How to Use Garbage Bags to Pack and Move

Find out how to choose and pack your garbage bags.

To save money, a lot of people (especially college students) use garbage bags rather than boxes when they move. And why not? They're flexible, hold a lot of stuff and they're easy to pack and stuff into the moving truck.  But wait. There are things you should consider before you dig out those garbage bags from beneath the kitchen sink. For example, what kind of things can you really move safely in a bag, and which bags are the right ones to use? 

  • 01 of 05

    Is it Okay to Pack and Move Using Garbage Bags?

    Moving with garbage bags
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    Is it a good idea to pack using garbage bags? While that might seem like a pretty straightforward yes or no question, it's not. While it's really not necessary to worry about what the neighbors will think, or whether your parents will approve, it is important to be sure that the bags will allow you to safely transport your belongings. It's also important to give some thought to how those bags will make their way to your new home.

  • 02 of 05

    What Kind of Garbage Bags Should I Buy?

    Man Tying a Bin Bag
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    Now that you think it's a good idea to use garbage bags to move, I suggest considering what type of bags are best for you to use. Again, this may seem like a simple answer. After all, there are cheap garbage bags available at every convenience store. But the reality is that you'll be using your bags very differently than you ordinarily would to collect and toss your trash. Here are a few tips to consider:

    1. Be sure to choose a bag that's large enough to carry a significant amount, but not so large that it becomes very heavy. A medium-sized outdoor trash bag is a good choice.
    2. Do look for outdoor rather than indoor bags, as they are far tougher. After all, you'll be packing, loading, and unpacking bags of important belongings.
    3. Look for the thickest bags you can find. If your bag splits open, your belongings will go everywhere!
  • 03 of 05

    What Kind of Stuff Can I Pack Using Garbage Bags?

    Man descending stairway
    Ansgar Photography / Getty Images

    Garbage bags are a poor choice for anything breakable or sharp. It's almost impossible to wrap china securely enough to avoid breakage when it's tossed into the back of a car. And sharp objects will pierce even the toughest garbage bag. Best choice for garbage bag transportation include:

    • clothes and shoes that have flat or soft heels
    • blankets, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, towels
    • placemats, dish towels, tablecloths
    • unbreakable lightweight toys, sports equipment, etc.

    Avoid using garbage bags to pack:

    • books (they are much easier to move in boxes)
    • files (they will fall apart)
    • heavy or sharp kitchen utensils
    • anything breakable or valuable
  • 04 of 05

    How to Use Clear Garbage Bags to Make Packing and Unpacking Easier

    Clear garbage bag


    Tetra Images / Getty Images

    Most people fill a bag, tie it shut, and toss it into a truck or on a pile. As a result, it's impossible to guess what might be inside. Sure, you can write out and stick on labels. An easier option, though, is to use clear bags so you can see what's inside at a glance. Do be sure, though, that the bags are large and thick enough for your needs. Another easy option: buy white bags and label them with a permanent marker.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Other Ways to Save Money on Packing Materials

    Packing a box
    Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty Images

    As you pack your garbage bags, you may realize that some of your items really need a little extra padding. You could go out and purchase bubble wrap, but why spend the money? Easy solutions include:

    • wrapping more fragile items in shirts, towels, sheets, or blankets to protect them from breakage
    • using newspaper to wrap individual items (do be sure to tape the newspaper so it doesn't come unwrapped in transit)
    • collecting boxes from liquor stores (some even hold boxes aside for movers) or grocery stores (be sure to ask when they crush the boxes so you can get your pick of the day's options)