You are planning a move 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.
1. Bubble Wrap
It’s easy to use, comes in rolls and ranges from small to large bubbles. It’s serrated every 12 inches so you can tear it off. Small bubble wrap is good for packing delicate, fragile items.
“It’s good for fine breakables—say you have a collection of snow globes or teapots or other smallish things like statuettes and figurines,” said Terri Albert, owner of The Chicago Organizer.
Albert said 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. And remember to pack dishes vertically, said Andrew Mellen, author and professional organizer in New York City.
“Always stack dishes on their edges—not flat,” he said. “Then I would use bigger bubbles for moving larger and heavier objects like sculptures, vases and electronic equipment.”
It’s essentially clean, white newsprint that keeps your items ink-free and is another option for wrapping and packing dishes, glassware and other delicate or smaller items. You can also use it as a filler to pad less-than-full boxes.
“It’s 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,” Mellen said.
“It’s the least expensive and takes up less space than bubble wrap,” Zaslow added. “You can use it to very effectively wrap and cushion almost any item that you’re going to be moving.”
Pack heavier items, like books, silverware, tools and canned goods, in small boxes and light items, like pillows, bedding and lamp shades, in bigger boxes.
“There’s no point in packing a box that needs four people to move it, especially if you’re moving yourself,” Mellen said. “It makes sense to keep things big enough that you can get real contents into them, but small enough that you can manage the box by yourself if you need to.”
Pack heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Don’t leave empty space in the boxes, so use packing paper, towels or clothes to pack boxes full so they’re stable. They will stack better and are easier to move.
“I would say do not purchase blankets,” Albert suggested. “Let the movers use them, and they will rent them to you and add them to the cost of supplies. If you move yourself and hire a U-Haul, you can rent them or substitute moving blankets with large blankets from your home – comforters, large beach towels. Be creative.”
Mellen said he’s hesitant to buy blankets because of the cost, and “the idea of renting blankets — given that you don’t know where they’ve been and whether they’ve cleaned them – is potentially a little skeevy in my mind.”
Whatever you use, blankets are best suited for covering furniture to keep it from getting scratched.
Zaslow said 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,” Zaslow said.
It looks and feels like Saran wrap and comes in different widths. You can use it, for example, to wrap and keep dresser drawers shut.
“It’s really good for wrapping things up so that the drawers don’t come flying open,” Ronning said. “Sometimes you can even just leave everything in there if you’re going to stretch-wrap the whole dresser. It doesn’t get dinged up as easily either.”
Albert also uses stretch wrap for cutlery trays, utensil trays, and even makeup trays. “You can wrap it around those things and just unwrap it and stick it back into your drawer in the new place,” she said.
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.
“If you wrap the whole sofa, it’s very difficult to get it dirty or wet and it holds the skirts down,” Ronning said.
You can also wrap a desk so that the drawers don’t slide open.
This is a sticky, clear packing tape, not duct tape. “Don’t buy your tape from a 99 cents store,” Zaslow warned. “The cheapest tape isn’t going to be the stickiest. Be generous in your use of tape.”
Make sure you not only tape down the middle, but also put a couple strips on the side of the box for extra support.
“My biggest tip is invest in good-quality tape that will stick to your box,” agreed Albert. “Also, go down about half way from the top of box when sealing the seal –because if you only go an inch down –boom! It will flip up and not secure it.”
You also need to criss-cross the box.
8. Marking Pens
“Use a king-size Sharpie so you can see your labels really easily,” Zaslow said.
“Have a magic marker or two on hand, so you can clearly label ‘fragile’ with ‘up arrows’,” Mellen added. “It’s helpful to know, ‘Don’t set anything on top of this box!’”
9. Trash Bags
“Sometimes I will line boxes with trash bags for liquids being packed like shampoos, liquor, stuff that can spill,” Zaslow said.
Keep Ziploc bags around for moving day to store small screws, brackets, batteries, or other little items.
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.”