Whether you’re packing for a move, putting things into storage for a renovation, or just making space in your home, it’s tempting to leave things until the last minute. Don’t! Rushed packing can lead to breakage, damage, wasted time, and additional stress.
All it takes is a little preparation, the proper materials, and a few techniques to ensure that your belongings—and your sanity—remain intact.
1.Organize before you pack.
Organize your possessions well before it’s time to pack. Get rid of clutter—because less stuff equals less packing. Gather similar types of items together to determine the packing materials you’ll need and to make it easier to unpack or retrieve items from storage. Categories could include:
- Decorative objects
- Games and toys
- Seasonal clothes
- Sports equipment
- Holiday decorations
- Entertaining and parties
2.Get the right supplies.
You can’t simply throw all your stuff into trash bags or onto a truck and expect it to arrive in one piece. The right supplies will ensure everything survives the move. You can order supplies online or at home-improvement stores. You’ll need:
- Sturdy boxes or containers of various sizes
- Quality packing tape (2” wide, with dispenser or tape gun)
- Packing paper (also called unprinted newsprint)–it’s less expensive and more versatile than bubble wrap
- Thick waterproof marker for labeling boxes
- Moving blankets, padded paper, or shrink wrap if you’re packing furniture
Pro-tip: When you store with MakeSpace you get a free packing kit with roomy, reusable bags delivered right to your door. Couldn’t be easier!
3.Clean before you pack.
Make sure everything is perfectly clean and dry before it is packed. Yes, this is another chore at an already-busy time, but your future self will thank you for doing it—especially if you’re sending things to storage. Imagine the crumbs from the bottom of the toaster scattered everywhere. Need more convincing? Food particles on dishes, appliances and clothes can attract pests. Mold and mildew grow in moist environments. Yuck.
4.Prep to prevent little disasters.
It’s easy to forget the little things when you’re focused on the big picture of packing. But when you unpack, not having the batteries for your kid’s favorite toy can be as disastrous as a spilled bottle of olive oil. Take these preventive measures before packing:
- Tape game and puzzle boxes shut so pieces don’t get lost.
- Use zip-top plastic bags for small pieces so they don’t go AWOL in a large box. Think screws and hardware for dis-assembled items, jewelry, office supplies, and hair accessories.
- Pack batteries, chargers, remotes and other accessories with the items they belong with, and label them so you won’t forget what’s what.
- Wrap and secure electric cords and cables so they don’t get tangled or damaged.
- Keep liquids from spilling by putting a piece of plastic wrap between the bottle and the cap, and place the bottles in plastic bags for extra protection.
5. Don’t pack these things to prevent big disasters.
For safety’s sake, don’t pack anything explosive or flammable, including lighter fluid, aerosols, paints, or chemicals. Perishable food shouldn’t be packed—and really, any and all food should be kept out of storage. (Sorry to say this includes children’s artwork made with macaroni!) If you’re working with a mover, ask if there’s anything they won’t transport.
6. Build a better box
You could pack a cardboard box with the skills of a Tetris master, but if the bottom of the carton opens up, it’s all in vain. Follow these 5 steps to assemble a box strong enough to hold as much as you can lift:
- Put the box upside down and open it up to a rectangular shape. Fold down the smaller pair of flaps in to meet in the middle, then fold down the other flaps to form the bottom of the box. Do not interlock the corners of the flaps like an origami project.
- Put a strip of packing tape perpendicular to the seam to hold the flaps in place. Don’t skimp on the tape; extend it about one-third of the way up the sides of the box.
- Use a strip of tape to secure the box’s bottom seam. Add three strips of evenly spaced tape perpendicular to the seam for extra strength.
- For added reinforcement, you can wrap tape around all four sides of the box to secure the ends of the tape.
- Cushion the bottom of the box and give it extra strength by adding crumpled packing paper or towels. You can skip this step if you’re packing clothes, sheets, towels, or other soft items.
If you’re storing with MakeSpace, you can simply place your (free) pack bags into their sturdy bins.
7. Handle fragile items with care.
No matter how haphazardly you pack soft items like blankets, pillows and stuffed animals, they won’t get damaged. But fragile items need special care: Wrap them individually in packing paper to cushion them so they don’t get broken, scratched, or dented.
Disassemble items with moving pieces if possible, or stabilize them with packing paper or tape. Wrap delicate parts like thin handles and legs so they don’t get snapped off. Lamp shades should be packed in their own box with a cushion of packing paper so they don’t shift. Add 2-4 inches of packing paper at the top of a box with fragile items for further protection. Clearly label boxes with fragile items to ensure they’re treated gently.
8. Place items properly.
Packing strategically will keep your possessions safe and will let you fit more things in a container. To prevent breakage, place the heaviest items on the bottom and put lighter items on top. Nest smaller items inside of larger items to save space: Fill a large stock pot with kitchen gadgets or put ski socks inside ski boots. You can also fit more items by placing larger items first, then tucking smaller items into the empty spaces between them.
9. Think “Goldilocks” when packing.
Your containers should be packed just right—not too full or too empty, \ too heavy or too light. Packed boxes will also be stacked boxes, and they need to be square and sturdy so they don’t collapse.
Ban the bulge! Don’t stuff boxes to the point of warping the sides and top. But don’t leave empty space in a box either—the box needs to be perfectly full to support the one on top of it. Use soft items like clothes, towels, stuffed animals or packing paper to fill any voids.
While packing, periodically check that the container isn’t too heavy to lift. Mix heavy and light items to keep boxes a reasonable weight. For boxes that are very light (lampshades, delicate glassware), label all four sides “Nothing on Top” so they’re put on top of a stack, not under the container with your free weights.
10. Label and inventory your items.
It’s incredibly frustrating to have to open multiple boxes to find what you need. Save your sanity by labeling each box with its contents and the room it belongs in. Use a thick waterproof marker and write on the sides of boxes so labels are visible when they’re stacked. For things going to storage, create a detailed inventory of what’s in each box to make it easy to retrieve specific items.
Keeping track of all your stored items is a snap with MakeSpace, thanks to their complete photo inventory.
Now that your belongings are perfectly packed, you can look forward to unpacking with ease!
AUTHOR: LISA ZASLOW
Professional organizer Lisa Zaslow has helped thousands of people get organized and maximize their space. Get free tips and inspiration at www.GothamOrganizers.com and on Instagram @LisaZaslow