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The Ultimate Guide to Packing up your House

No Comments    |    ,     |    September 13, 2023    |    Reading time 8 minutes
Artist illustration of people packing up their belongings into cardboard boxes to move house

Do organise your packing supplies well ahead of time (don’t wait till the last minute)

Whether you’ve decided to buy moving boxes from a packaging company or are going down the route of gathering your own, make sure that, well ahead of time, you have a good amount. You don’t want to be scrabbling about for them at the last minute. Try and ensure too, that shapes and sizes vary - small, medium and large. It’s the Goldilocks principle: if you have a selection, one of them will be just right.

Boxes are one item to tick off the checklist, but don’t forget packing tape, packing paper, bubble wrap and labels (or a good marker pen). You won’t be able to get very far – no matter the quality and quantity of your boxes – if you don’t have protective materials and a way to seal your boxes securely. Don’t underestimate the amount of tape you need either. One roll of tape is never enough and if you go for our boxes - and you should, because they're top quality and incredibly cost effective - we include the right amount of tape.

Do save money by using free supplies (don’t think you must pay for cardboard boxes)

If funds are low and you prefer to get your cardboard boxes for free, then read this article to discover the best ways to get your hands on them, from supermarkets to coffee chains, schools and garden centres, the number of places in your direct vicinity where you can pick up boxes is greater than you think.

Do consider repurposing your cardboard boxes after the move (don’t forget to recycle)

Bear in mind, that lots of removal companies will supply you with moving boxes, but they will want them back, so if your new pad is more than an hour away or you’re relocating internationally, the best option might be to source your own. An added bonus of having your own as well, is that you won’t feel pressured to unpack, especially those little used or seasonal items which can stay where they are until you’re ready to tackle them. 

A good cardboard box can last for decades and makes the perfect storage solution for a multitude of items, like Christmas decorations, to give just one example. However, if you find you have far more boxes than you require, remember that the humble cardboard box is easily recycled. And by recycling, we don’t just mean taken to the appropriate skip at the dump, we also mean in terms of being reused. Advertise your boxes on Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or sites such as Gumtree and Freecycle and help someone else when they move.

Do declutter, donate or recycle before you pack your belongings (don’t put it off)

You may be desperate to get going and make inroads into your packing, but first make sure you’re only packing stuff you need and want. Take the opportunity that relocating affords you to simplify and minimise. A new house can mean a fresh start in so many ways. Tackle the loft that overwhelms you or the garage crammed to the rafters that you secretly wish would burn down. Additionally, ensure your belongings are repaired, cleaned and dry before you pack them away. You don’t want to have to wade through piles of unwanted clutter when you get to your new home, nor do you want to be weighed down by it for the next ten years as it sits – unused and gathering dust - in a new loft until your next house move.

Do earmark one day to tackle each room (don’t underestimate the time you’ll need)

Do be organised. Draw up a schedule if necessary. You don’t have to stick to it but it might well give you an accurate idea of how much time you’re going to realistically need to get your physical possessions together in order to transport them to your new place. Roughly speaking, you should earmark one day per room in your house.

Packing is an area which is commonly put off or underestimated (or both) by the majority of households and not getting it done in time – or done badly - will cause a lot of stress and hassle which can so easily be avoided. Breaking the process down into small, more manageable chunks, that is, allocating time for each area of your home, may seem a bit over the top, but trust us, it works.

Do use enough protective packaging (don’t scrimp on bubble wrap)

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of protective packaging necessary for keeping possessions safe during transit. Avoid any upsetting surprises and don’t scrimp on paper or bubble wrap. Use what you have at home as well: towels, cloths, bed linen, even cuddly toys all make excellent padding and buffering. It’s always best to wrap ornaments and other fragile items in layers of bubble wrap or several layers of newspaper. Ensure that your possessions can’t rattle around and tape boxes securely. Follow the golden rules of the packaging industry: choose the correct sized box for the items being packed, make sure any voids inside the box are filled and fasten securely!

Do pack strategically (don’t overfill your boxes)

Try and think logically and pack what you’re going to need immediately at the top of each box and not – for obvious reasons - at the bottom. Label your boxes for easy identification, especially if they contain items vital for everyday life: cutlery, mugs, toiletries, cleaning supplies and bed linen, for example.

Don’t make the mistake of overfilling your boxes: even if your movers can manage them, once they’ve gone, you may need to shift them yourself and that could prove tricky (and painful) if they’re too heavy. Spread the load, especially when it comes to books. Remember the golden rule of removals: heavier items should go in smaller boxes and lighter items in larger ones.

Do clean your possessions first (don’t pack anything that’s dirty or worse, wet)

Anything you pack, should be clean and dry. You certainly don’t want to be pulling stained or soiled items from your packing boxes. Plus, it could be that you won’t get round to unpacking straightway, so do your due diligence to avoid musty, stale smells. If you’re taking the opportunity to give things a good clean before you pack them, like children’s toys, let them dry out thoroughly before you store them away to avoid problems with mould. This also applies to items that live in the naturally damp environment of the bathroom, e.g., shower curtains and bath toys.

Do label your boxes / Don’t think you’ll remember what you’ve put where

During the packing process, you may think you’ll remember where you’ve put everything, but in the general hustle and bustle of a move, you’ll soon forget what you packed where, even if you think you won’t. Labelling is your greatest ally. Make sure it’s clear and legible. Stick to the same system for each box, i.e. room, description of contents, fragility. Imagine someone is coming into your home to help you unpack (maybe they are – lucky you) and label your boxes as if they were entirely ignorant of the contents. Sometimes it’s obvious which way up a box should go and sometimes it’s not. Put extra warnings on boxes that contain fragile, delicate or valuable possessions.

Do your research (don’t hire a removal company based solely on price)

If you decide to use a removal company, don’t hire one based solely on price. As we all know, the best approach is to get at least three quotes, but equally as important is hearing from previous customers and not just on that company’s website, but also by reading independent reviews or through word of mouth.

Don’t make assumptions as to what the removal company will do for you. Find out in advance. You’ll definitely have to pay extra if you require a full packing service, but most movers see it as their job to dismantle furniture for you (i.e. bed frames) and will disconnect washing machines (although plumbing them back in might be a different story).

The majority of removal companies charge based on the volume of things you have to move, which is why it’s a good idea – as far as possible – to reduce the amount of stuff you’re taking with you.

Do some tasks on your own (don’t assume movers can or will automatically take care of it)

Removal companies are used to the intricacies of relocation, after all, they do it every day and have it down to a fine art. There might – however – still be a few things that it would be a good idea to do yourself so they don’t get overlooked, for example, removing bulbs from lamps (get more tips on protecting lamps and lights here).

If you have house plants, it’s a good idea to protect them yourself because you’ll know what they need and how robust they are. Check out this guide for everything you need to know about moving with plants and make sure you keep your little green friends happy.

Do keep a box of essentials with you (don’t pack important papers)

Finally, don’t pack absolutely everything away. It’s vital that you keep essential supplies with you, as well as any documentation that you might need or might need to get your hands on quickly. Many people pack a separate suitcase which will keep them going in their new place for at least a few weeks in terms of clothes and toiletries and of course, you want to be able to plug the kettle or coffee maker in as soon as you arrive. Other essentials might include medication, the TV remotes, washing up liquid and anything for small children and pets. 


There you have it, our list of Dos and Don’ts for packing up your house from a cardboard box point of view. Moving house can be an exciting time, but it’s also one of those experiences that’s often overwhelming and stressful, however calm and poised you normally pride yourself on being.

So, make sure you take the sting out of relocating by ensuring that the packing part of your move is as perfect and as organised as it can possibly be. And don't forget to join The Packaging Club if you need moving supplies. Our cardboard boxes will help you move out, move over and move up.

This article was written by...

Jo Hilton

I studied at the University of St. Andrews and have an MA in French and German. For a number of years, I worked for a Swiss financial institution and lived in Hamburg, London, Zürich and NYC before retraining as a primary school teacher and settling with my family in Cambridgeshire. When I'm not at school, I write content for various blogs and edit academic research articles for clients at ETH Zürich and the University of Munich. I'm also in the process of completing a Masters in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, so behind me you'll find a trail of fictional dead bodies and actual biscuit wrappers.

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