Protect Fragile Items With These 10 Packing and Moving Tips

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated September 28, 2021
Mom and daughter packing boxes for a move
boonchai wedmakawand/Moment via Getty Images

Pay special attention to fragile items during your next move

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Moving is stressful enough without worrying whether or not your items will show up to your new digs all in one piece. Dishes, glasses, and even electrical items are just some of the most fragile items to pack for a move. 

Keep accidents to a minimum by identifying which things are commonly broken during a move and using these 10 tips for packing and moving fragile items.

Fragile Items List

Knowing which items are more commonly damaged during moves can help you give them some extra care.

  • Drinking glasses: Wine glasses, mugs, and even pint glasses can shatter in the chaos of a move.

  • Plates: Plates and other particularly delicate glassware can get chipped and even destroyed if you’re not careful.

  • Artwork: Beware of holes and punctures to your favorite art pieces while carrying them into your new place.

  • Lampshades: This household item is vulnerable to bending, denting, and even breaking.

  • Liquid cleaners: You’re trying to do the right thing and keep these handy to clean your new place, but one wrong move, and cleaning items can spill everywhere.

  • Wine bottles: That champagne you’ve been saving in hopes of popping it open at your new home? It’s best kept somewhere safe.

  • Mirrors: Shattering a mirror is bad luck, especially during a move.

  • Glass picture frames: Like the other delicate items on this list, these can easily fall prey to drops and cracks.

  • Electronics: Be sure to take special care when carrying things like TVs and gaming systems out of the moving van.

  • Books: Ripped pages, as well as stained and dented covers, can all befall your books during a move.

Tips for Packing Fragile Items for a Move

Now that you know which commonly damaged items you should look out for, when you come across each type of item while packing, keep the tips below in mind.

1. Use Special Boxes to Protect Glassware

Glassware is obviously particularly vulnerable during a move, but investing in the proper packaging for them can make all the difference. There are specially designed boxes for various types of fragile items. Use these specific boxes for your items to better protect them from damage.

  • Use dish packs for dishware. This box has double-thick walls for extra protection. Be sure to cushion the base and sides with crumpled paper, and always wrap each plate in paper.

  • Flat boxes are best for mirrors. Mirrors are easily breakable in a move, but wrapping them and packing them into flat boxes means they have less space to slide around in the box.

  • Pack tech items in original packaging or double-corrugated boxes. If you have the original boxes for your tech items, like a stereo or record player, use those for the best protection. Otherwise, use double-corrugated boxes or dish packs for fragile tech items.

  • Put glassware and wine bottles in cell boxes. Cell boxes have dividers that will keep smaller items like glasses, stemware, and even wine bottles from shifting around.

2. Label Boxes so You Know How to Handle Them

Labeling boxes is one of many essential moving tips, and it isn’t just to help you know which boxes go where after you move. Be sure to clearly and boldly write “fragile” on boxes that contain anything breakable, from art to glassware to tech items.

3. Wrap Delicate Items in Paper or Bubble Wrap

Woman wrapping belongings in bubble wrap for moving
Portra/Digital Vision via Getty Images

One of the most effective ways to avoid damage is to fill any empty spaces or voids with paper, bubble wrap, or another soft filling.

  • Stuff the inside of glasses with paper.

  • Wrap fragile art pieces in paper or bubble wrap.

  • Fill any gaps inside a box with crumpled paper or bubble wrap to keep items from shifting.

4. Pack Lampshades Alone

Lampshades are surprisingly susceptible to damage. Pack each lampshade in a box on its own, wrap it in bubble wrap, and fill the interior with crumpled paper. Avoid putting any other items on top of the lampshade, which could cause it to crumple or tear.

5. Seal Cleaning Supplies and Other Liquids

If you’re packing cleaners or other liquid items, you’ll want to seal them to prevent leakage. For each bottle:

  • Remove the cap.

  • Place a small piece of plastic wrap over the opening.

  • Put the cap back on.

  • Thoroughly cover the cap with tape, securing it to the bottle.

  • If possible, pack the cleaning supplies inside a clean mop bucket or a cleaner caddy, then inside a larger box.

6. Pad the Base of the Box to Prevent Shifting

No matter what fragile items you are packing in the box, it’s important to cushion the base of the box with paper or bubble wrap. This step adds a line of defense if the box is bumped or jostled by preventing items like plates or vases from shifting around.

7. Use Sturdy Boxes for Heavy, Breakable Items

Thick, sturdy boxes are less likely to have the bottom break open or the sides collapse from the weight of fragile items. Opt for boxes specifically for moving, especially options labeled as heavy-duty or durable. You can also find reliable, free moving boxes from local restaurants or liquor stores.

8. Pack the Heaviest Items at the Bottom of the Box

If you’re packing multiple items in a box, start with the heaviest for more support. This method can prevent the box from becoming top-heavy and toppling over or collapsing in the middle. It will also protect smaller, lighter items by placing them toward the top.

For example, if you’re packing kitchenware, you’d want to start with your beloved casserole dish at the bottom but place your well-wrapped coffee mugs at the top.

9. Secure the Bottom of a Box With Extra Tape

Be generous with the packing tape to make each box as secure as possible.

  • Use heavy-duty packing tape for packing boxes.

  • Add a few strips of tape along where the cardboard meets.

  • Put tape in both directions for more support.

10. Work With a Moving Company to Prevent Damage

Consider hiring a local moving company to help you pack and move items. Professional moving companies will know how to expertly move items with care. You can choose a local moving company to pack your fragile items, load them onto a truck, and move them to your new location.

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