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Packing Tips For a DIY Move

Packing for your move yourself is a big job, whether it is across town, across the country or to another country altogether! The big benefit of DIY packing is the amount of money you can save, but it can be daunting to try to do it right. With that in mind, here are some useful checklists and packing tips to help you do it yourself in a way that makes it easier to unpack and get organized quickly at your new home.

Preparing for Your DIY Packing

Because you’ll need sturdy packing boxes of various sizes, you’re going to need more than just whatever cardboard boxes you can pick up from family and friends. We recommend investing in professional materials, such as:

  • Professional quality moving boxes in different sizes
  • 2” packing tape
  • Masking tape
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Packing paper -- this should be plain newsprint paper, because ink from regular newspapers can rub off on your items.
  • A utility knife
  • Permanent markers

Once you have those supplies assembled, it’s time for the next phase: Packing on schedule!

Packing Tip #2: Pace Yourself

One rookie mistake people often make when they do their own packing for a move is to leave things until the last minute, when the moving truck is about to arrive -- or worse, when it’s already being loaded! Your packing should be finished the night before your move, with only the essential items you’ll need in the morning and right away at your new home left out (these can be packed in luggage, as for an overnight trip).

Use these tips to get it all done on time:

  • Use a calendar to plan what to pack and when. (It takes longer than you might think!)
  • Begin with items in storage areas such as the attic -- these are often in storage boxes anyway and more or less ready to roll. Next, pack out of season items such as winter coats.
  • Pack room by room to stay organized and get more done.
  • Designate a work area in each room being packed so you always know where supplies are.
  • Sort packed boxes not only by room, but by weight to make loading the truck easier.
  • Packed cartons should weigh no more than 50 lbs. It’s tempting to stuff more in to maximize space, but you still have to be able to safely lift the box!

With certain items, the packing is best left to the professional movers. These include valuable, bulky and/or fragile items such as:

  • Glass tabletops, heavy wall ornaments or shelves
  • Wall mirrors that are 40” x 60” or larger
  • Pianos and billiards tables
  • Large statues, trophies, chandeliers and the like
  • Major appliances

Boxes and Packing Materials from Allied

We mentioned the importance of using the proper containers and packing materials even in a DIY move, because the supplies you choose can help you keep your belongings safer and better organized. Allied offers all the packing boxes and cartons you need, including:

  • Dishpack or China Barrels for fine china, glassware and crystal
  • Wardrobe cartons: These make it easy to transport the contents of your closet and even have a built-in bar for the hangers.
  • Mirror cartons: These telescoping cartons come in different sizes and help protect framed pictures, diplomas, mirrors and other flat glass items
  • Mattress cartons: These are available for king/queen, double, twin (single) and crib size mattresses, as well as separate cartons for box springs.
  • Double-wall cartons that offer extra protection for breakable items like china, pottery and crystal
  • 1.5 cu. ft. cartons: ideal for heavier but small items such as books and DVDs
  • 3.0 cu. ft. cartons: Good medium-sized utility carton for toys, pots and pans, and smaller appliances
  • 4.5 cu. ft. cartons: Great for bulky but lightweight items like towels and linens
  • 6.0 cu. ft. cartons: Useful for large, bulky items such as lampshades and pillows
  • Stretch wrap: This is the clear plastic “cling wrap” used to wrap furniture and keep it safe from stains, snags and other surface damage.

DIY Packing Techniques

Our PackingGuide offers a room-by-room how-to of packing techniques, but these general packing tips hold true for any room:

  • Use loosely crumpled plain newsprint paper in the tops and bottoms of boxes to provide extra padding.
  • Pack the biggest, heaviest items first, then the smaller items, and fill in the spaces with loosely crumpled packing paper.
  • Wrap breakable items in tissue paper or newsprint before packing.
  • Label boxes with your name, the room where the box should go, and what it contains.
  • Plastic boxes may seem sturdy, but it’s better to use cardboard moving cartons with the top taped securely.
  • Avoid over-stuffing!

Just to make sure your items will be safe during transportation, your Allied moving professionals will check your packed boxes to see if they are in danger of damage. You may be asked to re-pack boxes that are not properly packed -- just in case!

DIY Electronics Packing

If you’ve kept the original packaging for your computer components or flat screen TV, great! If you haven’t, here’s what to do:

  • Pack the item in a sturdy carton lined with styrofoam “peanuts” or crumpled newsprint. Tape the carton securely and mark it “Extremely Fragile.”
  • Label wires and cables so you’ll remember what they go to -- making reassembly easier.
  • Remove ink and toner cartridges from printers.
  • Detach loose pieces such as paper trays and feeders from printers.
  • Backup your computer files on the cloud or on DVDs.

Don’t Pack That!

Just because you own it doesn’t mean it should move with you! Certain hazardous substances can endanger your belongings and/or other people. So don’t pack flammable liquids or solids, compressed gases, anything explosive, oxidizers, corrosives, poisons, or radioactive materials. Some common examples of these items include:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Automotive repair and maintenance chemicals
  • Radio-pharmaceuticals
  • Matches
  • Paints and paint thinners
  • Lighter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Fireworks
  • Oxygen bottles
  • Propane cylinders

It’s also not a good idea to pack family photos, firearms, prescription drugs you’ll need in the next few days, food in glass jars or other perishables for transport in the moving van. Better to take those items with you.

Best Practices for Labeling

Label every carton -- no exceptions! Use a broad, felt-tipped permanent marker (and buy several). Mark each box with the room, contents, “FRAGILE” or “THIS END UP” when applicable, and your bill of lading number if you have it.

To make your own life easier, you might want to label boxes with a number/code such as 1A, 1B and so on to indicate which should be unpacked first at your new home.

Pro Packing Tips

With more than 85 years in the moving business, Allied has moving down to a science. We’d like to share some of our best tips for DIY packing that will help ensure your belongings arrive safely:

  • Keep pairs of items and similar items together.
  • Wind electrical cords and cables so they don’t dangle and catch on things.
  • Place screws and other hardware in small plastic bags and tie or tape them to the item they go with.
  • Don’t let your belongings destroy each other -- so don’t pack china teacups with a cast-iron frying pan!
  • Pack boxes in layers, with a sheet of cardboard or some crushed paper in between.
  • Towels and blankets can be used for padding and cushioning.
  • For very fragile items, pack them in individual small boxes, then pack those boxes in a larger box with plenty of padding.
  • A box is perfectly packed when you can tape it securely closed with the cover perfectly flat -- not bowing inward or outward.
  • Seal each carton tightly with tape except for those that must be left open for your Allied van driver’s inspection.

We hope these tips will help you pack safer and smarter for your upcoming move! Be sure to call Allied for any packing cartons and other materials you may need, as well as transportation.