Whether you’re relocating somewhere near or far, there’s no shortage of challenges when it comes to moving. Between organizing an entire household, changing addresses and vetting movers, moving to a new home can be hectic. And the biggest stressor of all? Packing.
To help alleviate some of that stress, here are 10 shortcuts that’ll ease the burden of packing before (and unpacking after) a move:
1. Find Freebies. To save money on moving supplies, ask friends and family members if they have any leftover boxes you could use. You can also pick up free ones through Freecycle.org or the “free stuff” section on Craigslist, both of which list items by location. If possible, get boxes of varying sizes.
2. Pack to Unpack. The hardest part about packing is figuring out where to start. When boxing up your belongings, start in the kitchen, which typically houses the most items that aren’t everyday essentials. When you arrive at your new home, unpack your bedroom first, and leave the kitchen for last.
3. Color-Code. Besides being time-consuming, labeling a box with its contents can give thieves the upper hand as you settle in. To save time and stay safe, assign each room a color and use coordinating colored duct tape. Stick a piece of tape on both the top and sides of boxes so that they can be easily identified when stacked or apart.
4. Bag It. Don’t waste time un-hanging (and re-hanging) closet garments. Group a few hanging clothes together with a zip tie, slide a black garbage bag over them and make a hole in the top of the bag for hanger hooks. To “unpack,” simply remove the bag and tie.
5. Cover Up. Save yourself a step–and a few extra bucks–by forgoing the mattress cover sold by your mover. Instead, place the fitted sheet you use regularly on your mattress, then cover both sides of the mattress with two older fitted sheets you no longer use.
6. Wrap It. Instead of emptying out the drawers of small-scale furniture, like end tables or corner desks, wrap heavy-duty plastic wrap around the piece of furniture, from top-to-bottom and side-to-side. This will seal the drawers in place and prevent spillage on moving day–and save you hours’ worth of unpacking time.
7. Tape Under. If certain furniture pieces require disassembly before moving, keep all of the parts together to save time when re-assembling. Place all bolts, screws and small pieces in a Ziploc bag, and tape the bag with clear packing tape to the bottom of the piece.
8. Fill Space. Damage on moving day is often caused when items shift en route. To make certain your household items stay secure, use socks to fill in “dead air” space, especially in and around breakables like glassware. If you want to save even more time, use t-shirts to wrap larger items.
9. Even It Out. If you’re using a moving truck, even out the weight when loading furniture and appliances to help prevent damage. To make your move as smooth as possible, place the refrigerator in the front right section of the truck and the washer and dryer opposite, front left.
10. Be Secure. No matter how many precautions you take, there’s no fighting gravity. When loading your plastic-wrapped furniture, place the side with drawers against the wall of the truck to prevent them from opening. If your mover provides them, use tie-downs on the side walls for added security.