9 Incredibly Useful Packing Hacks for Moving

Stacked moving boxes with shredded paper for packing, roll of tape, garbage bag and toothpicks next to houseplant and books

The Spruce / Valerie de León

You found a new place to dwell. Life is all sunshine and rainbows until you think about packing. It's arguably the worst part about moving. Not many chores are as tedious — not to mention annoying — especially when you struggle to find the sticky end of a roll of shipping tape.

We want to make boxing and unboxing your stuff as painless as possible. These incredibly useful hacks will reduce the stress and expense of packing for moving.

  • 01 of 09

    Rent Moving Boxes

    Dogs in plastic moving bins
    Plastic moving bins usually come in two different sizes. Deirdre Sullivan

    Not your first time at the rodeo? Then you know boxes, labels and shipping tape can add up quickly.

    In fact, buying enough packing supplies to move a one bedroom apartment can cost more than $400. That's a wad of cash for stuff that will wind up curbside. Sure, scoring free moving boxes is a real money saver, but it's no easy feat for carless city dwellers. 

    Renting plastic moving boxes is a smart alternative.

    Depending on where you live, rental bins can cost 50% less than buying cardboard boxes. Also, unlike the corrugated stuff, plastic ones are both crushproof and waterproof.

    Companies like Gorilla Bins offer two-week rental packages based on home size. Packages typically include:

    • Moving bins in both medium and large sizes
    • Zip ties (so you don't need packing tape) 
    • Peel and stick labels
    • Free delivery and pick up

    Places that rent plastic boxes usually wash them between rentals. If you're a germaphobe, some companies like Bin It and A Smart Move, sanitize after cleaning.

    To find where you can rent moving bins in your area, you can Google or search Yelp. 

  • 02 of 09

    Hack a Vacuum Space Bag

    Space storage bag hack using garbage bag
    Via Apartment Therapy

    Things like pillows, blankets, and your Triple F.A.T. Goose jacket take up lots of space when packing. If you compressed items like these, you'd be able to pack more lightweight stuff into fewer boxes. The problem is vacuum space bags are expensive. A set of three large bags costs around $20.

    Learn a hack that will let you get the job done using an ordinary garbage bag, vacuum cleaner and rubber band.

  • 03 of 09

    Smarter Ways to Organize Packed Boxes

    Sortly Moving App QR Code

    Packing and labeling your stuff by room sounds like a smart plan. Until you find yourself needing a particular item, like a vegetable peeler that could be in any one of the 10 kitchen boxes you packed. 

    To avoid this problem you can create a detailed spreadsheet that lists each box's contents. Yea, right, like who has the time? 

    An easier way to get things organized is to take a photo of the stuff that goes into a box before packing using your smartphone or tablet. To make this trick work you'll need to give the photo and the box the same name for easy reference, for example, kitchen box #5.

    You can also use an organizing app designed to make moving more orderly.

    A personal favorite is Sortly. It enables users to create visual inventory lists for each box they pack using photos and printable QR code labels. When you scan the latter using your smartphone or tablet the app will share pictures of the box's contents.

  • 04 of 09

    Make Peeling the Sticky End of Tape Easier

    Rolls of different tape with toothpick marking sticky end

    The Spruce / Valerie de León

    Locating the sticky end of a roll of shipping tape can be challenging. The struggle gets real and oh so annoying when the tape tears off into chunks or stringy shreds instead of neat and tidy pieces.

    Using a toothpick to mark where to peel will make taping boxes less of a chore. To do, place the toothpick horizontally on the tape's sticky side. It should be about a half inch from the end. Afterward, fold the end of the tape under so it covers the toothpick.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    DIY Cheap Packing Material

    Moving box open with shredded and crunched paper to protect coffee cups

    The Spruce / Valerie de León

    Bubble wrap and packing peanuts aren't cheap. Sure you can use stuff like towels, sheets, and clothing to protect your breakables. But unless the things you're boxing are squeaky clean, you're going to have a ton of laundry to do after you unpack.

    What to do instead? 

    If you own a paper shredder, chances are you'll be shredding a ton of paper clutter while you're getting ready to move. Instead of dumping the shredded paper into the recycling bin, you can use it to cushion blows.

    To avoid a big confetti-like mess, stuff the paper shreds into plastic grocery bags before using to pad boxes and fragile items. Just remember to tie a knot at the top of each bag to prevent spilling.

    Another good to know, clean plastic bottles in an assortment of sizes can be used to stop odd shaped items from shifting around the confines of boxes.

  • 06 of 09

    How to Organize Small Stuff

    Batteries and chargers organized in small plastic bags next to houseplants

    The Spruce / Valerie de León

    Make your move transparent using Ziplock bags. Not only are they ideal for packing and protecting important papers, cords, furniture screws-- you name it, but you can reuse them to organize small items after the move. 

    The trick to making this idea work is labeling. For example, you can label things like cords individually and then group them by gadget or device in labeled bags.

  • 07 of 09

    Problem Solving Kits

    Moving kits
    Deirdre Sullivan

    After you move, you're going to need some stuff stat like soap and a clean towel for washing your hands. Creating a few problem-solving kits kept handy in transparent boxes or a large suitcase will keep the bare essentials at your fingertips until the dust settles. Here's a list of suggestions:

    • Weekend kit: Include all the stuff you would need if you left town for a few days including clothing, toiletries, and medications.
    • Bed and bath kit: Think basics like toilet paper, towels, and sheets.
    • First aid kit: When boo-boos happen a small stash of plastic bandages, antiseptic towelettes and absorbent compresses will come in handy.
    • Toolkit: Pack what you'll need to open boxes and assemble furniture like screwdrivers, pliers, hex keys and scissors.
    • Munchie Kit: Pack snacks, bottled water, and a few pantry items for the next morning like coffee and your coffee machine.
    • Cleaning kit: A few goods to have include garbage bags, paper towels, and multipurpose spray cleaner.
  • 08 of 09

    Prevent Packed Bottles from Leaking

    Three bottles covered with plastic wrap to prevent leaks next to houseplant and candle

    The Spruce / Valerie de León

    A little bit of kitchen plastic wrap will stop liquid toiletries from leaking while in transit. To do, take the cap off and place a small sheet of plastic wrap over the opening. Next, put the cap back on. FYI, this hack will also prevent packed stuff like your shampoo from leaking on airplanes.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Bag Your Wardrope

    Coats hanging in closet next to black garbage bags storing wardrobe on white hangers

    The Spruce / Valerie de León

    Sure, you can use white kitchen trash bags as garment bags during your move. But trust us, they will rip open before you get your clothing onto the truck. A better option is to use heavy duty outdoor trash bags. They don't tear open as easily so you can reuse them later for garbage.