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How To Use Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap is America’s favorite packing material. Originally marketed as a new form of wallpaper, IBM engineers recognized its potential as a packaging property in the late 1960s. Used to ship computer equipment, it quickly caught on as a way to protect personal belongings as well. Affordable, versatile, and plentiful ‒ it's become an indispensable tool for delicate items prone to breaking, chipping, and scratching. Unfortunately, while most people know how to use Bubble Wrap, they don’t always know how to use it effectively. Here are a few tips to help you wrap your belongings the right way.

Scissors, bubble wrap and tape for packing

Consider What You’re Wrapping

Bubble Wrap doesn’t come in one size; it comes in several. Large bubbles provide greater protection than smaller ones, but aren’t a practical solution for everything in your home. Before starting, make a quick inventory of all the items you need to protect. Depending on what you own, you may need to buy wraps in a variety of sizes, such as:

  • 1/16-Inch Bubble Wrap. Because it offers only minimal cushioning, this type of wrap is best for extremely lightweight objects: jewelry, smartphones, dolls, action figures, collectibles, and small picture frames, for instance.
  • 1/8-Inch Bubble Wrap. Made for relatively fragile objects, such as glassware, ceramics, and compact appliances, such as toasters and blenders, as well as laptops, tablets, and other moderately sized electronics.
  • 3/16-Inch Bubble Wrap. Offers substantial protection for plates, bowls, vases, wine glasses, fine china, computer monitors, paintings, decorative sculptures, and audio equipment.
  • 5/16-Inch Bubble Wrap. Absorbs heavy impact extremely well, making it an ideal choice for televisions, gaming consoles, furniture, glass tabletops, musical instruments, wall mirrors, porcelain figurines, and high-value souvenirs and memorabilia.
  • 1/2-Inch Bubble Wrap. Designed to protect large, heavy, and extremely expensive items such as antique furniture, marble statues, laboratory equipment, museum artifacts, and oversized electronics.

Start with a Wide, Flat Surface

Bubble Wrap needs to provide uniform protection in order to be effective. Wrapping items on a flat surface ensures the bubbles distribute pressure evenly along the entire object. A flat work space reduces the chance the wrap will wrinkle or fold while you’re handling it. Uneven surfaces create weak spots that could lead to damage.

Choose Your Wrapping Method

When it comes to Bubble Wrap, there are two ways to protect items, each with its own distinct advantages. The first is the “Burrito Method.” Lay the item near the far edge of the sheet and roll it up until it’s completely covered, like you were making a burrito. Surrounding the item on all sides delivers full, 360° protection. Though it's the ideal strategy for protecting cylindrical objects such as vases, glasses, and candlesticks, it's effective with round and flat items as well.

The second method is the “Folding Method.” Place the item in the middle of the sheet and fold the corners towards the center until it’s entirely covered, like you were bundling something in a blanket. This method is more flexible, making it suited to a wider range of objects than the burrito method. For items with protruding parts, folding allows you to tailor the degree of protection as needed.

Wrap Bubble Side In

Always make sure the bubbles are resting directly against the object. This not only provides better protection, it also grips the object, ensuring nothing slips free during transit. At the same time, the smooth surface prevents the delicate bubbles from being popped by protrusions and rough surfaces.

Don’t Skimp

Use as much Bubble Wrap as you need to fully cover the item. Additional layers provide additional protection, so don’t worry about using a little extra. In fact, some movers recommend wrapping especially fragile or valuable objects twice, just in case. Pay close attention to corners and edges. Structural stresses are high around these areas, which makes them more prone to damage.

Cut and Reshape

Even the best folding strategy might not be able to cover an object completely. Cutting Bubble Wrap to match the shape is often the best way to protect irregular items or provide extra protection to vulnerable spots, such as corners and edges. Just make sure the piece fits snugly around the exposed areas, to guard against bumps and drops.

Use Tape

Bubble Wrap has to fit tightly around objects in order to provide adequate cushioning. Because it has a tendency to slip and unravel, secure every object with tape as soon as you’re done wrapping it.

Combine with Other Packing Material

Though Bubble Wrap is great at absorbing shocks and impacts, it can’t protect your belongings all on its own. The best way to keep objects safe is to use it with other packaging materials, such as boxes and Styrofoam peanuts. Modern moving boxes are made from two layers of corrugated cardboard, which create a springy covering around your belongings. At the same time, foam peanuts keep objects from shifting during transit while also guarding against sudden jolts. If you don’t have packing peanuts, stuffing boxes with leftover Bubble Wrap works just as well.

Remove with Scissors

Because Bubble Wrap is specifically designed to resist tearing, removing it with your hands is difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous. The pressure you exert can actually harm your belongings, especially the more delicate ones. There’s even a chance the item could drop and break while you’re tugging at it. Scissors let you cut through plastic quickly and cleanly, making them the perfect tool for removing Bubble Wrap.

Allied Moving Supplies

Allied’s moving services don't just ship your belongings. We help with every aspect of your move, from planning to packing to final delivery and setup. Our teams don’t just supply trucks, they supply boxes, blankets, Bubble Wrap ‒ everything you need to protect your items during their trip to your new home. Got a move coming up? Contact us today for a free quote!