How to Pack Everything For Your Move in One Day

Paige Smith
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Moving at the last minute doesn’t have to be stressful.

Packing your apartment or home for a move is nothing short of daunting, especially if you’re in a time-crunch or you are a big time procrastinator. It’s easy to feel totally stressed out (and maybe even panicked), but with a bit of prep work and some serious dedication, you can clear out your home and load up your moving truck in one day.

How to Pack Your Home Quickly

Handsome man moving

It helps if you have gathered some packing supplies like cardboard boxes and packing tape. If not, you’ll need to start your day with a trip to the store to pick up packing materials. You’ll need a mix of small boxes, medium boxes, and large boxes. Consider buying bubble wrap or a dish pack for fragile items.

If you don’t have a way to pick up supplies before moving day, we’ll cover what to do in the packing tips below.

Make a List

Before you start pulling everything out of your closets and cabinets, walk through your home and take note of the big items you plan to pack or leave behind.

If you’re itching to get rid of the leather chair in your office, add it to your “Give Away” list. If, on the other hand, you know you’re saving your vintage bookcase, file it under “Pack.”

Getting organized before you start moving heavier items around will save you time and energy in the long run.

Start Early and Enlist Help

Use the dark pre-dawn hours when your brain is fresh and you still have energy to tackle the most difficult packing tasks. Save some time and make breakfast the night before.

Erin Steed, “chief princess officer” of Meathead Movers and founder of Princess Packers, also recommends enlisting help from friends and family if you can’t afford to hire a professional.

“It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you take on too much by yourself, and the job will usually be bigger than you anticipated.”

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Start with Artwork and Decorative Items

Before moving day, try to find time to pack your prized works of modern art, your American kitsch collection, knick-knacks, your vintage movie posters, or whatever else adorns your walls.

Fragile items like artwork, vases, frames, souvenirs, and small sculptures take extra time and care to pack up, plus you don’t really need displayed them during your last couple of weeks in your hold home.

Pack Boxes Correctly

Woman putting packing peanuts in box

Even though you are in a hurry, don’t rush so much you don’t pack your boxes correctly. Use small boxes for heavy items and fragile items. Use large boxes for lighter, bulky items. Place heavier items in the bottom of the box when packing.

Pack Room By Room

The key to packing productivity is to stop thinking about the entire house and instead focus on one area at a time.

Now that you’ve packed up your artwork and delicate items, pack the rest of your home by going room by room, and within each room, drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf. When you pack, group like items together and organize your boxes according to the room or area of the new home they’ll go in.

Begin With Your Kitchen

With big appliances like crock pots and toaster ovens, plus fragile dishes and glassware, packing the kitchen is tedious and time-consuming.

Pack what you can in advance except a few necessities like the coffee-maker, a couple plates, snacks, and some silverware.

Purge While You Pack

As you pack, set aside everything you want to donate or toss. Consult your list as you go and be honest with yourself about the stuff that no longer serves you. There’s no point going through the time and effort of packing (and unpacking) items you no longer want or need.

Keep Supplies Handy

Gather packing supplies, bubble wrap and packing paper in advance if possible. You can save shipping materials from packages you receive in the mail if you know you’ll be moving to your new house soon.

Protect with Towels

No bubble wrap? No problem. Use towels to wrap delicate items and provide padding. It may not be as foolproof as bubble wrap, but it should provide some protection in transit.

If you don’t have packing paper, you can just as well wrap glasses and vases with newspaper. Just know the ink may smudge on to the glass and you’ll have to wipe it off.

Use Trash Bags

Load soft, pliable items like towels, blankets, folded clothes and toilet paper into a trash bag instead of a box. Trash bags hold more than boxes and they can squish down to fill in the space in your car or moving truck.

Instead of trash bags, you can also use shopping tote bags to stuff with items. Most of us have dozens of them sitting around. If you don’t have enough cardboard boxes for packing, tote bags can be used in a pinch for a DIY move.

Keep Your Clothes On Hangers

Instead of folding and packing your coats, dresses, and shirts (and their respective hangers), use a trash bag to encapsulate them, leaving the hanger hooks sticking out of the top of the bag.

Fill Bags and Suitcases

Take advantage of the dead space in your carry-ons, duffle bags, and beach totes by filling them with toiletries, beauty products, books, linens, and other non-breakables.

Label Boxes Thoughtfully

Labeling your boxes is the key to stress-free unpacking. Use a marker to write the contents of the box, the room it will go in, and special notes like “Open First” or “Fragile.”

If you are headed to the store to pick up packing supplies, you might want to pick up some pre-printed labels. That way you don’t have to spend so much time writing down what goes in each box.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 25, 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Paige Smith

Paige Smith is a freelance writer from Orange County, California. She specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.
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About the SpareFoot Blog

The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
Contact the editor: [email protected]

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