How to Pack Up a House Quickly

Woman Packing and Organize unused clothes into the cardboard box
wera Rodsawang / Getty Images

Ideally, most people can use a minimum of eight weeks to plan and pack for a move. But unfortunately that much time isn't always available, and last-minute moves are also common, with some people having to move in four weeks or less. If a quick move is in your immediate plans, there are some effective steps that can help to ensure a speedy sorting and packing of your household things with a minimum of chaos.


Get Rid of Stuff

One of the unexpected benefits of last-minute moves is that they force you to be ruthless in how you sort and pack. And this is a good thing, since the more stuff you get rid of, the less you have to pack and move, which ultimately means you spend less time and energy. Some people think that to save time, they should just pack everything they own and sort it later. Not so. Get rid of as much stuff as you can.

Go through each room and separate items into three piles:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Toss

If you haven’t used it or worn it for a year, give it away or toss it. Get the whole family involved by having them follow this rule while sorting through their stuff. If you hesitate when deciding whether to keep or toss something, take this as your answer, and toss it.

Call for Help

Get help from friends and family and/or service companies. Family and friends are always anxious to help out. Just make sure that before you enlist their support, you have a clear idea of what you need them to do. If you've weeded out and sorted your belongings and created a “to keep” pile, helpers can go straight to that pile and get to work without having to ask you whether something should be moved or not. Another good job for helpers is getting rid of the stuff you don’t want to keep. This may involve arranging donation pickups or dropping off donation items as well as getting rid of junk and hazardous materials, like paint and pesticides.

Buy Your Packing Supplies

If you’re moving with a very short timeline, then it’s best to purchase your boxes and packing supplies directly from a moving store or office supply shop. This will save you the trouble of hunting for enough suitable-use boxes. Another option, if you’re moving locally, is to search for a green mover who supplies plastic bins for your packing needs. It is a great way to move. Not only is it good for the environment, but it also eliminates the tasks of finding boxes for packing and getting rid of them afterward. Most companies will drop off the needed bins on a date that’s convenient for you, then pick them up after you’ve finished moving and unpacking.

Start Packing

Now that you have the supplies you need, you can start packing the pile of “to keep” items. Remember that some items, such as large appliances, may require special preparation. If necessary, use labels or sticky notes to let helpers know what to do with items.

Getting Help From Professionals

Service professionals are always available to help out with a move and can be well worth the added expense if you're really under time pressure.

  • Professional packers can be called in to help with packing or to pack your entire household. It’s a great service that will save you a lot of time and headaches. Just keep in mind that if you’re trying to save money, professional packers can be expensive. Call around before you hire.
  • Pick-up companies offer services that will pick up and get rid of junk for you. Just choose a date and tell them how much you need to get rid of, and the junk will be gone quickly and easily. The fee is usually a rate per pound, depending on how easy the stuff is to move. Again, call around for a competitive rate.
  • Charities will also pick up your unwanted stuff. If your donation pile is large or if you have furniture to give away that’s still in good condition, a non-profit organization will pick up the items for you, saving you the energy and time needed to drop it off. Just make sure you’ve completed your sorting so that you go through the procedure only once. Be aware that some charities offer pick-ups only on specific dates and at specific locations. Ask before you book.

Watch Now: Keep It or Toss It? 9 Best Closet Clean-Out Tips