General Moving Tips:
If you decide to pack yourself, consider the time and effort necessary to properly protect your belongings.While in most cases you can save money by doing your own packing, it is strongly recommended you let a professional pack any fragile or valuable items.
With a professional moving company, you have the option of doing some or all of the packing yourself, or you can leave it to the experts.Discuss your options with your moving company.
If you decide to do at least some of the packing yourself, then you will need to have everything properly packed and ready for loading when the moving truck arrives.All packing must be completed by the evening before moving day. Only the things you’ll need that night, the next morning, and immediately at your new destination should be left for last-minute packing.
As a general rule, furniture and major appliances will be wrapped and padded by your moving company. Items requiring professional disassembly and/or crating – such as slate pool tables, chandeliers, or large glass table tops are best left to the professionals. For more information on specific items, the Packing Guide provides tips and hints for packing every room in the house.
Using new, quality packing materials specifically designed for moving can really make the difference in ensuring that your items arrive at their destination safely. Professional moving cartons come in a variety of shapes and sizes that are specifically suited to fit a variety of household goods.
Extra sturdy corrugated carton of double-wall construction for all breakables such as china and dishes, crystal and glassware. You may also want to use cellular dividers inside the carton as an extra measure of protection.
Small (Book Carton) 1.5 cu. ft. Carton:A small, easy to handle carton designed for heavy items such as books and records.
Medium 3 cu. ft. Carton:Medium utility box often used for pots and pans, toys, non-perishable food and small appliances.
Large (Square/ Lamp) – 4.5 cu. ft. Carton:For bulky items such as linens, towels, toys or lampshades.
Large (Rectangular/ Lamp) – 6.0 cu. ft. Carton:For lightweight bulky articles such as pillows, blankets and large lampshades.
Wardrobe Carton:This large carton has a hangar bar to accommodate clothes from your closet or draperies.
Mirror Carton:These Cartons fit almost any picture, mirror or glass.
- Bundles of packing paper (clean, unprinted newsprint).
- Bubble wrap, tissue paper, or paper towels for delicate items.
- Mattress Shrink Wrap, the protective wrap keeps furniture from becoming scratched, torn or dirty during a move.
- Rolls of PVC tape.
- Tape dispenser.
- Broad-tipped markers for labeling.
- Scissors or sharp knife for cutting cartons.
- Notebook and pen or pencil for listing contents of cartons as they are packed.
- Labels or stickers for identifying boxes.
- Before packing cartons, you’ll need to wrap most items to protect them from scratching and breakage. There are a variety of materials available, including bubble pack, foam peanuts and tissue. However, most professional moving companies use bundles of clean, unprinted newsprint (available at your moving supply store).
- Start by placing a small stack of paper on a flat, uncluttered table or counter top.Round glasses and jars can be rolled up in two or three sheets of paper; always begin from a corner of the sheet and fold the sides in as you roll.
- Large or odd-shaped items require a similar technique. Place them in the center of the sheet and bring the corners together. It may be necessary to flip the item over and wrap it again from the other side. If in doubt, use more paper! When the corners are brought together, secure them with tape.
- Before packing each carton, line the bottom with a few inches of wadded paper for padding. Then place large, heavy items on the bottom and lighter, more fragile items on the top.
- Plates, books and things of a similar shape, should be loaded vertically to utilize their own maximum structural strength. Don’t overload cartons; keep them to a manageable weight. Fill in any voids and top off loaded cartons with wadded paper. Then tape cartons securely to avoid shifting while en route.
- Start with out-of-season items. Next, pack things used infrequently. Leave until the last minute things you’ll need until moving day.
- Do not use masking tape or narrow cellophane tape. You will find PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) to be the most effective.
- Use newspapers only for cushioning not for wrapping items. The ink on the newspapers will rub off and can stain items such as fine china.
- Label each and every carton. Use a broad, felt-tipped marker, clearly marking room and contents. Indicate “FRAGILE” on delicates; where appropriate, and if available, include your bill of lading number on every box.
- Limit cartons to a maximum weight of 50 pounds.
- Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, non-transportable items and anything that would puncture or damage other items.
- Pack similar items together. Do not pack a delicate china figurine in the same carton with cast-iron frying pans, for instance.
- Wind electrical cords, fastening them so they do not dangle.
- Wrap items individually in clean paper; use tissue paper, paper towels or even facial tissue for fine china, crystal and delicate items.
- Place a two/three inch layer of crushed paper in the bottom of cartons for cushioning. Build up the layers, with the heaviest things on the bottom, medium weight next and lightest on top.
- crushed paper; towels and lightweight blankets may also be used for padding and cushioning. The more fragile the item, the more cushioning needed. Be sure no sharp points, edges or rims are left uncovered.
- Pack small, fragile, individually – wrapped items separately or a few together in small boxes, cushioning with crushed or shredded paper. Place small boxes in a single large box, filling in spaces with crushed paper.
- Avoid overloading cartons, but strive for a firm pack that will prevent items from shifting; the cover should close easily without force, but should not bend inward.
- Seal cartons tightly with tape except for those containing items that must be left open for the van operator’s inspection.
- As you finish with each carton, list the contents on the side of the carton (for easy viewing while stacked) and in a special notebook. You might want to number and/or code the cartons as well. Indicate “FRAGILE” on delicates; “THIS END UP” where appropriate; If available, include your bill of lading number on every box.
- Indicate your name and the room to which each carton should be delivered at destination. Tape a sign on the door of each room at destination corresponding to the carton labels so movers can get the cartons into the proper rooms quickly.
- Put a special mark (the number 1, or the letter A) on cartons you want to unpack first at destination.
All Rooms Packing Tips:
Most pictures and mirrors can be wrapped and packed in mirror cartons. Fragile or valuable fine art may require special crating and should be handled by your moving professional.
Stereo Equipment:Advance preparation is required for compact disc players, digital video disc players and stereo turntables.
On compact and digital video disc players, secure the laser with transport screws located on the bottom or back of the unit.
Most turntables have a plastic lock which should be used to hold the tone arm in place.
Speakers:Pack speakers in well-cushioned dish packs.Any large or unusually heavy speakers will simply be padded and placed on the truck.
Servicing is usually not required prior to packing for tape deck, receiver or speakers.
Television:Some large televisions will need to be crated prior to moving day. Let your moving company know if you have a big screen or plasma television.
Pack your remote controls in the same carton with their corresponding units or pack them all in a clearly marked separate box.
Videocassette Recorder (VCR):No special servicing is required to move a VCR. When installing at destination, place on a hard surface, provide appropriate ventilation for openings and do not set objects on top.
Satellite Dish/Antennas:Contact an electrician or technician from a satellite dish distributorship for the disconnection and disassembly of this sensitive equipment. Depending upon the construction and size of the unit, it may need to be crated, a service which your moving professional can provide.
Have any outside antennas disconnected and taken down if they are to be included in your move.
Consult with your Moving Professional on the packing of exceptionally fragile items. If an item is extremely valuable as well as delicate, it might be wise to have it packed for you. Special materials might be needed for maximum protection. Family photographs, videos, and artificial flowers should be packed in separate cartons.
Photographs: Protect framed photos with padding and cushioning, Label cartons for easy identification.
If possible, carry irreplaceable items with you to destination.
Silk/Artificial Flowers: Wrap carefully in plastic wrap, tissue paper or paper towels. If possible, fasten the base of the floral piece to the bottom of the carton to prevent shifting.
Label the carton “FRAGILE.”
Chandeliers/Leaded Glass Shades: It is best to have your moving professional crate large leaded or other glass lamp shades or chandeliers.
Glass Table Tops/Large Mirrors/Paintings: It’s best to consult with your moving professional about Mirror/Picture cartons and crates for items of this kind. Paper should never be permitted to touch the surface of an oil painting.
Your van operator will shrink wrap large, upholstered items.
Talk to your moving professional beforehand about any leather items.
Table corners can be protected with cardboard.
You may want to consider packing couch pillows in large boxes.
Lamp Bases: After removing the light bulb and lamp harp, wrap the base, harp and bulb separately in newsprint. Place them together in a carton, filling voids with wadded paper.
Lamp Shades: Never wrap lamp shades in newspaper, as the ink will spoil the shade. Instead, carefully wrap each shade in three or four sheets of tissue paper, a pillowcase or a large lightweight towel.
Use a sturdy carton at least two inches bigger all around than the largest shade. Line it with clean paper, using crushed paper under the lamp shade to create a protective layer, but not around the shade. A smaller shade may be nested inside a larger one, provided they do not touch. Only one silk shade should be placed in a carton to avoid stretching the silk.
Do not pack other items with shades. Label cartons “Lamp Shades/ FRAGILE – Top Load Only.”
Rugs: Leave area rugs on the floor for the moving company to handle.
You may want to consider having your area rugs professionally cleaned before your move – you’ll get them back from the cleaners wrapped, rolled and ready for shipping.
Area rugs should be loaded last and unloaded first so the furniture coming off the truck can go right on top of the rug.
A qualified service provider should take care of the preparations for moving a grand or baby grand piano.
Upright (spinet, console) pianos usually do not require preparation in advance. All pianos are pad-wrapped to protect the surface.
Plan to have your piano tuned at your new home.
The dining room will generally include your most fragile china and crystal stemware. Each item should be carefully wrapped in paper and placed in dish pack cartons; cellular dividers are recommended for stemware.
Wrap all pieces of china and glassware individually. Use several sheets of clean paper, start from the corner, wrapping diagonally and continuously tucking in overlapping edges.
- A generous amount of paper padding and cushioning is required for all china and glassware.
- A double layer of newsprint serves well as outer wrapping.
- Plates, platters and other flat serving pieces should be wrapped individually.
- A generous amount of paper padding and cushioning is required for all china and glassware.
- Larger china and glass plates, platters and other flat pieces are excellent as the lowest layer in a dish pack.
- Wrap china cups individually by protecting handles with an extra layer of clean paper. Then, pack cups upside down.
- Add two or three inches of wadded paper on top of the bundle to protect rims and make a level base for the next tier.
- Horizontal cardboard dividers can be helpful in keeping ayers level.
- Smaller plates, saucers and shallow bowls could make up a second layer. Wrap and pack in the same way as larger items.
- Label cartons with room, contents and “FRAGILE.”
- Be sure the items are well-protected with plenty of cushioning.
- Wrap first in tissue paper, paper towels or facial tissue. Then, wrap carefully in paper that has been wadded and flattened out.
- Small mirrors, plaques and pictures should be wrapped individually in tissue paper with an outer layer of newsprint.
- A bath towel or small blanket makes an excellent outer wrapping and padding for glass.
- Place flat items on edge in a carton.
- Table leaves are best transported in paper pads, then taped to hold the padding in place. (Note: never place tope on the surface of wood.)
- Don’t use plastic wrap, as moisture may get trapped and damage wood.
Disassembly and crating of your pool table should be provided by a Third–Party service. If possible, contact the store where the pool table was purchased to obtain assistance.
- Crating is a possibility on slate.
- You will need to make arrangements at destination to have the pool table uncrated, reassembled and leveled.
Start packing your bedrooms by tackling less-used guest rooms first. Children can help by setting aside the toys and books they want to take with them and packing the rest in boxes. Colorful stickers on the outside of boxes let children know their personal belongings are clearly marked, and allow them to identify their things when the moving van is unloaded.
Clothing: Hanging clothing from closets can be left on hangars and placed in wardrobe cartons. You may want to consider purchasing several of these special cartons from your moving company.
If wardrobe cartons are not used, each garment should be removed from its hangar, folded and placed in a suitcase or a carton lined with clean paper.
It is recommended that you take your furs with you rather than having them moved on the van, as irreparable damage can occur due to heat or humidity.
Shoes: Footwear may be left in shoe boxes and placed in large cartons, or wrapped individually and then in pairs.Footwear should be cushioned to avoid damage to heels or ornaments. Do not pack heavy items on top of shoes.
Jewelry: Valuables such as fine jewelry should be removed from drawers and never packed with your household goods. They will be most secure if they remain in your possession. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the means to take your fine jewelry or other valuable collectibles with you (like stamp or coin collections), consider hiring a third-party armored vehicle service.
Bedding/Linens/Towels: Blankets, sheets, tablecloths, towels,pillowcases and other linens may be protected by a large plastic bag and packed in a carton that has been lined with clean paper.
Wrap you most prized possessions in tissue. Also,linens and bedding are good for cushioning or padding many other items.
Mattresses/Pillows: Mattresses should be shrink wrapped for added strength and cleanliness. Pillows may be placed in bureau drawers or packed in cartons. They also make good padding for other items.
Bed Frame: If you can dismantle any bed frames beforehand, it will be one less thing to worry about on moving day.
Mirrors: Glass mirrors should be packed in special mirror cartons. However, if they are especially heavy, crating is recommended.
Draperies/Curtains: Wardrobe cartons are ideal for moving curtains and drapes. Fold them lengthwise, place over a padded hangar, pin securely and hang in the wardrobe. Draperies and curtains also may be folded and packed in cartons lined with clean paper or plastic wrap.
Once you know you’re moving, you can begin packing your kitchen almost immediately by starting with your less-used serving dishes, seasonal items and small appliances. Keep your everyday dishes for the last week before your move. You may even want to consider buying some disposable plates, cups and utensils for those last few nights when everything is packed away.
Food Items: Use or dispose of all perishables before moving. You will also need to get rid of cleaning products and other kitchen chemicals. See our list of Items That Cannot Be Shipped. Boxed or canned goods should be packed in small boxes. Dispose of any open packages and wrap glass jars to prevent breakage.
Bowls/Odd-shaped Items: Depending on their weight, these might be used for either the bottom or middle layers. Wrap the same way as flat plates.
Wrap sugar bowls, cream pitchers, sauce containers, gravy boats and similar pieces in newsprint and then a double outer wrapping. Place all upright in the carton, then top off the layer with wadded newsprint.
Pots/Pans: Pots, pans and similar items should be wrapped and packed in medium size cartons.Depending on their weight, these might be used for either the bottom or middle layers.
Silverware/Flatware: To protect silver pieces from tarnishing, they should be completely enclosed in newsprint or plastic wrap.
Hollow ware including bowls, tea sets and serving dishes- should be wrapped carefully like fragile items and packed like china.
Loose flatware may be wrapped individually or in sets, and in paper, clear plastic bags or small gift boxes that are then secured with tape.
Your home office will likely contain your important paperwork and legal papers. Set these aside beforehand and plan to take them with you.
Home Computer: Back up all files on a floppy disc, CD or tape and take with you. Label cords and cables and pack them in the same box as the appropriate electronic equipment.
Home Copier: If your home copier is larger than desk size, it must be serviced by a professional before transport.
Remove the paper tray and cartridge.
Secure the document cover, exit tray and alternate paper tray before packing.
If your unit comes with shipping pins, which keep the internal parts in place during transit, they should be removed from the storage location on the document cover and placed according to directions in the owner’s manual.
Home Printer: The toner and laser cartridges of any laser printer should be removed. Dispose of them safely and get new ones at your destination. On other types of printers, the print head should be secured by a professional, with preparation depending on the model.
Books: Pack books of the same general size together, in small book cartons.
Pack them either flat, or with the spine touching the bottom of the carton. Do not pack with spine facing upward, as glue can break away from the binder.
Expensively bound volumes of those of sentimental value should be individually wrapped before packing.
Garages and storage sheds typically are filled with odd–shaped, sharp or heavy items that require special care to pack correctly. In addition, there may be items such as pesticides, fertilizers, oil and gas that cannot be shipped. See our list of Items That Cannot Be Shipped.
Begin by grouping items of a similar size or shape together, like long-handled tools with pruning shears. Then, make sure you have an assortment of boxes and newsprint to properly wrap and cushion items.
Tools: Long-handled garden tools, as well as brooms and mops,should be bundled together securely. Attachments should be removed from power tools and packed separately.
All power tools must be drained of oil and gas before packing. Hand tools may be left in tool boxes and the spaces filled with crushed paper,or they may be packed according to general packing rules.
Always use small cartons for heavy tools. Use old towels to wrap and tape any sharp-edged tools.
Rakes/Brooms: Shovels,rakes, brooms and the like need not be packed; gather them together for your driver to bundle in a pad.
Lawn/Patio Furniture: Remove pads and clean frames. Pack pads in large carton or wardrobe.
Umbrella: Keep it clean and dry during transport by wrapping it in paper padding or a plastic bag and taping shut. Do not pack the weighted umbrella stand.
Grill: Dispose of any unused charcoal. Remove tank – it cannot be transported in the moving van. See our list of Items That Cannot Be Shipped.
Before moving day, dismantle children’s swing sets, TV antennas and garden sheds you plan to take with you.
Place small hardware in a plastic bag or old coffee can and label.
If the parts bag can be securely attached to corresponding equipment, all the better.
Prepare lawn mower by safely draining gasoline prior to loading day.
Pots/Planters: Pack small ceramic or pottery planters like any fragile item – individually wrapped with plenty of cushioning. If you plan to move any large or unusual planters, consult your moving company.
Trash Cans: It may be easier just to buy new garbage cans at your destination. Clean cans if you plan to take them with you.
If your cans are salable or roll-able, you may pack items in them, just don’t make them too heavy.
- Items such as clocks, small radios and other small appliances should be wrapped individually and packed in a carton cushioned with crushed paper.
- Once you disconnect the cords, wrap them in plastic and secure them to the appliance they belong to.
- Make sure cords are wrapped so as not to scratch or damage items.
- Steam irons should be emptied of all water, wrapped and placed in the cushioned bottom of a box.
In preparing large appliances for your move, it is important that they be clean and dry to avoid the build-up of mildew and mold. Grease left on a stovetop will catch dust and dirt, and unfortunately, leave spots on anything that it touches. Dry out refrigerators and freezers, especially those that contain an ice maker and are scheduled to be serviced by a third party service provider.
Dishwasher: Clean and dry thoroughly. Disconnect and drain hoses.Leave the door open for a few days prior to the move. Wrap dry hoses in towels and packing paper and place inside the dishwasher.
Washing Machine: Clean and dry thoroughly. Disconnect and drain hoses.
Wrap metal connector ends of hoses in a towel and place inside washer.
Secure the tub following the manufacturer’s guidelines to prevent swaying. Note: If you don’t have the manufacturer’s guidelines,you can purchase a washer kit with a manual that provides instructions on how to secure the tub by tightening down the tub using screws.
Clothes Dryer: Before cleaning, unplug or turn off the dryer from electrical power. Clean the lint screen.
Prior to plugging in your electric dryer at your new residence, have your power supply checked for the correct electrical requirements.
Tip: If you are moving a gas dryer, the appliance should be disconnected and the gas line capped off by a qualified technician. The driver and the crew members are not qualified to perform this service.
- Clean thoroughly. Detach all removable parts and pack safely in a box, clearly marked with the contents. Upon arrival to your new home, have the washer installed by a qualified installer.
- If you are moving a gas range, it must be disconnected prior to moving day by a qualified service technician. The gas line must be properly secured also.
- If you have an electric range, generally no servicing at your present residence is required.
- When arriving at your new residence with your gas range, you will need a qualified gas installer to check your gas supply,connect the gas line, seal any openings, light the pilot and handle any other hook-up requirements.
- Dispose of all perishables. See our List of Items That Cannot Be Shipped.
- Unplug the power cord and wash all removable parts and dry thoroughly.
- Allow the parts, including the interior of the refrigerator and freezer, to dry thoroughly to allow all moisture to evaporate.
- Pack all loose parts including bins and shelves in a secured, approved container.
- There are products on the market to help keep your refrigerator clean, dry, and mildew free while in transit. Check your local hardware or grocery store.
- Vacuum the condenser or compressor.
- Empty and clean the evaporator pan; allow time for it to dry.
- Before moving, turn off the water and disconnect the water line if you have a cold water dispenser or automatic ice maker.
- The water reservoir should also be emptied.
- If your refrigerator or freezer is an older model, you may have to have the compressor or motor bolted down.
- At your new destination, allow 24 hours before operating the unit. This will allow time for the oil to settle, preventing possible damage to the compressor.
- Have ice maker and water dispenser connected to water line by a professional.
- Copper tubing, a shut off valve and fittings may be required.
- Once your ice maker is in service, dispose of the first few batches of ice to clear out any impurities from opening the water line.
- Any glass trays should be removed, wrapped and securely packed in a carton.
- The microwave can either be placed in its original box, if available and still in good shape, or a well-cushioned carton.
- If your microwave is large, ask your moving professional if it can be pad-wrapped on moving day.
- Do not place cardboard in the door opening because it can spring the door during transit.
- Take care not to block the exhaust vent when installing it at your new home.
The following items are examples of items that the moving companies, by federal law or internal policy, cannot transport.
Items that are flammable, corrosive or explosive
- Car batteries
- Charcoal lighte
- Chemistry sets
- Cleaning solvents
- Lamp oil
- Liquid bleach
- Loaded guns
- Motor oil
- Paint thinner
- Nail polish remover
- Pool chemicals
- Propane tanks
- Weed killer
Food, plants or living things that may die or spoil in transit
- Frozen foods
- Refrigerated foods
- Open or half used foods
Items of personal importance or sentimental value
- Deeds or wills
- Moving documents
- Family photographs
- Chemistry sets
- Stamp or coin collections
- Valuable jewelry