How to Pack Your Kitchen for Moving

Take Care With Kitchenware

Woman labels box with kitchen items for move

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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.

Use a systematic way to approach packing up your kitchen for moving.

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

Here are the supplies you'll need to move a typical family-sized kitchen. Quantities can be adjusted if you have a particularly large or small kitchen.

  • 5 large boxes (18 x 18 x 24): For lightweight and hard to pack items such as plastic kitchenware, dish racks, small appliances, baking tins.
  • 10 medium boxes (18 x 18 x 16): For heavier items such as small appliances, pantry items, pots and pans, silverware, contents of drawers, cookbooks.
  • 5 heavy-duty boxes (18 x 18 x 28): These have thick, double-walls, perfect for packing fragile items, such as plates, glasses, stemware, wine, and canisters.
  • Unprinted news wrap paper: To pack fragile items, including food items, small appliances. Purchase a 4- to 5 -lb. bundle.
  • 5 to 10 cell kits (18 x 18): 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: Purchase in bulk, as you'll need it for packing all your rooms.
  • Labels and markers: Again, purchase enough so you can pack your entire house.


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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Pack Items not frequently used. Start by packing the 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
  4. 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.

  5. 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 6 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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

  9. 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.