No one enjoys packing. The mess, the stress, the papercuts. But after twenty years in the business, we’ve got lots of tips and tricks to make packing easier than ever. The first thing you need to know? Before you even fold your first box, have a strict declutter. It will make your life easier and cut down costs.
And secondly, start early! Last minute packing is when things get broken, lost and forgotten.
Choosing your packing materials
Choose high quality, strong packing boxes. If you don’t have all the extras to go with your packing, it might be good to go for a moving home kit, that includes the bubble wrap, tape and different sized boxes.
If you are re-using old boxes, check that they can hold weight, and cover any previous labelling so you don’t get confused about the contents.
Putting together your boxes
Most boxes will have clear instructions for putting them together but be sure to look at any ‘this way up’ signage on the sides. It’ll save confusion and panic later!
Fold in shorter tabs first, followed by longer ones, and always secure with tape going around the corners and edges. Make sure you get enough boxes for your items, so you’re not left overfilling them and putting you and your items at risk of damage.
Labelling your boxes
Make sure to label your items with the room you want them to be placed in upon arrival. Note clearly if they contain fragile items, and which way they up should be held. Be specific with your labelling - you don't want to have to rifle through ten boxes labelled 'kitchen' to find your cutlery. You could even list the contents if you have time.
It’s also important to note on the box whether it contains any hazardous items, like knives, chemicals or anything else that needs to be handled with care, so there are no nasty surprises when you open it.
Top packing tips
- Make sure to use small boxes for heavier items, and bigger boxes for light items. Otherwise, you risk overfilling the boxes and breaking them. Pull-along suitcases are good for heavier things like books.
- Paper and bubble wrap are great for packing, but you can also make use of your clothes, towels, blankets or any other soft items to provide padding around more delicate items. It’s also environmentally friendly!
- Be sure to pack heavy items at the bottom of the box, and evenly distribute them across the base, so that everything is not placed on one side, or in the centre.
Packing your bedroom
When packing your bedroom you can save time with a wardrobe box. This lets you move all your hanging clothes, and then take them off and put them in the wardrobes at the other end. Check with your removals company if they have these available.
When breaking down bedroom furniture, be sure to keep all screws and bolts together in a sandwich bag, taped to a piece of the furniture. If you want your removals team to disassemble and reassemble these items, make sure you have organised this in advance (it usually costs extra).
Wrap your mattress in a dust sheet, old blanket or sheets, or you can use stretch wrap to protect it. Clearly label your bedding ready to unpack. Your bed should be one of the first priorities when arriving at your new home – if you leave it until late in the day you'll be tired and will likely get frustrated. Ensuring you get a decent night’s sleep in your new home is key.
Packing the living room
If you’re dismantling cabinets, bookcases or dining tables, lay something on the floor to protect it from scratches. If dismantling seems complicated, it may be best to hire removals professionals to do it for you.
When moving your TV or other technology, it’s best if you have the original box it was delivered in, but otherwise wrap it as securely as possible. You can also discuss with your removals team if they have any special storage or packaging materials that may be helpful. If you have lots of wires plugged in to your electrical appliances, take a photo before you unplug them so you'll know what goes where when you reconnect them.
If you have any potted house plants you intend to move, you will need to check this with the removals team, as some will not transport potted plants. If you are transporting them in your own vehicle, place them in a plastic container and stuff the edges to ensure the pots do not move around and the plants are supported.
Packing the kitchen
Always wash your hands before you begin to pack utensils and cutlery.
For particularly sharp knives you can purchase knife protectors to avoid injury from open blades, and a block of kitchen knives are already protected, so just wrap them securely in paper. Always hold sharp knives with the blades facing away from you and place all the knives the same way around, using 2 sheets of paper to double-wrap them.
When packing glasses use bubble wrap and be sure to place them with the widest part of the glass facing down. Reinforce any boxes, do not overload them, and clearly label them ‘fragile’.
Pots and pans can be stacked, but you may wish to put paper or bubble wrap in between some items if there is a non-stick coating that could be scratched off. When stacking plates, try not to overload the box, and you can either individually wrap the plates, or place disposable plates in between each one to cushion them. You can even buy biodegradable ones.
Packing the bathroom
Be sure to clear out any out of date medicines, and use up cleaning supplies, as removals companies will not be keen to transport half-used bottles of bleach or other items that could leak.
Pack linens and towels as expected, and you can use them to wrap delicate items or secure items in boxes. Be sure to leave out enough towels for your family to use when you arrive and put them in your moving home survival kit.
Packing up the shed or garage
Tools need to be fully cleaned and emptied before they can be transported, and any sharp tools need to be stored in a clearly labelled box or solid toolbox. Be sure to keep the items you need to assemble your furniture to hand.
Fertilisers or hazardous substances cannot be transported, so make sure you dispose of these appropriately, and don’t leave it to the last minute. Previously opened pots of paint might spill so your removals team probably won't take them. Empty pots can be recycled, or you can donate half used pots to charity.
Again, plants are often not good to be transported, so make sure you can pack them to transport yourself, or if there are garden ornaments you plan to take with you, make sure these are cleaned and appropriately protected.
Packing your valuables
There are always going to be items that are of more value to you, whether that’s sentimental value or monetary.
Make sure you focus on these items first, so you know they are taken care of. It may be worth transporting these items with you personally, rather than adding them to another box, or to be packed by your removals company.
Jewellery can easily get tangled, so storing in the original boxes and packing these tightly in a small box can minimise mess. You can stuff paper or fabric around the edges to fill the box out and stop items moving around.
If items are delicate, make sure you wrap them carefully, and in some cases, you may require special packaging materials. Chat with your removals company, as they may have industry-standard materials you can use to provide extra cushioning and protection.
Some antiques may require specialist protection, so it’s best to talk to your removals company about what they recommend. It’s also important to take out extra insurance if these items are of higher monetary value than that covered by general removals transit insurance.
Many people make the mistake of expecting their removals team to disconnect their electrical items. If there is a water line connected, as with a dishwasher or washing machine, this will have to be done by you or a professional. Your removals team will not disconnect it.
Make sure you have emptied items and drained them if necessary. Give your freezer a couple of days to defrost and leave doors open whilst this is happening. It’s always best to give these items a clean down before they are transported. You can then simply tape them shut and tape the wires and plug up so that they are not trailing behind.
While you may have thought to keep items related to your move safe and accessible, it’s worth taking the time to know where all of your important documents are before you move. Things like driving licences, birth certificates, bank and credit card details, national insurance numbers and so on may not be necessary now but are likely to be needed soon after your move. Instead of sticking them in a box and planning to deal with them later, keep them all together in a folder and put them in your suitcase when you move, or clearly label them in the box you place them in.
Your moving home kit
Even if you're a packing whizz and have everything packed ahead of schedule, you’ll need to consider the items you need immediate access to in the first few days of your move, especially if you aren’t taking time off work and need to continue your normal routine straight away. Pack a suitcase with the appropriate clothing, toiletries and things like chargers for your devices. If you’re packing for children, ensure they have items to keep them occupied as well as the clothes they need. Similarly, if you’re moving pets, try to make sure they have access to their toys and comfort items to make them more comfortable.
Also think about what you’ll need on unpacking day – having a separate box with the kettle, mugs, glasses, tea, coffee and pre-packaged snacks will make sure you’re not low on energy and you can keep going.
For more ideas, have a look at our moving home survival guide which will ensure your move is as easy as possible.
Updated July 2022