The Best Clothes-Packing Tips for Serial Movers

published Jun 27, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

How you organize your wardrobe tells you a lot about how you should pack your clothes for a move. Does everything just end up in piles or baskets? If you’re moving yourself, you may decide just to stuff everything in bags or just carry clothes by the armful. But if you’re a bit more organized—or even hiring movers—you’ve really got two main categories of packing: hanging clothes and dresser clothes. Here’s how to pack it all properly.

For hanging clothes

For your hanging garments, get wardrobe boxes. These are big and tall boxes with a metal clothing rod inside for hangers. If you don’t have your own, you can buy them or borrow them from your movers—figure out how many you need by dividing the width of your closet by the width of the box.

Wardrobe boxes can hold a lot of weight and protect your clothes easily. Just transfer your hanging clothes from the closet to the box and seal it up. Rachael Lyons, director of marketing at Olympia Moving, notes you can also pack things in the bottom of the wardrobe boxes, like shoes, bed linens, or towels.

For in-dresser clothes

If clothes in your dresser or drawers are already folded, just pull out the stacks and place them into a standard large 4.5-cubic-foot box—then when you get to the new place, you don’t even have to worry about refolding anything. You can just pull the stack out of the box and put it right back in the drawer.

“Our movers will put a piece of paper between each drawer as they load the box,” Lyons says, “so that it’s easy to see what went in each drawer.”

And that’s if you take them out of the drawers at all. It’s not always necessary; sometimes you can just leave the drawer packed, wrap it with plastic, and move it that way. But that depends on the type of furniture.

“If it’s a traditional piece of furniture with proper joinery, then by and large you can keep the drawers full of clothing,” says Noah Duarte, training manager at Gentle Giant Moving Company. “But if you’re dealing with modular furniture, they’ll sometimes have different construction methods. If you have the extra weight of clothing in them, you can compromise the structural integrity of the furniture and it can collapse and break.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

For hats and shoes

For your worn-in hats and shoes, just throw them into a box. But if you’ve got higher-end accessories, you’ll need to take extra care. Lyons and Duarte both note that hats are easily crushed and valuable ones should be moved separately, either in their own individual box or in a box just for hats.

“Hats are like lampshades,” Duarte said. “You want to move one lampshade per box because it’s easy to damage them. Same with hats. It takes up more room but at the end of the day, the extra cost to move more boxes is better than having to track the hat down and replace it.”

For valuable shoes, fill them with paper and wrap each shoe in white newsprint. Then, either put them in their own shoebox (which can then be put in the bottom of a wardrobe box) or stack them neatly in a larger box that you know won’t get crushed.

For high-value items

For clothes that are valuable, antique, or otherwise high-end, you’ll want to take some extra precautions to make sure they aren’t damaged. Lyons recommends putting those items into a garment bag first, and then hanging the garment bag in a wardrobe box. And don’t forget to tell your movers that the items are worth more.

“They should be able to provide you with a high-value inventory,” Lyons said. “You could have a jacket that’s worth $5,000 and if something were to happen to that jacket [and you didn’t tell them it’s worth more,] you would be compensated based on a normal value of a jacket.”