely tape shut the doors and drawers (or lock them) or even wrap an entire chest of drawers in shrink-wrap. Clothes can often be left on their hangers too, and either packed flat in a suitable sized container or hung directly in a special wardrobe container. If in doubt, check with us during the initial move survey.
2. Have a designated packing station
Designate a small room or an area of a larger room as your packing station, and as a place to put packed boxes ready to move. Consider having a dedicated area for packed boxes on each floor; it will be quicker and easier for the removal teams, and save you lugging gear up and down stairs beforehand. If your boxes are clearly marked and/or colour coded by room, it won’t matter if you corral them into one central place for the move out; our teams will place each box in its correct room at your new home.
Having a designated packing and holding area will be easier for everyone involved if they know where to find boxes and packing materials without having to seek them out from room to room. You’ll also be able to see at a glance how much packing paraphernalia you have remaining (and whether you need to get more), and you’ll be able to quickly lay your hands on that sometimes elusive tape gun or your favourite coloured marker pens. Use a glass jar or small box for pens, scissors and tape, and insist that they go back there once people have finished using them (no guarantees there, but always worth a try). By reducing the amount of packing clutter around the house, you’ll be able to see clearly the progress you’ve made and what still needs to be done, and you’ll have a clearer head too.
3. Start with the kitchen
Per square metre, most homes have more items in the kitchen than in any other room, so it’s likely to be the room to which you’ll need to devote most time when it comes to packing. It’s also the room where you’re likely to find the broadest range of shapes and sizes, along with some of the bulkiest and most irregular shaped items, and some of the most fragile. Take your time, go carefully, and pack properly. That heirloom decanter given to you by your beloved late grandmother will thank you for your efforts and attention to detail.
Start packing the kitchen as soon as you can, and first of all, go for the cull: decide what to do with opened packets, jars and bottles, and decide if you can use it up or whether it’s time to bin that half-opened packet of raisins from the 80s. If you have perfectly good food but don’t want to take it with you, consider donating it to a food bank (tinned foods are particularly welcome, and it may be easier to restock your cupboards once you’ve moved rather than take them with you). Clean your small appliances beforehand, and pack them in their original boxes if you still have them, along with the manufacturer’s instructions. See also our guide to ‘preparing your fridge-freezer for moving’.
Dinnerware and glassware require careful packing, e.g. packing plates vertically to protect them from their own combined weight. The ‘You Move Me’ blog has a useful guide to packing fragile items, from the more common plates and glasses to speciality items. Finally, pack items you use rarely as early as possible (it won’t be the end of the world if you have to forego that fondue evening until you’re in your new home). Conversely, don’t forget to include frequently used items in your ‘open first’ box of essential items (see Tip 6 below), so that they’re to hand as soon as you move, e.g. kettle, coffee, sugar, cooking pot, cutlery etc.)
4. Take a snapshot of your tech
When we unplug our home tech, leave it for a few days, and then try to plug it all back in again, it can be a mystery that we have neither the will, time or patience to solve, especially when we’re keen to set up our new home for a bit of well-earned comfort and recreation. Before you start decommissioning your TV, smart box, hi-fi, router and all the other tech you own, take out your phone and photograph the back of your appliances, getting a clear picture of what goes where when you’re ready to re-install it. You should also label your speaker cables, connecting leads and power supplies so that you can easily identify and plug them back in correctly – use low tack masking tape or coloured electrical tape and a permanent marker that won’t rub off during the move. You can either pack cables with the items themselves or designate a separate small box for the lot, including grouping cables and connectors by appliance in separate, marked-up bags. The time you spend on this somewhat detailed process will reap greater rewards at the other end, and you’ll be something of a hi-tech hero to everyone in your new home.
5. Heavy items go in small boxes
It’s a simple rule that never fails to deliver: the larger the item, the smaller the box in which it should be packed. Conversely, you can pack many lighter items in a large box. Never pack more than one heavy item in a single box – use the remaining space to surround, and protect, the heavy item with lighter items. Towels, pillows and the like are inherently good packing materials for this purpose (but make sure you label the box with its contents, as you may understandably forget that your bowling ball is wrapped in a bathmat). Finally, always pack heavy items at the bottom of the box, not only for the obvious reasons of protection to the lighter items, but having the centre of gravity at the bottom of a box makes it easier and safer to carry.
6. Pack an ‘open first’ box last
This is one of the most important boxes you’ll pack, and you’ll seal it last of all. It contains a range of essential items (it’s sometimes referred to as an essentials box) that you’re going to need on the first day in your new home, and you’ll want to access quickly. It should contain a range of items, from tea, coffee and easy to prepare food to basic tools and essential documents, to ‘first night’ items such as clean bedding, towels, soap, toothpaste and brushes, and meds. The Moving Blog provides great advice on how to pack an open first box when moving.
For more tips and information, design and lifestyle website The Spruce has a comprehensive room-by-room guide to packing your house for moving. Check out also the HowStuffWorks 10 Tips for Packing guide.