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How to Pack Boxes for a Move

There’s an art to packing boxes without breaking your good china—or breaking your back.


  • Step 1: Buy boxes Buy new boxes from a moving supply store. Discarded produce boxes may be cheaper, but they’ll make your possessions smell like produce.
  • Step 2: Reinforce boxes Reinforce the bottoms and corners of your boxes with good duct tape.
  • Step 3: Cushion with bubble wrap Using bubble wrap, cover the insides of any box that will contain fragile items. Once the box is packed, fill the remaining space with bubble wrap or wadded-up newspaper.
  • TIP: Pack no more than 50 pounds per box. Place heavier items at the bottom of boxes, and distribute them among the cartons to lighten each load.
  • Step 4: Pack china carefully Pack china by stacking it, alternating plates and layers of newspaper. Cover the final stack entirely in bubble wrap.
  • TIP: Consider investing in ink-free packing paper. Yes, old newspaper is cheaper, but you’ll pay in the long run when you’re scrubbing newsprint off everything.
  • Step 5: Wrap cups Wrap delicate cups, glasses, stemware and other fragile pieces individually in bubble wrap.
  • TIP: Place stemware upright in cartons; never lay it flat.
  • Step 6: Pack books Place hardcover books on their side, alternating bindings, and save paperbacks to fill in nooks and crannies in other cartons.
  • TIP: Only pack boxes with hardcover books halfway or their weight may rip the box.
  • Step 7: Label boxes Label each box with what it contains.
  • TIP: If you’re moving to a new residence, write the destination room on the side of each box, like 'master bedroom' or 'foyer' or 'kitchen.'
  • Step 8: Wrap breakables Wrap breakables individually in generous portions of bubble wrap. If something is extremely fragile, pack it separately.
  • Step 9: Seal boxes Seal boxes and reinforce with duct tape – better to take extra precaution now than to have gone to all this trouble and dump everything before you arrive.
  • FACT: It takes an average of four to five hours to pack personal belongings when moving out of a dorm, according to the University of Maryland Department of Resident Life.

You Will Need

  • Sturdy boxes
  • Duct tape
  • Bubble wrap
  • A permanent marker
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Ink-free packing paper (optional)

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