John's Packing Tips
Get Packing! Tips from the Professionals at John's Moving & Storage.
Many people prefer to have their belongings packed professionally to avoid risk of damage. We will be happy to discuss costs, materials and unpacking services.
If you plan to pack yourself...
If you decide to do the packing yourself, you automatically assume a major portion of the responsibility for the success of the move - including that of having everything properly packed and ready for loading when the moving van arrives. All packing must be completed by the evening before moving day...only the things you will need that night and the next morning should be left for last minute packing. Allow yourself several weeks to complete the packing.
In addition, your packing will be expected to meet specific standards. This means complying with the principles of good packing as outlined here, as well as following the suggestions relative to items that should not be included in the shipment. Our professional movers will inspect each box to make sure that articles are properly packed prior to loading. If it is determined that your cartons are susceptible to damage, the driver may refuse to load those boxes until they are re-packed or removed from the shipment.
Good packing means:
- Wrapping items carefully
- Using sturdy cartons that close completely
- Making sure of a firm pack so that the carton will not rattle, bulge outward, or bend inward
- Providing plenty of cushioning to absorb shock
- Limiting cartons, when possible, to a maximum weight of fifty pounds to make handling easier
Prepare a convenient place to work and gather all packing materials in one location. If there is a spare room available, consider setting it up as your packing headquarters.
A large table covered with a heavy blanket or mattress pad makes a good, firm work surface. It may be helpful to have a second table nearby for soon to be packed items.
You will need packing cartons, newsprint (unprinted newspaper for wrapping), tissue paper, packing tape, a felt marker, scissors, and newspapers. The printed newspaper should be used for outer wrapping or cushioning only. The ink will rub off, and can become embedded in your dishware. When using newspaper, be sure to wash your hands frequently to avoid rubbing the ink on the items you handle.
Have a pencil and notebook handy, and make a list of the boxes as you pack them.
What types of cartons should you use?
The boxes you use to pack your household goods are important in more way than one. Make sure the cartons you use are suitable for transporting your goods in order to minimize damage. Also, be sure not to pack boxes too heavy as they can break open, or too light as they can be crushed while they are stacked in the moving van. Use only durable cartons constructed for the packaging of items. Your sales representative can assist you in choosing and purchasing the appropriate cartons.
Some general-purpose cartons available through John's Moving & Storage are:
1.5 cubic foot cartons (the book or small carton)
This is the smallest of the general-purpose containers. As a rule of thumb, the smallest and heaviest items are generally packed in the 1.5 cubic foot carton. Such items would include:
- Books, records, VCR tapes, CD's
- Canned goods
- Heavy Tools
3.1 cubic foot carton (medium carton)
This is the workhorse carton. Smaller and heavier items are usually packed in these containers. Some examples are:
- Small kitchen appliances
- Lamp bases
- Small outdoor tools
- Pots and pans
- Electronic gadgets
4.5 cubic foot carton (large carton)
As the size of the container increases, the weight of the individual items going into the container should decrease. This carton is another of the workhorse cartons. This carton should be considered for the following:
- Non hanging clothes
- Larger lamp bases
- Lamp shades
- Non-breakable kitchen goods (Tupperware, baking sheets, etc.)
- Children's toys
Dishpack (barrel or dish barrel)
This is the safest of all the cartons because of its extra-strength, multi-layer construction. All breakable kitchenware, china and crystal should be packed in these cartons for safety. Occasionally, lamp bases, small antiques and brick-a-brac are also packed in dishpacks.
Just as mattresses and box springs come in different sizes, so do the cartons for shipping them in. Standard sizes are crib, twin, double, queen and king. Other than the beds in a residence, be aware, that some waterbeds, futons and sleep sofas may also require cartons for shipping. For king size beds, double check that the box springs are either king size or two singles.
As with mattress cartons, mirror cartons come in a number of sizes. Many mirror cartons pieces can be fitted together to offer a great deal of flexibility for such items as: pictures, mirrors or small glass table tops.
These are the largest of the standard cartons and will either be standup or lay-down (usually used for international). The cartons are constructed in such a manner that hanging clothes will remain hanging during the move. You may want to consider the wardrobe for shipping drapes and curtains (neatly folded and on hangers) to help reduce wrinkling during shipment.
There are specialized cartons for very specific needs, such as golf club cartons, bicycle cartons, grandfather clock boxes and crates. The ultimate specialty carton is a crate, which is for extremely fragile pieces, such as marble and glass. These cartons are built to order and need to be ordered prior to your move. Ask your representative for details.
So let's get started...A Checklist of the Basics:
- Be sure to pack heavier things in smaller boxes and lighter things in bigger boxes.
- Pack similar items together. Don't pack a delicate china figurine with a cast iron skillet.
- Start with out-of-season items, and things you use infrequently.
- Keep all parts or pairs together and use resealable plastic bags for hardware, taping the bag securely to the item.
- Empty drawers of breakables, spillables or anything that would damage other items.
- Leave lightweight, unbreakable items such as towels and sheets in the drawers.
- Wrap items individually in clean tissue paper or newsprint.
- Small items are easily identified when wrapped in colored paper.
- Label boxes with fragile items "FRAGILE, This Side Up"
- Wind electric cords, fastening them so they will not dangle.
- Put a two or three-inch layer of crushed paper in the bottom of your cartons to serve as a cushion.
- Build up in layers, with heaviest things on the bottom, medium weight next, and lightest weight on top.
- As each layer is completed, fill in empty spaces with crushed paper, adding layers of crushed paper between items.
- Avoid overloading the carton, but make sure that nothing "shifts".
- The carton cover should close easily with no bulges, and no inward bends.
- Blankets, towels and other soft items may be used for cushioning.
- Seal cartons tightly with packing tape.
- Mark the sides of each carton with your name and the room to which the carton should be delivered
- When you arrive at your new home, tape a sign on the door of each room corresponding to your carton labeling.
Please see our Packing page for prices and other information on boxes and cartons.
Ready, Set, Pack!
China & Glassware
Professional packers use a dish pack carton for china and glassware. Place plenty of cushioning material in bottom of carton. Then wrap each piece individually using several sheets of paper. Start from the corner, wrapping diagonally, continuously tucking in overlapping edges. After wrapping each piece individually, then wrap four to six in a bundle with a double layer of newspaper. Place these bundled items in the carton in a row, standing them on edge.
The larger china and glass plates, platters, and other flat pieces are excellent as the lowest layer in the box. Smaller plates, saucers and shallow bowls could make up a second layer. Wrap and pack in the same way as larger items, making sure to rest them in the box upright, using sufficient cushioning.
Surround each bundle with crushed paper, being careful to leave no unfilled spaces. Add two or three inches of crushed paper on top of the bundles to protect rims and make a level base for the next tier. Always remember, the heavier pieces go on the bottom!
Stand shallow bowls on edge in the carton and deep ones (such as mixing bowls) nested two or three together, upside down on their top rims.
Wrap sugar bowl lids in tissue, turning them upside down on the bowl before wrapping them together. Place sugar bowls, pitchers and similar pieces upright in the carton, being careful to cushion firmly. Complete the layer as for plates.
Cups and glassware should be wrapped in a double layer of paper and placed upside down on rims in a row on an upper layer within the box with all the handles facing upward in the same direction.
Loose flatware may be wrapped either individually or in sets, in clear plastic or tissue. If the silverware is in a chest, you still may want to wrap the pieces individually and replace in the chest, or fill in all empty spaces in the chest with tissue paper or paper toweling.
Silver-plate or Sterling Silver
Since air causes silver to tarnish, all silver pieces should be completely enclosed in fresh, clean tissue paper or plastic wrap. Hollowware, including bowls, tea sets and serving dishes, should be carefully wrapped as fragile items and packed the same as china.
Because books are heavy, be sure to use small cartons. Pack on edge, alternating bound edge to open edge. Pack books of same general size together.
After removing the light bulb, wrap the base, harp and bulb separately, in newsprint, (never use newspaper) and place together in a carton, filling spaces with crushed paper. Carefully wrap each shade in three or four sheets of fresh tissue paper, a pillowcase or large lightweight towel. More than one lamp or shade can be packed in a carton if properly protected. Large, Tiffany-style lamp shades and chandeliers should be crated by our professional movers.
Glass Table Tops, Marble Slabs, Mirrors, Paintings, etc.
Leave it to the professionals. It is best to consult with your move coordinator about obtaining custom made cartons or crates for these types of items. All are easily damaged. Glass may shatter; marble slabs can crack at veins. Paper should never be permitted to touch the surface of an oil painting.
Footwear may be left in shoe boxes and placed into large cartons. Or, wrap each shoe individually, then in pairs. Footwear should be cushioned to avoid damage occurring to high heels or ornaments. Do not pack heavy items on top of shoes.
Clothing may be left on hangers and transported in wardrobe cartons. If wardrobes are not used, each garment should be removed from the hanger, folded and placed in a suitcase or a carton lined with clean paper. Some lightweight clothing such as hose, lingerie and sweaters may be left in dresser drawers.
It is recommended that you take any furs or high-value items with you, rather than packing them for transportation on the moving van.
Linen and Bedding
Because they are lightweight, these items can be used for padding delicate items or folded and packed in larger cartons. Line the box with clean paper, and place the linens in a large plastic bag for protection. Place in cartons and label appropriately.
Special mattress cartons in various sizes are available. Pillows may be placed in dresser drawers or packed in cartons.
Draperies, Curtains and Rugs
Draperies and curtains may also be folded and packed in larger cartons, lined with clean paper. Another alternative is to place on hangers, and pack curtains and drapes in a wardrobe carton. Leave rugs on the floor for the moving company to handle. If they have just returned from the cleaners, leave them rolled. Carpets will be rolled and secured prior to placing them on the moving van.
Photographs and Valuables
If possible, carry all valuables and photos with you to destination. If you must pack photographs, wrap framed photos with padding and cushioning, and, like your dishes, stand them on edge in the box.
Photographs are best protected in photo albums, which should be wrapped and packed in separate cartons. Loose photos should be packed in separate cartons and protected from moisture or possible water damage. Take the time to properly pack your irreplaceable items.
Small clocks, radios and similar items can be packed in the same carton, or in with the linens. These items should be wrapped individually, using several pieces of paper, and should be placed in the packed carton with plenty of crushed paper.
Pre-move preparation is required for many major appliances. All appliances must be dry before loading. Be sure to discuss with your John's representative.
Hand tools may be left in toolboxes, the spaces filled with crushed paper, or the tools may be packed according to general packing rules. Always use small cartons because the tools are generally heavy.
Long handled garden tools, as well as brooms and mops, should be bundled together securely. Attachments should be removed from power tools and packed separately.
Take only those things you are sure will travel well. Do not take anything perishable. In the winter months, do not take anything that may freeze and burst. For long distance relocations, we recommend giving away canned and perishable foods and replenishing your supply upon arrival at your new home.
If you decide to take pantry items, remember to seal the open boxes of dried or powdered foods such as rice, macaroni and cereals with tape. Small containers of herbs and spices, condiments, gelatin, flavorings, etc. should be placed together in a small box before packing into a larger container. Cover holes of shaker type containers and seal with tape.
Since canned goods are heavy, the amount placed in one carton should be limited. It is good practice to place these canned items on the bottom of a box containing several other light items.
Moving Day Carton
If you are traveling by car to your new destination, be sure to pack a "Moving Day Box." Place your last minute items in the box, along with things you'll need right away at your new destination. Keep a folder with all of your moving paperwork with you at all times. You may want to take along:
- Your wallet, checkbook, and/or driver's license
- First aid kit
- Soap and towels
- Paper plates and plastic knives, forks, spoons
- Paper towels
- Snack foods
- Instant coffee/tea and coffee cups
- Juices and bottled water
- Toys for the kids
- A small tool kit
- Prescription medications
Non-Transportable Items (DO NOT PACK)
- Combustible or corrosive liquids
- Bleach, rubbing alcohol, or other cleaning liquids
- Antifreeze compounds
- Gasoline, diesel fuel, or oil (this includes the fluids inside your lawnmowers, etc.)
- Engine starting fluids
- Auto batteries (those not in a vehicle)
- Flammables (lighter fluids, matches, aerosol cans)
- Ammunition, black powder, primers
- Adhesives (glue, cement)
- Fireworks, dynamite, hand signal flares, or any other explosives
- Gases, compressed (kerosene, unpurged propane tanks, unpurged SCUBA diving tanks, gases used in welding)
- Weed killer
- Paint removers, paint thinners, liquid stain, lacquer, or varnish
- Valuables (jewelry; currency; stocks; stamp, coin, or other collections)
- Food items or perishables
- Houseplants or living plants of any kind
Loss and Damage Protection
Be sure to discuss valuation coverage with your John's Moving & Storage representative. In the event an item does get broken, you'll want to be sure that you have adequate coverage to repair or replace the item.