You are planning a move to your new home and bought all the supplies on your checklist, but do you know how to use them correctly?

“I see people with the best intentions just go buy something that they think is going to help them store or move their things more efficiently and then either just buy the wrong product or use it incorrectly,” said Lisa Zaslow, a professional organizer in New York City and founder of Gotham Organizers. “The right materials make a difference.”

Other times, people skimp on moving supplies.

“They don’t buy it because they don’t want to spend the money,” said Peder Ronning, regional manager at Lock Up Self Storage.

Failure to use enough moving supplies or using them incorrectly can result in damaged goods.

“That’s where things get ruined,” Ronning said.

Moving Supplies Checklist

You might ask yourself: “What packing supplies do I need?”

Here is a rundown of all the best moving supplies, packing materials, and other items you need to prepare for the big day:

Packing supplies:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing paper
  • Moving blankets or furniture pads
  • Padded wrapping paper
  • Stretch plastic wrap
  • Heavy duty packaging tape with tape dispenser
  • Permanent markers for labeling
  • Garbage bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Mattress bags
  • Dish pack
  • Wardrobe boxes

Moving day supplies:

  • Moving truck
  • Box cutters
  • Hand trucks for heavy items
  • Cleaning supplies and paper towels
  • Bungee cords
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How to Properly Use Packing Supplies

Now that you have gathered everything you need, let’s take an in-depth look at the 10 most important packing supplies and how to use them all correctly to make sure your delicate items make it to your new home unscathed.

1. How to Use Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is easy to use, comes in rolls and ranges from small to large bubbles. Some are serrated every 12 inches so you can tear it off easily. Small bubble wrap is good for packing delicate, fragile items.

  • Bubble wrap is good for fine breakables—such as a collection of snow globes or teapots or other smallish things like statuettes and figurines.
  • Remember to always wrap items with the bubble side facing inwards for the best protection.
  • Small bubble wrap is also good for wrapping dishes and glasses to prevent breaking.
  • Always stack dishes on their edges—not flat.
  • Use bigger bubbles for moving larger and heavier objects like sculptures, vases and electronic equipment.

2. How to Use Packing Paper

Crumpled brown paper on a worn, wooden surface

Packing paper is essentially clean, white or brown newsprint that keeps your items ink-free and is another option for wrapping and packing dishes, glassware and other delicate or smaller items.

  • Use it as a filler to keep items from shifting when packing boxes.
  • Packing paper is clean so you don’t have to wash the dishes when you unpack them in the way that you would if you were using the New York Times to wrap your dishes in.
  • Packing paper is less expensive and takes up less space than bubble wrap.
  • You can use it to very effectively wrap and cushion almost any item that you’re going to be moving.

3. How to Use Cardboard Boxes

transport cardboard boxes, relocation concept

Moving boxes typically come in three sizes: small boxes, medium boxes, and large boxes. Knowing which items to pack into which size box is essential for a smooth moving experience.

  • Pack heavier items, like books, silverware, tools and canned goods, in small cardboard moving boxes.
  • Use large moving boxes for lighter bulky items, like pillows, bedding and lamp shades.
  • Medium moving boxes are ideal for, you guessed it, medium-sized items such as pots and pans, stereo equipment, toys, small appliances, and lampshades.
  • Use a combination of small, large and medium boxes to keep your boxes from getting too heavy. There’s no point in packing a box that needs four people to move it, especially if you’re moving yourself.
  • Pack heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top.
  • Don’t leave empty space in the boxes. Use packing paper, towels or linens to pack boxes full so they’re stable. They will stack better and will be easier to move.

4. How to Use Moving Blankets

If you are hiring a professional moving company, you do not need to purchase blankets as they will be provided. If you move yourself and rent a moving truck, you can rent them or substitute moving blankets with large blankets from your home – comforters, large beach towels.

  • Moving blankets are also known as furniture pads.
  • One reason to buy moving blankets is if you are turned off by the idea of renting them, given that you don’t know where they’ve been and whether they’ve cleaned them.
  • Blankets are best suited for covering furniture to keep it from getting scratched.
  • Secure them to furniture by wrapping plastic shrink wrap over them together.

5. How to Use Padded Wrapping Paper

An alternative to blankets is padded wrapping paper. It looks like brown paper bags, but it has cushioning built into it that you can wrap around pieces of furniture to prevent nicks and scratches. It’s typically for hard furniture like a desk, dresser or table.

6. How to Use Stretch Plastic Wrap

Wrapping plastic stretch film

Plastic stretch wrap looks and feels like Saran wrap and comes in different widths. You can use it, for example, to wrap and keep dresser drawers shut.

  • Plastic wrap is good for wrapping things up so that the drawers don’t come flying open. You can even just leave everything in the drawers if you’re going to stretch-wrap the whole dresser (unless it’s too heavy). It doesn’t get dinged up as easily either.
  • Use stretch wrap for cutlery trays, utensil trays, and even makeup trays. Wrap it around those things to keep loose items contained and just unwrap it, and stick it back into your drawer in the new place.
  • Plastic stretch wrap can also be used for soft furniture like couches and chairs by taking the giant-sized roll and wrapping it around the piece of furniture.
  • You can also wrap a desk so that the drawers don’t slide open.
  • Use plastic wrap to secure long loose items together like poles, brooms, mops, etc.
  • Wrap delicate items with a few layers of stretch wrap. Stretch wrap is one of the best packing material for fragile items.

7. How to Use Heavy-Duty Packaging Tape

You want to use a sticky, clear packing tape, not duct tape.

  • The cheapest packing tape isn’t going to be the stickiest. Skimp on costs too much and you could end up with unsealed boxes and spilled contents. Invest in a good-quality tape that will stick to your box
  • Don’t just tape down the middle where the flaps meet, but also put a couple strips on the side of the box for extra support. Using a tape gun can save you quite a bit of time as well.
  • Start taping from about half way from the top of box when sealing the seal because if you only go an inch down it may flip up easily.
  • You also need to criss-cross the box, especially if it is heavy.
  • A quality tape dispenser will save you lots of time and energy.

The Best (And Worst) Kinds of Tape For Moving and Packing Boxes

8. How to Use Marking Pens For Labeling

Marking pens are essential for labeling boxes. You’ll want to have an idea of what is in each box, or at least which room it is supposed to go in.

  • Use a king-size Sharpie so you can see your labels really easily.
  • Clearly label boxes with delicate contents “FRAGILE”.
  • Draw arrows pointing up to indicate which direction the box is supposed to sit.

9. How to Use Trash Bags for Packing

Trash bags provide a quick means for collecting and gathering loose items that don’t need to be packed carefully.

  • Line boxes with trash bags for liquids being packed like shampoos, liquor, stuff that can spill.
  • Trash bags are also a quick and easy way to pack up all of the clothes, towels, and linens in your closet. Bags full of textiles or stuffed animals can double as cushiony filler when packing your moving truck or moving pod.
  • Heavy duty contractor bags are the best choice, as they have a large capacity and are harder to rip.
  • Use bags to clean up and clear out debris left behind when you move.

10. How to Use Ziploc Bags for Moving

Keep Ziploc bags around for moving day to store small screws, brackets, batteries, or other little items.

Additional Supplies For Moving

The 10 moving supplies above should cover all of your basis, however there are a few more items that may help make your move easier.

How to Use Mattress Bags

Mattress bags are a great way to protect your mattresses from dirt or stains during the move. Make sure your mattress is completely dry before sealing it in a mattress bag.

How to Use Moving Dish Pack

Dish packs are often sold by moving companies to make it easy to pack your delicate dishes. While you can use a combination of the supplies above, some find it easier to buy a dish pack–but it won’t be cheaper!

How to Use Wardrobe Boxes

Wardrobe boxes are another type of box that you can probably get away without using, plus they are a bit expensive. However, they can be useful–especially if you have fine clothing you want to transport with care.

  • Use wardrobe boxes for suits, wedding dresses, and other expensive gowns.
  • If packing clothing for long term storage, be sure to place your clothes pieces inside of garment bags to protect against pests.
  • Use a cedar spray and cedar block for extra protection.

And One You Don’t Need…

Organizational experts say don’t bother with packing peanuts.

“Just avoid them like the plague,” Zaslow said. “They’re the most annoying product…They’re messy; they take up a ton of space.”

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Liz Wolf