What do a dentist’s chair and a desert island have in common? They’re both preferable to the absolute chaos and agony of moving. Research shows that 6 out of 10 people rank moving as the most stressful life event. More stressful than a divorce, even! And no amount of coffee runs, to-do lists, or yoga breaks will 100% alleviate the pain of getting your stuff from points A to B.
However, there are ways to work smarter, not harder, over the course of a daunting move. Lots of people have survived this before. Some of them have even shared their lessons and secrets, like tricks to avoid a shampoo-related crisis or how to use household items as packing material (how kind of them!).
So we scoured different corners of the internet — including chat boards, YouTube videos, and moving and organization blogs — to bring you this amazing list of 33 moving hacks, or simple tricks and shortcuts, to make some of the challenging parts of your move a little easier.
1. Pad heavy boxes with toilet paper and paper towels at the top
Ideally your boxes shouldn’t exceed 50 pounds. But when you’re moving, box space is precious, and you want to use up every inch before moving on to the next box to save on cardboard.
So instead of packing a large box filled to the brim with heavy items alone, put your books or gym weights or massive rock collection in the bottom half of the box, do a test lift to get a feel for how heavy it is, and once it starts to feel unmanageable, pad the top of the box with extra rolls of toilet paper or paper towels from the economy pack taking up space in your bathroom and pantry shelves.
You’ll make the most of every box you have, and you’ll be happy when you don’t need to designate a separate box for paper products. Plus, this arrangement protects the heavier box contents by cushioning them during the move. Just be sure to set aside some TP and paper towels for your “first day” box with essentials for your first 24 hours.
2. Shrinkwrap lightweight objects together
Use vacuum-sealable bags or industrial strength stretch wrap — also known as mover’s wrap — to pack light, bulky items. Shrinkwrap piles of pillows, blankets, and bedding into small manageable bundles which you can carry in a single trip.
3. Cover toiletry bottles with plastic wrap
Unscrew the lid of toiletries and other liquids, cover the opening with plastic wrap, then reattach the lid. This keeps liquids from breaking open or slowly leaking all over items during the move.
4. Pack your toaster in a bag to catch crumbs
Put the toaster in a bag before packing it with the kitchen appliances. This will keep crumbs from making a mess in the box.
Source: Simply Self Storage
5. Pack dishes sideways so they’re less likely to break
Pack plates vertically, like a record collection, to evenly distribute pressure across the box and make it less likely that the dishes will break in the move. Line the box with bubble wrap, then wrap each individual plate with packing paper, laying a foam sheet between each plate in the box.
Source: Apartment Therapy
6. Keep necklaces from tangling using a toilet paper roll
String necklaces through an empty toilet paper roll before packing them to keep tangles at bay during the move.
7. Use coffee filters to cushion bowls and cups
Coffee filters are inexpensive, easy to find, and likely already take up real estate in your cupboard. Use a few filters as padding between each stacked bowl and cup to avoid breaks and cracks during transport.
Source: Millennial Moms
8. Label the tops and sides of boxes to make them easy to identify
Labeling the tops and sides of each box or container makes it easier to identify them throughout the move. Movers won’t have to twist the box to the side to see a label on the side or pull it out of a stack to find a top label.
Source: I Heart Planners
9. Use pool noodles to protect picture frame corners
Cut spare pool noodles or foam pipe insulation down their sides and slide them on the exterior frames of mirrors or pictures. The extra padding keeps frames from banging together and cracking or shattering while in the moving van.
Source: What’s Up Fagans?
10. Tape an X across mirrors to prevent them from shattering
11. Use binder clips to guard razor blades
If your razor’s protective travel cover is long gone, use a binder clip over the blade to prevent accidental nicks and cuts during the move.
12. Remove toner and ink cartridges from the printer
Take the toner and ink cartridges out of your home printer and pack them in their own plastic bags. In the event they burst, break, or leak during the move, they won’t damage any other home office supplies.
13. Buy boxes online to save money
You can find free boxes on Craigslist in the free section under “For Sale” or from the produce manager at grocery stores, but if you’re looking for high-quality moving boxes, you can save money by purchasing them online. Sites like uboxes.com are an average 20% cheaper than office stores or moving companies.
Source: Real Simple
14. Cut handles into boxes to make lifting easier
Transform regular boxes into easy-to-carry “banker boxes”: simply cut handles into the cardboard using an X-ACTO knife. Just be sure not to cut too close to the top to avoid rips.
15. Use IKEA’s industrial shopping bags for last minute knick knacks
IKEA’s recognizable FRAKTA bags can hold up to 55 pounds, and cost under $2 each. Use them to move large quantities of dry food from the pantry, or last-minute knick-knacks that didn’t find a home in a box. The bag’s reinforced straps make them easy to fill and carry.
16. Protect your floors with furniture sliders
Put furniture sliders under any heavy or bulky items in your home to easily move large items across carpets, rugs, linoleum, wood, and tile floors. Sliders keep you from scuffing up the floor during a move and make it easier to push items around. Use them in the new home as well while you figure out where furniture fits in each room.
Source: Apartment Therapy
17. Use packing tape for hassle-free box assembly
Paper packaging tape is great for building and sealing boxes. It’s easy to find the edge of the strip on paper tape, and you can tear it without the need for metal teeth tools. It’s self-sticking, but it lifts off surfaces, too. You don’t have to worry about ripping the boxes to shreds when you inevitably open and reopen them for repacking (like you might with plastic packing tape).
Source: Soothing Sista
18. Pack your toolbox last, and make it the first thing you unload
Moving truck logic goes as follows: the last thing out of the van is the first thing you’ll unpack. Make your toolbox the last item to go into the truck, and the first to come out. Chances are, you’ll need it for assembly or other moving needs.
19. Throw towels in the washer before you move it
Before loading the washing machine into the moving truck, stuff towels inside it. This will keep the tub from rotating in transit so it stays balanced all the way to its new destination.
Source: JDM Packing Supplies
20. Don’t forget about ‘Mom’s Attic’ for your fragile items
U-Hauls and other popular moving trucks feature a small storage space above the driving cabin, called “Mom’s Attic.” Use this space to store boxes of fragile items like glassware, antiques, and electronics. This space above the cabin has the smoothest ride in the van.
Source: Moving Insider
21. Use the “I” formation
There’s a right way and a wrong way to load a moving truck. The “I” formation, when properly executed, forms an uppercase I in the truck’s cabin. That means:
- Heavy objects, including appliances, are at the top of the formation
- Desks, tables, and heavy boxes take up the middle portion
- Mattresses and box springs are outside the formation, to the left of the middle column
- Sofas and couches occupy the right side of the truck, outside the formation
- Additional heavy boxes go in the back center of the truck, a bottom part of the “I” formation
- Small boxes flank either side of the heavy boxes on the bottom of the “I” to complete the shape
Source: Penske Truck Rental
22. Sandwich your mattress with fitted sheets
You don’t need an expensive mattress protector to keep your bed clean during the move. Protect it with a pair of old fitted sheets covering the top and bottom.
Source: Bed, Bath, and Beyond
23. Follow the 20% rule to calculate truck travel time
Using professional movers, you can expect pricing to start at $1,000, but renting a van on your own, you’re only on the hook for the daily rental cost ($20 to $30/day) and the mileage fee. But don’t underestimate travel time! In the truck, you’ll typically drive slower, so tack an additional 20% onto your travel time.
If you’ve never traveled this route before, use this formula:
Total miles / Maximum Speed Limit + 20% = Estimated Travel Time
24. Carry more with the ‘Camel Clutch’
(Image Source: Moving Connections)
Use the “camel clutch” when carrying loads from the moving truck to the home. Instead of holding the items in front of you, you’ll carry them on your back, with your arms behind you. This carry puts less pressure on your back.
Source: Moving Connections
25. Avoid a lockout with rubber bands
On move-in day, cover the tongue of any doors that you’ll be opening and closing frequently with a criss-crossed rubber band or hair elastic. That way, you can open the door hands-free without letting in the heat, cold, or any unwanted critters!
26. Make plans for doggy daycare
Anxious animals have a way of getting underfoot during the move, making it both harder to move heavy objects around the home. If you can, have pets stay with friends or family the day of the move-in.
27. Tip your movers or offer them refreshments
Moving is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for tipping. Seventy-one percent of movers tip their moving help (39% of these tippers give at least 10% of the moving costs).
At the very least, offer your moving pros some refreshments, especially after they move something heavy like a bulky platform bed frame.
Source: Apartment Guide
28. Never lose track of your cleaning supplies
Each room should be pristine before moving things in, and the cleaning caddy should be one of the first things out of the van. Use HomeLight’s exhaustive deep-clean checklist as a guide.
Source: Your Modern Family
29. Hang art at the proper height
Follow these guidelines to prevent a crooked art conundrum: Hang art at eye level in the home — 56 to 60 inches above ground. Multiple frames should be clustered together, with the center of the cluster 56 inches up from the floor. When hanging a frame above furniture, there should be between 4 and 8 inches between the top of the furniture and the bottom of the frame.
Source: Splendid Actually
30. Put down doormats, or insist that everyone wear booties
Don’t damage the floors of a new home before you get the chance to enjoy them. Put down doormats at each entrance when the move-in begins. If the weather’s particularly messy, such as rain or snow, use disposable booties in the home to protect flooring.
Source: My Moving Reviews
31. Create a home base for your cat during move-in
Cats under stress during a move can wreak havoc in a home by tearing up carpet and ruining rugs. Create a space away from the main area in your new home for the cat to feel comfortable during the move. Include favorite toys, beds, food, and fresh water to help your pet feel at ease.
32. Save floors (and your back) with a rubber wheeled dolly
Lugging in heavy box after box during your move in is bound to put a strain on your back, and dragging them will damage the floor with scrapes and dents. Save time, and protect the finish of your floors, with a rubber-wheeled dolly. Daily rental is just $20, and you’ll be able to truck three to four boxes into the house in the time it takes to carry one.
Source: Easy Movers
Now it’s time to build some boxes, and practice lifting from your knees!