Basics of Moving: Packing for a Move the Right Way

Any person or family who has ever had to move across the city, state, country, or even the world, knows how stressful the process can be. With so much to do, spending the time to pack everything correctly can seem much more difficult than it is. In fact, packing can be a great opportunity to reorganize your stuff and prioritize your life, getting rid of the stale things you no longer use or want, and opening space in your life for the new and novel.

With a little know-how, and some professional tips, you will be on your way to taking the moving process from a dreaded obligation to a positive opportunity.


Pre-packing tips:

  • Start planning early on – at least six weeks advance for a big move – to give yourself ample time to organize and prioritize.
  • Call moving companies and get quotes to compare what the potential costs could be.
  • Gather packing materials beforehand. These should include:
  • Boxes, tape, pens, newspaper, bubble wrap, old pillows, blankets, and anything else you might need to carry out the move.
  • We would recommend using new materials to avoid trafficking of undesired insects.


General Packing tips:

  • To begin, gather and pack items that you don’t often use. This could be out of season belongings (your Christmas decorations, for example, if you are moving in the summer), or other non-essentials.
  • Start a pile of things you want to get rid of or give away to charity organizations. Place these to the side in their own bags or boxes.
  • Label all boxes while you are packing, and try to organize packing boxes by room so that they can be easily placed in the correct room upon arrival at your destination.
    • You might consider color-coding your boxes by buying colored tape or markers. This will force you to be more organized, and will help save time later on in the move.
  • Heavier items, like books, should be placed in smaller boxes. Likewise, light items can go in bigger boxes.
    • Limit box weight to 40 lbs. (50 lbs. maximum) to prevent injuries and limit damage to the goods during the move.
  • Pack in a separate box items you will need directly upon arrival at your new house or apartment. These could include:
    • Paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, toiletries, flashlight, first aid kit, pencil and paper, snacks, drinks, plastic bags, change of clothing, towels, and medication.
  • For heavy, fragile items, like dishes, make sure to purchase professional, reinforced dish packing boxes. Pack plates and dishes vertically, and limit the empty space in the box as much as you can by wrapping liberally with paper or newspaper.
  • For toiletries, unscrew the top, place a small piece of Saran wrap over the opening, and screw the tops back on. This will prevent the dreaded shampoo leak catastrophe, which can ruin an otherwise flawless move.
  • When loading the truck, place the heaviest items in first, on the ground and far to the front.


For Furniture and Appliances:

  • Disassemble as much as possible any furniture.
    • Remove legs from tables, separate couch sections, etc.
    • Place screws, washers, or other spare parts in a sandwich bag and tape to the body of the furniture where it came from.
  • For scratch-able surfaces, like table-tops, consider renting pads from a moving company. (Sheets, while they might seem a viable alternative, are likely to rip and tear during the move)
  • Turn off and clear out the refrigerator 24 hours in advance to allow it to thaw out. Before packing it, drain any water and wipe out any mildew or mold. Tape the doors shut to prevent them opening during transport.
  • Empty big dressers of all clothes and other items. Lighter furniture is much safer and easier to move.
  • Tape closed any doors or cupboards on dressers, desks, or other furniture items to prevent unforeseen spillage and other miscellaneous injury.
  • For appliances and electronics:
    • Unplug the power cord and tape to the body to prevent damage.
    • Take a photo of any intricate media plug set-ups which you can reference when setting up at your new location.
  • For an inkjet printer, store the ink and toner in a plastic bag to prevent the possibility of seepage on other belongings during the move.
  • For washer and dryer, consult with the manufacturer for model-specific moving instructions.

If you give yourself ample time to get organized and commit to making the move work for you (and not the other way around), you will save money, feel good about giving to a charity or shelter, and limit any unforeseen injuries or damages. Happy packing!


About the Author: Joe Weidman is the founder and owner of Chicago junk removal company,, and his expertise is in finding creative, efficient, and safe solutions to junk removal projects, big and small.