Moving? 13 Essential Packing Supplies

Photo: David Prince

When you're moving to a new home, getting there is only half the battle. The biggest to-do on your list is packing your possessions. Here are the must-have items for a smooth packing process, as described in our handy printable "Essential Packing Supplies Checklist."

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David Prince

These can be purchased from your moving company or a packing-supply store. You can also attain them from a grocery, liquor, or office-supply store (make sure boxes have lids and are clean and dry). Opt for ones specifically designed to accommodate large items, including glass tabletops, mirrors, artwork, mattresses, and lamps. For the kitchen and dining room, use boxes with pre-assembled partitions to protect glassware. For books, choose small boxes; those larger than 12 inches can be difficult to lift when full.

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Box Cutter

box cutter
Hazim Abd Halim / EyeEm

This is an essential tool that cuts clean, precise edges—excellent for cutting cardboard, and ergo, quickly opening boxes. After all, unpacking is just as important as the packing process. Always make sure you're using a sharp blade, and work very carefully.

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Standard packing tape, strapping tape, which is lined with nylon fibers that make it impossible to tear or cut without scissors (for reinforcing the bottoms of heavy boxes), and clear plastic mailing tape (for affixing labels and making them waterproof). Have a tape dispenser for every member of the house.

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Stretch Wrap

Eric Piasecki

For securing doors and drawers on bureaus and cabinets. It sticks to itself, leaving no residue behind.

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Riley & Riley

An essential for identifying boxes! Choose a labeling method that will work best for you—color coding, numbers, categorized by room, etc.—and label the top and two sides of each box. Note: You want to ensure that the label is visible on at least one side, so that the boxes are readable when neatly stacked together.

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Permanent Markers

Bryan Gardner

Again, for labeling boxes. You never know what the weather will be like on your moving day, so it's always a good idea to be prepared for rain. We recommend using waterproof marker pens, so that inscriptions on the sides of the boxes won't smudge and become illegible.

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Packing Paper


White tissue paper or blank newsprint is preferable (avoid newspaper, which can leave ink stains on your valuables). Keep either on hand (both are available from packing-supply companies) to stuff boxes and wrap fragile items before packing them.

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Bubble Wrap

bubble wrapping dishes

For padding the bottom of boxes, and wrapping breakable items. It's more economical to buy it in large rolls, and cut sheets as you need them.

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Basic Tool Kit

Kate Mathis

Keep the following on hand for quick repairs and easy furniture disassembly: a16-ounce hammer (or 12-ounce for smaller jobs), a four-way screwdriver, utility knife, measuring tape, saw, putty knife, cordless drill, pliers, an assortment of nails, screws, hooks, wire, plus goggles and work gloves for safety.

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James Ransom

A good quality pair can serve you well for years if you know how to clean, sharpen, and care for your scissors. In a move, use yours for cutting bubble wrap and tape.

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Small Sealable Plastic Bags


For keeping small items together, such as screws and brackets for shelving. (Look for the variety with a white stripe for writing labels.)

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Large Trash Bags

Aaron Dyer

For gathering up your belongings when you are done!

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