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Organized Moving: A Pictorial Guide of Useful Packing Tips

Updated on August 1, 2014

Moving Means Packing...Yay?

We have had the "pleasure" of packing up our home and moving several times in the last few years. While moving does involve a lot of work, it does get a little easier for us each time. After our most recent move, we realized we have actually acquired quite a handful of useful tips that have worked well for us. How do we know? Well, here's the proof: Nothing has broken in any of our moves! So we thought we should share our best tips to an organized move.


Moving or know someone who is?  Our pictorial guide is filled with tips from our moving experiences to help keep your packing organized--including 12 packing tools you probably already have.
Moving or know someone who is? Our pictorial guide is filled with tips from our moving experiences to help keep your packing organized--including 12 packing tools you probably already have. | Source

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Thefedorows' Top 8 Organized Packing Tips:

  1. Clean your house before packing: organize, discard, donate! Haven't used it since your last move, or in the last year? Consider discarding or donating. Moving is a great time to de-clutter.
  2. Pack one room at a time, starting with the room you use the least. Plan on about 5 hours per room if you are packing by yourself and want to do a thorough job.
  3. Pack well, with the heaviest items on the bottom of each box/tub, fill with lighter items on the top so there isn't space between the items and the top, and make sure to have enough padding so the items inside don't move.
  4. Label tubs/boxes with a color for each room and a number so you can reuse them again. Keep a master list of all the numbered tubs/boxes with their contents on a clipboard.
  5. Invest in tubs. We use tubs for storage normally, so it makes sense to use them for packing too. We like tubs because they are uniform size so they stack well, sturdy, reusable, and don't take up much space in storage.
  6. Use what you have to pack! You already probably have more packing tools than you realize: trash bags, bags from stores, towels, blankets, socks, luggage, clothes, shoe boxes, etc.
  7. Make an "essentials tub" to take with you with useful items you will need right away. This way when you arrive, no matter how much you unpack the first day, you know you'll have essentials to get you through.
  8. Hire Moving Helpers. If you have room in your budget for this, we HIGHLY recommend it! You still pack everything yourself and rent the truck, but you can hire professionals by the hour to actually load and/or unload your truck for you. They know what they're doing and do it so much faster than we ever could. It costs about $70 per hour for two helpers (expect 2 hours whether loading or unloading).



From A Professional Organizer

Tip 1: Clean

Now this is not the most glamorous tip, but it is important. Clean. If you pack an unorganized, unclean house, then you will unpack an unorganized, unclean house. Ask,

  • Do I like this?
  • Do I need this? (Have I used this in the last year?)
  • Do I want to spend time and money storing and moving this?

If the answer is yes, keep it! If no, make a "to donate" pile. Make sure to donate the items before you move. If something is broken or unusable, please don't hold on to it any longer. Throw it away. This is sometimes hard...but as you start packing you'll wish you had thrown out or donated more than you did. Trust us! This happens every time.

Also, it is a great idea to go through any piles of paperwork you may have lying around. Organize these into files to take with you so you know where everything is! If you don't do it now, it probably won't happen later. Shred unnecessary paperwork you have been keeping as well.

Tip 2: Pack One Room At A Time

We usually start packing our home office up first.  Crates are perfect for moving heavy books and binders.
We usually start packing our home office up first. Crates are perfect for moving heavy books and binders. | Source

Where to Start?

We like to start packing the room we use the least, which is our guest room/home office. We pack our bookshelves, desk, and storage closets in here before other rooms. However, we might keep some items in an essentials tub in case we need them before we move (like envelopes, stamps, and our address book). Once this room is packed we simply close the door. Hooray! Then, as we pack other areas we can put the tubs in this room since it is already packed and again, close the door. We do this until each wall is filled up. This lets us feel like we still have a living space. Typically, this is the order we have used to pack our 2 bedroom apartments in each of our moves:

  1. Guest room/home office
  2. Coat closet
  3. Wall décor throughout our entire home (which we put in living room tubs)
  4. Living room (minus the tv, we usually pack that last)
  5. Kitchen (this room takes the longest)
  6. Bathrooms
  7. Bedroom

How Much Time Will It Take?
Unfortunately, it always takes longer than we think. If one of us is packing along, we estimate about 5 hours per room. We aim to pack our home in one week, with about one room per day. If both of us are packing we can get more work done. So for our 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment it takes us about 30 hours.

Tip 3: Pack Well

Blankets are very useful in packing kitchen tubs as they protect well.
Blankets are very useful in packing kitchen tubs as they protect well. | Source

How Do You Pack a Kitchen Well?

Tips We Learned from the Professionals

When packing it is important to remember a few things. While we are not experts, we have packed 5 times in the last 5 years and nothing has broken, so we must be doing something right! Additionally, we have had professional movers help once and they gave us a few tips:

  • Pack heavy to light.
  • Make sure to pad the sides so the items don't move around.
  • Don't leave any gap on top so the items don't collapse under pressure. Fill the top with something soft like pillows, newspapers, extra plastic baggies, etc.

Now one of the most tricky rooms to pack well is the kitchen, because there are so many objects of varying weights and sizes. Often, the kitchen holds your most breakable items as well, so you want to make sure to pack it the best you can. This is an excellent video on how to pack items like plates, cups, stemware, and pans. However, he uses lots and lots of paper along with cardboard boxes. We used the same techniques, but used blankets, towels, napkins and socks as our cushion between the items.

Tip 4: Label

Organized packing just got a whole lot easier with numbers!
Organized packing just got a whole lot easier with numbers! | Source
A clipboard keeps all the contents of your tubs organized.  Just a glance to find what you're looking for.
A clipboard keeps all the contents of your tubs organized. Just a glance to find what you're looking for. | Source

Color-Code & Number

The first time we moved we bought a package of colored labels and simply wrote the room names on each set. Each tub/box gets two colored labels, one on each of the short sides. Here is the system we use:

  • Orange: Master Bedroom
  • Green: Coat Closet
  • Yellow: Office
  • Pink: Kitchen
  • Blue: Living Room

Additionally, each tub also gets a number. We simply typed up numbers on a table using Word and printed them out. We cut and taped them onto bins as we used them. This cost us very little to do. However, you could also buy sheets of labels and simply print, peel, and stick. As with the colored labels, each tub/box gets a number label underneath the colored label.


How do you know what is in each tub?
We keep a clipboard with a simple table on it. One column has the tub number. The other column has the contents. We highlight the tub number with the same color as the room it is going to. Then, as we pack, we write the contents in each tub. If something is really important in the tub we might also highlight that as well (like our safe, DVD player, modem/router, etc.).

Tip 5: Invest In Tubs

Tubs are perfect for packing clothes!  You'll be amazed at how much you can fit and you can even keep the hangers on which makes unpacking them a breeze.
Tubs are perfect for packing clothes! You'll be amazed at how much you can fit and you can even keep the hangers on which makes unpacking them a breeze. | Source
Tubs are durable, reusable, and stack well in storage!
Tubs are durable, reusable, and stack well in storage! | Source

A Worthwhile Investment

Tubs, totes, bins...whatever you call them, gather any you may already have in your home. If you have a limited amount, begin with using them for your clothes as they store much more than boxes. If you don't have any, we highly recommend investing in some as they have been very helpful in our moves. The up-front cost is high (about $10-15 per tub) but you will be able to reuse them in other moves or in organizing your home. They also stack well for easy storage.

How To Pack Clothes in Tubs:

  1. Grab as many hanging clothes as you can by the hangers (about 10).
  2. Keeping the clothes on the hangers, place the base of the clothes in the tub.
  3. Then gently fold the garments over so they are on an angle and the hook of the hanger is in a corner.
  4. Repeat with another handful of clothes, but place them on the opposite side so the hangers are on the opposite corner this time. Repeat.
  5. With a large tub you should be able to fit about 45 pieces of clothing. Yes, they may get slightly wrinkled. However, these will probably be the first tubs you empty and the clothes will be unpacked super fast as you simply hang them back up!

How to Pack Large Items

What About Those Large Items?

Two of our most awkward items to pack are our 40 gallon fish tank and one large decorative mirror. For these items, we did buy heavy duty boxes (that we have saved and reused in each of our moves) and bubble wrap. For our fish tank, we actually used a large tv/microwave box. It was much larger than our tank, so we made sure to pad it well with large blankets and bubble wrap. We covered the top really well with a spare tub lid and seat cushions, so there wasn't extra space for the box to break during moving. However, if you don't have the right sized box, you can do like the professionals and combine boxes together as in this video.

Tip 6: Use What You Have To Pack

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Socks slip right over glass vases and even wine glasses!  If using these on stemware, make sure to place them in a smaller tub/box within a larger one so they are protected.  Blankets are very useful in packing kitchen tubs as they protect well.  Shoeboxes work great for storing CDs and kitchen items like mugs (wrapped in cloth napkins).  Napkins and wash clothes work great for wrapping breakable kitchen items.  Fill empty containers with the wrapped items.  Salt shakers in a plastic pitcher and spice jars in a glass flour canister.  Crates are perfect for moving heavy books and binders. We have covered the top with a piece of rope and plastic wrap to keep the books secure.  Keep small items organized in egg cartons.  Perfect for necklaces.  Tubs are perfect for packing clothes!  You'll be amazed at how much you can fit and you can even keep the hangers on which makes unpacking them a breeze. Towels are the best packing tool!  Great for frames and breakable kitchen items.  Place one frame on the end of the towel, fold up.  Then place another frame on top, fold up.  Place upright in tub/box. Tuck frames between seat cushions or in pillows.  Place upright in tub/box.  Genius!  Use plastic wrap to keep the organizers you already use organized!  Perfect for emptying out desk drawers.  Your cords will stay organized while moving with bread tags.  Great to use on TV cables as well.
Socks slip right over glass vases and even wine glasses!  If using these on stemware, make sure to place them in a smaller tub/box within a larger one so they are protected.
Socks slip right over glass vases and even wine glasses! If using these on stemware, make sure to place them in a smaller tub/box within a larger one so they are protected. | Source
Blankets are very useful in packing kitchen tubs as they protect well.
Blankets are very useful in packing kitchen tubs as they protect well. | Source
Shoeboxes work great for storing CDs and kitchen items like mugs (wrapped in cloth napkins).
Shoeboxes work great for storing CDs and kitchen items like mugs (wrapped in cloth napkins). | Source
Napkins and wash clothes work great for wrapping breakable kitchen items.  Fill empty containers with the wrapped items.  Salt shakers in a plastic pitcher and spice jars in a glass flour canister.
Napkins and wash clothes work great for wrapping breakable kitchen items. Fill empty containers with the wrapped items. Salt shakers in a plastic pitcher and spice jars in a glass flour canister. | Source
Crates are perfect for moving heavy books and binders. We have covered the top with a piece of rope and plastic wrap to keep the books secure.
Crates are perfect for moving heavy books and binders. We have covered the top with a piece of rope and plastic wrap to keep the books secure. | Source
Keep small items organized in egg cartons.  Perfect for necklaces.
Keep small items organized in egg cartons. Perfect for necklaces. | Source
Tubs are perfect for packing clothes!  You'll be amazed at how much you can fit and you can even keep the hangers on which makes unpacking them a breeze.
Tubs are perfect for packing clothes! You'll be amazed at how much you can fit and you can even keep the hangers on which makes unpacking them a breeze. | Source
Towels are the best packing tool!  Great for frames and breakable kitchen items.  Place one frame on the end of the towel, fold up.  Then place another frame on top, fold up.  Place upright in tub/box.
Towels are the best packing tool! Great for frames and breakable kitchen items. Place one frame on the end of the towel, fold up. Then place another frame on top, fold up. Place upright in tub/box. | Source
Tuck frames between seat cushions or in pillows.  Place upright in tub/box.
Tuck frames between seat cushions or in pillows. Place upright in tub/box. | Source
Genius!  Use plastic wrap to keep the organizers you already use organized!  Perfect for emptying out desk drawers.
Genius! Use plastic wrap to keep the organizers you already use organized! Perfect for emptying out desk drawers. | Source
Your cords will stay organized while moving with bread tags.  Great to use on TV cables as well.
Your cords will stay organized while moving with bread tags. Great to use on TV cables as well. | Source

Does It Have to Be a Tub?

Nope. It doesn't even have to have a lid. In fact we usually use a laundry basket.

Tip 7: Make An Essentials Tub

We recommend having a box (or as we prefer, a tub) out for the duration of your time packing. That way, if you are about to pack something you will probably need that first night or two in your new home, you can simply place it in the tub. This is a tub of things you will take with you in your car to carry into your new home right away. Yes, you can go shopping right away, but from experience, shopping is not what we want to do after moving. Our list has expanded with each move as we have realized what we wished we had kept in our tub. In our most recent move, we forgot to take a photo of our tub, but the checklist below includes the items it contained.

Essentials Tub Checklist

Bathroom
Kitchen
Other
Toilet Paper
Paper Towel
Power Strip
Shower Curtain/Rod
Plasticware
Cell phone chargers
Hand Soap
Paper Plates, Cups, Bowls
Scissors/Box cutter
Tissues
Trash Bags
Screw driver
Bath Towels
Disinfecting Wipes
Sheets
First Aid Kit
Vitamins/Medicines
Modem/WiFi Router
In addition to an overnight bag (as if you were going on a vacation), it is helpful to back a tub with essentials you'll need before you get everything unpacked.

Tip 8: Hire Moving Helpers

Our Moving Helpers loaded our truck in just 2 hours!
Our Moving Helpers loaded our truck in just 2 hours! | Source

Movinghelp.com

A Great Decision

If you have room in your budget, we highly recommend hiring moving helpers. You still pack everything and reserve the truck, then the moving helpers come at a designated time to load your truck. You can also set a time for moving helpers at your destination as well. It is so nice to sit back and "oversee" as they load everything you just spent all that time packing. On the other end, it is nice to direct them to which room to unload the items. So nice!

We used a site called movinghelp.com and found it to be very easy to use. Here is what we learned from our experience...

  • How do you pay? You pay movinghelp.com upfront before the service. They are the middleman and "hold" the money for you. You will receive a digital receipt with a code that you give to your moving helper when they finish the work. Then, the money is released to the moving helpers.
  • Any fees? If you write a review about your moving helper after their service, you receive a refund on your handling/processing fee of $5.95!
  • How much will it cost? You pay typically for 2 helpers to come for a 2 hour block of time, whether or not they use the full 2 hours. If they take longer than that time, you pay a set amount per hour (typically $70-$75). The cost varies from location as well. From our experience, it cost us $150 (load on east coast) and $155 (unload in Midwest). For our 2 bedroom apartment, it took them just under 2 hours on each end.
  • Do they do a good job? Each of ours were fantastic! Nothing broke and they were professional. We read reviews before-hand and chose helpers with 5 stars.

What Tip Did You Find Helpful?

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Sending You Best Wishes

While moving is a lot of work, it is incredibly helpful to keep yourself organized. It takes time up front, but helps make unloading and moving in to your new home a much easier task.

If you only take one tip away, our favorite and most helpful has been our labeling system (tip 4). Each tub has a colored room label and a number, and the contents are recorded on a clipboard. If you need something before it is unpacked, simply refer to your clipboard and find the tub with that number. Additionally, the colored label helps the right tubs get in the right rooms for easier unpacking.

We wish you well on your move and hope these tips were helpful. Please pass them on to anyone you know is moving!

© 2014 thefedorows

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    • thefedorows profile image
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      thefedorows 19 months ago from the Midwest

      @raquelle48, thank you! Packing a fish tank is tricky, and each time we wonder if it will be damaged, but it never has been! Padding and a good box help.

    • raquelle148 profile image

      raquelle148 21 months ago

      All your tips are precise especially when packing sensitive stuff like fish tank.

    • thefedorows profile image
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      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      @Denise Handlon, we are so happy that you found this hub useful! We wish you well on your move! You can do it!! Thank you for your kind words.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Dear Rob and Marissa, you are a GOD SEND with this hub. I am in the midst of moving to a different city. I found the place, paid the first months rent and deposit, called the utilities, and now comes the hard stuff-packing.

      This hub is so complete with organizational tools, some which I've never considered, that its given me a boost of energy and confidence. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

      UP/ U/I/ and Awesome! Will share.

      BTW I finally did respond to your feedback on my 'graham cracker' hub. Between work and looking for a new place, its been a long while since I've checked my HP comments. Thanks. :)

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 3 years ago from the Midwest

      @MsDora, thank you! Moving is a lot of work!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great moving guide! Well laid out, and seems like you didn't miss a thing. Voted Up and Useful and more.