How to Pack Boxes Efficiently

Jon Fesmire |

It can be tempting to pack boxes quickly when it’s time to move or to get a storage space. After all, the fastest way to pack would be simply to put stuff in boxes regardless of the item, with little consideration for efficient packing.

For many reasons, this would be a mistake.

First, those boxes are going to take up more space, which means extra boxes in your moving truck or storage space. Using more boxes means you may need a larger storage space, which will cost more.

So, packing efficiently saves you money. Second, haphazard packing can damage your stuff. You’ll have edges poking against surfaces and so on, and your stuff is likely to get warped or broken. Third, you’ll likely end up with boxes that have a lot of space left in them, and those can get crushed when in stacks, making them likely to fall over, causing a mess and additional damage to your things.

So, take the time to pack your boxes well. Here are the steps to accomplish that.

Purchase Packing Supplies

Go to your local self storage property that sells supplies or anywhere else that sells storage boxes. We suggest purchasing mostly small boxes (which really aren’t that small). Avoid boxes that have had food in them, as food particles can attract pests.

You’ll also need packing tape, labels, bubble wrap, box dividers, a notebook, and packing paper or biodegradable peanuts.

Sort Your Belongings

When you pack, do so by room and by item type. In other words, the books in your living room should go in one or more boxes, depending on how many you have, and the books in your child’s bedroom should go in another set of boxes. Label the boxes by room and item type. So, in this case, you’ll have “Living Room Books #1,” “Living Room Books #2,” and so on.

Pack Tightly

Pack non-fragile items, like books, clothes, and bedding, tightly, but try to keep the weight of each box below 30 pounds. We have many articles on how to pack various items. Fill any gaps with crumpled packing paper or biodegradable packing peanuts.

Fragile items require extra care. Most, such as figurines, glasses, mugs, and plates, should be wrapped in bubble wrap. Have two inches of packing material around each fragile item. Yes, this may not be as efficient as we’d like but it’s better to use a bit too much packing paper than too little. Consider using box dividers between plates or drinking glasses.

Labeling and Inventory

We already mentioned the fact that you’ll want to label each box. This makes it easier to get boxes into the right room after a move or when you bring them home from storage.

We also recommend writing down an inventory of what’s in each box. Yes, this is going to take extra time. However, when you need a specific tool, want to re-read a particular book, or need anything you’ve put in storage, an organized inventory of your belongings is invaluable.

This is where you’ll use the notebook. After you open a box and label it, write the label name at the top of a sheet of paper. Then, jot down the name of each item as you put it in the box. When you’re finished packing boxes for the day, input the information into an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet.

Tape Up Each Box

Boxes with flaps on top need tape. Run a line along the top where the flaps meet, then tape down the flaps on either side.

The reason we recommend primarily using one box size is for stackability. Small storage boxes stack well and create even columns. Also, when you stack them in your storage space, place heavy boxes on the bottom and lighter boxes on top to avoid crushing the bottom boxes.

If you’re looking for a storage property, check with us. We have listings for properties across the U.S. and Canada.