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DIY Moving: How to Pack and Store Like the Pros

Planning a DIY move? Protect your valuable belongings with these pro packing tips, including proper packaging, cushioning, and other supplies.

In 2020, people appear to be moving at greater rates than ever before. The United States Postal Service reported 15.9 million change of address requests this year. In the U.K., searches for moving advice increased by over 48 percent in August, compared to the same month in 2019. Data indicates that an increasing number of those who’ve relocated chose a do-it-yourself (DIY) moving approach as a precaution against COVID-19, though the strategy offers a way to save money, too.

All you need is a minimal investment in the right quality packing materials. You’ll also want to plan appropriately so you have enough time and energy to pack, move, and unpack without professional help.


Read on for how to execute DIY moving like a pro:


Break It Down by Room

Before you start packing and moving, it’s critical to spend time planning. First, make a list of what belongings need to be moved. Then, take inventory of these items along with their weight, size, fragility, and surface type, so you know what type of protective packaging they’ll need. You can even make a checklist to keep track of everything. 

It will be helpful to take stock of each room in your home and assess your items, from large furniture pieces to small boxes of tupperware. Ask yourself questions like, “Is the kitchen or dining room table glass?” “Do I have delicate stemware or simply everyday glasses and tumblers?” and “How big are my TVs?”

Pro tip: Use this opportunity to donate or recycle anything you don’t want to take with you.


Pick the Right Packaging

One of the biggest mistakes one can make during a DIY move is underestimating the time, planning, and effort required to ensure it’s successful. Avoid under-protecting items with the assumption you or the movers will treat every box with caution — whether you’ve hired the best in your area, you never know what might happen on the road during transit. Even a small pothole can cause a box to fall over, shattering one of your favorite (and most expensive!) wine bottles.

Make sure you buy the right moving boxes and protective packaging — and get enough of it.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to buy more packing material than you need. As long as you don’t open the items, you can return what you don’t use.

To figure out exactly what you need, here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Generally, no box should weigh more than 30 pounds (13.6 kilos). This rule will prevent you from overpacking — and broken boxes.
  • Make sure the heaviest items go into each box first.
  • Assess how much protection all fragile items need. Delicate belongings may need to be wrapped to protect against falls. Wrapping fully encloses items in protection, and can be done with rolls of bubble cushioning, and sheets of foam or pouches.
  • Interleaving is another packaging technique that places a protective layer between items to provide cushioning and protect surfaces. This is especially effective for packing stacks of plates, bowls, and other fragile items. Foam is ideally suited for this because it will never deflate.
  • Bubble rolls come in a variety of bubble sizes (as determined by their cell heights): small (3/16"), and large (1/2").
  • Cushioning with smaller bubbles can be wrapped more tightly around small or complex-shaped objects. These are ideal for tiny delicates like ornaments, as well as glassware, dishes, and small picture frames. Larger bubbles provide a thicker layer of protection and are best for heavy and larger items, like pots and pans, and other heavy kitchenware. Large bubbles can even be used for furniture.
  • Foam should be used in place of bubble cushioning when long-term storage is needed as bubble cushions might deflate and lose their cushioning properties within a few days of application.
  • Use SleevIt® Foam Mesh Sleeves to protect delicate stemware.
  • Corner Keepers® Foam Protectors can be used to block and brace items that ship in larger boxes or cases. They also provide cushioning from impacts and vibrations.
  • For electronics, use a specialized bubble designed to discharge static electricity.
  • Consider purchasing specialty boxes designed to protect and cushion your TV during moves.
  • Remember to label everything clearly so that boxes can be moved to the correct room in your new home.

Here are more DIY moving tips from Pregis:


Remember to Recycle

Once your move is complete, you can return unused packing supplies. This is also a great opportunity to recycle, so be sure to break down all boxes for your curbside bin. Keep and organize other plastic film and bubble protective packaging to drop off at a store recycling location for proper handling, as they cannot be processed in most curbside recycling programs. (Learn more about recycling packaging here.)