Congratulations on your new home! Unless this is your first time moving, you already know the obstacles of packing your household items. Determining the right amount of packing supplies, fighting procrastination, prematurely opening packed boxes to find an everyday necessity, accidentally leaving something behind — the list goes on. As stressful as packing for a move sounds, knowing the right strategies to take can save you both time and headaches.

Below, we break down a full room by room packing checklist and tips when preparing for an upcoming move.

Tips for Packing to Move

Since packing is a major part of preparing for a move, we’ve gathered a list of packing tips and strategies that will make the moving process painless, giving you the courage to take these obstacles in stride.

1. Gather all of the necessary packing supplies

Your items deserve high-quality transportation to ensure the safe arrival of your new home. Faced with so many types of boxes and shipping supplies, choosing the right packing materials can be hard. We found a medium-sized family in a two- to three-bedroom home generally requires:

  • Fifteen small book boxes
  • Twenty medium moving boxes
  • Six large moving boxes
  • Four extra-large moving boxes
  • Twenty-five pounds of packing paper
  • One hundred fifty feet of bubble wrap
  • Two rolls of packing tape

These packing materials may vary depending on your unique needs. You may also want to consider:

  • Wardrobe boxes: If you have any clothes that require special care, you’ll want to purchase a wardrobe box to hang them and keep them safe.
  • Mattress bags: This valuable moving aid shelters your mattress from bed bugs and water damage, preventing you from having to buy a new one if affected during transit.
  • Fabric moving pads or blankets: This padded layer protects your flooring when moving furniture in and out of the house and protects the furniture itself during transportation.

The costs of moving supplies can add up quickly. If you plan to make a DIY move, you can generally expect to pay more in shipping supplies than sticking with the professionals, where relocation services include those costs.

Related: How to Properly Move Furniture: Dos and Don’ts

2. Create a moving packing list and plan by category and room

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed thinking about all of the rooms that need packing. Save yourself from this easily avoidable stress by developing a game plan. About six to eight weeks before your move date, break out a pen and paper to create a packing checklist for moving each room in your house.

Dedicate a day or two to each room so you don’t feel the pressure of procrastination. Choose boxes for items similar in size and weight, and label each box with the appropriate room. Doing this alerts you of any missing supplies you didn’t realize you needed and makes the moving process smoother.

3. Make sure you know what items movers can take

While moving companies will relocate just about anything, there are some things you will want to keep out of the moving truck.

Relying on professionals to transport your furniture, decor and other miscellaneous items will relieve some weight off your shoulders — and your back. While professional movers will relocate just about anything, there are some household items that you will want to keep out of the moving truck.

  • Potentially hazardous items: Professional moving companies won’t transport illegal items that can harm people or property. Common items include gasoline and propane, aerosol cans and paint thinners, fireworks or explosives, bleach, batteries and fire extinguishers.
  • Valuable personal items: Most moving companies reimburse any broken or lost valuables, but it’s best to transport any irreplaceable or sentimental property with you. Valuables include laptops, documents and certificates, fine jewelry and medications.
  • Perishable food items: In general, you will want to transfer any canned and other nonperishable pantry items with you, but some companies may permit these items in their moving truck. Avoid traveling with frozen or refrigerated foods, and familiarize yourself with the local grocery store after arriving at your new home.
  • Household pets: Your furry or not-so-furry friends should travel with their family in your personal vehicle. Your movers will ensure that their toys, food bowls and other pet-related items make it to the new house for their reacquaintance.

Remember these nonallowable items when packing, and arrange for their disposal or transportation.

Related: Items You Shouldn’t Pack When Hiring a Moving Company

4. Start by packing your least-used items

At a minimum of three weeks before your move date, start packing your household items into boxes. You don’t want to start with your most-used items, like your shower products or favorite coffee mug, which will ultimately result in you prematurely diving into packed boxes to retrieve these everyday necessities.

Instead, start with the least-used items, like artwork or other miscellaneous decors. Tackle the basement, attic, garage, or other storage places and pack what already isn’t in storage containers. Dedicate a space to keep this first group of boxes to make room for navigation when packing the necessities in the future.

5. Donate or sell any unwanted belongings

As you go through each room, dedicate one or two boxes for donations or reselling, especially when tackling your least-used items. If you aren’t using the belongings at this house, the odds of using them at the new one are slim.

To make your life easier while giving back to the community, these three charities will directly pick up your donation boxes from your home:

  1. Salvation Army: Items donated to the Salvation Army are distributed to people in need or sold at one of their stores. They accept almost anything in good condition, including clothes, common household items, mattresses, appliances and even used cars.
  2. Goodwill: An equally well-known organization, Goodwill supports job training and placement programs. They accept new or gently used clothing, furniture, miscellaneous household items, electronics and toys and sell these donations at low prices to fund their programs.
  3. Habitat for Humanity: Through the selling of donated items, namely furniture, appliances and other household items, Habitat for Humanity funds and provides affordable houses to those in need.

For more valuable items, resell them to fund your moving expenses. Consider using one of the countless available online platforms. Future you and your moving budget will thank you for giving you less to unpack.

6. Pack a to-go bag of essentials for each person moving

Pack a To-Go Bag of Essentials for Each Person Moving

When you get to your new home, unpacking will likely be the last thing on your mind, especially after a long road trip. Instead, you’ll be eager to hop in the shower, change into fresh clothes and acquaint yourself with the new surroundings.

Pack a suitcase for each member of the family, including everyday necessities like:

  • Toiletries
  • An extra set of clothes
  • Chargers
  • Medications
  • Pet supplies
  • Activities, such as a good book or board game

Include anything you use daily to avoid having to fish through a truckload of boxes to find what you need. For cross-country trips, consider packing snacks and drinks to keep in the car and have during your first night in your new home.

7. Maximize the space in each box while taking great care of fragile items

Deciding how to fit awkwardly shaped items, fragile knickknacks, and other valuables into boxes can feel like a puzzle. Luckily, there are some friendly helpers to make this process easier:

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts: Packing peanuts are extremely versatile and allow you to safely pack smaller items into bigger boxes, fill up extra space and protect any fragile items.
  • White newsprint or packing paper: Using packing paper is an economical way to keep your fragile items safe and secure in their boxes. For small items, consider using colored paper to avoid accidentally throwing them out.
  • Bubble wrap: This air-filled material, most commonly used for its effectiveness in securing fragile items, is designed to absorb any sudden shocks during the moving process.

Properly wrap a security layer around all fragile and valuable pieces or those that you don’t want to get scratched during transit. There’s no right or wrong option — any of these packing materials will keep your items safe during the move.

When putting your belongings in the box, place the heavier items on the bottom and lighter ones on top. Pack as many things as you can into one container without overfilling it. The more items you place, the fewer boxes you need overall, saving you money in the long run.

Related: How to Pack Artwork During a Move

8. Label each box and seal it properly

As you pack, be sure to label and properly seal each box to make the arrival and unpacking of your new house painless. Here are some of the best tips on how to pack moving boxes efficiently:

  1. Use strong, durable packing tape
  2. Wrap a long piece of tape across the flaps on the top of the box
  3. Wrap another piece of tape perpendicular to the flaps, resulting in a plus-sign tape symbol
  4. Repeat this step on the bottom side of the box, ensuring both sides are secure

Following these steps prevents the box’s collapsing, keeping your belongings from exploding out of their container and breaking or becoming damaged. If using cardboard boxes, make sure to keep your boxes in a well-ventilated, dry space so the cardboard doesn’t get wet.

You may want to consider water-proof options for your delicate items and furniture covers. If it rains on moving day, check the truck for leaks before loading anything.

Stack your boxes after sealing, putting the heaviest boxes on the bottom and the lightest on top to prevent any tipping. When stacking, avoid having multiple towers of boxes. Instead, stack them like you would a brick wall to increase stability.

It’s just as important to label each box with its contents and color coordinate per room. Remember to add a label on more than one side. During transportation, boxes will shift and stack on top of one another, so you’ll want to make sure you know a box’s contents to avoid damaging anything inside. Also, consider numbering each box as an added measure of accountability.

9. Be sure to double-check every room when you’re done

Be Sure to Double-Check Every Room When You're Done

Double-checking every room is one of your last and arguably most important, steps. Assemble your moving team for extra pairs of eyes and slowly go from room to room, checking for anything you forgot to pack.

Keep a special eye for the most commonly left items, like:

  • Chargers: Although chargers are easily replaceable, the last thing you want when arriving at your new home is a dead cellphone.
  • Medical supplies: These items are often placed in medicine cabinets or hidden away from children, but you don’t want to forget these vital prescriptions. Have each member of the family pack their to-go bag with the medicine that belongs to them.
  • Money: People can be very creative with where they stash their money. Whether your safe hiding place is under a loose floorboard, behind a radiator or in an old box in the garage, you don’t want to leave it behind.
  • Cutlery: Don’t forget to double-check the dishwasher before leaving, where these utensils often hide.
  • Clothing: One or two socks are bound to get left behind, but keep an eye out for those smaller articles of clothing, jackets hung up in coat closets, off-season clothes put in storage, rain boots in mudrooms, clothes in the washer and dryer or any other place they may be.
  • Pets: Believe it or not, yes, people forget their pets during a move. Have all pets, small or large, accounted for the night before your move. If you own multiple pets, assign each family member a pet they’re accountable for. When in your vehicle, do a roll-call before starting your drive, and include your pets in that list.

Professional movers have a trained eye when it comes to checking every room for forgotten items. Consider using these professionals for peace of mind so you can focus on the excitement of moving.

Related: Tips for Successfully Moving With Your Pets

10. Communicate with your moving team

Communication is vital in any team, but especially when moving. Whether your team includes friends, family members or professional movers, you will want to set clear expectations for:

  • Timeline: The moving process is time-consuming. Establish a timeline starting from planning to moving day. Communicate with your team members to learn their availabilities, and if you’re planning to include the professionals, set appointments for their services.
  • Packing instructions: Your image of a properly packed box may be very different than your friends’ or family members. Demonstrate how you plan on packing fragile or awkwardly-shaped items, labeling boxes and any other specifications.
  • Travel: Avoid any unfortunate miscommunications by making sure every person knows the address and route to the new home.

Communicate with your team via email, text message, in writing, or in-person meetings. The more communication, the higher the chance of a smoother, more enjoyable moving process.

Room by Room Moving and Packing Checklist

Whether you’re moving from an apartment to your first home or downsizing from a large family home to a condo, having packing methods for each room will help. If you’re starting to pack or wondering if there’s a more efficient way, learn how to go room by room and pack each item with David McCarthy Moving.

This packing checklist ensures you have different appliances, decor, furniture, and more stored most effectively for transportation. If you must pack unusual items, use this list as a best practices checklist to keep your belongings and household goods safe. Follow along as you move through your home and pack each room.


If you’re taking kitchen items and appliances with you — such as your refrigerator or microwave — you need to pack them properly. Remember the following when you pack kitchen supplies:

  • Defrost the fridge: You should defrost your refrigerator at least 48 hours before moving day, but do it earlier if possible.
  • Take care of small appliances: Many people have more small appliances than they realize, like coffeemakers, toasters, or blenders. If the device has detachable components or blades, remove them. Keep the cord and other pieces together in one place.
  • Pack refrigerated and dry goods: If you have food items you intend to take to your new place, pack them properly. Anything cold should go inside a cooler with ice, while you can pack dry goods in a box.
  • Store dishes and glasses: These are easily some of the most breakable items in your kitchen. Use bubble wrap, newspaper, sectioned boxes, and other types of packing paper to prepare your dinnerware for moving, and avoid overstuffing.
  • Nest pots and pans: Find a moving box slightly bigger than your largest pots and pans. Start with the largest one inside the box, put foam or bubble wrap down, then place the next largest. Continue this method until the package is full and repeat with as many boxes as needed.
  • Wrap utensils: Cutlery has many individual pieces. To simplify organization, put the same size forks together, then spoons and knives. Wrap each set in a bundle to keep them together during transit.

You will likely have other kitchen items, such as whisks, cooking spoons, can openers, mixers, cookbooks, dish towels and cutting boards. Use the methods described here to pack these items to the best of your ability. They will stay safe during the move and be easier to unpack later.

Dining Room

If you have a dining room or eat-in kitchen, you’ll need to pack everything inside. Tips for getting these items together include:

  • Packing the table and chairs: These bulky items can take up a lot of room when packing a moving truck. Try wrapping them in blankets to prevent damage from bumping or sliding into other items. If you can remove the chair legs, that can also help make them easier to move.
  • Securing rugs: If you have rugs or mats in your dining room, roll them up and wrap them in plastic or hold them together with a rope.
  • Gathering decor: Artwork, centerpieces, knickknacks, or wall clocks — whatever decorations you have, you need to pack away. Use paper or bubble wrap for ceramics and glass items, and label any boxes with fragile items.

You might have more or fewer items in your dining room, so use your judgment to recognize the best ways to pack your items. If something is breakable, wrap it in packing material and mark the box as fragile. Ensure all large furniture pieces are packed in the moving truck first.

Living Room

Your living room, den or game room likely has more to pack — these common areas can be home to games, electronics, furniture and more. Suggestions for packing common items found in living areas include:

  • Electronics: TVs, stereos, gaming systems and computers comprise a base unit and cables and accessories. If you can detach anything, such as a TV base, remove it for transportation. Place power cords and audio cables or remote controls in bags to keep them together.
  • Furniture: Pack all furniture — couches, sectionals, recliners, end tables or bean bags — inside a moving truck before boxes. If you have wooden tables or chairs, cover them with a blanket or another soft packing material to prevent scratching the surface.
  • Decorations: Whether you have framed artwork your children made, an elegant mirror or prints you bought online, pack them effectively to ensure safe travels. You can wrap them in packing paper, bubble wrap, newspaper, or cloth for additional protection.
  • Miscellaneous: Your living room may have various lamps, DVDs, CDs, books, and games. Be sure to remove lightbulbs from lamps and put similar items in moving boxes to make them easier to find.

No matter what other particular items you have in your living area, such as board games, children’s toys, or ottomans, using this logic will help you pack them more effectively.


Regardless of your home’s size, you likely have various clothing, bedding, and decor to pack away. Standard items and ways to pack them include:

  • Bedding: Pack all bedding and blankets in vacuum or plastic bags to keep dust and dirt off your sheets, comforters, and pillows.
  • Clothing: You can fold casual clothing and put it inside cardboard boxes or suitcases. For formal wear, try wardrobe boxes with built-in rods that allow you to hang them in the box.
  • Mattresses and bed frames: You can use a mattress bag to prevent elements, dust, and dirt from getting on your mattress. If you can take apart your bed frame, headboard, or box spring, collapse each piece to make transportation easier
  • Jewelry and decor: If you have a jewelry box, keep your accessories inside it, but consider separating valuable jewelry to keep it with you. If you have a standing mirror, wall hangings, or vases, wrap and pack them tightly to prevent shifting.
  • Other furniture: Chairs, dressers, desks, and more — you can pack other bedroom items similarly to kitchen or living room furniture.

Keeping your bedroom furniture, mattresses, decor, and more in good shape is essential to a breezy setup once you arrive at your new residence.

Home Office

When packing your home office, you will want to gather the right supplies to move books, electronics, furniture, and other office equipment.

  • Books: When packing books, it is important to remember not to overload boxes that can easily become too heavy to carry. Make sure to use packing tape for extra support so that you avoid damage from broken or ripped boxes.
  • Electronics and office equipment: The first thing to do is organize all of the different wires, cables, and power cords that come with office equipment. It is also helpful to organize and pack similar wires together that you know belong to the same equipment or electronic device. Before packing office equipment, you should always back up your data in case there is damage to your computer or device during the moving process. For electronics like computer desktop monitors, make sure to use paddings such as bubble wrap or packing paper.
  • Office furniture: Whether it is your desk or chair, the first thing to do is disassemble the office furniture. Make sure to also be cautious of taking apart furniture with glass such as tables or desktops. To protect office furniture, you can wrap fragile items in a blanket to avoid damage.

Bathroom and Laundry

Your bathroom and laundry room can have everything from appliances to toiletries and hampers. Professional movers cannot transport items like laundry detergent or fabric softener, so use them up or toss them before moving day. Other possible items include:

  • Washer and dryer: If you own a washer and dryer, you’ll want these to be some of the first things inside your moving truck. Either tape vents and hoses to the appliances or put them in a moving box and label them.
  • Small appliances: Other small items include irons, hair dryers, straighteners and curling rods. Pack these safely to avoid bending or breaking the cords.
  • Toiletries: Your toiletries will be one of the first things you need to unpack at your new residence. Make sure to pack toilet paper, shampoos, soaps, makeup, and other similar items together for easy access. Check the seals to prevent spillage during travel.
  • Towels: Your linen closet can hold multiple items, from hand towels to beach towels. You can organize them by the bathroom — such as the master or guest bath — to make it easier to unpack the correct set in each room. You can also use towels as packing material around fragile items.
  • Hampers and laundry baskets: Your laundry baskets can double as extra space for moving. Put extra clothes, socks, or other lightweight items inside, so you don’t need an additional box.

If you have other products in your bathroom or laundry room, prepare them for moving day using the basics outlined in our list. You’ll quickly have access to all the items you need when you follow these guidelines.

Garage and Storage Rooms

Aside from your car, your garage likely doubles as a storage unit for lawn mowers, tools, outdoor chairs, and more. If you’re taking an appliance — like a lawn mower, grill, or snow blower — ensure you drain or remove the gas before moving day. Other items you may need to pack include:

  • Outdoor furniture: Patio furniture, foldable lawn chairs, poolside lounge seats, and more — you need to pack any furniture you use outside, whether it’s in your garage, storage shed, or basement. If you can, remove cushions or disassemble furniture components and store them together to find them later. Outdoor pillows double as packing material for other fragile items.
  • Tools: Ensure you have all your tools, including hammers, screwdrivers, and saw, packed away safely. Store them in a toolbox or chest if available, or wrap them and put them in regular boxes. You might need to access your tools after you move to assemble furniture, so make them easily accessible or create a smaller toolkit for moving purposes.
  • Gardening supplies: You should secure all gardening equipment, shovels, and rakes. If you have dirty materials, clean them before loading them into your moving truck or vehicle.
  • Recreational products: If you have lawn games, pool items, bicycles, or other products in your garage or shed, box them up as best as possible. Some things, like a bike, will likely need storing in the moving truck or on a bike rack.

Remember that movers won’t help you transport hazardous materials like paint or fertilizer. You’d either have to move them on your own or dispose of them before moving day.

Rely on David McCarthy Moving to Make Moving Easier

Whether you’re moving to an apartment across town or a house across the country, you want to choose the best moving company for your short- or long-distance move. Fully licensed and insured since 1996, David McCarthy Moving will help you every step of the way.

Our team will pack and unpack your items with the high level of care they deserve. Our moving employees are well-trained with years of experience, unlike our competitors, who rely on temporary day labor to move your fragile and valuable items.

Above all, we value customer service. You have so many things to do and pack and we understand if you forget a few materials. Let our movers know of any last-minute items you forgot to buy and we’ll be happy to make any en-route stops to pick them up for you on moving day.

For a friendly, claim-free moving team that you can trust, contact us today for more information about our services or get a free moving quote.

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