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Ultimate Packing and Unpacking Tips

ultimate packing and unpacking tips

Packing and unpacking are essential parts of a good move.  They are also some of the most tedious and time-consuming aspects of it!  Getting yourself well organised with your packing will make the move itself more efficient while ensuring all your items are protected and accounted for during and after the move.  Follow our tips to make packing and unpacking easier for you.

Packing tips

1. Buy high quality packing material

The key factor to protecting your fragile and valuable items is to use high quality packing material.  Do not skimp out on your boxes or protective material!  Buy or hire thick plastic containers or crates with airtight lids.  If using cardboard boxes, opt for strong, double walled carton.

Buy lots of bubble wrap, packing peanuts or butcher paper which will cushion your boxes.  Add a protective layer around your most delicate items.  A lot of damage can happen especially in transit, it’s best to use a lot of packing material to avoid the disappointment of finding breakages and going through the hassle of replacing items when you’ve just moved into a new house!

2. Start packing and decluttering early

Over years of living in one place, you will have accumulated more than you know in your garage, shelves, and drawers.  It is very easy to underestimate how much you have and how long it will take you to pack it all up!

Start decluttering and prepacking a month or 2 before moving day.  You can choose among several systems to declutter such as Marie Kondo’s method or Swedish death cleaning.  Make sure you go through every nook and cranny and start packing the non-essentials first: off season clothing, artwork, decorations, books.

Decluttering can also take a long time because you have to take into account how long it may take to sell items or to bring them to a charity.  Packing itself takes long and can be very tiring so by starting early you can pace yourself and make sure everything is packed before moving day.

3. Write up a detailed inventory

The biggest problem with unpacking is finding all the important items.  Don’t be tempted to quickly scribble box contents on the box and leave it at that!  You’ll find it much harder to find the important stuff.

Write up a master list with all the boxes by room and number.  Write details of the box contents next to each box number.  Bring this list with you and when you unpack, it will make it a lot easier to find the boxes you need items from.

4. Create buffer zones

The best way to protect your box contents is by using buffer or crumple zones.  Use packing peanuts, bubble wrap or scrunched up butcher paper at the base of your box.  Place your items in one layer.  Then create a crumple zone with more butcher paper or bubble wrap.  Add another layer of items.  Just before you get to the top leave space to leave one last buffer zone.  Do not overpack the boxes!

The items in your box create pressure on each other and the buffer zones absorb this pressure.  During the move, the boxes will also be shuffled around a fair bit, so the buffer will prevent items from scratching and denting each other during the move.

5. How to wrap fragile items

Items that always require wrapping are anything made from glass, porcelain, ceramics, and anything that is fragile.  Use scrunched up butcher paper or bubble wrap to fill glasses, mugs, cups, and vases.  Wrap items with bubble wrap, butcher paper or if you’re wrapping anything extremely delicate like artwork, use both!

6. How to stack fragile items in boxes

Preventing breakages often comes down to how you stack your most fragile items.  Place mugs, cups and glasses mouth down.  Plates and bowls should not be stacked on top of each other.  Instead stack them vertically to avoid the pressure that the weight of the items place on each other.

7. Use dividers and small containers

A great way to protect items is using cardboard dividers and small containers.  You can buy specialised cardboard boxes with dividers for wine and glasses.  Alternatively, you can cut up card and use it to divide sections in your box to avoid any items moving around inside the box while being moved.

Small plastic containers and boxes are also ideal for moving small fragile items such as ceramics, jewellery, and more.  Remember to pad each box or container with scrunched up butcher paper, packing peanuts or bubble wrap.

8. Pack electronic devices with their cables

Electronic devices come with chargers, cables, accessories like usb mice and drives.  Make sure you don’t miss or lose a single cable or accessory.  Pack the device in a box with a Ziplock bag with all the chargers, cables, and accessories.  Label each bag with the device they belong to.  The hardest thing to do when unpacking is finding the right cable and charger for each device.

9. Use original boxes for TVs and computers

TVs and computers are highly sensitive, precious items.  The best way to store and transport them is using the original box the manufacturers packed them in.  Not only are these boxes the perfect size for these electronics.  They also come with padding that has a space for every plug, cable, and accessory to make sure you don’t lose anything.

While you can pack your electronics yourself or hire removalists to do so with bubble wrap and boxes, it is quite risky.  With their delicate screens and components, any small scratch or minor damage could make the TV unusable after the move.  Use the original box and pack the TVs and computers exactly how they were when you first bought them to maximise their protection.

10. Pack the essentials box last

Leave two boxes to pack last which will have all the important items you need at your new home.  These should have basic cleaning products and tools: a microfiber cloth, paper towels, disinfectant, dishwashing liquid and a sponge, a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan.  You should also pack toiletries, toilet paper, towels, shower/bath items, a change of clothes, fresh bed linen, some dinnerware.

Set aside the essentials boxes and ask the removalists to load them last and unload them first as they will be the first you unpack at the other end.


1. Start unpacking the essentials

Open the essentials’ boxes.  You may want to do a basic clean of your new home before unpacking everything else.  If the place is already up to standard, unpack the most important things.  Put toilet paper, soap, shampoo, towels and handwash in the bathroom.  Make the beds and cots.

Having all the essential items unpacked will make you feel more comfortable immediately and help you focus on unpacking the rest of the items.  The next items to unpack will depend on your family unit: baby’s room or kids’ room first if bedtimes are looming.  The kitchen is another important room that you will need to unpack straight away.

2. Planning what goes where and getting additional storage

Your new home may have a vastly different layout and built-in cabinetry and wardrobes to your previous home.  As you start to unpack you might find that you can’t put things where you put them last time.  Decide where everything will go before you unpack it to maximise the storage you do have.

If you run out of space, think about what kind of storage you will need in each room to compliment your new home while storing your precious items away.  Small storage cabinets, extra drawers and shelves can fit on existing furniture while giving you additional storage space.  Open shelving is a great addition to walls and tight nooks where you may not have the space for a cupboard or lowboy.

3. Take it easy or go hard!

As for the rest of the home, you may either want it unpacked immediately or take your time with it.  Taking your time to unpack has several advantages: you can place everything carefully and intentionally and take your time deciding the layout of your home and home contents.  Unpacking can be a physically demanding job, so taking it slowly and taking rests is good for your health.

On the other hand, the benefits to a quick unpack are that it is a better way to take stock of everything if you do it right after moving, and you can enjoy your new home earlier.  Some people couldn’t stand that thought of living out of boxes for weeks on end!

4. A home for everything or bin it!

While you may have decluttered most of your home contents while you were packing, you may still find odds and ends that just don’t belong.  Don’t just put these miscellaneous items in the garage or in a sad drawer full of random knickknacks in case you need them for a “rainy day”!  Pack everything away where it belongs, and if it doesn’t belong, give it away, or chuck it.  A new home is great place for a new start.  Get it organised from day 1 and it’s easier to keep it that way!