The Best Packing Materials and How to Use Them

If you’ve ever moved to a new home or apartment, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions.Some packing supplies like boxes, tape, and packing paper are obvious necessities, but you may not realize you need others until move day.

To nip this common problem in the bud and make your move as efficient as possible, we’ve compiled a list of moving supplies worth considering.

Or, if you’re not interested in figuring it out for yourself, consider hiring a professional moving company to handle the move and come with their own supplies.

How Much Do Moving Supplies Cost?

Depending on your residence’s size and whether you’re a minimalist or a “packrat,” moving supplies (excluding rental trucks) can range from $100 to well over $1,000. 

Where to Buy or Rent Moving Supplies and Packing Materials

Moving supplies like boxes, tape, and packing paper can be purchased from moving companies, home improvement centers, and online retailers like Amazon and Uboxes.

Also, you may be able to rent dollies, plastic moving bins, and cargo straps from mover’s supply shops like New Haven, though they may only deal with full-service moving companies.

Essential Pre-Move Supplies

Markers and/or Stickers

Clearly, labeling boxes is one of the best ways to reduce delivery time.

With a marker on each box, write –

  • What room it came from (office, nursery, kitchen)
  • What’s inside (old tax records, baby clothes, coffee mugs)
  • Special instructions like THIS SIDE UP, BREAKABLE ITEMS, or STORAGE

If you’re renting plastic moving bins or using your own totes, use color-coded stickers or index cards taped on the side instead.


Moving boxes are essential moving supplies, in the same vein, as dish packs and book boxes to mirror cartons and wardrobes.

When moving a small apartment, figuring out how many cartons you’ll need may be easy, but for large multi-room houses with attics, garages, and basements, you may want to use a home inventory app.

Insider’s Tip

If you’re considering using a full-service moving company, after conducting an in-home survey, your estimator should provide you with a detailed inventory that will include total carton count by container size.

Packing Tape

Though it may be tempting to save a few bucks buying the cheap stuff, you’ll get more bang for your buck with high-quality, heavy-duty packaging tape.

And buy more than you think you’ll need because it comes in handy not only for taping up cardboard boxes but for securing moving pads to appliances and furniture as well.

Insider’s Tip

Expensive tape guns (tape dispensers) may be more trouble than they’re worth if you’re not familiar with how to use them.

Packing Paper

It pays to get high-quality ink-free packing paper (called newsprint) as professional movers use.

It usually comes in bundles of 300 to 500 sheets that weigh between 20 and 35 pounds.

One bundle goes a long way, but remember, the more breakables you have, the more you’ll need.

Did You Know? 

The ink in newspapers or mailers can bleed into porcelain, fabric, and wood, so use plain white paper when packing these items.

Bubble Wrap and Packing Peanuts

Most professional packers don’t use bubble wrap or packing peanuts.

If you know what you’re doing, packing paper will provide just as much protection, and unlike plastic bags and foam pouches, it’s biodegradable, which means it’s better for the environment.

However, if you’ve got limited experience, bubble wrap may be a wise investment for packing fragile items like electronics, vases, table lamps, and small appliances if you don’t have the original cardboard boxes.

Essential Moving Day Supplies


Disassembling furniture like beds, tables, and dresser mirrors is a time-consuming job that requires the right tools.

A few days before your move, walk around your home to see what kinds of tools you’ll need to take these items apart.

Usually, you can get by with –

  • Pliers
  • Allen wrenches
  • Flat and Phillips head screwdrivers

Parts Bags

At the end of a long day, nothing’s worse than looking for misplaced casters and hardware for bed frames, table legs, and dresser mirrors.

To make sure it’s all in one place, pack hardware into separate Ziploc bags and label each.

Then designate one small carton as a “parts box.”

Label it clearly and load it onto the moving truck last, or better yet, put it in your car.

Floor, Door, and Wall Protection

Especially for renters, damaging floors and walls during a move can mean forfeiting your security deposit.

Here are some great tips on how to get your security deposit back.

When carrying heavier items through doorways and sliding appliances across floors, the damage is common. Use moving blankets and old mirror cartons to prevent scrapes and gouges.

Plastic Wrap

One full roll of plastic wrap (shrink wrap or stretch wrap) will suffice for most moves.

Plastic wrap is used for protecting sofas, loveseat, and other upholstered furniture. You can also apply moving pads to keep them in place on large items like refrigerators and triple dressers.

It also prevents doors and drawers on filing cabinets and wardrobes from opening at the wrong time.

Insider’s Tip

Applying plastic wrap directly onto wood and particle board surfaces (like on IKEA furniture) can trap moisture inside and damage finishes and veneers.

Rental Truck

Though we recommend hiring vetted professional movers with verified customer reviews, if you’re determined to do a DIY move, you’ll probably need to rent a truck from a company like U-Haul.

When doing so, make sure to –

  • Get multiple quotes
  • Get the right size truck for your move
  • Ask about mileage restrictions and late return fees
  • Factor in costs like fuel, food, and lodging for long-distance moves
  • Book early to avoid “sold out” situations, especially between June and August

Moving Dollies

There are different varieties of dollies you can use. Heavy-duty box dollies (hand trucks), appliance dollies, and 4-wheel dollies can make moving large items easier.

But there’s a catch.

If you don’t know how to use them safely, they can be downright dangerous when moving bulky items.

Moving Blankets (Furniture Pads)

Moving blankets provide cushioning and help protect your household goods against scratches, dents, and dings between your old home, moving truck, and new home.

Depending on your home or apartment’s size, you may need five dozen furniture pads or more.

Keep in mind that professional movers provide moving pads free of charge.

Lifting Straps

Also referred to as “hump straps” and “forearm forklifts,” lifting straps are long woven straps that come in handy when carrying everything from mattresses and box springs to upright dressers and washing machines.

When used correctly, they can prevent injuries and drops by distributing the weight evenly and allowing you to get a decent grip from an upright position, but like dollies, they’re not easy to master.

Cargo Straps

Cargo or logistics straps secure items inside the moving truck to not shift or fall over during transit.

Most rental trucks are equipped with cargo straps, but you may have to pay extra to use them.

Walk Boards (Ramps)

Likewise, most rental trucks are equipped with built-in ramps that slide in and out of the frame.

Fiberglass walk boards usually have sandpaper-like grit embedded in the deck to prevent slips and falls, but metal ones can be very slick when they’re cold or wet.

Last-Minute Packing Tips

  • Save money by using mattress bags instead of mattress cartons
  • Secure hangers with tape or twine inside wardrobe boxes
  • Pack light items like pillows and lampshades in large moving boxes
  • Use small shipping boxes for heavy items like tools, books, and canned goods
  • Ask prospective movers if they provide free boxes or complimentary moving kits
  • Packing boxes is easiest on elevated surfaces like tables and countertops
  • Most grocery stores sell their used cardboard boxes to commercial recyclers, so you’ll probably need to find free packing material elsewhere
  • Moving with a pickup truck is relatively dangerous and inefficient
  • Check out our moving cost checklist to get a head start on all of the supplies you’ll need for your next move

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