Moving? Pack like a Pro.

Posted by under Moving Tips

by Atlas Van Lines

Packing Guide

Proper packing is essential for a successful move. That is why many families entrust the packing of their treasured possessions to the professionals, who use the latest materials and techniques to meet every requirement. In addition, if you have stainless steel appliances, a plasma or large screen television, lacquered furniture or other items that scratch easily, it is wise to make sure that these items be properly protected before being loaded on the truck. Professional movers use a special “micro-foam” as a protector for these valuable items. If you do decide to do some or all of your own packing, then the professional tips provided in this article will help guide you through this task.


Your moving company has a complete range of cartons and material specially designed for maximum protection. You can purchase what you need from them at a reasonable cost. With local moves, it is often possible to “rent” wardrobe and mirror cartons.

Packing Cartons

Based on experience, the following chart indicates the quantity and style of cartons recommended for packing an average household. You may require more or less cartons, depending on the quantity of your household possessions.

Quantity and Style of Home

Carton Type 2-BR 3-BR 4-BR 5-BR

Dish/China Pack 3 – 4 3 – 6 4 – 7 4 – 7

Small (2cu. ft.) 8 – 12 12 – 16 16 – 25 20 – 30

Med (4cu. ft.) 5 – 9 10 – 15 15 – 20 20 – 24

Large (6 cu. ft.) 4 – 6 6 – 10 10 – 14 14 – 18

Mirror/Picture 3 – 4 4 – 6 6 – 8 7 – 10

Wardrobe 2 – 4 4 – 6 6 – 8 7 – 10

Bags 5ml 2 – 4 3 – 6 4 – 8 5 – 10

Carton Type and General Contents

  • China/Dish Pack – china, glass, lamps, small pictures, silverware, bric-a-brac.
  • Small Carton – books, canned and dry goods, shoes, records, tools.
  • Medium Carton – lampshades, kitchenware, small appliances, hats.
  • Large Carton -linens, blankets, pillows, cushions, lamps, toys.
  • Mirror/Picture -mirrors, pictures, glass
  • Wardrobe -clothes, drapes.
  • Mattress -crib, single, double, queen, king, box springs.

Packing Material

Most movers use white unprinted newspaper as a good all-purpose wrapping and cushioning material. Printed newspaper, although plentiful, should be used only as an outer wrapping as the printing
ink will rub off and can become embedded in fine china. White unprinted newspaper cut into sheets about 24” x 36” is sold by the pound and is usually available from your moving company or a moving supply store.

Packing Labels

Most movers will supply you with a set of packing labels that you can affix to the sides of the cartons. Be sure to put the letters “P.B.O.” (packed by owner) on your packed cartons so when the van operator takes an inventory of your goods, there won’t be any questions as to what you packed and what the moving company packed. Write your name on each carton label , contents, and indicate to which room it should be delivered to at destination — such as kitchen, den, dining room, bedroom #1, #2, master bedroom, etc. Mark “Fragile” and “This Side Up” on delicate items.

Sealing Tape

Obtain proper tape from your mover, moving supply store or go to your local hardware/discount department store and purchase gummed or adhesive tape, at least 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide to properly seal top and bottom of cartons.

Prohibited Items

Do not pack dangerous or flammable items such as propane tanks, lighter fluid, paint, oily rags, ammunition, matches, charcoal, pool chemicals, bleach, fertilizers, chemistry sets and acid batteries. All aerosol cans containing such things as paint spray, oven cleaner, butane lighter fuel, anti-perspirant and hair spray will not be accepted for long distance shipping. These containers could explode and cause severe damage to your possessions. If you have any doubt about what may be a potentially dangerous item, ask your moving company to provide you with a list of inadmissible items.

Exceptional Value Items

Do not pack items of exceptional value in your cartons, such as jewellery, precious stones, coin collections, currency deeds, notes, securities, stocks, bonds, stamp collections, or any articles of intrinsic value. You should take these valuables with you or make other arrangements for their transfer. Be sure to check with your homeowner’s insurance broker for coverage.

Perishable Items

Check with your mover for specific information on moving all types of plants, preserves, canned goods, frozen goods and foodstuffs (potatoes, vegetables, etc.)


A moving company will not assume liability for damage to owner-packed items unless there is visible external damage to the carton that might possibly indicate mishandling by the carrier. In addition, items not packed which would usually require carton/crate protection (i.e.: glass table tops, marble tables) are also excluded from coverage.

Basic Packing Tips

Get everything together — assemble the equipment, various size cartons, cushioning newspaper, white newsprint, tissue paper, sealing tape, scissors, pack labels and a felt marker. Some home packers prefer the kitchen as a convenient place to work. Some prefer the dining room area, covering the dining room table with a blanket for protection and using a card table to hold the items to be packed. It can work like an assembly line. Pack as much as you can in one room before going on to the next.

If you have plenty of time and want to pack over a number of days, set up a work area in a spare room for packing. You can make the decision as to which way is better for you. Organization is the key. We suggest you begin by packing the out of season items. Next, the little used equipment, and last, the things that will be used until the very last minute — soap, towels, toilet articles, facial tissue, etc. This last box can also be filled with things you will need immediately upon arrival at your new residence — bed linens, instant coffee, instant cream, sugar, cans of soup, crackers, can opener, kettle, a small pan, paper plates and cups, plastic spoons, paper towels, first aid kit, hammer, screwdriver, light bulb, fuses, scotch tape, and a few other necessities.

Place like items within a carton and keep all parts or pairs of things together. Put curtain rod hardware, screws and bolts, and other small parts in a plastic bag and tape or tie it to the article or ask your mover for a special set-up carton. Packed cartons when filled should be easy to carry and not exceed fifty (50) pounds in weight. Tops of cartons should close flat. Be sure to fill the box to the top to prevent crushing during transit.

Specific Packing Tips


For these fragile items, you should use dish packs or sturdy, medium cartons with 3 – 4 inches of crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the carton for additional cushioning. Everyday plates can be wrapped in stacks of four, however, the more delicate the plates, the smaller the stack. Place one plate in a corner of your stack of white, unprinted newspaper and using 1 – 2 layers of paper; pull the corner up and over the top plate. Fold the side corners of the paper into the middle and then place another plate on top. Repeat the process until you have four plates in a stack, individually protected by layers of paper. Finish the process by rolling the stack away from you to the far corner until the bundle is completely wrapped and protected. Then place the bundle into the carton on edge. Never lay plates flat in a carton. Plates can form the bottom tier or layer of the carton, followed by bowls in the next layer and finally by cups, glassware, goblets and other light, fragile items. Separate each layer in the carton with a cushion of newspaper and ensure that each wrapped piece is snug in its layer to prevent movement. Empty spaces can be filled with crushed newspaper and the top of the carton should be marked “Fragile” and “This Side Up”.


Bowls and odd-shaped items are just right for the second layer. Following the same method for packing plates, wrap individually in unprinted newsprint, stack three or four to a group and wrap them again in a double layer of newsprint. As with plates, place shallow bowls or odd-shaped pieces on edge in a row in the carton. Large, deep bowls should be wrapped individually, nested into each other, and packed upside down in the carton.


Everyday cups can be stacked in groups of two. Place one cup in a corner of your packing paper. Using 1 – 2 layers of paper, pull the corner up and into the cup. Make sure that the paper completely fills the cup and covers all edges, then stack the second cup into the first with the handle facing the opposite direction. Now pull up the side corners of the paper and fill the inside of the second cup. Roll the
bundle away from you until it is completely protected. Place the bundle upside down in the carton with the handles to the inside. Fragile cups should be wrapped individually with their handles additionally wrapped with paper towelling or a single sheet of white newsprint. Handles face the inside of the carton.


Again, a sturdy carton and a generous amount of crushed newspaper as cushioning is necessary for additional protection. The top layer of your dish pack is perfect for glassware and cups. Glasses are wrapped like cups and can be nested in sets of three or four, using your own discretion. Start by placing the glass diagonally on your sheet of white newsprint and wrap from corner to corner. Stop midway and fold the two remaining corners of the newsprint to the bottom and the rim of the glass covering it completely. You can then nest an additional glass and complete wrapping by rolling it to the far corner.

Stemware and goblets are more fragile and should be wrapped individually with special care taken to protect the stems. Fill the goblet with crumpled tissue and then roll the goblet in the same manner as the glasses. Glass pitchers and vases are also this way. Large items go into the bottom of the dish pack. It is BOTTOMS UP when you pack all glassware. Be sure to fill all the empty spaces with crushed newspaper.


Hardcover books are heavy so use small cartons. Place in an upright position, alternating bound edge to open edge. Do not press anything against the exposed edges that would mar the pages. Expensive, sentimental, or collector type books should be wrapped individually.


Professional movers use a special dust proof wardrobe carton with a metal bar for hanging clothes such as dresses, suits, coats as well as drapes. It will save you the inconvenience of pressing them later. Ask your moving company for this time saving container. If you wish, clothing can be folded and placed in a suitcase or a large carton. Dresser drawers can also be utilized for some clothing although all other items should be removed from the dresser drawers and packed in cartons. The contents of the dresser drawers should not be heavy.


Try to use up as much food as possible before moving. Seal open boxed foods such as cereals, powdered foods, etc. Cover holes of shaker-type containers and seal with tape. Put small containers of condiments and spices together in a small box before packing them into a larger carton. Canister contents can be left in canisters with tight fitting lids although they should be individually wrapped with white newsprint and sealed with tape to prevent spillage and to protect the finish.


If it is necessary to pack a liquid, the lid should be fastened securely, taped completely, and the entire container placed inside a plastic bag with a tight closure. For extra protection, place items of this nature in a “Rubbermaid” type of tub. Be sure to review the inadmissible item list before deciding what liquids to pack.

Pots, Pans and Small Appliances

These items should be packed in medium size cartons. Do not forget the crumpled paper in the bottom of the carton first. If pots, pans and trays are a graduated set, each one should be wrapped separately and then nested together. Remember, the heavier the item, the smaller the box. Keep a layer of newsprint between each wrapped pan, pot or tray. Small unbreakable wrapped packages can be placed inside the wrapped group to effectively utilize space. Small appliances should be wrapped in several layers of newsprint.

Remember to drain water from any appliance that has a reservoir, for example, steam irons, vaporizers, humidifiers, dental appliances, coffee makers. Always pack cords and accessories with the appropriate appliance to avoid confusion during unpacking. If the appliance has a fixed cord, put a layer of paper between the cord and the appliance to prevent scratches.

Music and DVD’s

Compact disks and DVDs should be packed in their plastic or cardboard cases. Do not leave any disks in players. If you have collectibles (like records), they should be placed in their album covers and packed on edge in small cartons.


Back up all software used on computers. Disconnect all wiring and cables and draw a simple diagram or colour code wires before disconnecting to make reconnection easier. Complete a list of all computer equipment (with serial numbers). Remove ink cartridges from printers.


If they are small, these and similar items can be packed with the linens; otherwise, pack as for small appliances. Grandfather clocks should be serviced by an expert.

Lamp Base

Remove the shade, harp and bulb. Wrap the body of the lamp in plenty of packing paper, keeping at least one layer of paper between the lamp and its attached cord. Pack the base, upright, in a dish pack or join two cartons together and fill the spaces with crumpled paper. Wrap the bulb, harp and other small lamp parts and pack with the base.

Lamp Shades

Lampshades should only be handled by the metal frame and packed in a medium carton. Surround the shade with sheets of tissue paper or clean packing paper and fill in all empty spaces. The only other item that should be packed with a lampshade is another lampshade, one that will nest inside or on top without pressing against the other shade. Do not use newspaper as protective linings between each shade and you should not use crushed paper for packing. It is okay to use small pillows or bath towels inside the shades.

Mattress Bags – 5 ml.

For sanitary reasons and to protect them for damage during transit, mattresses and box springs should be packed. Professional moving companies can provide you with heavy- duty 5ml. mattress bags to fit crib, twin, double, queen or king mattresses. Another option is mattress cartons that are available in most locations.


Towels, sheets, linens, etc., should be packed in large cartons or, if suitable, substituted for cushioning material. Separate and label a box with the linens required for the first night in your new home.

Silver – Sterling or Plated

The important point about protecting silver from tarnishing is to keep the air out. With silverware in a chest, all empty spaces should be filled with crushed tissue or hand towels and the entire chest wrapped in unprinted newspaper. Loose silverware can be wrapped, individually or in groups, in clear plastic wrap or tissue.

Plants – Artificial

An arrangement of artificial (ie: dried/silk) flowers should be packed in its own carton, surrounded with paper toweling, tissue or even cotton. If possible, fasten the base of the arrangement to the bottom
of the carton.

Plants – Real

Ask your moving company for information about specialized shipping options for live houseplants.

Paintings – Glass table Tops – Marble Items

Certain large pictures and marble tops, because of their size and value should be packed in custom-made cartons or crates available from your mover. For smaller pictures, etc., they should be well wrapped with three sheets of white newsprint and placed on edge in a carton. Linens, blankets and towels can serve as additional cushioning material.


Leave rugs on floor, but untacked, or if they have just been cleaned and delivered to your home, leave them rolled.


Take a group of long-handled garden tools and bundle them together with tape or twine. This also applies to mops, brooms, curtain rods, etc. Attachments on power tools should be removed, wrapped and packed with hand tools in small cartons. Remember to empty gasoline and oil from all motors.


It is not necessary to wrap toys. Just pack in a large carton and seal the top.

These are a few of our general packing techniques. Your moving company can provide more specific advice for the care and protection of your possessions.

Special Notes

1. Keep all keys for tool boxes, cabinets etc. on your person.
2. Do not pack prescription medications.

For more information on your moving needs, please call Atlas Van Lines’ marketing department at:

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