Doing Your Own Packing: Good Packing Principles

When doing all of your packing yourself, you want to ensure that you’re doing it properly and thinking your packing through.

Basics of Good Packing

  • Limiting cartons, when possible, to a maximum weight of 50 pounds to make handling easier.
  • Wrapping items carefully.
  • Providing plenty of cushioning to absorb shock.
  • Using sturdy cartons that close.
  • Making sure cartons are firmly packed and do not rattle, bulge outward or bend inward.
  • Do not mix items from different rooms in the same carton, when possible.

Where to Start

Start with out-of-season items.  Next, pack things used infrequently.  Leave until last the things you’ll need until moving day.

Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, and items not recommended for inclusion in your shipment and anything that would puncture or damage other items.  However, blankets, sweaters, lingerie, bath towels and similar soft, lightweight goods may be left in drawers.

Wind electrical cords, fastening them so they do not dangle.

What to Pack in one Box

Pack similar items together.  Do not pack a delicate china figurine in the same carton with cast-iron frying pans, for example. Also, keep all parts or pairs of things together.  For example, curtain rod hangers, mirror bolts and other small hardware items should be placed in plastic or cloth bags (which can be purchased from the moving company) and taped or tied securely to the article to which they belong.

Cushioning and Organizing Box Contents

Wrap items individually in clean paper; use tissue paper, paper towels or even facial tissue for fine china, crystal and delicate items.  Colored wrapping draws attention to very small things.  Use a double layer of newspaper for a good outer wrapping. Place a two- or three-inch layer of crushed paper in the bottom of a carton for cushioning. Cushion well with crushed paper; towels and lightweight blankets also may be used for padding and cushioning.  The more fragile the item, the more cushioning needed.  Be sure no sharp points, edges or rims are left uncovered.

Build up in layers, with heaviest things on the bottom, medium weight next and lightest on top. As each layer is completed, fill in empty spaces firmly with crushed paper and add more crushed paper to make a level base for the next layer, or use sheets of cardboard cut from cartons as dividers.

Pack small, fragile, individually wrapped items separately or a few together in small boxes, cushioning with crushed or shredded paper.  Place small boxes in a single large box, filling in spaces with crushed paper.

Closing and Labeling the Box

Avoid overloading cartons, but strive for a firm pack that will prevent items from shifting; the cover should close easily without force, but should not bend inward. Seal cartons tightly with tape except for those containing items listed on United’s High-Value Inventory form.  These must be left open for the van operator’s inspection.

As you finish with each carton, list the contents on the side of the carton (for easy viewing while cartons are stacked) and in a special notebook.  You might want to number and/or code the cartons as well. Indicate your name and the room to which each carton should be delivered at destination.  Tape a sign on the door of each room at destination corresponding to the carton labels so movers can get the cartons into the proper rooms quickly.

For Moving Day

You might find it helpful to reserve a carton for last-minute items to be packed on moving day.  Include such necessities as:

  • Soap
  • Toiletries
  • Towels
  • Facial and toilet tissue

The same carton can serve as an Instant Aid Box for things you might need immediately upon arrival at your new home, such as:

  • First-aid kit
  • Instant coffee/tea
  • Instant soup mixes
  • Light bulbs
  • Paper plates and cups
  • Plastic eating utensils
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Powdered milk/creamer
  • Screwdriver and hammer
  • Snacks and Sugar
  • Small pan or electric coffee pot for heating water