How To Pack Your Kitchen For A Move

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Moving a household is a huge, disruptive series of tasks that can be challenging and stressful. But like any big project, breaking down a move into more manageable parts will make the job go much smoother. Start by thinking about each room or area as a separate component to be packed. Most people would agree that packing the kitchen is a particularly daunting chore. The following are some helpful moving tips on how to pack a kitchen for a move.

Be Prepared

Borrow from the Girl/Boy Scout motto and do the necessary preparation before you start packing. Begin making your to-do lists and decide how you’ll organize the packing process step-by-step.

You might want to begin by dividing the kitchen into areas or categories:

  • Dishes, glassware and other breakables
  • Pots and pans
  • Baking ware and utensils
  • Pantry
  • Small appliances
  • Cookbooks
  • Other

After you’ve made your lists, determine the priority of items, such as what you’ll be using before you move. Obviously, the necessities like everyday dishes will have to be packed later. But you’re probably not going to be using a turkey roasting pan or fancy soup tureen in the midst of your move. Things like that can be safely packed away in advance. Next, make a packing list to keep track of what items are placed in each moving box.

Plan ahead to order or find the packing supplies you’ll need. Because of the variety of kitchen items, you’ll require more “specialty” packing materials, especially for the breakables. Make sure to have the following supplies on hand:

  • Boxes (and more boxes!)
  • Packing tape
  • Bubble wrap, peanuts and newsprint for wrapping (avoid newspaper because the ink will transfer to your items)
  • Cell kits for glassware (interlocking, collapsible cardboard dividers)
  • Dish barrel boxes (these have individual areas for dishes and strong, double-walled construction)
  • Labels
  • Magic markers or Sharpies
pack kitchen for move packing dishes pack kitchen for move packing dishes

Purge

It’s helpful when moving to maintain a practical frame of mind and check your sentimental side at the door. Obviously, you’re not going to pack and move every single item in your home. It’s time to sort out things that you don’t use, don’t want or no longer need. Remember, your moving costs are often calculated based on weight.

Create three categories:

  • Toss
  • Recycle
  • Donate

If you hesitate on any item, ask yourself:

  • When did you last use it?
  • Do you love it?
  • Do you need it?

Start Packing!

Choose one cupboard, drawer or area to start packing. Clear space to pack on a countertop or table that is covered to prevent scratches. Decide where the packed boxes will live until the move. If you’re stacking packed boxes, start with the heavier items on the bottom. Assemble your supplies within easy reach.

  • Wrap items in paper or bubble wrap if fragile.
  • Place heavier items on the bottom.
  • Fill in empty spaces with more paper, peanuts or other packing materials.
  • Use the cell kits and dish barrel boxes for the breakables. Pack these with extra care.

A few things not to do:

  • Don’t fill in with other items. Just because you have extra space in a box, don’t just toss in things that are not in the box’s category. This will make things really hard to find when unpacking.
  • Don’t make do with any old box. You might be tempted to grab an older box that’s handy. But be sure it’s sturdy and closable when packing kitchen items.

Labeling & Color Coding

One of the most important moving tips is to label your boxes and label them correctly. You’ll save yourself so much time on the other end of the move! Don’t just write “kitchen” on the label; be specific with identifiers like “bake ware.” Add any other descriptors on the label that will assist you and/or your movers, i.e. “pantry” or “kitchen island.”

It’s more likely to be used to designate different bedrooms, but using colored stickers for different categories in the kitchen is helpful. Make a corresponding color “map.”

“Open First”

It’s really important to have a box or two of kitchen essentials that you can find and open immediately after you move. Your list may vary, but here are some things you should include:

  • One table setting per family member
  • Dish towel and dish soap
  • Bottle of all-purpose cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Kitchen knife for cutting
  • Scissors
  • Coffee maker, coffee and filters
  • Toaster
  • Easy food items like a new jar of peanut butter
  • Paper plates and napkins

The Pantry

The pantry and/or food storage areas are their own category. You’re not going to move spaghetti sauce that’s four years out of date. Purge this area thoroughly. Make a packing list just for food items. If you’re starting to pack the pantry early, pack extra canned goods and unopened dry goods. Save the more commonly used items for closer to your move date.

Throw out:

  • Old spices, condiments and out of date items
  • Any opened bags or jars of food (replacing them is cheaper than cleaning up a mess later!)

You’ll probably not be moving much food. The items you do a pack, like dry goods, should be sealed in a larger zip bag or tied plastic grocery bag so they don’t break open during the move.

Bottom Line: Three “Ps”

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of packing your kitchen. Just remember the three “Ps”: Prepare, Purge and Pack!

This article was written by Nancy LaFever for MyMove.com, an online resource for moving information, products and coupons.

Last Updated: June 12, 2012
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