Moving Day Coming Up? Your Best Packing Tips

Posted by under Moving Tips

by Atlas Vanlines

How to Pack your Belongings

Packing Tips

Label all boxes and furniture with the appropriate room name to eliminate any guesswork for the movers. This includes any items going into a storage locker.

Number all boxes and keep a running list of their respective contents. You can use this as a checklist on moving day to ensure that all boxes are accounted for, and the list of contents will help you prioritize when unpacking.

Clothing normally stored in a closet or wardrobe can be kept on hangers and packed away folded in a box, or hung up in a wardrobe box which your movers may be able to provide. This makes for a quick and simple unpack.

Set aside a few key items so that they will be readily available on moving day:

Basic cleaning supplies:

  • A roll of packing tape, extra boxes and a marker for any last minute items that may need to be packed;
  • Measuring tape in case any finessing of furniture placement is required;
  • A few rolls of toilet paper, hand soap and other frequently used toiletries;
  • A clean, fresh outfit to wear the next day in case respective clothing boxes have yet to be unpacked;
  • Frequently used items such as battery chargers for mobile phones;
  • Snacks and refreshments – it’s going to be a long day and you’ll be glad to have some sustenance on-hand!

Packing Methods

Once you have prepared your work area and selected a room, you can begin packing. Here are some basic recommendations for packing various items.


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

Use this technique on all saucers, bread and butter dishes and other dishware. When packing smaller dishes, you may choose to stack in greater quantities.


  1. Position one cup 6 to 8 inches from one of the corners of your packing paper.
  2. Pull the nearest corner of the paper up and over the cup.
  3. Nest a second cup directly on top, with the handle to the left (the second cup should “nest” itself in packing paper folded over the bottom cup).
  4. Pull the two side corners up and over one at a time and tuck the corners inside the top cup.
  5. Hold the bottom and top cups in position and roll the cups to the remaining corner. (Fragile mixing bowls may be rolled in the same manner.)
  6. Place cups in a vertical position, lips down, near the top of the box. Do not stack heavy items on top of the cups.

More 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 as well.

Glasses and Stemware

  • Before wrapping, stuff glassware and stemware with crumpled tissue or packing paper.
  • Lay glass or stemware on the corner of the packing paper and roll it one or two full rotations (depending on size); pull the sides of the packing paper up and over the glass/stemware and continue rolling to the far corner. Corrugated paper rolls may be used for added protection.
  • Glasses and stemware should be placed toward the top of the box. Heavier items (dishware, pitchers, etc.) should be placed toward the bottom. Very delicate glassware and stemware should be placed in a vertical position, lips down — not on their sides.

As you pack each layer of a box, use crumpled packing paper to assure a snug fit wherever there is a gap. All boxes that contain fragile items should be marked “Fragile.”

Specialized Packing Tips

The remaining section of this brochure suggests how individual household items can be better prepared for moving. Some items, such as grandfather clocks, hot tubs, etc., require preparation by a third party service. For those items requiring special handling, Atlas can recommend a reputable service provider.

There are certain items that Atlas will not knowingly transport, including jewelry, coins, stamps and other similar items of high value. If you include these items in your shipment, Atlas may deny any claims for loss or damage to them. We encourage you to transport these items and not include them in the shipment.

The following are additional suggestions for packing common household goods. Remember that the methods for packing dishware, cups, glassware and stemware are fundamental and have similar applications to many other household items.

Appliances and Utensils — Wrap and place small appliances and utensils in sturdy cartons with heavier items on the bottom. Have an authorized serviceman prepare all large appliances (refrigerator, stove, freezer, washer, dryer, etc.) for moving. Be sure to prepare major appliances (defrost, clean and dry as needed) before the carrier’s arrival.

Barbeque Grills and Propane Tanks — Wrap grates and briquettes separately in newspaper (or place all briquettes in a grocery bag) and place in a carton. Pad the carton with paper to reduce movement of the contents. Propane tanks will not be accepted — even if they have been “purged” by an authorized gas grill distributor.

Bedding — Fold and pack all pillowcases, sheets and towels in clean, medium-sized, 3-cube cartons. Pack blankets, quilts and comforters in large, 4.5-cube cartons. Most beds will be dismantled by Atlas and set up in your new home. When requested, mattresses will be placed in special-care cartons by the carrier. You can help protect mattresses by covering them with old sheets or mattress covers.

Books — Pack on edge in small, 1.5-cube cartons. Alternate bindings; however, don’t overload cartons. (Remember — try to limit individual carton weight to 50 pounds.)

Bureau Drawers — Don’t overload. Drawers that are overloaded can cause damage to the bureau during the move. Remove valuables and any items that might break or leak.

Canned Goods and Other Non-Frozen Foods — Pack upright in 1.5-cube cartons with no more than 24 to 30 cans per carton. Do not attempt to move perishables. Wrap glass containers and boxed foods individually and pack in small cartons.

Cars and Motorcycles — Cars and motorcycles being 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 during the winter months.

China and Glassware — Atlas recommends that you pack your delicate china and glassware in carrier-provided dishpacks. Glassware and china cups should be stuffed with tissue. Do not nest unwrapped glasses. Pack plates, platters and saucers on edges and layer with padding between each layer as well as on the top and bottom of the carton. Be sure to label these boxes “Fragile.”

Clocks — Remove or secure pendulum in large clocks. Grandfather clocks should be prepared for moving by an expert serviceman.

Clothing — Place clothes on hangers in wardrobe cartons. Fold and pack other clothing in clean cartons.

DVD Players, CD Players and Phonographs — Use original packing materials when available. If original packing materials are not available, refer to the owner’s manuals for further information. Wrap DVD players, CD players and phonographs with an old blanket and place them upright in the carton. To stabilize the laser on a CD player, replace the transport screws (normally located on the bottom of the unit). For phonographs, stabilize the platter to secure the changer and tone arm by tightening screws located on the top of the turntable. Label boxes “Fragile” and “This Side Up.”

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

DVDs, CDs, Software Discs, Records, Audio Cassette Tapes and Video Tapes — Layer the bottom of a small carton with shredded or crushed paper. Pack DVDs, CDs, software discs, records and audio cassettes in their protective sleeves or cases. If sleeves or cases are not available, wrap the items in tissue paper or plastic wrap to prevent scratching. Stand CDs, software discs and records on edge in cartons (do not lay flat). Brace at both ends using a hardback book or layer pieces of cardboard to provide a snug fit. Audio cassettes and video tapes may be packed vertically or horizontally on layers of shredded or crushed paper. Fill in with paper as needed. Be sure to mark the box “Fragile.”

Flammables and Combustibles — 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, know that if you pack these items and they cause damage to your shipment or others, you — not your carrier — will be held liable.

Frozen Foods and Plants — Because of the delicate and perishable nature of these items, carriers are prohibited from accepting these packed items unless the shipment is transported less than 150 miles and/or delivery will be accomplished within 24 hours of loading. Frozen food shipped within these guidelines should be packed in a cooler with dry ice, not in a freezer.

Home Theater Systems, Plasma and Big-Screen TVs, Surround Sound Systems and Entertainment System Components — Atlas recommends using a qualified third party to properly prepare plasma and big-screen TVs and entertainment system components for transport. It is best to use the original packaging when available. Consult the owner’s manual for specific instructions on your equipment.

Lamps and Lampshades — Remove bulbs, harps and 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 that contains the shade. Wrap shades in tissue, not newspaper, and place upright in large, tissue-lined cartons.

Linens — Fold neatly and place in clean cartons or in bureau drawers, but be careful not to overload.

Medicines — Seal caps with masking tape. Wrap and pack upright in small cartons. Some prescription drugs, such as insulin, lose their potency if exposed to heat. Check with your pharmacist before transporting them with your shipment. Atlas, however, recommends that you carry all medications with you.

Memory Foam and Extra-Thick Mattresses — Memory foam mattresses should be packed, transported and stored laying flat. Do not stand them on end for more than a few minutes as that will cause the mattress layers to separate. The mattresses can be packed in special mattress cartons*. Be sure to mark the mattress “Lay Flat — Memory Foam.” Extra-thick mattresses can be packed in cartons that are specially made for mattresses thicker than 10 inches*. Some king and queen mattresses have built-in hinges that can be folded temporarily for relocation.

Microwave Ovens — Remove all loose articles inside the oven, such as cookware, glass shelves and carousels. Wrap loose articles and place in a separate container. Tape the door shut in an “X”-pattern to protect the glass. Use the original manufacturer’s carton if available; if it is not available, follow instructions below for packing “Personal Computers.”

Mirrors, Paintings and Pictures — Tell your Atlas Agency Sales Representative about valuable paintings that require special care. Wrap small mirrors, pictures, paintings and frames in unprinted newspaper or paper pads (available from your Atlas Agency) and place on edge in cartons or mirror cartons. Never place printed newspaper directly against paintings. The carrier will take down large wall or dresser mirrors and place them in special cartons.

Personal Computers — Pack computer equipment — PCs, scanners, printers, etc. — in original cartons when available. Otherwise, use strong, corrugated cartons and place protective padding on the bottom of the carton. Be sure your hard drive is “parked” and ready for transport (newer models may not require “parking”). Wrap an old blanket or protective pad around the item and place it in a carton. Place additional padding between the carton and the computer. Wrap cords separately, label them to identify usage and place in a plastic bag away from delicate surfaces. Non-detachable cords also should be wrapped. Place cords between the padded computer and the carton.

Rugs — Leave large rugs to be rolled up by the carrier.

Silverware — Wrap each piece in cloth or low-sulfur-content paper (available from your Atlas Agency) to prevent tarnishing. Wrap the silver chest in an old blanket or moving pad to prevent scratching.

Tools and Lawn Equipment — Drain oil and fuel from power tools such as leaf blowers, trimmers and chain saws (do not ship flammables under any circumstances). Pack hand tools in small, strong cartons. Wrap separately if valuable.

Waterbed Mattresses — Drain all water from the waterbed and, grasping the internal baffle system with the external vinyl, fold the 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.

*available from your Atlas Agency. This article was provided by Atlas Vanlines. Visit for more information and moving articles.

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