How to Use Garbage Bags to Pack and Move

Clothes in plastic bags
ondacaracola photography / Getty Images

To save money, a lot of people (especially college students) use garbage bags rather than boxes when they move. They are flexible, hold a lot of stuff, and they are easy to pack and stuff into the moving truck.

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?

    hand holding a trash garbage bag at home to take it away f
    Михаил Руденко / Getty Images

    Is it a good idea to pack using garbage bags? While that might seem like a pretty straightforward yes or no question, it is not. While it is 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 is 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 You Buy?

    Man Tying a Bin Bag
    Alex Wilson / Getty Images

    Be sure to choose a bag that is large enough to carry a significant amount, but not so large that it becomes heavy. A medium-sized outdoor trash bag is a good choice.

    Do get outdoor rather than indoor bags, as they are far tougher and thicker. After all, you will be packing, loading, and unpacking bags of important belongings. If your bag splits open, your belongings will go everywhere.

  • 03 of 05

    What Kind of Stuff Can I Pack Using Garbage Bags?

    Clothes in plastic bags
    ondacaracola photography / Getty Images

    Garbage bags are a poor choice for anything breakable, valuable, or sharp. It is almost impossible to wrap china securely enough to avoid breakage when it is tossed into the back of a car. And sharp objects will pierce even the toughest garbage bag. Avoid using garbage bags to pack books, files, heavy or sharp kitchen utensils,

    The best choices for garbage bag transportation include:

    • Clothes and shoes that have flat or soft heels
    • Blankets, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels
    • Placemats, dish towels, and tablecloths
    • Unbreakable lightweight toys and sports equipment
  • 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 is really hard 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.

    Be sure that the bags are large and thick enough for your needs. Another easy option is to 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 up and moving house
    MIXA / 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 money-saving solutions include:

    • Wrap more fragile items in shirts, towels, sheets, or blankets to protect them from breakage
    • Use newspaper to wrap individual items (be sure to tape the newspaper so it does not come unwrapped in transit)
    • Collect boxes from liquor stores or grocery stores