The Essential Packing Supplies You’ll Need For Your Move

Whether you’re hiring professional movers or handling the move yourself, it pays to have the right supplies on hand. This packing checklist covers essential items you’ll need to protect your possessions from damage.


To save money, use recycled newsprint or end rolls of newspaper to cushion breakables in boxes. Unprinted wrapping paper is another frugal option, as are plastic bags of all sizes.


Boxes are the basic building blocks for all your packing supplies. Boxes come in many sizes, styles and materials to suit all kinds of storage needs. Choose from corrugated boxes that are sturdy enough for a variety of items, cardboard boxes or plastic bins designed to withstand the elements. Some box styles are also made to rigorous specifications for shipping hazardous waste or recycled electronics.

Look for boxes at discount stores, liquor stores or office supply outlets. Avoid getting free boxes from grocery stores and other food outlets, as they often contain insects. Look for sturdy plastic bins such as the Rubbermaid or Sterilite brand at discount stores instead of cardboard boxes, which tend to be heavier and more expensive but are sturdier, stack more stable and have built-in handles. These bins can be saved for storage after the move and make great replacements for some types of boxes.

The box manufacturing process begins with a soaked mat that goes through several screens and rollers to remove water and reduce its moisture content to 5%. It then goes through a forming machine that gives it its unique shape and is glued and stitched together with special instruments monitoring glue placement, gap measurement and thickness. The finished product may be printed with information, labels and other details. For example, a wax impregnated box is infused or coated with wax to protect the cardboard from damage by melting ice in refrigerated shipment conditions.

Bubble Wrap

When it comes to protecting breakables and valuable items during shipping, bubble wrap is a packing staple. The lightweight, plastic material is filled with air pockets that provide a flexible, durable cushion that can resist impact and vibration. It’s also easy to wrap and secure around items.

US engineer Alfred Fielding and Swiss chemist Mark Chavannes developed bubble wrap in 1957. They used a machine to apply heat and pressure to two sheets of plastic shower curtain, creating a textured sheet with air bubbles. They initially tried to sell this product as wall decorations, but it didn’t take off. So, they started a company named Sealed Air Corporation to develop products that would utilize this textured plastic sheet.

Depending on the size of your item, there are different types of bubble wrap to choose from. Small bubble wrap is typically 3/16th of an inch in diameter and is ideal for light-weight items. Larger bubble wrap is often 1 inch in diameter and provides more space for cushioning heavier items.

When using bubble wrap, make sure it is properly wrapped and secured to prevent it from shifting during transit. Also, use a sturdy, appropriately-sized box to protect your items. If your item is hollow or fragile, wrap it in paper before wrapping it in bubbles to provide extra support.

Packing Paper

The most traditional of moving supplies, packing paper is a staple for most people. It’s easy to find and comes in large sheets that can wrap items of all sizes. It’s soft and flexible, so it won’t scratch surfaces it comes in contact with. It’s also ideal for protecting fragile items during the move.

When packing delicate items, it’s best to use a combination of packing paper and bubble wrap. If you only pack fragile items with paper, they’re more likely to break during the move. However, if you only use bubble wrap, your fragile items won’t have any protection against shocks and vibrations.

To reduce your moving costs, consider using blankets or towels for packing instead of buying new packing materials. This can be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than purchasing packing paper or bubble wrap. Towels and blankets are also more flexible than paper, so they won’t crack or tear when you fold them.

When it comes to choosing packing paper, make sure you select a brand that’s designed for household use. It’s typically made of recycled fibers and is ink-free, so it won’t leave any chemical residue on your possessions. If you’ve got extra paper after your move, keep it for wrapping other household items or for making garden mulch. You can also recycle it at your local recycling center.

Plastic Bags

The thin plastic sacks with handles that you get in the checkout lane of most supermarkets make up just one segment of the bag industry. More generally, the term plastic bags refers to any type of flexible, clear plastic film or nonwoven fabric used to contain and transport goods and waste.

Poly bags can be flat or gusseted and may have carry holes, tape attachment points, or tamper-evident features, such as press-to-seal zipper strips. Some have a reclosable feature that makes it easy to reseal the bag after use. Alternatively, the entire bag can be heat-sealed. Bags are also available with a variety of printed and branded designs for branding or promotional purposes.

Because they are light and easily blown around, single-use plastic bags tend to litter streets and parks, entangle in trees and plants, clog waterways, and end up in the ocean where they can cause harm to marine life. When they do break down, the process leaves behind tiny microplastic particles that can contaminate food chains and be ingested by humans and animals.

A good way to reduce your need for plastic bags is to use reusable cloth grocery totes, which are great for both shopping and eating on-the-go. If you must use plastic bags, opt for the standard, thin ones from your grocery store, and consider a plastic bag caddy to store them neatly.