Packing the House for a Move

Click on the items below to learn from the experts how to get everything ready for the moving van!

Air Conditioners CDs Flammable Items Refrigerators
Big Appliances Chairs Kids' Stuff Sculptures
Small Appliances China and Crystal Kitchen Items breakable Stereo Components
Armoires Clothes Kitchen Items non-breakable Stoves
Artwork and Mirrors Collectibles Lamps TV - Big Screen
Beds Computers Lawnmowers and Lawn Tools TV - Less than 30"
Books Dishwashers Mirrors Washing Machines
Bureaus Dryers Paintings

Small Appliances

You'll need old newspaper or your own towels, linens, and medium-sized boxes. Don't use plastic peanuts or shredded newsprint. They could get into the machines and cause damage. Group small kitchen appliances, like blenders and toasters 2 or 3 to a box. Make sure they're clean; don't pack yesterday's toast or blender drinks.

Ensure that the bottom of the box is securely taped, then pad the bottom with wadded newspaper, towels, or sheets. Insert the appliances, and pad them with packing material. Then add another layer of packing materials on top, seal the box, and mark it "Kitchen Appliances."

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Big Appliances

For talking washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and refrigerators, read your users' manual for each appliance to make sure there aren't more special moving preparations you'll need to make. Consider servicing all your appliances a before you move.

You'll need tape, large pads, rope, towels, linens, clothes, and stuffed animals for washing machines. You also need baking soda for washing machines and refrigerators

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Washing Machines

Do all your wash several days before you're ready to move. Drain all the water from the washer. If possible, take the washer outside and tip it sideways to empty the remaining water from the water hose. Then dry the interior completely with a towel.

Remove all accessories and fittings and store them in a plastic bag. Stuff towels between the washing machine sides and the tub to keep the tub from rotating. Fill the basket with clothes, linens, and stuffed animals. Also include a box of baking soda to cut down on mildew. Tape the lid and electrical cord down, then tie a large pad around the outside.

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Disconnect the exhaust hose from the back of the dryer and from the exhaust duct in the wall. Loosely roll the hose and place it in the dryer basket. Tape the lint screen, electrical cord, and dryer door into place. Tie a large pad around the outside of the dryer.

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The day before moving, empty the contents and defrost the refrigerator. Eat what you can, then give the rest away to neighbors; never transport perishable food. Empty the drainage pan and disconnect and drain of your automatic ice maker. Clean the walls, drawers, and shelves.

Some refrigerators have "leveling rollers," which are wheels that raise and lower each corner of the refrigerator so it is even. Check your manual to see whether you should raise or lower them for the move. Wrap the shelves and tape them together. Tape all other loose parts, including the interior drawers, the electrical cord, and doors. Tie a large pad around it.

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A Stove

Clean the oven and stove top. Place all oven racks on the bottom rung and tape them down. Tape down the burners and the protective pans. Tape the electrical cord and door to the stove, lock the door if possible, and tie a large pad around it.

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Remove all dishes and tape down the racks and silverware basket. See your manual for help removing and draining the water hook-up. Close and lock the door. Tape the door shut. Now tape the hose and cord to the dishwasher. Tie a large pad around it.

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Air conditioners

If your air conditioner is in use, shut if off the day before so the coils can dry and cool. Remove and either clean or replace the filter. Tape the cord to the side of the air conditioner, not the back, where the coils are located. Use the original box if you have it, or another large appliance box that is well-padded. Don't use Styrofoam peanuts, which could get inside the air conditioner and cause damage. If you don't have a box, tie two large pads around it to protect the coils.

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Armoires can be great packing spaces for lightweight items such as pillows, lamp shades, and hanging clothes. If you're going to pack a lamp shade, be sure to pad it all around with lots of lightly wadded newspaper or bubble wrap. You need rope and either large padding or old blankets

Remove all the contents from the shelves. Don't try to ship your CDs, TV, cards, games, and other loose items inside the armoire. They'll be jostled and probably damaged. If you have drawers, you can keep some items inside if they're not too heavy. Wad newspaper in the empty spaces and tape the drawers shut.

Fill in empty spaces with lightweight items, such as pillows and lamp shades. Several lamp shades can be stacked together with blank newsprint. Close and lock your doors, if possible, or tie the handles together. Tie large padding or old blankets around the outside.

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Artwork and Mirrors

You'll need tape, newspaper, cardboard, and bubble wrap. Sculptures require Styrofoam peanuts. Finally, you'll need boxes,

To pack framed prints, wrap them individually in newspaper or bubble wrap, then tape cardboard around them. Put them in flat fitted boxes. If they still fit loosely in their individual boxes, fill the spaces with lightly wadded blank newsprint. Tape the box shut and mark it.

To pack mirrors, put tape across the front of the mirror in an "X" to keep the pieces in place in case the glass breaks. Wrap them in bubble wrap or newspaper with cardboard taped around them. Fill loose spaces with lightly wadded paper. Put mirrors in a flat box, seal it, and mark "Fragile - Mirror."

To pack original paintings, tape the front of the glass in an "X" with masking tape. Cover the framed painting or canvas with bubble wrap and tape it shut. Build a box to fit that is slightly bigger than the painting. If you're packing a canvas, wrap the cardboard box in bubble wrap again, tape it, then build or buy a second box that is slightly bigger than the first. Double-boxing is a guarantee against other sharp objects puncturing the box and canvas during the move. Tape the box well and mark it "Fragile - Art."

When packing sculptures, you'll need a box at least 30% larger than the size of your sculpture and bubble wrap. Fill 1/3 of the box with Styrofoam peanuts. Wrap the sculpture with bubble wrap, set it in upright, then fill around and over with peanuts. Your piece of art should be nestled in the center without touching the sides of the box. Tape the box and mark it "Fragile - Artwork."

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You'll need rope, tape, large pads, sheets, mattress covers and a plastic bag. Disassemble the bed frames and mark the pieces so you know where they go later. Tie or tape the rails together. Remove all screws, bolts, and nuts, then put them in a plastic bag and tape it to rails. Tie large pads around headboard and footboards. Leave sheets on mattresses to protect them, or cover them with plastic mattress covers.

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You'll need tape and small boxes. If you've collected lots of books over time, now is a great time to reevaluate what you really want to keep. Consider selling some at a yard sale or to a secondhand book store. More weight in your truck adds to the final price and the strain of moving.

Never pack more than 30 pounds of books in a box. Fill the small spaces in each box with smaller paperbacks. Alternate bindings every few books to keep stacks level in each box. Tape the boxes shut and mark them "Books."

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You'll need rope and large pads. Don't leave bureau drawers completely full for the move. They will make the bureau too heavy. Use suitcases to pack some clothing and other non-fragile items from your bureau drawers.

Partially empty drawers and fill spaces with small, fragile items like clocks or picture frames wrapped in loose clothing. Don't put tape on the drawers; it could stick to the finish. Tie a large pad securely around the bureau.

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You'll need bubble wrap or newspaper, tape, and furniture pads. Wrap chair arms with newspaper or bubble wrap and tape. Leave slipcovers in place or cover the chairs with large sheets. Cover them with furniture pads.

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You'll need wardrobe boxes, suitcases, and a mix of small and medium boxes. Hang the clothes from closets in wardrobe boxes. If the boxes still have some space, consider filling them with lightweight items like lamp shades covered in bubble wrap.

Pack some clothes from bureaus in boxes or suitcases so that the bureaus won't be too heavy to move. Consider using clothes as packing material between breakable items or to fill spaces in other boxes that contain items from bedrooms. Mark the boxes "Clothing" or with the person's name.

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You'll need tape, small pieces of cardboard, and plastic bags. You'll also need either the original cartons with the foam forms or 2 sets of boxes, one larger than the other for double-boxing components. Finally, you need Styrofoam peanuts.

Back up all the files on your computer. Your computer company may recommend that you "park" your hard drive. That means using a special program that makes recording heads in the hard drive pull back from the data area into a "safer" area of the CPU.

Pack your disks in a separate box, but not with anything magnetic. Bundle cables and wires and color code them to their matching holes so it's easy to reconnect in your new home. Once your computer's completely cooled off, put each component part in a plastic bag to keep dirt out during the move, then inside the foam forms in their original boxes. Fit cables and other accessories in the sides of each box and fill them with peanuts.

If you don't have the original boxes, use the double-box method. Fill the smaller of the 2 boxes with Styrofoam peanuts, put the "bagged" monitor or CPU in the middle, and fill the box the rest of the way so that the component sits in the middle of the box without touching the sides. Fit in cables and accessories, close and seal that box, then fill the bottom of the second box with peanuts, put the sealed box in, and fill all around the rest of the way with peanuts.

If you have a small printer, you can pack it with your CPU. Be sure to remove the printer cartridges. If your printer uses pins to form-feed paper, leave the paper during the move to keep the pins in place. Mark each box "Fragile - Computer."

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You'll need tape, plastic peanuts or newspaper, and small boxes. Pad the bottom of the box with wads of newspaper or Styrofoam peanuts. Place a stack of CDs in the middle of the box. If your box is big enough and you don't have a lot of CDs, put your entire CD holder in the center, CDs and all. CDs can weigh a lot, so you'll probably have to divide them into several boxes. Fill the area tightly all around so that the CDs won't jiggle. Tape the box and mark "CDs."

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You'll need: tape, a mix of small and medium boxes, bubble wrap, and either Styrofoam peanuts or blank newsprint. Wrap each fragile item separately with bubble wrap and tape. Put a layer of peanuts or wadded paper on the bottom and layer it in wrapped items with peanuts or wadded paper in between. Put a final layer of peanuts or wadded paper on top Seal the and mark it "Fragile - Collectibles." If your collectibles are really valuable, consider moving them in your car or shipping them separately.

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Flammable Items

You'll need to call your local recycling pick-up provider, fire station, or the nearest Environmental Protection Agency office to learn how to properly dispose of flammable and hazardous materials before you move. These items include paints, solvents, oil, and gas from your grill.

It's dangerous and illegal to pack and move flammable or hazardous materials. If you have a small can of turpentine or leftover paint, ask your neighbors if they can use it. Otherwise, dispose of it properly with assistance from your recycling company or the EPA. Many towns have an annual "Hazardous Materials Disposal Drop-Off Day" at a recycling center or fire station. If you know you're moving, plan ahead to dispose of the materials then.

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China and Crystal

You'll need tape, a mix of small and medium boxes, cardboard, Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap, and newspaper. Layer bubble wrap between plates and bowls, leaving space at the top of the box to fill it with wadded newspaper. Place wadded newspaper or peanuts in the bottom of a box and put layers of plates or bowls over it. Then fill the top and sides with peanuts or newspaper. Seal and mark "Fragile - China."

Wrap each glass or teacup in a piece of bubble wrap and tape it. Put a layer of peanuts or newsprint on the bottom of the box. Place wrapped cups or glasses on top, upright as if you were placing them on the table. Place a layer of cardboard and another layer of packing material on the top and sides. Keep layering in wrapped cups and peanuts until you've reached the top. Put a final layer of packing material on top, seal it, and mark the box "Fragile - Crystal/China."

Don't use compartmentalized liquor boxes unless the compartments are made of sturdy cardboard and you put a layer of packing material on the bottom first. The compartments are usually too flimsy. Glasses and cups should still be wrapped in bubble wrap.

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Kids' Stuff

You'll need tape, newspaper, and a mix of medium and large boxes. Pack kids' rooms last if they are still small. The security of their routine until the very end will make the transition go more smoothly. Give older children advance time to pack their rooms with you. Packing is a good time to talk about things they might be worried or feel sad about, such as leaving friends, school, a home they've always lived in, and facing a new school with strangers. Understanding feelings and offering your reassurance will ease the transition for them.

Allow them to select some items to take with them in the car or in their carry-on bag. Most kids' toys are somewhat non-breakable and can go in boxes with some wadded newsprint or extra clothes to fill the space. Breakable toys like models or porcelain dolls can be wrapped in extra clothes and packed in newspaper.

While the kids are packing, ask them to think about where they'd like things to go in their new rooms. Make sure you drain water from squirt guns and seal paints and other safe but messy materials in ziplock bags or containers. Pack them together in a box lined with a plastic bag. Have your kids seal the boxes and write their names or put their favorite stickers on each box.

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Non-Breakable Kitchen Items

You'll need tape, a mix of medium and large boxes, kitchen towels and linens, and newspaper. Select a few pieces of essential cookware, such as pots, pans, cooking spoons, a spatula, and utensils for the first day you're in your new home. Put newspaper (or ripped-open paper bags) between the items. Fill in spaces with wadded newsprint. Seal and mark "Kitchen." On the box you need for cooking when you arrive, mark "Kitchen - First Day."

Breakable Kitchen Items

You'll need tape, a mix of small and medium boxes, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts and newspaper. Wrap each glass and mug in bubble wrap and tape them shut. Put layers of bubble wrap between plates and bowls. Fill the bottom of the box with peanuts or wadded paper.

Layer the glasses and mugs with peanuts and paper, or place stacks of layered plates and bowls on top. If your glasses have stems, place them upright, as if you were putting them on the table. Fill in sides and top with peanuts and wadded paper.

For larger breakable items, such as Pyrex dishes, china serving bowls, or glass coffee pots, wrap each in bubble wrap and tape it shut. Put several smaller items or a single large item in the center of a small box which is filled with peanuts. Make sure you put a layer of peanuts or wadded paper between smaller items. Seal the boxes and mark them "Fragile - Kitchen."

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You'll need tape, a mix of medium and large boxes, and bubble wrap. Remove lightbulbs, harps, and lamp shades from the lamps. Wrap lamp shades in bubble wrap and stack them in a large box with wadded paper, or put them in an armoire. Wrap the cords around the lamps and wrap them in bubble wrap. Place the lamps in the empty, defrosted refrigerator, unplugged dryer, or drained, unplugged washer. You can also put them in boxes with wadded paper, seal the boxes and mark them "Lamps."

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Lawn Furniture

You'll need tape, large flat boxes for glass tabletops, newspaper and and bubble wrap. Packing is easy if you have furniture with no breakable parts. Clean the furniture and disassemble the parts. Tape them together, or put small pieces in ziplock bags and tape them to the furniture. If you have glass tabletops, wrap them in bubble wrap and put them in flat boxes used for mirrors and artwork. Seal and mark the boxes "Fragile - Glass."

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Lawnmowers and Lawn Tools

You'll need tape and storage containers for hazardous materials. Clean your lawnmower of grass and debris using a hose. Clean the other lawn tools and equipment. Drain the gas and oil out from the lawnmower into storage containers. Contact your local recycling company or Environmental Protection Agency office for information on disposing of the gas and oil.

Tape or tie the handles of rakes, shovels, and other garden tools. Pack smaller garden and lawn items in a box. Drain your garden hose down a hill, roll it up, and put in a box. Now you're done. For tips on safe disposal of hazardous materials, click here.

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Stereo Components

You'll need tape, plastic bags, and the original boxes with the foam forms. If you don't have the original boxes, then use double boxes of different sizes and plastic peanuts. Make sure the components are completely cooled. Use color-coded tape to mark where cables and cords should go in the equipment when you get to your new home.

Check your CD player manual to see whether you need to tighten screws that will keep internal components from moving around. If you have a turntable, tape the platter in place on and tape the arm to the arm rest. Pack the plastic turntable cover separately from the turntable, if it comes off. It may screw down.

Put all components in individual plastic bags to keep them from getting dirty during the move as well as to keep peanuts out of the equipment. Put the components in their original boxes, or put them in double boxes. The component goes in the smaller box filled with peanuts, and the smaller box goes inside the larger box, which is also filled with peanuts. Don't bundle components together in the boxes unless they're small enough to be separated by peanuts. Seal and mark the boxes "Fragile - Stereo/Audio Equipment."

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You'll need tape and the original packing boxes and foam forms. If you don't have the original boxes, you can use large new box and foam forms Unplug your big screen TV. Be sure to leave the cable and cable box behind, since those belong to the cable company.

Lay it gently on its side and slide the foam forms on either end. Then slide it into the box, set it upright, seal it, and mark it "Big-Screen TV." If you don't have the original box, you will still need more than plastic peanuts. Companies that sell packing materials probably have dense Styrofoam blocks you can use. Gently lay the TV on its side on top of a piece of foam. Tape another piece of foam on the bottom and slide the whole thing into the box. Fill in all sides with foam, then seal it.

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Content provided by Katharine Roberts and USPS