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If you choose to do some or all of your own packing in
preparation for your relocation, it's especially important that you
be familiar with the techniques that will best protect your
Good packing essentials
- Limiting cartons, when possible, to a maximum weight of 50
pounds to make handling easier.
- Wrapping items carefully.
- Providing plenty of cushioning to absorb shock.
- Using sturdy cartons that close.
- Making sure cartons are firmly packed and do not rattle,
bulge outward or bend inward.
- Not mixing items from different rooms in the same carton,
Checklist of the basics
- Start with out-of-season items. Next, pack things used
infrequently. Leave until last the things you'll need until
- Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, items not
recommended for inclusion in your shipment and anything that
would puncture or damage other items. However, blankets,
sweaters, lingerie, bath towels and similar soft, lightweight
goods may be left in drawers.
- Pack similar items together. Do not pack a delicate china
figurine in the same carton with cast-iron frying pans, for
- Keep all parts or pairs of things together. For example,
curtain rod hangers, mirror bolts and other small hardware items
should be placed in plastic or cloth bags (which can be
purchased from the moving company) and taped or tied securely to
the article to which they belong.
- Wind electrical cords, fastening them so they do not dangle.
- Wrap items individually in clean paper; use tissue paper,
paper towels or even facial tissue for fine china, crystal and
delicate items. Colored wrapping draws attention to very small
things. Use a double layer of newspaper for a good outer
- Place a two- or three-inch layer of crushed paper in the
bottom of a carton for cushioning.
- Build up in layers, with heaviest things on the bottom,
medium weight next and lightest on top.
- As each layer is completed, fill in empty spaces firmly with
crushed paper and add more crushed paper to make a level base
for the next layer, or use sheets or cardboard cut from cartons
- Cushion well with crushed paper; towels and lightweight
blankets also may be used for padding and cushioning. The more
fragile the item, the more cushioning needed. Be sure no sharp
points, edges or rims are lift uncovered.
- Pack small, fragile, individually wrapped items separately
or a few together in small boxes, cushioning with crushed or
- Place small boxes in a single large box, filling in spaces
with crushed paper.
- Avoid overloading cartons, but strive for a firm pack that
will prevent items from shifting; the cover should close easily
without force, but should not bend inward.
- Seal cartons tightly with tape except for those containing
items listed on A-1's High-Value Inventory form. These must be
left open for the van operator's inspection.
- As you finish with each carton, list the contents on the
side of the carton (for easy viewing while cartons are stacked)
and in a special notebook. You might want to number and/or code
the cartons as well.
- Indicate your name and the room to which each carton should
be delivered at destination. Tape a sign on the door of each
room at destination corresponding to the carton labels so movers
can get the cartons into the proper rooms quickly.
- Put a special mark on cartons you want to unpack first at
glassware & silverware
- Moving company packers use a dish pack -- an exceptionally
sturdy corrugated carton of double- wall construction for
china, glassware and other fragile items less than 18 inches in
size. Unless cartons of similar strength and construction are
valuable, you might want to purchase several dish packs from the
- Wrap all pieces of china and glassware individually in clean
paper. Using several sheets of paper, start from the corner,
wrapping diagonally and continuously tucking in overlapping
edges. A double layer of newspaper serves well as an outer
wrapping. A generous amount of paper padding and cushioning is
required for all china and glassware. Label cartons, "FRAGILE
THIS SIDE UP."
Flat china &
- Larger china and glass plates, platters and other flat
pieces are excellent as the lowest layer in a dish pack.
- Place cushioning material in the bottom of a carton. Wrap
each piece individually then wrap up to three in a bundle with a
double layer of newspaper. Place these bundled items in the
carton in a row on edge.
- Surround each bundle with crushed paper, being careful to
leave no unfilled spaces. Add two or three inches of crushed
paper on top of the bundle to protect rims and make a level base
for the next tier. Horizontal cardboard dividers can be
helpful in keeping layers level.
- Smaller plates, saucers and shallow bowls can make up a
second layer. Wrap and pack in the same way as larger items.
Bowls & odd-shaped
- Depending on their weight, these might be used either as the
bottom or middle layers. Wrap the same way as flat plates.
- Stand shallow bowls (soup plates, etc.) on edge in the
carton and deep ones (such as mixing bowls) nested two or three
together, upside down on their rims.
- Wrap sugar bowl lids in tissue, turning them upside down on
top of the bowl. Then, wrap both together in clean paper,
followed by an outer double layer of newspaper. Wrap cream
pitchers in clean paper and then a double outer wrapping. Place
sugar bowls, cream pitchers, sauce containers and similar pieces
upright in the carton. Complete the layer as for plates.
- Even when using a dish pack and mini-cells for china, wrap
cups individually, protecting handles with an extra layer of
paper. Then, pack cups upside down.
- If not using a dish pack or cells, wrap cups as previously
described in a double layer of paper and place them upside down
on rims in a row on an upper layer with all handles facing the
same direction. Complete the layer as for plates.
- Because air causes silver to tarnish, all silver pieces
should be enclosed completely in clean tissue paper or plastic
wrap. Hollowware including bowls, tea sets and serving dishes
should be wrapped carefully as fragile items and packed like
- Loose flatware may be wrapped either individually or in
sets, and in clear plastic or tissue.
- If silverware is in a chest, you still might want to wrap
the pieces individually and reposition them in the chest. Or,
fill in all empty spaces in the chest with tissue paper or paper
towels. Wrap the chest with a large bath towel.
& other delicate items
- Wrap first in tissue paper, paper towels or facial tissue.
Then, wrap carefully in newsprint that has been crushed and
flattened out. Be sure the items are well-protected with plenty
- Small mirrors, plaques and pictures should be wrapped
individually in tissue paper. A bath towel or small blanket
makes an excellent outer wrapping and padding for glass. Place
items on edge in a carton.
- Many moving companies use a material called bubble pack
(plastic with bubbles) for exceptionally fragile items. If an
item is extremely valuable as well as delicate, it might be wise
to have it packed for you. Special materials might be needed for
- An arrangement of artificial flowers should be packed in its
own carton. Wrap carefully in plastic wrap, tissue paper or
paper towels. If possible, fasten the base of the floral piece
to the bottom of the carton. Label the carton "FRAGILE THIS
- After removing the light bulb and lamp harp, wrap the base,
harp and bulb separately in newsprint. (Use paper pads for large
lamps.) Place them together in a carton, filling spaces with
crushed paper. More than one well-cushioned lamp may be packed
in a carton.
- Never wrap lamp shades in newspaper. Carefully wrap each
shade in three or four sheets of tissue paper, a pillowcase or a
large lightweight towel.
- To allow for movement, use a sturdy carton at least two
inches larger all around than the largest shade. Line it with
clean paper, using crushed paper under the lamp shade to create
a protective layer, but not around the shade. A small shade can
be nested inside a large one, if you are sure they will not
touch. Only one silk shade should be placed in a carton to avoid
stretching the silk.
- Do not pack other items with shades. Label cartons "LAMP
- It is best to have the moving company crate large
Tiffany-type or other glass lamp shades or chandeliers.
tops, marble slabs, large mirrors, paintings, statues & large
- All are easily damaged. Glass might shatter, and marble
slabs can crack at veins. Paper never should be permitted to
touch the surface of an oil painting.
- It's best to consult with your moving company about
custom-made cartons and crates for items of this kind.
- Pack them either flat or with the spine touching the bottom
of the carton. Do not pack with spine facing up, as glue can
break away from the binder. Pack books of the same general size
- Expensively bound volumes or those of special sentimental
value should be individually wrapped before packing.
- Because books are heavy, be sure to use small cartons.
- Family photographs, videos, slides and negatives should be
packed in separate cartons rather than being combined with other
- Protect framed photos with padding and cushioning, standing
them on edge in a carton. Label cartons clearly for easy
- If possible, carry irreplaceable items with you to
Compact discs, tapes &
- Remove these items from the stereo or storage cabinet. Keep
in mind records are heavy and should be packed in small cartons.
- If records are not in jackets, wrap individually in tissue
paper or plastic wrap to protect them from being scratched.
- Stand compact discs and records on edge, never flat, on a
layer of crushed paper. Support at both ends with a large,
hardcover book or several pieces of cardboard cut to fit. Top
with another layer of crushed paper. Identify contents on the
outside of the box and mark "FRAGILE."
- Cassette tapes should be placed in the protective plastic
box in which they came, if possible, and then wrapped
individually in crumpled paper. Place individual tapes either
vertically or horizontally on a couple of layers of crushed
- Clothing left on hangers and placed in wardrobe cartons used
by moving companies will arrive at destination wrinkle-free. You
might want to purchase several of these special cartons from
your moving company. One will hold about two feet of compressed
clothing on hangers.
- If wardrobe cartons are not used, each garment should be
removed from its hanger, folded and placed in a suitcase or a
carton lined with clean paper. Some lightweight clothing such
as lingerie and sweaters may be left in bureau drawers.
- Hats may be left in hatboxes and placed in a large carton.
Or, stuff the crown of each hat with crumpled tissue paper; wrap
tissue loosely around the outside and place in a carton lined
with clean paper, with the heavier hats on the bottom. Don't
pack anything else with hats. Label the carton "FRAGILE."
- Footwear may be left in shoeboxes and placed in a large
carton. Or, wrap each shoe individually and then in pairs.
Footwear should be cushioned to avoid damage to heels or
ornaments. Don't pack heavy items on top of shoes.
- It is recommended that you take your furs with you rather
than having them moved on the van.
Linens & bedding
- Blankets, sheets, tablecloths, towels, pillowcases and other
linens may be protected by a large plastic bag and packed in a
carton that has been lined with clean paper.
- Wrap your most prized linens in tissue. Also, linens and
bedding are good for cushioning or padding many types of items.
- Special mattress cartons in various sizes are available from
your moving company for a nominal charge. Pillows may be placed
in bureau drawers or packed in cartons.
Draperies & curtains
- Clothing wardrobes are ideal for moving curtains and
draperies. Fold them lengthwise, place over a padded hanger, pin
securely and hang in the wardrobe.
- Draperies and curtains also may be folded and packed in
cartons lined with clean paper or plastic wrap.
- Leave rugs on the floor for the moving company to handle. If
they've just been returned from the cleaners, leave them rolled.
- Pre-move preparation is required for many major appliances.
Set an appointment with a service technician to prepare your
major appliances for shipment -- or have your agent send someone
out who is authorized to perform this service.
- Items such as clocks, small radios and other small
appliances should be wrapped individually and packed in a carton
cushioned with crushed paper.
- Small clocks, transistor radios and similar items can be
packed in the same carton with linens or as extra items with
lamp bases. Make sure cords are wrapped so as not to scratch or
otherwise damage items.
- Steam irons should be emptied of all water, wrapped and
placed in the cushioned bottom of a box.
- Remove all batteries from small appliances before packing.
- Long-handled garden tools, as well as brooms and mops,
should be bundled together securely. Attachments should be
removed from power tools and packed separately.
- Hand tools may be left in tool boxes and the spaces filled
with crushed paper, or they may be packed according to general
packing rules. Always use small cartons because tools usually
- Before moving day, dismantle children's swing sets, TV
antennas and garden sheds. Gather pieces and bundle together
with nylon cord. Place small hardware in a cloth bag and
securely attach to corresponding equipment.
- Prepare lawn mower by draining gasoline prior to the day of
- Take only food items you are sure will travel well. Do not
take anything perishable. In the winter months, do not take
anything subject to freezing.
- Open boxes of dried or powdered foods such as rice, macaroni
and cereals should be sealed with tape. Small containers of
herbs and spices, condiments, bouillon cubes, gelatin,
flavorings, etc. should be placed together in a small box before
packing in a large carton. Cover holes of shaker-type containers
and seal with tape.
- Since canned goods are heavy, the amount placed in one
carton should be limited.
about special household items
- The popularity of home electronic items has added a new
dimension for the do-it-yourself packer. Home computers,
microwave ovens and stereo systems require special care to
ensure they arrive at destination safely.
- If you saved the original cartons and packing materials in
which these items arrived, it is best to repack using those
materials. Should you not have these materials, you might want
to contact a store selling your particular item and ask if
discarded packing materials are available.
- Your A-1 agent is familiar with current techniques for
properly packing electronic items and can assist you with advice
or pack the items for you. It is your responsibility to
disconnect electronic items prior to packers' arrival.