10 Packing Hacks for a Hassle-Free Move

Sep 25, 2023 / Alyssa Duranty

When you’re packing for a move, it’s easy to let your mind wander to all that could go wrong: breaking your favorite dishes, putting a hole in your best jacket or dinging your newish leather couch.

But erase those negative thoughts and come hang out with us!

Our team of Public Storage experts – including some recent movers – are here to share their best tried-and-true moving and packing hacks, all 10 of them. These tips will make your next relocation easier and save your stuff from damage.

“A move is chaotic but there are simple things you can do to organize and make it a little easier,” said Erika Bragdon, who rocked the organization and execution of her recent move in New Hampshire. She even lived to write about it on her blog Living Well Mom.

Color-Code Boxes: a Packing Hack to Stay Organized

view of color coded house floor plan and color coded sticker on a orange counter

When Bragdon moved her family of six (plus pets!), she had to pack a large volume of stuff amassed over 10 years. To keep things as organized as possible, she colored-coded her moving boxes using stickers and assigning one color to each room in the house.

“We had so many boxes to pack, and I didn’t want to handwrite on each box,” she said. “(Color coding) made it so much easier to find where things were before, during and after the move.”

Use Clothes to Protect Glassware and Save Space When You Move

When Laura Hall got married and moved from Atlanta to San Diego, she wanted to move as few boxes as possible. She saved space by using most of her clothes to wrap her fragile items and glassware. She wrote about the cross-country haul on her blog Sprint 2 the Table.

“I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on bubble wrap and tissue paper,” she said. “Plus, I probably cut down the amount of boxes I need in half, which also saved me money.”

Pack Paper Plates Between Breakable Ones to Prevent Damage

Slip a paper plate between each glass or ceramic one to protect your china during transit. This tip was proven recently by a Public Storage team member during her own move. The simple step prevented the hard surfaces from clanking together and cracking.

Put Loose Hardware in Labeled Baggies for Easy Unpacking

views of keys and loose hardware in clear bags to not get lost during a move

To ensure you don’t lose any important pieces when you take apart your furniture, place hardware in baggies and label them, said Sarah Faircloth of Faircloth Fairytale. She used this packing hack when she moved with her husband to a bigger apartment in Springfield, Mo.

“I took our dining room table apart for the move so that it didn’t get scratched,” she said. “Once I started taking the table apart, the parts went right into the bag. I even put colored stickers on the bags in case they got loose.”

“To ensure you don’t get items mixed up, take apart one item at a time,” Faircloth added.

Layer Stretch Wrap under Open Liquids to Protect from Spills

beauty cosmetics products with plastic wrap for packing hacks

If you decide to move with open liquids – whether expensive Italian olive oil or salon-quality shampoo – make sure you secure the lids by placing stretch wrap over the opening.

The plastic wrap will help secure the liquids. It’s a little extra work for a lot of extra protection.

Photograph Cords Before Unplugging for a Move

view of someone pulling the cord of a sound system during a packing for move

To keep track of all of the cords needed for today’s electronics, use your camera to snap quick pics before you disassemble and pack, said Hall. She had a record player, sound system, T.V. and printer all plugged in behind the same entertainment center.

“The pictures helped me figure out what wires go with what and how to reconnect them.”

All cords may look the same after you unplug them, so consider also tagging each with painter’s tape and writing on it what they are.

Move Stuff in Drawers with Stretch Wrap

packing hack man uses plastic wrap to keep moving box items secure

Instead of removing your clothes from drawers, use the drawers as boxes; use stretch wrap to contain your stuff and make it easy to identify when you move.

This hack saves you time and money by cutting down on packing and boxes.

Stretch wrap is available at discount stores for about $5, Faircloth said.

Use Garbage Bags to Move Clothes on Hangers

You can easily move clothes on hangers with trash bags instead of folding, packing and re-hanging later. It helps reduce wrinkles too.

“I just poked a hole in the top and put the hangers through it,” Hall said. “You just can’t forget to tie the bottom ends.”

Hall said she threw (not literally) the bags on top of boxes in the moving truck to make the most out of the tall empty space.

Donate as Much Stuff as Possible

a donate box while packing for moving is placed on the floor by a person

When Hall was tired of putting garbage bags over hung-up clothes, she started throwing all of her unused outfits in a separate bag to donate.

“If you haven’t used or worn it in a year, you’ll never wear it again,” Hall said.

She donated other items like duplicate kitchen stuff.

“I had a set of golf clubs that my dad bought me when I was 12, and I don’t even like golf,” Hall laughed. “I wasn’t about to move with them again.”

Altogether she estimates she donated more than $1,000 worth of items.

“And I wish I would’ve donated more,” Hall said. “I had another car load going to Goodwill after we unpacked.”

Pack Essentials in a “First Night Box”

first night moving box on the floor for packing

Hall made sure to pack the essentials in one, easily-accessible place. Mostly importantly: the coffee maker.

“The things I knew I would need within the first 12 hours of arriving somewhere were in there,” Hall said.

Other items like towels, sheets, toilet paper, pet food, (and hopefully a bottle of wine or two), should also go inside the box.

“I wish I would’ve packed a shower curtain,” Hall said.

Need some other final words of wisdom from our recent movers?

  • “I would take better notes in the kitchen; there’s so many different things that you need in there,” Bragdon said.
  • “I got lazy at the end about labeling boxes,” Hall said. “I wish I would’ve made a list because there was stuff I couldn’t find for the first three weeks.”
  • “Buy too many boxes,” Faircloth added. “Buy too much packing tape. It might be annoying having extra things laying around the house, but it will be even more frustrating and inefficient to have to drop everything to go get more boxes.”

Hope these packing tips will help you during your next move!

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