Packing will be far more efficient if you stockpile all of your moving supplies before you start. You can find grocery store boxes and old newspapers. However, the time and effort it takes to collect those used supplies often outweighs the cost of purchasing clean, new moving supplies that will better safeguard your belongings. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress by having the right supplies ready to go before you pack your first box.

1. Boxes

Use only sturdy corrugated moving boxes so that they don’t tear, break, or give way during the move. Commercial moving boxes are by far the best, but you can also find sturdy boxes at liquor or grocery stores if you’d rather use free ones.

  • Types: Boxes are available in standard or heavy-duty, and both types come in four basic sizes. You may also need specialty boxes such as TV, wardrobe, document, and cell boxes for glassware. The 1.5 small carton, also known as a ‘book box,’ is one of the most useful moving boxes – perfect for anything breakable, delicate, or heavy – and of course books.
  • How many?: Standard metrics help you calculate how many boxes you’ll need for a particular size household. For example, experts recommend between 80 – 100 for a three-bedroom house.

2. Plastic containers and vacuum storage bags

Plastic containers and vacuum storage bags are especially useful if you plan to store items after your move. Plastic containers come in all sizes and keep things cleaner than cardboard boxes. They can also prevent pests and insects from getting into your belongings. Additionally, plastic containers enable you to refine packing and storage by color-coding. For example, you can place winter clothing in blue boxes and the kids’ toys in yellow boxes.

3. Alternatives to single-use plastics

After unpacking, plastic bags, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts most often end up in a landfill, so try to make minimal use of single-use plastics when packing. When gathering your packing supplies, consider using a mattress box instead of a plastic mattress bag, Kraft paper instead of movers’ wrap, and packing paper instead of zip-top baggies. If used correctly, packing paper provides as much protection as bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts and panels, and at a much lower cost – plus it’s recyclable. For convenience, we include some single-use plastics supplies in our guide, like zip-top baggies and movers’ wrap, which you can use at your discretion.

4. Mattress bags and boxes

Moving is hard on mattresses. Heavy, bulky mattresses get dragged along the floor and through doorways and hallways. Without adequate protection, your mattresses could get covered in dirt, or worse, snagged and torn. Maintain the considerable investment you have in your mattresses and box springs and ensure they stay protected by using mattress bags or boxes. Mattress boxes provide even more protection and are an excellent alternative to a single-use plastic mattress bag.

5. Wrapping and cushioning materials

You’ll wrap most of your household items to protect them from damage. And most boxes will need appropriate cushioning before placing these wrapped items inside. One of the most affordable, useful, and eco-friendly cushioning and wrapping materials available is packing paper or newsprint paper (non-inked). We don’t recommend using regular newspaper because the ink can stain clothing, china, and other items. In our packing guides, we use the term ‘packing paper,’ which can also mean non-inked newsprint. You can also cushion with old towels, t-shirts, or bedding.

6. Moving blankets

Moving blankets are a must for padding and protecting furniture and appliances. A leather chair, for example, should be covered with moving blankets and secured with movers’ wrap. You can also pad spaces between items in the moving van with blankets to prevent things from shifting, scratching, and getting damaged.

7. Protective materials for unboxed items

Movers’ wrap is a commercial-grade plastic preferred by most movers because it secures moving blankets without sticking and provides furniture with an added layer of protection. Although extremely handy, movers’ wrap is a single-use plastic that will end up in landfill after your move, so use sparingly. Alternatively, you can secure moving blankets with packing tape. Kraft paper is an excellent material for wrapping rugs, disassembled furniture legs, fireplace tools, and other items that won’t fit in boxes.

8. Packing tape

Packing tape is specifically designed to adhere to cardboard moving boxes; avoid using masking tape or scotch tape to seal boxes because it will quickly detach. There are several eco-friendly types of packing tape available.

9. Tape gun

You’ll find that a tape gun is an essential packing tool. Rather than needing three hands to position, tape, cut, and keep the tape from sticking to itself, a tape gun lets you seal any box or object single-handedly.

10. Scissors and a utility knife

You’ll need reliable tools to cut any number of items during packing. Whether you’re cutting paper, cardboard, rope, or twine, the job will be faster and easier with sharp scissors or a utility knife. A utility knife or box cutter is the best tool for cutting open taped boxes when you’re unpacking.

11. Labels

Out of sight, out of mind – we quickly forget what’s inside a packed box, especially when those boxes start piling up. Labeling each box is critical to both a smooth move and easy unpacking. Some people favor using color-coded labels that inform movers of which room the color-coded box goes in. If you go this route, prepare a master template of your new floor plan with the color code for each room and distribute the plan to each member of the moving team.

12. Permanent black markers

Using a permanent black marker is the most straightforward and easiest way to label boxes. Buy wide-tip markers so that your writing will be easily legible. Use your marker to cross out any lettering on re-used boxes and always include the contents and destination room on each box.

13. Tools

Your basic household toolbox should contain pliers, a wrench, both slot and Phillips head screwdrivers or an electric drill, a hammer, level, tape measure, utility knife, and a flashlight. This tool kit will come in handy for managing all kinds of moving chores and is essential for disassembling furniture, like bed frames and table legs.