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How to Pack for a Move: A Complete Checklist

Cardboard boxes in room
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One of the most stressful aspects of moving is packing. When considering how to pack for a move, a smart approach is to gather your moving supplies first and then systematically go room-by-room until the job is done. Follow MYMOVE’s checklist for moving to make the process more manageable and creates less stress.


Jump to:

Gather your moving supplies

Packing the kitchen

Packing the dining room

Packing the living room

Packing the bedrooms

Packing the laundry room

Packing the garage

General packing tips


Gather your moving supplies

Rolls of tape in different colors
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To ensure a successful move, you’ll need plenty of moving supplies. Not sure how much of each item you’ll need? We like U-Haul’s Moving Supply Calculator tool as a way to estimate the size of your move. Here’s what you should have on hand no matter what:

  1. Boxes: There are lots of options for finding cheap or free moving boxes. Use websites like NextDoor Neighbor, BuyNothing, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to search for used boxes or ask your friends and family. Gather a variety of sizes and make sure the packing boxes are in good condition.
  2. Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap keeps your items protected during the move. And best of all, you can buy it at office supply or department stores inexpensively or find it free on Facebook Marketplace.
  3. Packing tape: You’ll probably go through more packing tape than you think when boxing up your house, so make sure you have a few extra rolls on hand.
  4. Label maker or marker: You can use a marker you already have laying around or invest in a Bluetooth label maker to tag your boxes with their rooms.
  5. Scissors or box cutter: You’ll need a way to unpack all those boxes in your new home, too.
  6. Dolly: Carrying boxes between places becomes taxing and could lead to drops. To prevent them from happening, rent a dolly from a home improvement store or purchase one online to help with the heavy lifting.

MYMOVE pro tip

Use different colors of tape on boxes for different rooms so you know where to put them on moving day. 

Packing tips for each room

Start by making an inventory of the items you plan to take. Do this based on each room — this will help you organize faster and keep track of your valuable possessions. When you go to pack your items, try to combine them based on function — for example, pack kitchen supplies together. Here are some tips for each room of the house.

Kitchen

Bowls ready for packing
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  • Defrost the refrigerator at least 48 hours prior to moving out.
  • Pack dishes carefully by wrapping them in bubble wrap or newspaper.
  • Use moving boxes with dividers for glasses.
  • Removing blades or loose components from small appliances and tape the cord.
  • Tape paper or bubble wrap around seasonings and jars and pack on the bottom of the box.
  • Store refrigerated goods in coolers for longer moves.

MYMOVE pro tip

Pack your dishes vertically — dishes on the bottom are more likely to break when packed flat.

Dining room

  • Roll up the rug and wrap in plastic or secure with packing tape.
  • Remove legs from chairs and place them in moving boxes with the nails/casters in a labeled plastic bag.
  • Wrap kitchen table in a blanket and place it in an area where it doesn’t slide around.
  • Wrap any items containing glass or ceramics — lamps, pictures, artwork — in paper or bubble wrap.

Living room

  • Secure electronics using blankets and unscrew the base on TVs and computers.
  • Remove the legs off couch and chairs to make them easier to maneuver.
  • Tape power cables to each electronic component along with the HDMI or audio auxiliary cables and remote control.
  • Wrap artwork and mirrors in blankets or bubble wrap.
  • Cover the top of the coffee table with a blanket to prevent scratching.
  • Remove bulbs and lampshades from lamps
  • Pack heavy items like books in smaller boxes

MYMOVE pro tip

When disassembling items, tape screws and bolts to the furniture and electronics that they came from so you don’t lose track of them.

Bedrooms

  • Fold casual clothes and place them in moving boxes.
  • Buy wardrobe boxes for formal wear that allow you to keep the clothing on hangers.
  • Put valuables in a container you keep on you at all times during the move.
  • Put mattresses in bed bags that will keep the mattress protected from the elements during the move.
  • Put bedding and pillows in trash bags to keep out dust and place them in labeled moving boxes.
  • Pack your home office. For crucial files, keep them in a safe or locked file box.

MYMOVE pro tip

Use socks and t-shirts as free packing supplies to cushion fragile items like glasses and dishes.

Bathroom

  • Pack toiletries together, and make sure you have easy access to them for your new home.
  • Put towels, toilet paper, soap, and more in one box for each bathroom your new home has.
  • Make sure you have all medications and first aid supplies packed in their own special box for easy access.

Laundry room

  • Unplug the washer and dryer and disconnect all components.
  • Place detergents and fabric softeners into plastic grocery bags and tie them shut to prevent leaking.
  • Use laundry hampers as moving boxes and pack with socks, T-shirts, and more for an easy move.

Garage and storage shed

  • Pack lawn furniture cushions in boxes or trash bags.
  • Get rid of any paint, fertilizer, or weed killer — these are hazardous to move.
  • Pack tools in a tool chest.
  • For items like a saw or hammer, wrap them in towels then pack them in boxes.
  • For your grill or mower, drain the gas before transporting the item.
  • Use a bike rack on your car or SUV to transport your bike.

Did you know?

Moving companies won’t move flammable items like a propane tank, so you’ll have return the tank or empty it out and move it in a personal vehicle.

General moving and packing tips

Close up of senior woman shopping online at home
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That’s a lot take in. But by organizing items based on common functions, room use, or other factors, it makes it easier to keep track of your belongings during transport and unpack at your new place.

Here are some easy packing guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Pack like items together. Start packing each box with a layer of padding – it can be newspapers, bubble wrap, or household goods, like blankets or towels. Then, put the heaviest items into the box first.
  2. Label each box by room and by its contents.
  3. Pack a box of essentials. Must-have items like screwdrivers, hammers, snacks, drinks, toothbrushes, a change of clothes, paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, a first-aid kit, medications, etc.
  4. Refrain from filling boxes to the brim. This prevents boxes from becoming super heavy and reduces the likelihood that they break or are dropped during transit.
  5. Don’t forget to set up internet in your new home. Depending on where you’re moving you may have to sign up with a new internet provider. Try to schedule the installation a few weeks before your move so you don’t have to go too long without internet.

Packing FAQs

  • When considering how to pack for a move, you’ll need to buy or find items such as boxes, tape, blankets, a moving truck or trailer, and rope for securing loose items.