Davpack’s Top Ten Packing Tips for Moving Home


If you think packaging is something of interest only to those in business or industry, well, think again. Basically, packaging is often designed to ensure that something stays safe and protected while in storage or in transit. If you’re planning on moving home in the near future, you might find such a concept of considerable use.

We’ve given some thought to the best way of packing up your home and your life for the big day, and here is our guide to the best way of going about it.

1 Start early
It always – and I do mean always – takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to.

Now, in some respects, it makes no difference, because you’re still going to be spending the last few hours in your old house running around, picking up odds and ends and throwing them into random boxes anyway. But the sooner you start, the fewer of those bits and pieces there should be and the more organised your overall packing will be – which should mean in turn that unpacking at the other end should be easier as well (see point 5, below).

Another advantage to starting early is that it gives you a chance to go through everything you own carefully and have a bit of a cull if necessary. In other words, take the time to sort your stuff and throw out, donate to charity or sell things you no longer need, want or are able to actually use, rather than packing and moving them. So, while it may be cute that you still have your child’s first bike in the shed (and maybe it even brings the occasional tear of nostalgia to your eye when you notice it while getting the lawnmower out), do you really want to pack it and move it, just so it can carry on getting rusty in your new shed?

2 Use the right sized boxes
Don’t just get the biggest cardboard boxes you can find and fill them to the brim with whatever is to hand (books, crockery, weights from your gym, that sort of thing). Sure, it makes the task of packing up all your worldly goods quicker and easier for you, but unless you’re going to be doing all the lifting and carrying yourself – in which case you can reap just what you sow – have some consideration for whoever will be.

The simple rule is put heavy items in small boxes and light items in big boxes. Or mix them up in medium-sized boxes, with the heavy stuff at the bottom.

But you also need to bear in mind where your mover is going to have to manoeuvre those boxes. If they just need to go out the front door, onto the van, out of the van and into the new front door, they can be a bit heavier than ones that need to go down two flights of narrow stairs, round some tight corners, out the back door and up an alleyway, round the…well, you get the picture.

Put simply, just because you’re paying specialists to do the actual move for you, don’t think that gives you the right to condemn them to the less-than-tender mercies of a chiropractor for the next six months.

3 Find odd boxes for the odd things in your life
Unfortunately, not everything in your life will pack down conveniently into the average cardboard box. And some of those awkwardly sized and awkwardly shaped items might be quite valuable, whether financially or emotionally. Your large, flat screen telly for example. Or that exotic tall plant you’ve been carefully nurturing for the last fifteen years.

Thinking about how to get those kind of things transported safely to your new home could give you sleepless nights.

Fortunately, large, flat boxes and tall boxes are available from a friendly packaging supplies company near you, along with archive boxes and long boxes. We particularly like our wardrobe boxes, which mean you can just unpack your clothes straight into a proper wardrobe without having to wash and iron them.

Basically, there are very few packaging dilemmas for which we can’t provide simple solutions.

4 Use the right protective packaging
Most of us own a lot of things that can get easily damaged or broken. And unfortunately, we have to accept that no matter how much we beg our removal men to be careful, they don’t care about them as much as we do. So, deep breath…something will get broken.

Of course, the simple answer is to wrap everything in several layers of big bubble wrap. That would probably work, but a) it would take much longer, b) you’ll need at least twice as many boxes and c) it would bump up the cost of the move quite a bit (you’d need to hire an extra removal van, quite apart from anything else). It’s a nice idea, but not 100% practical.

Fortunately, there are some eminently suitable alternatives that can be used for different things. When I was a child, we used to wrap all our crockery in sheets off old newspaper, for example. It generally worked, although you did have to wash everything at the other end to get the print off. We can supply the same stuff, but without the print – they’re called white news offcuts. Incidentally, it’s also used to wrap fish and chips – and that is, I suppose, another way to get hold of some, but you’d have to eat an awful lot of chips to get enough to look after the average household breakables.

Then there are things like foam packaging, tissue paper, corrugated paper, edge and corner protectors – different ideas that look after different things better or more efficiently. And bubble wrap is good for many things – just not everything! Again, it’s a case of planning ahead if you want to stand the best chance of getting everything through the day in one piece.

5 Keep each room’s things together…
…and write on the box which room they need to be left in. If you put your shoes in with your spice jars and your Complete Works of William Shakespeare, unpacking may acquire the entertainment and mystery of a lucky dip, but it will also mean weeks of traipsing up and down and all around the new house placing things in their correct locations. If, on the other hand, you pack all your kitchen items together, and write ‘Kitchen’ in large and friendly letters on the boxes (in several places, so whoever is moving it has no excuse for not seeing it), then hopefully they will get left in the kitchen and you can quickly put them straight where they need to be.

6 Pack important documents extra safely
Regardless of how organised you are with your packing, there will be some of your possessions you don’t see again for some time. That doesn’t matter with some things, but you really don’t want to lose or be worrying about where you left your insurance documents, bank details, and so on. Because you never know when you might need them, especially when dealing with a stressful and accident-prone event like moving house.

Strong storage or archive boxes – kept apart from everything else – will keep them safe and ensure peace of mind.

7 Resealable bags for bits and pieces, nuts and bolts and this and that
If you get your furniture from one of those Scandinavian places where everything gets delivered flat and you have to build it yourself, you may find it’s easier to move if you take it apart again first. What won’t prove so easy is if you then go and lose all the nuts and bolts that usually hold it together.

Of course, there are all kinds of other massively useful, yet small, things you won’t want rolling around loose. Get some resealable plastic bags (whether with a grip seal or zip lock) and you can make sure that all those that need to stay together do stay together.

Extra free tip: if you can’t tell one screw or nut from the other, it may also be a wise move to put a bit of paper in the bag saying which piece of furniture it is those bits and pieces usually help keep in one piece.

8 Use strong tape
When you’re packing your boxes, don’t just seal them with the first roll of sticky tape that comes to hand. We know trained professionals will always pick up boxes from the bottom, but others won’t, and you may not always be on hand to ensure which of these two groups of individuals are handling your stuff. Pick up a box by the sides, with low quality tape holding the bottom together, and gravity will inevitably intervene.

Use proper packing tape, at least two inches/48mm wide, and tape along all joins, not just along the centre of the base, otherwise you’re putting a lot of faith in one strip of tape. Your boxes will then stand a far better chance of staying sealed and not dropping their possibly fragile contents all over the floor (although they should, of course, still be picked up properly).

9 Furniture covers
Obviously, you’re not going to be packing your sofas, chairs and mattresses into boxes, but that doesn’t mean you have to take your chance on them getting wet and dirty should the weather not co-operate. Simple polythene covers will keep them clean and fresh and are an effective yet very inexpensive solution.

10 Pack an ‘essentials’ bag or box
Unless you’re the most organised person in the world, you probably won’t know or remember where absolutely everything you own has been packed. There are some things you will definitely need on that first evening in your new home: your kettle, mugs, tea and coffee, milk, snacks, bedding, loo paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Pack these items into one box or bag and stow it safely in the car before the removal men arrive. Because once they do, all chaos will ensue and you may not be able to find them again until much later.

One final tip: when you arrive in your new house, make it your first task to make up the beds; that will mean that when the last drop of energy leaves your body, you don’t need to worry about anything other than falling over and sleeping the sleep of the totally knackered.

Those are our ideas, and we’ve made them even more easily digestible by compressing the above into one compact and informative infographic, which you can see by clicking here.

Do you have any extra packing tips for moving house? Or maybe you’ve learned one of the above through bitter experience? Do let us know your ideas and experiences in the comments box below!

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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