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Looking for the best way to pack clothes for moving? We can help. Whether you have a tiny closet’s worth of clothes or much much more (and let’s face it – most of us do), we’ve got the tips you need in order to successfully move your clothes to a new home. From delicate pieces and hanging clothes to your shoes, hats and accessories, each item requires its own packing strategy. Below, you’ll find our expert guide to packing clothes for moving. This step-by-step approach covers: what to do before you start packing, clothing packing methods, how to sort through your clothes, the best ways to fold clothes, how to move hanging clothes, how to pack clothes in different kinds of boxes and more basic moving tips. For advice on the most efficient way to pack, keep reading.
Things to do before packing your clothes
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- Assess your closet – Before you begin packing clothes for moving, assess your closet. Take a good look at your clothing, shoes, hats, bags and other accessories. Which items are worth packing and which items do you no longer want or need? In order to fully assess your closet, try hanging all clothes on hangers in front of you. Take folded clothes out of drawers and place them on your bed. This will give you a better picture of what you actually own.
- Decide what to keep, what to donate and what to sell – To keep or not to keep: that is the question. After taking a long hard look at your closet items, it’s time to divide everything into three piles: keep, donate and sell. To help you decide what to keep and what to toss, we recommend asking yourself several questions: Have you worn this item in the last year? Is the item still in style? Does the item fit you properly? Is it still in good condition? If the answer to these questions is a resounding no, then place the article in either the donation pile or sell pile.
- Donate gently-used closet items – Now it’s time to start purging your closet. Begin by taking all gently-used clothing, shoes and accessories in your donation pile to the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army. Have a large pile that won’t fit in your car? Many of these charities also offer pick-up services free of charge. Just be sure to obtain a tax-deductible donation receipt from the charity when donating household goods.
- Sell closet items that are still trendy or recent – Looking to make a little extra money on your clothing items? Try selling them online, hosting a yard sale or dropping them at a consignment store. Online marketplaces for used closet items include Poshmark, Mercari, ThredUP, eBay and Craigslist. Hosting a yard sale is another great way to sell your used household goods and clothing. Use this yard sale checklist when planning one in your neighborhood. Local consignment stores are a third option for selling your used clothing. Consignment stores handle everything from pricing the item to selling it. Keep in mind, though, that they also share in the profits.
- Store sentimental closet items – Not ready to part with certain sentimental clothing items? Try storing them in a self-storage unit. From your wedding dress to those off-beat vintage items, some closet pieces are too important to donate or sell. Even though you might not wear them on a daily basis, you’d still prefer to keep them in your possession. For help finding a safe, secure and climate-controlled storage unit, try com’s Storage Center to compare quotes from storage unit facilities near your new home.
- Wash or dry-clean clothing – Prior to packing your hanging clothes and folding clothes, we highly recommend washing everything as thoroughly as possible. Packing dirty clothes with clean clothes will only make all of your clothes stinky. Not to mention, if any of your clothes are damp, you can expect plenty of mildew problems. Making sure everything is properly washed and dried prior to packing will prevent this from becoming a problem when moving clothes.
Tip: Learn how to lighten your load before you pack.
Clothing packing methods and moving supplies
Purging your closet of unused and unnecessary clothing items is the first step towards moving clothes. After you’ve decided what to keep, you’ll need to start thinking about how you plan to move these closet items. You can start prepping for the move by gathering necessary closet moving supplies. Here are the main items you will need when packing clothes for a move.
- Cardboard boxes – These boxes will be used for packing folded clothing. Fortunately, you can find them just about anywhere. From online stores and marketplaces to big box stores and local recycling centers, there’s no shortage of cardboard boxes. For advice on where to find free cardboard boxes, check here.
- Wardrobe boxes – Wardrobe boxes will come in handy when packing clothes on hangers and items that wrinkle easily. These specialty moving boxes can typically be found on Amazon.com and in Lowe’s stores.
- Suitcases – Suitcases are an excellent, low-cost way to pack folded clothing, shoes and more. If you already have suitcases, we highly recommend using them during your next move.
- Duffel bags – Have duffel bags in your closet already? These small bags are a great way to pack folded clothes and shoes. Just be sure to roll your clothes when using duffel bags to move.
- Vacuum or compression bags – These reusable storage bags are a great way to condense clothing items while also protecting them from the elements. You can purchase vacuum and compression bags from a number of stores including Target and Walmart.
Other moving supplies that may come in handy when packing and moving clothing items include: garment bags, packing paper, hat boxes, plastic bins, shoe boxes and plastic baggies.
In addition to using the right supplies, here are 5 more packing methods and tips for prepping for the move.
- Keep clothing on hangers
- Keep folded clothes in dresser drawers
- Line suitcases and cardboard boxes with packing paper
- Reuse old shoe boxes
- Protect jewelry with plastic baggies
How to sort through your clothes
After gathering moving supplies and strategizing packing methods, it’s time to start sorting through all the clothes you plan to move. Sorting closet items into categories is one of the best ways to keep everything as organized as possible throughout the move. As you begin to sort through your clothes, use one of these four categories.
- Sort by material – Prefer to sort your clothes by material? Try dividing them into several different material categories. Examples include cotton items, silk items, linen items, denim items, wool items, cashmere items, etc. This will certainly make doing laundry in the future much easier.
- Sort by season – Sorting clothes by season not only helps you stay organized during a move but also prevents clutter from accumulating after the move. For instance, if you move in the winter, you’ll only need to unpack cold weather garments. Summer, spring and fall clothing can remain packed inside boxes and possibly stored inside a storage unit. This will keep your closet clutter-free in the future.
- Sort by pieces – Prefer to pack by item? Try sorting your closet by pieces. This means packing pants with pants, shirts with shirts, shorts with shorts, etc. Once you move, this will make it easier to find certain clothing pieces and will also make the unpacking process much more efficient.
- Keep everything separated for each person – Moving with a family? It’s important to keep everyone’s closet items separate. Each person in the family should have their own labeled boxes and supplies. Sorting by person will make packing and unpacking an easier experience for everyone.
How to fold non-hanging clothes
Once your clothing has been sorted, you can start the folding process for all non-hanging clothes. In other words: any clothing that isn’t being moved on a hanger will need to be folded neatly and placed inside a moving box or suitcase. There are several folding methods to choose from when packing clothes for moving. While some are more efficient than others, the decision of how exactly to fold your clothes is up to you. Here are 3 helpful methods to consider.
- The flat fold – Without a doubt, the flat fold method is the simplest, most traditional way to fold clothing when moving. To fold a shirt using the flat method, lie it face down and flat on the floor. Fold one side of the shirt and sleeve in towards the middle of the shirt, lie it down and smooth out any wrinkles. Repeat on the other side. Once both sides have been folded in, fold the bottom half of the shirt up. Smooth out any wrinkles. Pants should be first folded with one leg over the other. From there, fold in thirds and smooth out wrinkles.
- Military rolling method – This is perhaps the most popular way to pack and move clothing. The army rolling method not only maximizes space in your boxes but also prevents items from becoming wrinkled while in transit. To properly roll a shirt, first lie it flat on a hard surface. Take the bottom few inches of the shirt and flip them inside out. Next, fold the sleeves inwards and lie them on the shirt. Then, fold half the shirt so that it touches the middle. Take the other half of the shirt and fold it on top of the first half. Next, starting at the top of the shirt, begin rolling it down as tightly as possible. Once the shirt is rolled up, you will notice a pouch at the bottom where you flipped the bottom of the shirt inside out. Take that pouch and fold it over the rolled up shirt. This will keep it all in place during the move. Of course, you can always do a more casual roll, which involves simply rolling the item as tightly as possible and placing it inside a box or bag.
- The KonMari method – If you’re looking to join the KonMari craze, try using the organizer’s folding methods highlighted in this video below.
Source: Ebury Reads
The best way to pack clothes within cardboard boxes
Thinking of using cardboard boxes to move your closet? We don’t blame you. Cardboard boxes are a low-cost, easy to find moving option for all of your household goods. You can even find them for free in local libraries, liquor stores, big box stores, and Craigslist. Once you have your cardboard boxes, don’t just haphazardly throw everything inside. For expert advice on packing clothes inside cardboard boxes, read these six steps below.
- First, make sure you have the right size box. We recommend using small to medium size cardboard boxes. This will prevent you from overstuffing them with clothing, which will only break the bottom of the box (leading to your clothes falling out while in transit). Using small to medium size boxes will also make your moving load easier to carry.
- Make sure the cardboard box has been properly assembled and secured with packing tape. If the box is crushed or damaged in any way, you may want to consider trading it in for a sturdier box.
- Next, line the inside of the cardboard box with packing paper or plastic wrap. This will help protect your clothing items from water damage and general wear-and-tear during the moving process.
- Fold clothes using one of the three methods listed above. We recommend using the flat fold method for cardboard boxes, as this will make unpacking your boxes more efficient.
- Once the clothes have been folded and placed inside, cover the top layer of clothing with packing paper.
- Tape and secure the box. Label it clearly with a Sharpie marker and/or a color-coded post-it note. This will make it easy to spot once you arrive in your new home.
How to pack clothes in wardrobe boxes
Looking for the easiest, wrinkle-free way to transport your hanging clothes? Try wardrobe boxes. These cardboard boxes are specifically designed to hang your dresses, skirts, pants and other hanging clothes when moving. They are small, portable closets, measuring two feet wide and 3 feet long. Inside the boxes is a built-in metal hanger bar, perfect for clothes on a hanger. While these boxes tend to be more expensive than your average, run of the mill box (think: anywhere from $20 to $50), they are well worth the investment when transporting high end clothing. Here’s a quick rundown on how to put together a wardrobe box.
- To assemble the wardrobe box, first hold the box bottom side up. Fold the short flaps down first, followed by the larger flaps. Secure the cardboard flaps with packing tape.
- Next, flip the box over so that the bottom is now on the floor and the top flaps are open at the top.
- Secure the ends of the hanger bar inside the cut outs located on the top crease of the box. The hanger bar should pop right into these cut outs without a problem.
- After the hanger bar is secured to the box, you can begin hanging your clothes inside the wardrobe box. Each hanger bar should be able to hang eight or more pieces of clothing on hangers.
- Once you’ve finished hanging your clothes inside the box, close the two longer flaps on top. These pieces should have a cut out in the middle.
- Next, take the two shorter flaps and bend the outside edges (these should be cut out) down. As you close these flaps on top of the box, the bent pieces should fit perfectly into the middle center cut out. Secure the last top piece with packing tape.
For a visualization of these instructions, check out this helpful video below.
Source: G M Packaging Ltd.
The best way to pack clothes within suitcases
Using suitcases to move is helpful for several reasons. For starters, it saves you from having to purchase extra cardboard boxes. Second, moving with suitcases kills two birds with one stone because you have to move your suitcases anyway, so you might as well use them to carry your belongings. Third, suitcases are an excellent place to pack your overnight and moving day essentials. Here are a few tips for packing clothes within suitcases.
- Unless you have hardshell luggage, we recommend lining the suitcase with either packing paper or extra raincoats to prevent water damage to your belongings.
- Pack your clothes using either the flat fold method, the rolling method or packing cubes to save space. Packing cubes are stackable fabric bags that allow you to fit more clothes in less space, making for a more efficient suitcase packing method.
- As you pack the suitcase, be sure to place all non-essentials such as extra clothes and shoes on the bottom. Essentials such as a change of clothes, toiletries, phone chargers and pajamas should be placed at the top of the suitcase. This will make it easy to find during the first 24 hours of your move.
- When packing shoes inside your suitcase, try stuffing them with knick-knacks, electronics and socks. Nice shoes should be protected with either shoe bags or packing paper.
- Place an extra bag such as a grocery bag or foldable hamper inside the suitcase for dirty clothes. If you’re traveling during the move or without your belongings while waiting for the moving truck to arrive, having a suitcase full of clothes and a dirty clothes hamper will come in handy.
Clothes Pin Bag
How to pack clothes within duffel bags
Already have duffel bags? Try using them to help you move. As is true with suitcases, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone when moving with duffel bags. Duffel bags provide a great way to move a lot in a little space. Here’s how to pack clothes within duffel bags in the most efficient way possible.
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- First, unzip the duffel bag and fold down the top to make packing easier. If the top edges don’t fold down, simply open them as widely as possible.
- Begin the duffel bag packing process with your heavier shoes and non-essentials. Using shoes as the first layer will help the bag maintain its shape while also protecting your other items.
- Always roll your clothing when packing a duffel bag. Never fold. Given the duffel bag’s shape, folding clothes the old fashioned way just won’t work. Rolling clothing not only allows you to fit a lot more in your bag but also helps to prevent the contents from becoming disheveled while in transit.
- Make sure to pack essentials, such as a change of clothes or pajamas, at the top of your duffel bag.
- If packing electronics inside duffel bags, be sure to roll them in clothing for extra protection. Given that a duffel bag doesn’t have a hard shell on any side, it’s important that all fragile items are packed carefully.
- Finally, when packing rolled clothing inside a duffel bag, be sure to place them so that the long-side of the clothing roll is parallel to the long side of the bag. This will give you more room for packing clothes. Below, we’ve included a helpful video with more tips for packing clothes inside a duffel bag.
Source: Matt Lee Morgan
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How to pack clothing within vacuum or compression bags
Looking to fit as much as possible in one bag? Try using vacuum or compression bags when moving. These bags allow you to store more clothes in less space, all while protecting your items from moisture and dirt. They are also reusable, so you can use them next time you move. In addition, these bags double as storage for seasonal clothing and other unnecessary items after you move. Here’s a quick rundown on how vacuum bags and compression bags work.
- Regardless of whether you’re using vacuum bags or compression bags, we recommend either rolling your clothes or folding them flat first. Many who use compression bags choose to roll their clothes, as this usually allows more space for clothes.
- Next, grab your bag and place the larger pieces of clothing inside.
- Place smaller pieces of clothing on top and press down to create more room inside the bag. Remember: it’s also important to keep essentials towards the top. These are the items you’ll likely need on moving day and the days following. This might include underwear, pajamas, a jacket and a change of clothing.
- Once the compression bag is full, seal it almost all the way shut. Press down as hard as you can to squeeze out the extra air. Once the air has been eliminated, you can finish sealing the bag.
- If using a vacuum bag, place all folded or rolled items inside the plastic bag. Seal the bag shut.
- Vacuum-sealed bags should come with a valve cap on the bag. Lift the cap and place the vacuum hose over the valve opening. Turn the vacuum on to suck out all air. After you’ve finished, close and secure the valve cap.
How to move clothes within a dresser
Moving soon? Before you start unpacking that dresser, consider using it as a way to carry your clothes instead. If you plan to hire professional movers, they may ask you to take everything out of the drawers prior to the move. So be sure to ask whether or not they are willing to move your clothes inside the dresser. If you’re moving yourself, then moving a dresser full of clothes shouldn’t be a problem (as long as you can lift it). Here are a few tips on moving clothes within a dresser.
- Take the heavier items out. While it’s fine to leave lighter items inside the drawers, it may be easier for you to carry the dresser if heavy items, such as coats, jackets and bulky pants, have been removed.
- Consider taking out the drawers and moving them separately. If the dresser is very heavy, then carrying your clothing-filled drawers separately can make the moving process easier.
- If you decide to move with the drawers inside the dresser, we recommend covering it in plastic wrap to keep the drawers in place. This way they won’t fall out on your way to the moving truck. In addition, you may want to consider covering the dresser in moving blankets to avoid damaging your walls.
- Dressers are heavy, so make sure you have at least one other person to help you move it. You may even need several people to help get the dresser up the ramp and onto the truck.
- If the dresser is extremely heavy, try using a dolly to help move it in and out of the house.
- When loading the dresser with drawers onto the moving truck, it’s extremely important to use tie downs to secure it inside the truck. This will prevent it from shifting while in transit.
How to move and store hanging clothes
Chances are good that you have a lot of hanging clothes to move. From dresses and pants to blouses and collared shirts, most people have at least two or more racks of hanging clothing in their closets. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to help you successfully move and store hanging clothes. Below, we’ve rounded up five easy ways to transport clothes to your new home.
- Use a clothing rack to move clothes. Thankfully, these are easy to find and easy to assemble. All you have to do is order a portable clothing rack, such as this one from Bed, Bath & Beyond. These clothing racks also come with wheels attached to make maneuvering in and out of the home easier.
- Use garment bags to protect clothing. When moving hanging clothes, it’s all too easy for them to get dirty or damaged. To properly protect your clothes, try using garment bags when transporting them from one home to another. Covers typically cost anywhere from $10 to $40. You can also find free, plastic garment bags at the local dry cleaners.
- Of course, you can always use wardrobe boxes. Though pricier than a simple garment bag or trash bag, these wardrobe boxes are specifically designed to transport hanging clothes. The hanger bar makes it easy to hang any type of clothing inside, while the corrugated cardboard box protects the clothes from the elements.
- Use a simple cardboard box to move hanging clothes. If you’re in a hurry to move and don’t mind ironing out a few wrinkles once you arrive at the new home, then consider a plain old cardboard box. All you’ll have to do is take the clothing off the hangers, fold everything neatly and place them inside.
- Looking for a low-budget way to move your hanging clothing? Try large, drawstring trash bags. This DIY option is a low-cost way to successfully move all of your hanging clothes. To pack your hanging clothes inside of a trash bag, slip them inside while holding onto the hangers and tighten the drawstrings around the hanger hooks. Make sure to tie and secure the hooks together outside the bag. You can also cut a small hole at the bottom of the trash bag and place the clothing inside with the hangers towards the bottom of the bag. Once the hanger hooks are through the hole at the bottom of the bag, tie and secure them with a rubber band or string. To keep everything together, tie the drawstrings at the top. For a visualization of how to move your hanging clothes with a trash bag, check out this video below.
The best way to pack shoes
Trust us – you have more shoes than you think and moving your shoes can be quite the ordeal if you’re not prepared. Not to mention, shoes (especially 10 plus pairs of them) can be very heavy. Here’s some helpful advice on packing and moving shoes.
- Still have shoe boxes in your closet? Try packing shoes inside their original boxes. Reusing these boxes is an excellent way to pack everything from high heels and sandals to sneakers and slippers. To keep the shoes boxes closed while moving, tie them shut or use a large rubber band to secure the top to the bottom.
- Don’t have the original boxes? Fortunately, you can find clear, plastic shoe boxes at the Container Store for $2. These boxes provide protection for your shoes while moving. They can also be reused after the move to organize and store shoes in a closet.
- Shoe bags are another good alternative to traditional shoe boxes. They provide protection while also being extremely easy to travel with, thanks to their convenient drawstrings.
- Protect shoes with packing paper. Whether you’re packing them in a shoe box or bag, we recommend wrapping one shoe at a time in packing paper. Stuff the inside of the shoe as well to help maintain its shape while in transit.
- Fill the empty space inside shoe boxes with foam peanuts, newspaper, washcloths or dish rags. This extra protection will not only keep your shoes from shifting while they’re being transported to the new home, but will also prevent them from getting scuffed up. For more advice on packing shoes, watch this video below.
Source: United Van Lines
Treat your delicate clothing differently
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It goes without saying that you should not willy-nilly throw your mother’s wedding dress in just any old box when moving. Delicate items (such as this one) require the utmost attention and care. If you’re not sure whether an item is considered “delicate,” ask yourself these three questions: 1) Does it carry special meaning or sentimental value? 2) Is it expensive or valuable in some way? 3) Is it made of a delicate material, such as fur or silk? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then be sure to give the item a little TLC when moving it to a new home. Delicate items include furs, wedding dresses, hats, leathers, silks, cashmere, chiffon, needlepoint, lace, and items with attachments such as sequins, buttons or jewels. Here are a few tips for moving delicate items.
- Move delicate hanging clothes, such as wedding dresses, in wardrobe boxes. Be sure to also use garment bags or trash bags to protect them while they hang inside the box. Combining these methods will keep your delicate hanging clothes dirt and damage-free.
- To prevent delicate items, such as cashmere sweaters and silk scarves, from being eaten by moths and other keratin-eating bugs, it’s important to seal them off from the outside. The best way to do this is by using vacuum-sealed bags or compression bags to prevent outside forces (i.e. bugs, oxygen, moisture, etc) from damaging your precious clothing.
- It’s all too easy to crush your delicate hats when moving. We recommend transporting them inside hat boxes. As you place them inside the hat box, be sure to stuff packing paper inside the hat to help it maintain its shape.
- Pack delicate items separate from the rest of your clothing. Don’t stick your mother’s wedding dress in the same box as everything else. Be sure to place all delicate items in separate, well-labeled boxes.
- Hardshell luggage is another excellent way to move delicate items. The outer shell will prevent valuable clothing from becoming damaged or wet while in transit.
Basic moving tips
Finally, don’t forget these all-important basics when moving and packing clothes.
- Calculate how many boxes you’re going to need before purchasing them – For help figuring this out, try Moving.com’s packing calculator. Our free and easy-to-use calculator can give you a good estimate for the number of boxes that will be needed during the move. All you have to do is answer a couple of questions, and we’ll estimate the quantity of moving boxes and packing supplies needed. You can also check out our move planner, moving cost calculator, and other helpful moving tools to assist with all of your moving needs.
- Make sure trash bag drawstrings are tied securely –If you leave them open, there’s a good chance the piece of clothing will fall off the hanger and out the bag – yikes. So make sure everything is secure before moving clothing in large trash bags.
- Clean clothes before and after moving – If you have the time and energy to do so, this can help prevent musty smells from pervading your future closet.
- Don’t pick up more than you can handle – All those shoes, shirts and pants can really add up to one heavy box. So whatever you do, don’t try to move more than you can handle by yourself. Ask a friend or family member to help you move heavy wardrobe boxes, dressers and boxes full of shoes.
- Don’t overstuff your boxes – When packing clothes, be careful not to overstuff your wardrobe boxes and regular boxes with items. This will only damage your boxes and make them harder to carry.
- Secure each box with packing tape and label clearly – Make sure each box is secured with packing tape on both sides. Label boxes clearly with a sharpie or color-coded label. This will make it easier to find your clothes after you move.
- Carry valuable clothing items with you – If hiring professional movers, you may want to consider taking valuable clothing items, such as those with sentimental or monetary value, with you in the car. Keeping these items with you at all times will ensure that nothing happens to them.
Ready to get packing?
Try ordering moving boxes and packing supplies directly through Moving.com. We’ve partnered with multiple vendors to save you time and money when it comes to getting your packing supplies in order. Prefer to hire professionals to pack and move your clothes? Fortunately, Moving.com’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers also makes it easy to find the best moving company for the job. By choosing a Moving.com mover, you can rest assured that your clothing and other closet items will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!