Because they’re not breakable like dishes or glassware, your clothes can be relatively simple to pack – especially if you’re the type who keeps your closet organized. But your closet isn’t the only place you store clothing. You likely have some pieces in dresser drawers, an armoire, your laundry room, hanging by the front and back doors, and maybe even a favorite flannel work shirt in the garage. You’ll need to gather up all your clothes in one spot before you can pack, then follow these tips!

Moving Supplies You’ll Need to Pack Your Clothing

  • Large drawstring trash bags. Try to buy eco-friendly bags.
  • Space/vacuum bags (optional)
  • Medium and large moving boxes
  • Wardrobe boxes (optional)
  • Packing paper
  • Movers’ wrap (optional)
  • Moving blankets (optional)
  • Packing tape
  • Permanent black marker

Steps for Packing Your Clothes for a Move

1. Gather and purge

The first step to efficient packing is a good purge. It’s pointless to pack clothes, shoes, and handbags that you won’t use after you move. But before you can purge your clothing, you’ll need to gather up items from all over the house and put them back in closets, drawers, and other places you store your clothes. Once you gather all your clothing, go through your closets and drawers, pull out items that don’t fit, things that are worn-out to the point of being useless, or pieces you simply don’t like anymore. Maybe you wear your tuxedo every two or three years, but for all your other clothes, the rule of thumb is to say goodbye to anything you haven’t worn in over a year. This 41 minute long video will guide you through every step of the process! Set aside quality pieces to sell online or at a consignment store and place useful giveaway clothing into trash bags to donate. Once you’ve purged your clothing, packing it will seem far less overwhelming.

2. Organize clothes by climate

This step may seem like extra work, but it’s worthwhile and is an especially important step if you’re moving to a different climate. If you’re moving from a mild climate to one with four seasons, you’ll appreciate having your wardrobe organized by season. Don’t pack swimsuits with sweaters and fleece. Set aside summer wear to pack in separate boxes from winter wear. If you’re moving from a four-seasons climate to a mild climate, you probably won’t need all those coats, sweaters, gloves, mufflers, and boots. Those items can go into the donate bag or the consignment store.

3. Use your suitcases and duffle bags

Go ahead and use your suitcases and travel bags to pack clothing. Of course, you’ll want to set aside the bags that you’ll use to pack the essential clothing you’ll need during your move, but use your extra duffle bags and suitcases to pack your clothing. The more suitcases you can use, the fewer moving boxes you’ll need to buy.

4. Use space bags

Once you pack clothing in a space bag and vacuum out the air, you’ll be amazed at how compact the package will be. These bags are a great investment and an excellent way to store out-of-season clothing after your move. Once you seal the space bag, it will protect your clothing from moisture and pests. Space/vacuum bags come in all sizes, including long bags for suits, dresses, and coats, which, once sealed, can hang in a wardrobe box. Smaller bags are great for sweaters, fleece, and pants and, when sealed, can easily be packed in medium moving boxes. If you use space bags, you’ll need fewer wardrobe and moving boxes, which translates to lower moving costs.

5. Keep as many clothes on hangers as possible

You’ll save heaps of time packing if you keep your clothing on hangers. Group about six to eight pieces of clothing together on the clothes pole in your closet. Fluff open a large trash bag and pull it up from the bottom of the grouping to the necks of the hangers. Use the bag’s drawstring to tie the hangers together. Be sure the tie is tightly secured, so the hangers don’t come loose and fall into the bag. If you’re sure the bags won’t get crushed or torn, simply transport the bags as-is.

For extra protection, you can place the bags in a large moving box or, ideally, hang the bagged clothes in wardrobe boxes.

6. Pack your folded clothing

Items that you can’t hang in wardrobe boxes will go into moving boxes. Line the bottom and sides of the moving box with packing paper. You can either fold or roll your clothing and pack it into a box. Rolling maximizes space in a box. Avoid unnecessary creases by not packing the box too full. Small pieces of clothing accessories like scarves, underwear, gloves, belts, and socks can fill the air spaces in the box.

7. Alternatively, keep your clothes in the dresser

If you plan to hire professional movers, they may want you to take all clothing out of dresser drawers. Be sure to ask because if they are willing to move the dresser with your clothes in the drawers, you’ll save yourself a lot of packing time and effort. If you’re moving on your own, you can leave the dresser drawers full, as long as you can still lift the dresser. Follow these tips for doing so:

  • Take any items that may make the dresser too heavy. Pack those things in a moving box.
  • If you’re moving a short distance, you can keep the clothing in the drawers but consider removing the drawers to make the dresser lighter. Wrap each drawer with layers of packing paper and tape the paper so that it’s secure. Do yourself a favor and label the contents of each drawer. Alternatively, you can wrap around each drawer with several layers of movers’ wrap. This wrap will not only protect the contents of the drawer but will enable you to see what’s inside. It may be especially helpful to number the drawers according to how they fit in the dresser.
  • If you move the dresser with the drawers in, cover it with a moving blanket and tape around it so the drawers will stay closed.

8. Handle special clothing with care

Special clothing includes items made from delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, cashmere, jeweled or sequined fabrics, fur, and other fragile materials. It can also include sentimental or nostalgic pieces, such as a tuxedo or your wedding dress, and items that are valuable or expensive, like designer labels. These pieces need extra TLC when you pack and move them. Take care to protect this delicate clothing by placing it in garment bags. Hang the garment bags in dedicated wardrobe boxes, separate from everyday clothing.