How to Pack Your Kitchen for Moving

Woman labels box with kitchen items for move

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Overview
  • Working Time: 6 hrs
  • Total Time: 24 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $50 to $100

The kitchen is probably the hardest room to pack when you are moving your household to a new residence. With all its small items and drawers and cupboards, not to mention food items, a kitchen has more objects of dissimilar shapes and sizes than any other room in the home. And kitchens typically don't have all that many items you can give away or donate, since most kitchen supplies and appliances will be used in the new home. A systematic, step-by-step approach is essential when packing up your kitchen for moving.

Boxes and Other Supplies

A variety of different boxes are needed to move a typical family-sized kitchen. They are available at various retailers specializing in moving vans and equipment. Home improvement centers also sell kits of moving boxes and supplies. Quantities can be adjusted if you have a particularly large or small kitchen.

  • Large boxes are best for lightweight, hard-to-pack items such as plastic kitchenware, dish racks, small appliances, baking tins.
  • Medium boxes are best for heavier items such as small appliances, pantry items, pots and pans, silverware, contents of drawers, cookbooks.
  • Heavy-duty boxes have thick, double-walls, perfect for packing fragile items, such as plates, glasses, stemware, wine, and canisters.
  • Unprinted news-wrap paper will help you pack fragile items, including food items, small appliances. Purchase a 4- to 5 -lb. bundle.
  • Cell kits are extremely useful for packing glasses, stemware, wine, and liquor bottles. They can also be used to pack figurines, vases, and canisters. Check the sizes of your cell kits to ensure they'll fit into the boxes you have.
  • Packing/sealing tape and labels can be purchased in bulk, as you'll need it for packing all your rooms.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Markers
  • Tape dispenser

Materials

  • 5 Large boxes (18 x 18 x 24)
  • 10 Medium boxes (18 x 18 x 16)
  • 5 Heavy-duty boxes (18 x 18 x 28)
  • Unprinted news-wrap paper (4 to 5 lbs.)
  • 5 to 10 cell kits (18 x 18)
  • Packing/sealing tape
  • Labels

Instructions

  1. Sort, Select, and Simplify

    Before you move, select the items you're taking with you and cull out the items you're leaving behind. Make sure you have "homes" for the things you won't be taking, and check to make sure you're not moving items that shouldn't be packed. Go through each cupboard and drawer and be very selective. Donate unneeded items to shelters or food banks, have a garage sale, or give them to friends and neighbors.

  2. Prepare an Essentials Box

    Set aside the things you'll need for your last two days in your current home and the first two days in your new home, including dishes, cutlery, food items, appliances (coffee maker/toaster), dishtowel, dishcloth, cleaner, soap, etc.

  3. Collect Packing Materials

    For a family-sized kitchen, you'll need the items listed above. It is best to have all boxes and packing materials you'll need to ensure a swift and efficient packing experience. People frequently use leftover newspaper to pack spaces around items in boxes, but unprinted news-wrap paper is better since it has no ink to rub off on items.

  4. Pack Items Not Frequently Used

    Start by packing any items in your cupboards and drawers that you don't use on a daily basis. These can include:

    • Vases, crystal
    • Food storage containers
    • Wine glasses
    • Mixing bowls
    • Cookie sheets, pie pans
    • Small appliances, such as mixers, blenders, etc.
    • Cookbooks
    • Extra dish towels, dishcloths, and oven mitts
    • Special utensils, such as barbecue tongs, meat mallets, ladles, and spatulas
    • Special-event dishes, such as serving plates, condiment dishes, cream and sugar containers, etc.
    • Pictures and wall hangings
  5. Pack Wine, Liquor, and Other Unopened Bottles

    Wine and alcohol can be packed early on in the process. Select the bottles you plan on opening between now and the move, and pack everything else. Other items you may want to pack now are food items that are in glass bottles that are still sealed, such as cooking oils, specialty oils, and fine vinegar. Remember to ask yourself if the weight of each item is worth the cost of moving it. For expensive items such as aged olive oils, balsamic vinegar, or truffle oil, it may be worth the cost of moving. For many items, though, it may be more efficient to buy new bottles when you reach your new home.

  6. Pack the Drawers and Shelves

    Start with the messiest drawer. Get rid of extra items or items you no longer use. Rule of thumb: If you haven't used it in the last six months, don't move it.

    Pack the cutlery drawer, keeping only one set per family member. These sets will be kept in your essentials box.

    If you still need to pack your cookbooks, do it now. Remember to pack books flat to prevent bending the spines. Place the books in the box according to preference; keep the books that are most used on top. If there's a book you'd like to include in your essentials box, keep it out, but make sure you only set aside one—your essentials box should be only for the most critical items.

  7. Pack Dishes

    Assemble the cell boxes for glasses and stemware. Take your time with this step, ensuring items are packed well. This is also the time to pack plates and bowls, and any odds and ends.

  8. Pack the Pots and Pans

    Keep at least one all-purpose pot for your essentials box. Pack the rest, including lids and crockery.

  9. Pack the Pantry

    The pantry should've been sorted by now, with only those items you want to move separated out. Start with the spices, then work your way to the larger items. Canned goods aren't worth moving unless you're performing the move yourself. Again, check the weight of each item and consider the cost to move it. Tape up any opened food packages and get rid of all perishables, including freezer items, unless your new home is quite close.

  10. Prepare the Appliances

    Make sure you properly prepare large appliances for your move. It should be done at least 24 hours in advance. Improper preparation can lead to gas leaks, broken parts, and appliances that won't work. Read the manuals, and if you're unsure of how to prepare them, call a professional.