8 Tips for Packing Your Clothes for Moving

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated January 27, 2022
A woman folding a blouse in a moving box
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

Your wardrobe shouldn’t put a wrinkle in your packing plans

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When packing your clothes for a big move, it’s tempting to simply toss all your clothes into one huge box and move on to packing more fragile items. But unless you feel like tackling hours of ironing once you get to your new place, you’ll need to use a more efficient way to pack your clothing items. Let’s dive into some stress-free tips on how to pack your clothes.

1. But First, Declutter

You don’t want to spend time packing anything that you won’t have a use for in your new place, and that goes double for clothing. It’s easy to keep pieces piled in the back of a closet or tucked away in a drawer, but packing for a move is the perfect time to declutter your clothing collection. 

Start by going through all of your clothing and organizing into piles to keep, sell, or donate. You can sell your unwanted clothing at thrift stores or donate them to a local charity organization. Either way, you’ve saved yourself some space in the moving van.

2. Sort Clothes by Season

You probably won’t need access to all your clothes when you move, especially seasonal clothes for the opposite time of the year. Once you’ve decided which clothes to keep, organize them based on season. For example, don’t pack swimsuits with snow pants or breezy tank tops with your fleece jackets. 

When packing, mark which boxes or bins hold out-of-season clothes. That way, you won’t have to unpack every box right away at your new place to get your closet up and running.

3. Keep Clothes on the Hanger

Clothing that you store on hangers can stay that way if you pack it the right way. Here are some options for hanging clothes:

  • Purchase a wardrobe box: This type of box has a rod built into it, making it easier to pack up your closet quickly. You can purchase them online or from a local moving company

  • Use a garment bag: Purchase a garment bag online or from your local dry cleaner. If you’re moving locally, stockpile your items for dry cleaning and schedule it so that you can drop them off, move, and pick them up once you settle in.

  • Bundle them in a trash bag: This method might not be the most refined way of packing, but it works. Take a plastic bag with drawstrings and poke a hole in the bottom of the bag, stick the hangers through, and then tie the bottom to tuck it all away.

4. Pack Clean Clothes Only

A woman packing shirts in a cardboard box
Photo: eclipse_images / E+ / Getty Images

Understandably, you might get behind on laundry while you’re gearing up for a big move. But you don’t want to seal up dirty clothing in a box or suitcase for too long, either. To avoid unpacking smelly clothes in your new home, make time to clean your clothes before moving day.

If you absolutely can’t finish up laundry before moving day, then throw your laundry bag in another garbage bag to keep any odors away from the rest of your clothes and other items.

5. Stuff Your Shoes

You might feel tempted to grab a large box and start tossing in pairs of shoes, but don’t. Shoes won’t shatter, but you want to prevent them from getting squished during your move. 

If possible, pack your shoes back in their original shoe boxes, and then stuff them with socks or packing tissue to help them keep their form. Or you can line the stuffed shoes in suitcases or at the bottom of cardboard boxes with sweatshirts and sweaters folded on top.

6. Fill Up Large Boxes and Suitcases

Large cardboard moving boxes are perfect for packing plenty of lightweight items, so pile in T-shirts, sweaters, and other foldable clothes. Don’t overfill, though, because you don’t want the boxes to tear open and risk getting your clothes wet or dirty. 

The same goes for duffle bags and suitcases, especially the rolling kind. Fill them up and zip them up—no need to worry about paying for overweight bags if you’re using a moving truck. Pro tip: Fit more clothing items into boxes and suitcases by rolling each piece rather than folding, which will also prevent wrinkles.

7. Keep a Week’s Worth of Outfits Separate 

If you’re making a long-distance move or need a few weeks to unpack, you might have to live out of your moving boxes for a bit. If so, pack a box or a suitcase that has a few sets of clothes, so you don’t have to worry about organizing your closet right away. You can unpack the rest of your clothes at your leisure.

8. Unpack Boxes Carefully 

While you don’t have to worry about T-shirts shattering or breaking, you want to avoid slicing any of them to ribbons with a box cutter or scissors when you’re unpacking. Line the top and bottom ends of your moving boxes with packing paper to avoid any mishaps.

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