moving boxes

If you’ve got a day of moving ahead of you, you don’t need the extra headache of running to the store at the last minute to buy packing tape. To ensure that you’ve got all the moving supplies you need ahead of time, here’s a list of some essential tools that will take you through the process from start to finish.

1. Tools for Packing

Naturally, you’re going to need boxes or containers to hold your belongings during the move. While you can buy boxes at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, you can find them elsewhere for free. Grocery stores and other retailers sometimes give away boxes. You might find people giving away free boxes on websites like Craigslist. Finally, ask around. If your friends and neighbors know you’re planning a move, they might come across boxes and hang onto them for you.

If you can, consider the environment when amassing your supplies, said Malik Keene, co-founder of K&M Delivering/Moving Inc. in District Heights, MD. For example, buy recycled packaging materials if possible and use reusable containers that can be used for future moves.

For fragile items such as dishes and glasses, you’ll want to wrap them carefully in packing paper before putting them in boxes. Old newspapers may do the trick, but there’s always the possibility that the ink will rub off on your belongings.

You’ll also need scissors and packing tape. Don’t forget about labels, as they’ll help you keep track of where everything is.

2. Tools for Moving

Packing is just the first step in the moving process. Taking your belongings from one place to another can be one of the most difficult parts of the process, particularly if it’s a DIY move.

One tool you may want to rent is a hand truck. It’s a two-wheeled cart featuring a ledge that slides underneath objects you’re trying to move. You can slide the hand truck under your boxes, putting the weight on the hand truck rather than your shoulders, arms and back.

Another tool that could come in handy is a dolly—a flat platform on top of wheels that is used to move heavier items. While hand trucks are helpful for moving boxes, dollies are better for larger items such as furniture and appliances. Some dollies have a flat surface all the way across. Others are shaped like a square with an opening in the middle. The type of dolly you’ll use will depend on the size and shape of the items that you’re moving.

Lifting straps also might be worth renting. Often referred to as moving straps, these take some of the weight off your arms and shoulders when you’re lifting heavy objects, distributing the weight among you, another person and the strap itself.

Other potential rental items include furniture pads or blankets, which you can wrap around furniture, appliances or electronics to add an extra layer of protection.

If you’re renting a truck for the move, you typically can rent items such as hand trucks, dollies and furniture pads all at once, said Dave Baptisti, director of national consumer sales and programs at Penske Truck Leasing. If you’d rather buy your own, you can go to a hardware or home improvement store.

3. Tools for Unpacking

If you won’t be unpacking everything immediately or if you’ll be moving items to a self-storage unit, consider getting wardrobe boxes and free-standing shelving so you can keep your belongings organized, said Amber Kostelny, owner of Chicago-based professional organizing company Amber’s Organizing.

Your home inventory—the list of items moved and where you put them—and the floor plan of the new space will be crucial at this stage of the move. You’ll be able to identify which boxes you need to unpack first and where you want your belongings to go.

Finally, you’ll need a few tools to get everything in order. A utility knife will allow you to open your boxes, and a toolkit with items like screwdrivers, a hammer and nails will come in handy to reassemble furniture that you took apart for the move.