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How to Pack for Moving House

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

17th Nov 2021 (Last updated on 17th Aug 2022) 7 minute read

When it comes to moving house, one of the biggest challenges is the packing process. For many people, the hardest part is letting go of sentimental items, organising years of possessions and finding enough boxes and packing supplies to fit everything safely.

Having a clear plan and starting early will make the moving process easier. Be sure to have all the necessary packing materials ready beforehand, such as bubble wrap, tissue paper, boxes, tape and labels.

Compare My Move work with property and removal specialists to bring you everything you need to know about the packing and moving process. In this article, we go through each step of the packing process to ensure that you’re ready for an organised and seamless moving day.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Packing Supplies Will You Need?
  2. When Should You Start Packing?
  3. What Order Should You Pack Your House to Move?
  4. Preparing Your Essentials Box
  5. Tips For Packing to Move House
  6. Save Money on Your House Move

What Packing Supplies Will You Need?

There are a variety of different packing supplies you should have on hand when packing your possessions. For your fragile belongings, it is highly recommended you use bubble wrap and tissue paper to protect these items.

Keep in mind that there are many places where you can find free cardboard moving boxes, saving you a little bit of money on your move.

An alternative to cardboard boxes is plastic storage containers for larger and heavier items. These can potentially hold more weight and can be reused and repurposed. Below we’ve compiled a list of the basics you’ll need when packing to move house:

  • Cardboard boxes or plastic storage containers
  • Bubble wrap
  • Brown tape
  • “Fragile” tape
  • Packing paper, tissue paper or old newspapers
  • Bin liners and recycling bags
  • Labels and a marker pen

In the run-up to your move, save any packing materials and boxes from deliveries and ask friends and colleagues if they can do the same. This way you not only save money on packing materials, but you also minimise waste.
For more information on obtaining boxes for moving see: How to Find Boxes for Moving House

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When Should You Start Packing?

Ideally, you should start packing as soon as possible, providing you don’t pack items you need before the move. We recommend starting 5-7 weeks before your moving date. Packing often takes longer than any of us realise and many of us have an abundance of possessions. If left until the last minute, the process can feel overwhelming.

Spacing out the packing process allows you to organise your items and even donate or pass on items you don’t need so that you move into your new home with only the things that are really useful or cherished.

If your move is last minute, you can read our advice in our article: Last Minute Moving: How to Move House at Short Notice.

What Order Should You Pack Your House to Move?

It is best to start with the items you use least. These are the items you may not need this season, are used occasionally or you know you won’t need before you move. Of course if these items are never used, it may be worth donating them to save moving unnecessary items.

Packing room by room is recommended to keep the process organised and to avoid being overwhelmed. Start with a room you use least, to avoid disruption to the rest of the house. The items that should be packed last are your essential, everyday items. These include items such as toiletries, underwear, change of clothes, tech chargers and bedding.

5-7 Weeks Before the Moving Date

    Start collecting packing supplies such as boxes, packing paper and tape and begin the decluttering process. Start decluttering and sell any larger or more valuable items you won’t be taking with you to your new home. This is also the time to start going through sentimental items as these are often the hardest things to organise and let go of.

    4-6 Weeks Before

    Safely dispose of any hazardous materials such as old paint, glue or other DIY supplies - most removal companies will not take these. This is also the time when you should pack the items you won’t need before moving. This includes packing out of season clothes, kitchen appliances, seasonal decor and specialist equipment that is used sparingly.

    2-3 Weeks Before

    Start packing kitchenware and fine china but keep aside enough cutlery, plates and bowls for each family member plus cooking essentials. Set aside the items that won’t be packed in the removal vehicles, such as important paperwork, valuables and your essentials box.

    1 Week Before

    Prepare furniture to be moved and pack up and also prepare plants for the move. Start preparing your essentials box, setting aside what you need on your first few days in your new home. Other than these items, make sure everything else is packed and that boxes are secure. Eat the food already in the house as you don’t want to be moving with a large amount of half-eaten food and heavy tins.

    The Day Before You Move

      Pack up your essentials box, check around the house to make sure nothing has been missed and prepare to leave your old home.

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      Preparing Your Essentials Box

      An essentials box or “survival kit” as it is sometimes called, is a bag or box of everything you need in your first few days at your new home. This is essentially what you would take on a weekend away. We would recommend taking this to your new home separately, rather than in the removal van. That way it is close at hand when you need it.

      • Pyjamas for everyone moving
      • Change of clothes
      • Toilet paper
      • Cleaning supplies
      • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
      • Phone and laptop chargers
      • Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner
      • First aid kit
      • Bedding
      • Kettle and mugs
      • Cutlery
      • Tea, coffee and sugar
      • Items to entertain children and/or pets

      Tips For Packing to Move House

      Below we’ve set out a few of our top tips for a successful house move, making the process more streamlined and less stressful.

      Create an inventory

      Creating an inventory of your items makes the unpacking process a lot easier at your new home. This also helps avoid misplacing any items during the move.

      Label your moving boxes

      Labelling your boxes, whether it is by category of items, by room or by who in the house owns the items will be invaluable when unpacking. This avoids confusion, minimises the risk of items getting lost and makes for a much more organised process.

      Don’t overpack the moving boxes

      When it comes to packing boxes to move house, make sure they are not too heavy to lift or so heavy or full that they will break. This can cause damage to your items and delay the moving process. If you’re reusing old boxes, make sure there is no damage to them.

      Move books in a suitcase

      Books are some of the heavier items when moving house, especially if you have a large collection. Packing books in a suitcase with wheels is ideal as it makes it easier to transport. As with boxes, be aware that you have not overpacked to the point where you break the suitcase!

      Use straws to stop jewellery from tangling

      Straws are a great way to keep your jewellery intact during the move. Threading necklaces through straws ensures the chains are not tangled in the move, saving you time and aggravation when unpacking.

      Put heavier items on the bottom

      This may sound obvious, but always ensure heavier items are packed at the bottom of a box or bag so that they don’t crush or damage the items on top.

      Utilise your linens

      Use bed linen and towels to wrap breakable items and pad out boxes. This saves you money and is better for the environment than buying new packing materials.

      Take a picture of your tech

      If you have a television or other tech items with multiple wires, take a picture of the back of the items before unplugging them so you know what goes where when you plug them in at your new home.

      Consider renting a storage unit

      If the packing process is daunting or overwhelming, you can complete the process in steps by using storage for rent. By placing your excess furniture into storage before the move, you'll be shortening the packing process for yourself.

      You can arrange professional help from your chosen removal company to pack and prepare your items for storage should you need it. If you’re happy with the service provided, tipping the removal company is a great way of showing your appreciation.

      If you're a student, our Student Movers article provides tips on how to pack for your move.

      Save Money on Your House Move

      Now that you have a plan to follow you can begin the packing process and continue organising your moving date. Don't forget to compare removal quotes with us to save up to 70% on your moving costs.

      Adele MacGregor

      Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.

      Dave Sayce

      Reviewed by Dave Sayce

      Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

      Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.