Moving day coming close and you’re scrambling to get things in order? Apart from the usual admin work and decluttering, most of us also choose to handle the entire move by ourselves. While this might save you a lot of money, you can’t deny that it is stressful and takes effort.

One major task that every move involves is packing, and the task showers down on you like sudden and heavy rain. You don’t realize how much there is to pack till you actually start, and the amount can sometimes get tremendously overwhelming.

While there are many tasks that can be done last minute, figuring out what packing supply can be used to pack what is a task you need to do in advance. After all, you don’t want to buy a ton of supplies just to not use it later!

So, we’re sure there’s a question that might have been swirling in your mind – that is what packing material you can use to pack your things for your move and how to use them. Read on this Article to solve all your queries.

How Many Types Of Packing Materials Are There?

When you visit Home Depot or any such store, you’ll soon realize that there is a hoard of packing materials to choose from. You’ll find materials that serve the same purpose but come in different forms and prices. For someone who is an amateur at the moving process, this can completely catch you off-guard.

Let’s first look at the different kinds of packing materials that are actually available in the market.

  • Packing paper
  • Packing tape
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Styrofoam blocks
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing peanuts
  • Cloth – linen and blankets
  • Furniture pads
  • Plastic bags – ziplock, grocery bags and others
  • Wardrobe boxes
  • Stretch wrap in plastic

What we’ve listed above is a general overall list of what you’ll find in the market and what’s usually used by professional movers to packing homes. We’ll now take a look at some of them and what they can and cannot be used for so that you have a clear idea of what to purchase.

1. Cardboard Boxes

We don’t have to tell you how useful cardboard boxes are because they literally take center stage when you think of packing. Not only are they extremely versatile and can fit anything that’s not too big, but you also have the option of buying recycled boxes from various places!

You’ll find that cardboard boxes come in three standard sizes of small, medium and large. Depending on how much you want to store, you can choose to purchase any of these sizes.

Also Read: Where to get Free Boxes for Packing From

What to use and not use cardboard boxes for:

Cardboard boxes can be used to pack literally anything. But it goes without saying that you can’t put in anything that might have water or might lead to a buildup of moisture. Otherwise, you can pack everything from clothes and dishes to toiletries and toys in these boxes. Cardboard boxes are also sturdy which means that fragile items like glassware or electronics also stay intact in them as long as enough padding is provided.

See Also: Packing Glasses for Moving | Packing Toys for Moving

Tips while using cardboard boxes to pack:

  • Always pack heavier items at the bottom and lighter items at the top within a cardboard box.
  • If you’re packing anything fragile like dishware or stemware, don’t forget to add extra layers of cushioning at the bottom of the box with packing paper or blankets.
  • When packing clothes, books, or other heavy materials, use small to medium-sized cardboard boxes so that it’s easier to move and won’t give out either.
  • You can use large boxes for materials that are big and bulky but light like pillows, lampshades, or duvets.
  • Because boxes cannot wrap themselves around an item like bubble wrap or packing paper can, when you put odd-shaped items inside a box there will be a ton of empty spaces. Fill these up with a cloth or crinkled packing paper so that the items don’t shift.
  • The best part about a cardboard box is that you can put labels on the exterior. Make use of this advantage and list the contents while also writing the name of the room the box is supposed to go in.

Related: Guide To Best Cheap Moving Boxes

Did you know? There are special cardboard boxes available for packing clothes without creasing, antiques and mirrors.

2. Packing Paper

Packing paper is also another essential item that you’ll see most people use when they start the packing process. While you might wonder why newspapers can’t be used instead, we’ll tell you why – when you use a newspaper to wrap items, there’s a possibility of the ink transferring onto the surfaces of your items and staining them. You’d rather use packing paper which isn’t expensive and does the job of wrapping well.

What to use and not use packing paper for:

Like cardboard boxes, packing paper is also versatile and can be used to wrap everything! From dishes to antiques, you can use a few sheets of wrapping paper to ensure that your items do not get scratches or bumps. Packing paper is also the first choice if you have to fill empty spaces within boxes.

There’s one downside to using packing paper though – you need to use bubble wrap, packing peanuts or styrofoam with it if you’re packing fragile items. However great the packing paper is, it won’t give fragile items, like those made of glass, enough protection by itself.

Tips while using packing paper to pack:

  • When you pack stemware, use a few sheets of packing paper together to slowly wrap the item in and then scrunch the sides around the item to secure it.
  • Buy biodegradable packing paper if you want to go the extra mile. These can also be reused in the future.
  • Make balls of packing paper and stuff these within mugs or other items that have a hollow.
  • Place a sheet of packing paper between nonstick pots and pans before you group them together so that their insides don’t get scratched.

Also See: How To Pack Antiques For Moving?

3. Bubble Wrap

The moment someone mentions bubble wrap, our first instincts are always to step all over it, it’s so satisfying after all! But bubble wrap is also the third most used material while packing items for a move. Not only can it be used with everything but it also helps protect your items against impact which plain packing paper cannot.

What to use and not use bubble wrap for:

Bubble wrap is the first thing you should reach for when you’re packing fragile items. These can be anything as small as a glass to something as big as a TV; bubble wrap can step in anywhere. You must be careful enough to look at the type of box you’re using for the packing purpose too because if it isn’t sturdy, even bubble paper isn’t strong enough to save your items in case of rough tumbles.

If there’s space in the box and you want to go with bubble paper to fill it up, then go ahead by all means. Another thing you might not know is that you get bubble wrap in two sizes too – small bubble ones and big bubble ones. While the larger bubble ones are effective against impact and can be used for larger items, small bubble ones also do the job of protecting your items against scratches, so it can be used for dishes and other small items.

Must Read: How To Pack Dishes For Moving

Tips while using bubble wrap to pack:

  • When you wrap something in bubble wrap, be sure to seal it with tape so that it doesn’t move. Unlike packing paper, bubble wrap cannot wrap itself around an item and stay there, so keep this in mind.
  • If you’re wrapping an item, the bubbles should face inwards and not outwards for maximum protection.
  • If you’re purchasing bubble wrap, buy a large roll instead of individual sheets, especially if you have lots to pack. Buying a large roll will save you a significant amount of money.
  • Do your bit for the environment by preserving the bubble wrap that you use instead of throwing it away since it won’t be biodegradable.

4. Regular/Moving Blankets

Wondering what the difference between the two is? Moving blankets are different from the blankets you’ll have at home since they’re essentially just furniture pads. Blankets, on the other hand, can be used for other purposes in the moving process. Moving blankets are always available with professional movers, so it’s not necessarily something you need to purchase. You can rent these for a few days from someone as well.

At the same time, you can also make do with thin linen or blankets you have at home as a substitute. The only thing to keep in mind then is that you will require more of those than usual.

What to use and not use regular/moving blankets for:

It goes without saying that you can’t really use moving blankets to wrap dishware or fragile items in because that really won’t work. Moving blankets are usually used to cover furniture or to place certain pieces of furniture on to prevent bumps and scratches. They’re also ideal to keep dust, debris and other irritants away from your items while they’re in transit.

On the other hand, you can use regular blankets to create padding inside a cardboard box at the bottom before you put your items in. Blankets can also be used to create cushioning between an appliance and the interior of a box, for example, a TV.

Also Read: Packing TV for the Move

Tips while using regular/moving blankets to pack:

  • When you use a moving blanket around an item, you’ll have to secure it with stretch wrap or bungee cords, otherwise it’ll unravel.
  • If you’re unsure of renting moving blankets because of hygiene concerns, you can always use regular blankets and lay them thick as we suggested before.

5. Packing Peanuts

We’re very sure you’ve seen packing peanuts before especially in videos where people unbox furniture that’s delivered to their homes. Packing peanuts look like marshmallows and do the job of protecting your items by giving you the necessary barrier in case there’s some impact during transit.

What to use and not use packing peanuts for:

Packing peanuts can be added to any box to create the necessary protection. Be it fragile items like dishware or mirror, or items like your planters, you can use packing peanuts for literally anything and everything. But you must remember that you’ll need a layer of protection like packing paper around items like glass and you can’t only rely on packing peanuts to do the trick.

While packing peanuts are something that will bring joy to both you and the little kids around you, it’s a big job to clean when you’re actually unpacking. They’re known to make a mess all around you, so that’s a reason why people opt for bubble wrap and other items to create padding.

See Also: How To Pack Pictures And Mirrors For Moving

Tips while using packing peanuts to pack:

  • See to it that your packing peanuts are packed tightly in the empty spaces around your items. It won’t serve any purpose if it’s not packed tightly, as that will allow the items to shift.
  • Use packing peanuts to fill hollow items like teapots or glasses which can easily crack on impact.
  • If you don’t want to store the packing peanuts after you unpack, you can look for charities or schools that will take them as a way to incorporate them into crafts and other activities.
  • Looking to reduce waste? You can replace standard styrofoam packing peanuts with those made of materials like cornstarch. While these are expensive, they’re biodegradable and they also don’t create static energy if you’re packing electronics!


No matter what you’re looking to pack, the items we’ve mentioned are usually used by professional movers to pack items before a move. These packing materials give your belongings ample protection and they don’t cost too much either. If you still want to save some money, you can look for used ones online and reuse them. Most of these items are also available in environment-friendly options if that’s something you want to look at.

Read Also: List of Cheap Moving Companies in America | Best Packing Service Company in the US


Can you melt packing peanuts?

Yes, you can if you buy packing peanuts that are made of biodegradable materials like cornstarch or wheat as we mentioned before. They usually dissolve in the liquid within minutes and can even be added to compost piles in your house. The best part is that once they dissolve, you don’t have to worry about them clogging pipes or your drain.

What is the best packing material for fragile items?

Cloth is the best packing material for fragile items and works wonders when thick and wrapped properly. Bubble wrap or packing paper can be used in addition to the cloth.

How long before a move should I start packing?

As a rule of thumb, you should start packing at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance once you’re done with other prior steps like de-cluttering and sorting your items out. If you keep this time bracket you’ll have enough time to pack slowly and keep things ready for the big day.

Also See: Hacks to make Packing Easier for Move

Where can I get free packing supplies?

You will find free packing materials both online and in person. Cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and packing paper can be found for free on websites like Free-cycle and Craigslist.

You can also pick these up at local retail stores that sell groceries, books, liquor, or recycle items. Don’t forget to make use of the things you have at home like plastic bags, newspapers, suitcases, and boxes that you ordered items in!

Which is better bubble wrap or packing peanuts?

Both bubble wrap and packing peanuts are great and one cannot be deemed as better as both help protect items against impact. Bubble wrap also does the job of protecting the surface of your items.