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The Pros Pack Entire Homes With Just 5 Things

Posted in: I'm Moving, How To Pack, Moving Boxes & Supplies

We are sorry to report – in case you didn’t already know – that packing your entire home into moving boxes is no small task. You’ll be happy to hear, however, that the list of packing supplies you need is short.

But while the list is short, there’s a catch; You’ll need a lot more of each thing than you think.

So get your things in order, and get packing like the pros do!

#1. Boxes

The pros do it all with seven kinds of boxes. And you can too (maybe less).

  • Book boxes (12” x 12” x 18”) are for printed matter: books and papers and magazines. Other small but relatively heavy items (hand tools, canned food and wine), as well as CD and DVD collections, should also be packed in these boxes.
  • 3-Cubes (18” x 18” x 18”) are useful for a wide assortment of items: small picture frames, clothes from your dresser drawers, shoes, knick-knacks, board games, mixing bowls and most everything from your kitchen drawers, your bathroom scale (wrapped in a towel) and most everything from your bathroom drawers.
  • Large boxes (18” x 18” x 24”) are great for pots and pans, bedding, bath towels, pillows and blankets.
  • X-Large boxes (24” x 18” x 24”) are for your bulkiest and relatively lightest items, like comforters, winter wear, toys and sports equipment. For all these box sizes, follow the general (and sensible) rule: the lighter the stuff, the bigger the box.
  • Dish packs (18” x 18” x 28”) are double-walled and super-sturdy, built specifically to be packed tight with dishes, bowls, plates and glasses, even vases and punch bowls and crystal. Also use them for table lamps, small kitchen appliances, electronics and, in a pinch, large-ish picture frames.
  • Mirror packs are special flat cartons, usually made of two or four pieces that form a custom-sized box for your mirrors, your large picture frames, paintings and (after you remove the base) your flat screen TV.
  • Wardrobes are like portable closets, complete with metal bars to accommodate hanging clothes. Be aware that wardrobe boxes are bulky and expensive – use them only for those clothes you just can’t bear to see wrinkled.

So where to get these boxes? Check our post on finding cheap and free boxes.

#2. Paper 

We’re talking the same blank “newsprint” paper that the moving pros use.

It comes in rolls and sheets of varying sizes; we recommend sheets so you don’t have to waste time cutting piece after piece after piece off that big heavy log of paper. Movers almost universally use 24” x 36” sheets. Get it online, or check your local van line agency for used (and possibly free) paper.

But what about things like foam peanuts and bubble wrap? Sure, if the prospect of packing that Ming Dynasty vase is keeping you awake at night, go ahead and bury it in a dish pack full of foam peanuts. For added peace of mind, shroud that baby in bubble wrap, which is also often used for mirrors, paintings and electronics. And use it for other items like your flat screen TV, your scanner/printer and your external hard drives. Just remember: both foam peanuts and bubble wrap are bulky and expensive.

#3. Tape

No, not duct tape.

Not masking tape either. Not even that brown paper box tape. And steer way clear of any filament tape. The pros use packing tape, aka shipping tape. It’s 2”-3” wide. It’s clear or light brown. It works. Some people – and movers – prefer using a tape dispenser. Your call. Your teeth.

#4. Markers

“Sharpie” has become the default term, but most any dark marker will do.

A wide tip makes it easy to label your boxes in big, thick, easy-to-read lettering. Have several on hand, even if you are packing solo. In a home full of packing supplies, markers have a way of disappearing. Trust us.

#5. Time

Free, but costly, time is something you’ll want in ample supply.

Trust me, you will need PLENTY of it, so plan ahead – and then double the amount of time you’ve estimated. Seriously. After years of moving people, I can tell how much a customer has procrastinated on their packing by the size of the bags under their eyes.

Okay, One More Thing. Maybe…

#6. Brown Paper

Sometimes called “Kraft paper”, this is thicker, more protective version of packing paper

It consists of two layers of heavy brown paper, sometimes with a third layer of cushiony paper or plastic in the middle. Movers use these big square sheets to wrap items like mirrors, large photo frames, paintings, large breakables, small appliances and electronics. If you want to go this extra mile, your local van line agency should have some new stuff they will sell you by the sheet. They may have used brown paper too.

Note: Brown paper is strictly for wrapping items. It is not meant to be crumpled up like packing paper.

Other packing accessories people like to use include colored tape, box dividers, foam sheets and scissors. But when the pros go on a pack job, all they need are these 5 (or 6) things. Chances are, this is all you will need too.


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