for Clients of Realtors in the Twin Cities

Truck Unloading At Home

Packing tips and best practices.

The list of household items is endless. If your movers are not handling your packing and you are packing yourself, here are some pointers for packing items we are asked about most frequently.

Create a Plan

Before you begin packing your household items, you need a game plan.

Pack Room by Room Pack one room at a time. This will help you when it comes time to unpack.
Pack Daily Pack a couple of cartons a day, starting well ahead of the move.
Labeling Cartons Mark all boxes with a designated room and box number. Make a carton identification log to show the number of boxes packed per room, and the total number of cartons packed. It's a good idea to leave space in your log for a special comments section to note carton conditions or location of high value goods. Notify your mover of any high value items.
Packing Filler Be sure to have plenty of "filling" material available.
Secure Cartons Be sure the bottoms of all cartons are secured and will hold the weight of the contents. Packing tape or gummed tape is better than masking tape.
Packing Heavier Items Pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top. Try to keep a per-box weight of 50 pounds or less; it makes moving a lot easier. A general rule to remember on carton size -- the heavier the item, the smaller the carton.


Packing Materials

Packing Materials

Use only strong, corrugated cartons with covers. You can buy specially made cartons for everything from mattresses to clothing and mirrors, from the mover. The added protection of mover-provided cartons may avoid damage that results from the use of poor-quality packing materials.

Your alternative is to collect boxes discarded by your *grocery or liquor store. Save old newspapers for use in packing, but remember that ink may rub off and stain clothing or other items.

*WARNING: Insect eggs and insects such as roaches can travel in food boxes. Keep this in mind when getting boxes from food stores.

Here is a list of packing supplies that will come in handy:

  • Plastic bags and labels for easy identification.
  • Foam peanuts, Styrofoam pellets or "popcorn."
  • Tissue or craft paper for delicate packing jobs.
  • Corrugated paper rolls for figurines and fragile items.
  • Gummed tape (1 1/2 to 2 inches wide) and/or strong twine for sealing cartons.
  • Markers and labels for identifying contents of cartons.
  • Notebook and pencil for carton identification log.
  • Scissors and/or sharp knife.



Packing Dishware

Use this process on all dishware. When packing smaller dishes, you may choose to stack in greater quantity.

  1. Select a medium-sized carton (or mover provided dishpack) and line the bottom of the carton with crumpled packing paper.
  2. With packing paper stacked neatly in place on a work table, center one plate on the paper.
  3. Grasp corners of several sheets of packing paper and pull the paper over the plate until sheets completely cover the plate. Stack a second plate on top and, moving clockwise, grasp a second corner and pull sheets over the second plate.
  4. Stack a third plate. Grasp remaining two corners, folding two sheets of each corner (one at a time) over the plate.
  5. Turn your wrapped stack of plates upside down onto your packing paper.
  6. Re-wrap the entire bundle: start with one corner of packing paper and pull two sheets over the bundle; cover bundle with next the corner, then the third corner; and finally the fourth.
  7. Seal the bundle with packing tape.
  8. Place the bundle of dishware in a medium-size box so that the plates are standing on edge.



Packing Glasses and Stemware

Delicate glassware and stemware should be placed in an upright position, not on its side.

  1. Stuff glasses and stemware with crumpled tissue or packing paper before wrapping.
  2. Lay on the corner of packing paper and roll it one or two full rotations (depending on size); pull sides of packing paper up and over the glass/stemware and continue rolling to the far corner. Corrugated paper rolls or cellular boxes may be used for added protection.
  3. Place glasses and stemware toward the top of your box. Heavier items (dishware, pitchers,etc.) should be placed toward the bottom of the box.


Packing Cups

Delicate cups, like china, should be wrapped one at a time. Antique glass or china should be stuffed with crumpled tissue and wrapped one at a time.

  1. With packing paper in place on the work table, position one cup six to eight inches from one of the corners.
  2. Now pull the near corner of the paper up and over the cup.
  3. Nest a second cup directly on top, with handle to left (second cup should "nest" itself in packing paper folded over the bottom cups).
  4. Pull the two side corners up and over, one at a time, and tuck corners inside the top cup.
  5. Hold the bottom and top cup in position and roll cups to the remaining corner. Fragile mixing bowls may be rolled in the same manner.


Packing Silverware

Wrap each piece in cloth or low sulphur content paper (available from your Atlas agency) to prevent tarnishing. Use an old blanket or moving pad as a wrap to prevent scratching the silverware chest.



Lamps and Lampshades

Remove bulbs, harps, shades and roll up the cord. Pack lamps with bedding or wrap separately and place upright in a clean, tissue-lined carton. Wrap harp and finial (decorative knob) with packing paper and tape to the inside wall of the carton containing the shade. Wrap shades in tissue, not newspaper, and place upright in large, tissue lined cartons.


Mirrors Paintings

Mirrors, Paintings and Pictures

Tell your agent about valuable paintings for special care. Wrap small mirrors, pictures, paintings and frames and place on edge in cartons. Place large pictures and paintings on edge in heavy cardboard containers. Large wall or dresser mirrors will be taken down by the movers and placed in special cartons. For added safety, place tape diagonally across mirror to protect it. Do not place newspaper directly against paintings.



Personal Computers and Video Players

Pack valuable electronic equipment in original cartons when available. Otherwise, use strong, corrugated cartons and place protective padding on the bottom of the carton. Wrap an old blanket or protective pad around the item and place it in its carton. Place additional padding between the carton and computer or video player. Wrap cords separately; label to identify usage and place in a plastic bag away from delicate surfaces. Non-detachable cords should also be wrapped. Place cords between the padded computer or video player and the carton. Back up and "park" the hard drive of your computer to make it ready for transport.


Car Transport

Cars and Motorcycles

Cars and motorcycles shipped on the moving van should be drained nearly empty of fuel. Motorcycle batteries should be disconnected. Automobile antifreeze should be ample to protect against severe cold in winter.


Flammables Cumbustibles

Flammables and Combustibles (Don't Pack!)

Flammable liquids and aerosol cans must NOT be packed. Changes in temperature and pressure can cause them to leak or even explode. For your own protection, you should know that if you pack these items and they cause damage to your shipment or others, you, not your mover, may be held liable.


Packing Other

Packing Tips for Other Household and Personal Items

Bureau Drawers and Firearms -- Do not overload. Too heavy a load can cause damage. Remove firearms and any items that might break or leak. Firearms, along with serial numbers, must be registered with your van line representative before the move.

Clocks -- Remove or secure pendulum in large clocks. Grandfather clocks should be prepared for moving by expert servicemen.

Drapes and Curtains -- Hang drapes over crossbars in wardrobe cartons, or pack folded in clean cartons. Remove curtains from rods, fold and pack in cartons or bureau drawers.

Medicines -- Seal caps with masking tape. Wrap and pack upright in small cartons. If needed during travel, carry with you.

Canned Goods and Other Non-Frozen Food -- Pack upright with no more than 24-30 cans per carton. Don't attempt to move perishables. Wrap glass containers and boxed foods individually and pack in small cartons.

Frozen Foods and Plants -- Because of the delicate and perishable nature of these items, your mover is prohibited from accepting these packed items when your shipment is being transported more than 150 miles and/or delivery will not be accomplished within twenty-four (24) hours from the time of loading. Frozen food shipped within these guidelines must be packed in a freezer which at time of loading is at normal deep-freeze temperature.

Tools -- Drain fuel from power tools (do not ship flammables under any circumstances). Pack tools in small, strong cartons. Wrap separately if valuable.

Waterbed Mattresses -- Drain all water from the waterbed and, grasping internal baffle systems with external vinyl, fold mattress 20 inches at a time. Adjust folds to avoid making creases across individual baffles. Consult your owner's manual for special instructions concerning the care and transportation of your mattress. Do not place your mattress in a carton with sharp or pointed objects. For further information, ask your Alexander's/Atlas relocation specialist for a copy of "How To Move Your Waterbed."

Barbecue Grills and Propane Tanks -- Wrap grates and briquettes separately in a newspaper (or place all briquettes into a grocery bag) and place parts in carton. Pad carton with paper to reduce movement of contents. Propane tanks are non-allowables. Consult your local gas grill distributor for the safest method.