Packing Clothes for a Move: 12 Tips You Need to Know

closet with clothes

They say the kitchen  is the hardest room in your home to pack up. And while that’s certainly hard to argue with, there’s no doubt that your clothes give your kitchen a run for its money—at least in terms of time commitment. On the bright side: it doesn’t have to be that way. Packing clothes for a move can actually be a relatively quick and easy process if you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. Without further ado, here are 12 tips and tricks for packing clothes you should definitely use during your next move.

  1. Get a garment box
    If you’ve never used a garment box before when packing clothes for a move, you have no idea what you’re missing. A garment box (also called a wardrobe box) allows you to simply transfer your clothes that are hanging up in the closet to a box and to your next closet without having to remove them from their hangers. And as an added bonus, there’s usually plenty of room on the bottom for storing bulky or unruly items like shoes or non-hanging sweaters. Just be sure to not overload the garment box, since while it’s definitely large, you still need to be able to carry it.
  2. No box? Use a garbage bag
    If you don’t want to spring for a garment box, you can still transport hanging clothes without going through the trouble of taking them off their hangers by grouping clothes together and slipped a garbage bag over them. Hold the garbage bag opening beneath the clothes and raise it up, tying the strings right below the part of the hangers that hold on to the closet bar. To increase the sturdiness, use heavy duty black garbage bags instead of basic white ones.
  3. Vacuum seal bulky items
    Part of the problem with packing clothes for a move is that they take up so much space. A small or medium box can filled up quickly if you’re packing heavy sweaters or jackets. To save on space, use vacuum seal bags to flatten out packed garments and protect them from the elements. It’s an especially good idea to vacuum seal seasonal items that you aren’t planning to unpack right away, since the seal will provide a barrier for them from moisture, dirt, and pests. A starter vacuum sealing kit (including bags and the vacuum device itself) will generally run you around $40. If you’d rather save the money, you can make your own seal bags, but keep in mind they might not be quite as effective.
  4. Utilize your suitcases
    Your suitcases make ideal packing containers for your clothes. They’re easy to identify and transport, and provide a better barrier against the elements than cardboard boxes. To maximize space in your suitcase, use the same techniques that you use to optimize space when you’re packing clothes for a vacation: roll items instead of folding them, and/or use packing cubes to keep like items grouped together. And because you’re not worried about a weight limit like you would be if you were traveling by plane, feel free to utilize every single nook and cranny. Those gaps in between other items are the perfect place to store compactible garments like underwear, socks, and tights.
  5. Utilize your dresser drawers
    Speaking of items that aren’t boxes for packing clothes for a move, make use of your dresser drawers too. It’s simple: just take each drawer out of the dresser, keeping all of the items folded inside of it right where they are, and secure plastic wrap around the drawer to keep everything in place. Then just move each drawer separately like it’s its own box. There are two big assets to this. One, your drawers are already “unpacked” once you arrive at your new home—you just have to take the plastic wrap off. And two, your dresser itself is much lighter to lug on to and off of the truck.
  6. Pack valuable pieces in garment bags
    You’re going to want a different plan of attack for packing gowns and tuxedos versus your yoga pants and old jeans. For those items that are especially valuable or delicate, use garment bags to provide an added layer or protection, even if you’re then going to pack the item in a wardrobe box. Garment bags reduce the chance of these expensive items getting dusty or wrinkly during your move, and also protect their fabric from heat or moisture they may face during transport.
  7. Keep similar items together
    Make your life easier when it comes time to unpack your clothes by grouping like items together. Think about it like putting away clean laundry: it’s always much faster to do when items that go together are already separated out that way. Even if they’re just separate sections in the same box or suitcase, keep your gym clothes together, your work clothes together, your pjs together, etc. You’ll be so glad that you did when you’re facing the next big clothes-related moving task: setting up your new closet.
  8. Think small when it comes to boxes
    Individual clothing items aren’t usually very heavy on their own, but they can quickly add up in weight when piled on top of each other. For that reason, it’s usually a good idea to use smaller instead of larger boxes for moving clothes. You’ll have a much easier time lifting and carrying small heavy boxes than large heavy ones, plus using small boxes will help you stay more organized à la tip number 7 above.
  9. Get rid of what you don’t wear anymore
    The easiest way to lighten your load when it comes to moving clothes? Get rid of the ones you no longer wear! Cleaning out the closet is a time-consuming task that a lot of us don’t do as often as we should. So take advantage of your move as a time to sort through each of your items and pull the ones that you don’t want or need anymore. As a rule, if it’s outdated or doesn’t fit anymore, get rid of it. The same goes for clothes that you haven’t worn in a year or more. Donate as much as you can, reserving the throw away pile for garments that are worn, torn, or otherwise damaged.
  10. Pack out-of-season clothes separately
    We touched on this a bit when discussing the importance of grouping similar types of garments together, but it’s worth circling back on this key point in terms of seasonal items. Keep a separate container or containers solely for those items that you know you won’t need right away when you move to your new place, be it winter coats and boots, summer shorts and sundresses, or anything else that can be set aside for a bit while you work on unpacking more timely things. Store these containers in a climate-controlled setting like a spare room or closet until you need them again. When you do, you’ll be glad that they’re in one place, and that you didn’t waste time and space on them earlier.
  11. Let some clothes do double duty
    Sweatshirts, sweatpants, balled up socks, and old clothes you’re not ready to get rid of yet but don’t warrant much special handling are all good candidates for doing double duty and serving as padding for other packed items. Use them to provide much-needed support around valuables and to fill in the gaps in boxes and keep items from shifting around. When you’re unpacking, just throw the garments in a pile, run them through the washer and dryer, and put them back in your dresser or closet.
  12. Don’t forget your moving day/week clothes
    While you’re packing clothes for a move, make sure not to forget to set aside a separate box or bag for clothes you’ll want on moving day and the days surrounding it. It will be a huge help to have these items—including extra pants, shirts, and sets of undergarments—on hand when you need them instead of having to dig through suitcases or boxes to find what you want later on. Since you’ll be wearing these clothes while moving and unpacking, make sure to include breathable items, as well as layers so you can adjust if you get warm while you’re moving around so much.

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