How to Pack Dishes and Glasses So They Won’t Break When You Move

Here’s how to prevent your antique china from breaking into a million little pieces

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated July 28, 2022
Couple packing tableware in cardboard boxes
Photo: Catherine Delahaye / DigitalVision / Getty Images


You've got this!

Time to complete

30 minutes

Depends on the number of dishes



You might need a few supplies.

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What you'll need:


  • Packing paper or bubble wrap
  • Packing tape
  • Moving boxes
  • Towels or linens
  • Permanent marker or label maker

Are you procrastinating packing up your dishes and china because you’re not sure how to do it properly? It’s much easier to throw clothes and other non-breakable items into boxes and be done with it, but fragile items need some TLC to survive a big move. Luckily, it’s not hard to pack dishes so they all arrive intact. Here’s our 10-step guide to packing dishes the right way.

  1. Gather Your Packing Materials

    To pack your dishes, you’ll need packing paper, packing tape, and moving boxes. Don’t even think about using the same boxes to pack your dishes as you use for your other belongings, though. You’ll need stronger corrugated cardboard boxes for your dishes and glassware. You can also purchase boxes with dividers made for dishes.

  2. Clear off a Flat Surface

    Woman packing ceramic vase in a box
    Photo: Westend61 / Westend61 / Getty Images

    You’ll need a flat, steady surface to pack your dishes. A table is best, but you could use a kitchen countertop or even the floor if necessary. Give yourself enough room to lay out your dishes and a stack of packing paper so you can work easily and efficiently.

  3. Skip the Bubble Wrap and Use Packing Paper

    Woman cutting packing paper to wrap plates
    Photo: Zero Creatives / Image Source / Getty Images

    Bubble wrap might seem like the go-to option for packing fragile items like dishes, but it’s not necessary. If you are concerned about transporting fine china or an antique place setting, you can certainly use it for peace of mind, but fresh packing paper will work just fine. Skip the newspaper, though, to avoid black print smudging all over your plates.

  4. Wrap Plates of Equal Sizes

    White plates stacked on kitchen counter
    Photo: Grace Cary / Moment / Getty Images

    Now that you’re ready to begin, lay out the stack of packing paper. Place a plate in the middle of the stack and, using two or three sheets of paper, pull up one of the corners and wrap it over the plate. Stack another plate of equal size on the partially wrapped plate, then repeat the process until you have four stacked plates. 

    Finish wrapping the other three corners of the packing paper and secure with tape. You’ll have a bulky yet secure package of dishes when you’re through. You can wrap each dish individually if you prefer, but this method is safe and faster to complete.

  5. Protect Bowls With Layers of Packing Paper

    Bowls can be packed similarly to plates by placing each bowl on a stack of packing paper and pulling the corners over and into the center of the bowl, then securing with tape. You can stack bowls of similar sizes once they are wrapped. Use extra layers of packing paper for larger bowls or more fragile items, like your glass punch bowl or ceramic serving bowl, and pack similarly sized items together.

  6. Stuff Glasses and Cups

    Whether it’s your everyday drinkware or you’re looking to keep fragile stemware in one piece, start by stuffing the inside of the glass or cup with packing paper or bubble wrap. Then, use lightly crumpled packing paper to wrap around fragile stems or handles of cups and mugs.

    Once the interior and any stems or handles are filled and covered, wrap the outside of the drinkware with two layers of packing paper for added protection. Like with plates, the cups should be placed upright in the box, not horizontal. If there is empty space above the layer of glassware, you can add more padding before placing a second layer of glassware.

  7. Cushion the Box

    Despite the strength of your moving box, you don’t want to place your dishes at the very bottom of it. Instead, create a cushion for your plates, bowls, and glasses using crumpled packing paper, towels, or linens—basically, anything that’s soft and easy to fold or scrunch up. Once all of your dishes are in and you’re ready to close the box, add a layer of your soft material on top to pad the top.

  8. Stack Plates Vertically

    Stacking plates horizontally is fine for inside kitchen cabinets but not for moving boxes. To prevent your dishes from breaking, stack your wrapped package vertically in the box. Dish boxes make it easy to do this step, but if you’ve wrapped your dishes four at a time, you can do this in a regular box, too.

  9. Secure the Box

    Closeup of a woman labeling carboard box with a marker
    Photo: Gpointstudio / Image Source / Getty Images

    Once your dishes are inside the box, you can make things more snug for them by stuffing additional packing paper or soft items in and around them. Seal the box with packing tape and use a marker or label maker to clearly mark it “fragile” so that you and your movers will handle the dishes with care.

  10. Keep Track of the Dishes During the Move

    It’s easy to lose track of boxes when you have so many, but you’ll want to keep an eye on the boxes containing your dishes and glassware during a move. Ensure they don’t end up at the bottom of a pile of other heavier boxes, as the weight could cause them to crack. 

    When you arrive at your new place, carefully unwrap the dishes. You can place them directly in the cabinets or give them a quick rinse before putting them away. Just remember to recycle your packing paper when you’ve finished unpacking your fragile items.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Packing dishes for moving is easy to DIY, but it can take a lot of time and patience to make sure everything arrives unbroken. If packing a kitchen’s worth of dishes and glassware plus fine china has you worried, you can also hire a professional moving company to help you pack and move the items into your new home quickly and safely. Hiring movers costs an average of $1,400 for short-distance moves, but they can help you pack dishes and the rest of your home, plus load and unload all your boxes, and give you some peace of mind.

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