Ultimate Guide on How to Pack Everything You Own For a Move

Ultimate Guide on How to Pack Everything You Own For a Move

Worrying about how to pack everything for your impending move? If you have moving anxiety, (and perhaps a teensy bit of procrastination), calm your nerves and use these top packing tips that won’t leave you:

  • Stressed out
  • Dealing with broken/missing items
  • Forced to make (and pay for) multiple round-trips

We’re dishing on everything we’ve learned in over 30 years of packing & moving millions of Texas households. Here’s how to pack everything you own and have a no-sweat move—no matter where you live or how many items you have!

Not Sure How To Start Packing? Try Our P.O.P Method!

For most people, figuring out when and how to start packing is the biggest hurdle. But, following what we call the P.O.P method will help you conquer the packing process without getting overwhelmed! Here's how it works:

1. Prioritize

The first step in the P.O.P process is to prioritize what you have to pack and when:

  • Do certain items have to be delivered to your second destination or a storage unit?
  • Are some pieces heavier or more delicate than others? 
  • Does something have more intricate parts to disassemble?
  • Will you need it urgently at your new place (like dishes, towels, or bedsheets)? 

Specialty items (looking at you, Peloton) may need to be dismantled or uninstalled by an experienced representative. This may or may not be someone from the parent manufacturing company. Since these types of pieces will take more time and attention, it’s a good idea to rank them in one of two ways: 

  • Number each item in order of importance
  • Or, add a note indicating either HIGH, MEDIUM, or LOW priority.

Use these tips to create a prioritized home inventory list before you pack:

  1. Do a 5-to-10-minute brainstorm session and list everything you need to pack that’s extra heavy, delicate, valuable, or complicated. 
  2. Then, go room by room and list the rest of your belongings. These remaining items will typically be easier and faster to disassemble and pack.  
  3. Add a HIGH, MEDIUM, or LOW priority note for each item.
  4. Now you’ll know where to start and which pieces will take more or less time to pack!

Note: If you expect to hire professional packers or need help packing anything that’s high-priority, add this in your notes. This serves as a reminder to notify your movers before your move day arrives so you both know what to expect.

2. Organize

Packing without first getting organized is a stressful disaster waiting to happen. Here’s how to make a plan to organize before packing:

  • Determine what supplies you’ll need. Make sure they’re good quality and that you have enough. (TIP: if you’re using old boxes, make sure they’re sturdy before packing them!)
  • Know when and where to get the suppliesDo some research on where to get affordable packing supplies all in one stop. You don’t want to wait on this, especially if you’re moving during a busy season!
  • Gather everything you need to move into your new place. And we mean everything (e.g., a working payment card, keys, paperwork, elevator/equipment reservations, apartment or storage hours, etc.). Getting well-prepared means that a moving company won’t have to charge you to hold items overnight. (While this is 100% legal, it’s very awkward and frustrating for everyone involved).
  • Contact your movers early about any specialty items. Some pieces movers can’t disassemble at all, or without you signing a waiver.  Other items—like Peloton bikes—may need a specialist to uninstall or dismantle them, so do this early.

3. Prepare

This is where things get down to business… You know, the part where you actually pack. Take a look at your home inventory list. Now it’s simply a matter of executing on parts 1 and 2 of the POP Method—Prioritize and Organize—that you’ve already done!

  • Start disassembling and wrapping your highest-priority items.
  • To stay organized, put similar items with each other based on the room (e.g. all dishes in the same box).
  • Mark the sides and top of each box. Include its contents, whether it’s fragile, and which side is up. Labeling helps immensely when you need to figure out which boxes to load without crushing something. (Example: “Kitchen Dishes | FRAGILE | This Side Up” or “Bedroom Canvas Prints | This Side Up”).
  • Continue down the list until you’ve wrapped and packed everything.
  • Clothing can be packed on hangers if they’re in wardrobe boxes/covers, or folded and boxed or packed in suitcases.
  • For anything you need help with, make a note and save it for move day.

Which Packing Supplies Do You Really Need For Moving?

If you’re moving in a hurry or trying to stick to a budget, there’s little time to waste on finding the right packing supplies for your move. Here’s a quick breakdown of what supplies you absolutely need for proper packing, as well as the optional nice-to-haves.

Must-Have Supplies for Packing

  • Tool Set- How else are you going to dismantle your furniture? P.S. It’s best to have a case for your tools so you don’t have to put them in a moving box. 
  • Moving Boxes- Good boxes will have handle slots; make sure these are sturdy enough for any heavier items!
  • Packing paper and/or Bubble Wrap- Bubble wrap and packing paper are crucial for padding your fragile items and filling in spaces to keep them stable.
  • Suitcase or Bag- A good suitcase or non-plastic bag is necessary for storing your essentials (as in, whatever you’ll need immediately in your new home—like toilet paper, toothbrush, medicine, snacks, towels, clothes, etc.)
  • Knife or Boxcutter- You’ll definitely need this handy to open packed boxes or zip ties as you unpack.

Where To Get Free & Low-cost Packing Supplies & Moving Boxes

You can find packing supplies that won’t break—or break the bank—at certain stores, like:

  • Your moving company. Tell your movers what you need, and they’ll bring it along!
  • Liquor stores, Bars, or Wineries
  • Furniture stores
  • Dollar stores

Why You Shouldn’t Use Grocery Store Boxes for Packing 

Not only could the boxes have mold or mites, but spilled food or certain allergens could get on your personal belongings and into your new space. You certainly don’t want to deal with bugs or a sticky, stinky, mess on your furniture… Grocery store boxes are intended only for food.

And, since food usually weighs less than standard household objects, grocery boxes are made lighter for one-time use.

Grocery boxes also too weak for heavier items. So they're not meant to hold up for loading into a moving truck full of large furniture. The tops aren’t reinforced either. That means the bottoms could easily fall out or the tops could be crushed with even slight pressure, damaging whatever you pack inside.

Do yourself a favor and get real moving boxes instead of grocery store boxes!

Efficient Packing Tips To Avoid Move-day Headaches

Want to move quickly and be as efficient as possible? Use these tips on how to pack to avoid move-day headaches:

  • Clean and put away dishes and laundry. You definitely don’t want to forget to pack these. 
  • Get a lot more moving boxes than you probably think you’ll need. It never hurts to have more, but not having enough can put you in a last-minute bind.
  • Declutter, donate, & discard whatever you don’t need or haven’t used in at least a year. The less you have to pack, the better.
  • Avoid overloading boxes. If you can’t easily lift it, it’s too heavy. 
  • Seal and label all your packed boxes before movers arrive 
  • Do one last walkthrough to make sure no packed boxes are hidden away in closets or behind doors.  

FAQs: How To Pack Certain Items for Moving

Below is a breakdown of everything you wanted to know about how to prep and pack certain items for moving.

How Do I Pack My Garage & Lawn Equipment?

Garages are notorious for clutter, so try to clean out and discard as much as you can while packing this area. Your garage is also where your heaviest and sharpest items usually are. That’s why having sturdy, high-quality supplies—like reinforced boxes or chipboard, moving blankets, tarps, and packing tape—is essential to pack your lawn and garage equipment the right way.

Here are some tips for packing items found in your garage:

  • Movers can’t transport fuel, like gasoline or propane tanks. Since it’s dangerous to transport that on your own, try draining or using up any fuel before you move, especially fuel in lawnmovers.
  • Double-bag any liquids or soil that could leak. Line a moving box with a contractor’s bag, then reinforce the top with chipboard so that nothing smashes it from above and causes more spillage.
  • Triple- or double-wrap any sharp, exposed edges with bubble wrap and/or stretch wrap.
  • Use zip ties or packing tape to bind long handles of rakes, brooms, and garden tools together, then cover the ends with garbage bags.
  • To keep cords organized, tie them together using a zip tie. You can also put them in a zipped bag or box with a label.
  • Keep tools in their toolbox. This is the best method for ensuring your tools are secure and won’t knock around against other items. Don’t have a toolbox? Wrap them individually with packing paper, fill empty spaces with padding, and reinforce the box with chipboard. Don’t overpack the box because it could be too difficult to carry and cause the bottom to fall out.

Can I Keep My Clothes Inside Drawers When Moving?

No, it’s not a good idea to move your clothes inside drawers instead of removing and packing them.
Whenever you can, remove your clothes from drawers as you pack. Sure, it may seem inconvenient, but it’s not nearly as bad as hauling an unnecessarily heavy dresser… Or having to find/replace clothing that ripped or got stuck behind shifting drawers.

There are alternatives, however, like:

  • Using wardrobe boxes or bags to keep them on hangers.
  • Folding your clothes and packing them in moving boxes
  • Vacuum-sealing your clothes and stuffing them in suitcases.

Why you should empty your dresser drawers before moving:

  • Removing & packing items separately gives you a chance to declutter.
  • It relieves unnecessary weight.
  • Lighter furniture is less problematic to maneuver and load.
  • This makes your move easier and faster.
  • Reduces the chance of breaking or scratching furniture, floors, or walls.
  • It is much safer to transport without you or your movers getting an injury.
  • There’s zero chance of your items being damaged or ripped inside shifting drawers.

How Do I Pack Shoes for Moving?

You can pack shoes in one of the following ways:

  • Reuse their original shoeboxes (if you kept them)
  • Place them individually in cloth or plastic bags and pack in moving boxes
  • For boots, wrap and place them longways at the top or bottom of your boxes so they fit without being smushed or folded

Another plus to using wardrobe boxes: extra packing space for your shoes! Shoes can also be packed in the bottom of wardrobe boxes to ensure they’re transported without damage. It’s also great for keeping all your clothing together and organized for your new closet.

Not sure how to wrap shoes for packing? Use the burrito method!

Supplies that you’ll need: Packing paper, tape, & large boxes.

How to wrap and pack shoes for moving:

  1. Take one shoe, fold it over once in packing paper
  2. Add the second shoe on top, & fold it over in packing paper once.
  3. Bring the sides in, continue rolling until there’s no more excess paper.
  4. Pack them flat and tightly in your box to avoid shifting.
How to pack shoes using the burrito method
How to pack shoes using the burrito method

How Do I Pack Lamps for Moving?

To pack lamps well, try dismantling them down to their smallest parts first. Wrap them tightly, then pad extra space within boxes to prevent damage. After all, you’ll need working lights in your new place, right?

Here are some enlightening tips on how to pack lamps for moving:

  • Disassemble lamps into smaller pieces. Keep the small parts together in a labeled zip bag. If they’re fragile pieces, wrap and cushion them with packing paper first
  • Pack light bulbs inside something hard. Wrap them—socks work great—and place into a sturdy plastic box (like a thick food storage container). Even if they somehow do get crushed, the thin glass won’t cut through and make a mess.
  • Top off the packed box with chipboard under the lid, before sealing. Fill in any extra spaces with foam inserts or lots of packing paper.  If you’re placing a delicate lamp body in a moving box, this will prevent it from being crushed from above.

How Do I Pack Jewelry & Valuables for Moving?

Legitimate moving companies will have policies in place to avoid potential theft or accusations of theft. This means they’ll always ask you to move your own valuables. Such movers won’t even touch items that are expensive or that could easily be damaged/lost, so be prepared to pack these yourself. There are special containers designed for transporting jewelry. You can invest in them, or you can get crafty and use any number of items you probably already have lying around:

  • Put smaller jewelry pieces into heavy, solid cups (the metal kind that would be near impossible to break). Then, top the cups with packing paper. Finally, secure them with tape.
  • Try wrapping individual pieces in plastic, then putting them into a sturdy, lined box or a sealed, waterproof bag.
  • Thread an open necklace through a paper straw, clasping the ends together to secure it and prevent tangles.
  • Use pill organizers or egg cartons stuffed generously with packing paper, then taped together to secure it. Jewelry packed in this way should go into a sturdy box so it’s not crushed.
  • Get a portable lockbox or lockable filing cabinet to transport important documents.

Note: No matter how you pack your valuables, it’s imperative that you put them in the locked trunk of your car.  If you can’t lock your trunk during move day, do not leave your vehicle unattended.

How Do I Pack Dishes & Glassware for Moving?

With all the wrapping involved, you may need more time to pack fragile items like dishes and glassware. 

However, if you’re using these items on a daily basis, you can wait until the night before or the morning of your move to pack them. Consider spending a little extra on dish or glass separators if you have particularly expensive or sentimental pieces. Or simply follow the steps in the video below!

[VIDEO] How to Pack Wine Glasses for Moving


How Do I Prepare Appliances to Move?

At least 24 hours prior to your move, unplug and drain/defrost major appliances (i.e., laundry machines, refrigerators, freezers).

If you aren’t hiring movers, wrap items with thin blankets or stretch wrap to prevent scuffing or dents.

As far as your laundry dryer, it’s a good idea to clean the dryer vent while you’re preparing appliances to move. Cleaning it doesn’t take long, but letting debris build up is actually a fire hazard. So why not do it anyway?

Do I Have to Pack Plants for Moving?

Due to state regulations movers legally cannot transport live plants in the back of their trucks. You’ll have to pack and transport plants yourself.

However, this doesn’t mean that movers won’t assist you. To help you pack potted plants, movers will typically do one or both of the following:

  • Movers may help you wrap potted plants so that soil doesn’t spill out and tendrils aren’t damaged. 
  • Movers may offer to load your potted plants into your vehicle. 
  1. Make sure there is no standing water in the basin of the planter that could spill out. The soil should be relatively dry.
  2. *If you have a wheel dolly (if not, skip to step 3): Lift the potted plant from the base onto the wheel dolly. 
  3. Place 1 garbage bag over the top of the plant, wrapping it lightly so it’s not damaged.
  4. Put another garbage bag around the base where the potting soil is located. Wrap the bottom tightly so the soil and muddy water won’t spill.  
  5. Use zip ties or tape to secure both garbage bags at the base or narrowest part of the planter.

What Should I Not Pack Up for a Move?

Imagine settling into your new place after a long, tiring day of moving. Do you really want to rummage through boxes to find towels for a much-needed shower at the end of the day?! What about your pillows and bedsheets? Didn’t think so. Follow this advice, and you’ll be able to comfortably relax as soon as you arrive!

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t pack up when moving:

  • Don’t box up anything that you’ll need immediately after your move or the next day. 
  • Make an easy-to-find grab bag or suitcase that’s full of your essentials for at least the next day. Examples include: toilet paper, medicines, glasses, children’s supplies, snacks, bed linens, towels, cosmetics/toiletries, clothing and underwear. 
  • Don’t pack your grab bag in a box. They’ll blend in with other boxes and be harder to find, and you’ll want to move quickly when preparing to rest. It's best to keep this with you in your own vehicle.


Will Movers Pack Things for Me?

The short answer is, YES! Movers will pack your belongings. At 3 Men Movers, and with other companies, the professional team of packers may be distinct from the moving crew. For others or in certain locations, they may be one and the same. Either way, we highly recommend you call and notify your moving company first. There’s zero shame in needing a moving company to help you pack—but try not to spring it on your movers at the last minute or day of your move. If you have a home inventory sheet, discuss it with your moving company in advance. This will help you both determine what they can and cannot pack and move for you. 

What Won’t Movers Pack?

While movers love to help, there are certain things movers can’t pack and transport due to state guidelines. In Texas, these items include:

  • Cash, jewelry 
  • Chemicals
  • Live Plants 
  • Living animals
  • Anything infested by insects or mold
  • Items soiled by human/animal bodily fluids
  • Live ammunition
  • Fuel or gases
  • Loaded, unsecured weapons
  • Very large equipment (our limit is often 600 lbs., but this is ultimately left to the crew leader’s discretion)

You should plan on transporting items like cash/valuables, live plants, or pets in your own vehicle, so load up wisely!

How Do I Pack & Load a Moving Truck?

Packing a rented truck?  The most important thing you’ll need to keep in mind is to load the heaviest items on the bottom first. Similar to packing your boxes, you’ll want to fill all available space when loading your moving truck, too.  

When you’re loading, try not to leave gaps between, around, or above your items (especially the fragile ones). Even if your things are well-wrapped, space gaps make items unstable and lead to shifting. Shifting leads to damages, and that’s the last thing you want to deal with when settling in your new space.

Wrapping Up

If you’ve made it this far, congrats!  You’ve now learned everything you need to know to start packing for your move like a pro. Use these tips for planning and packing efficiently, and to ensure you’re packing specific items the right way.