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Moving experts give tips for the most efficient way to pack up your house

Moving house might be exciting but the process of packing everything up is tedious.

While you need to give yourself enough time to get everything done, no one wants to be living in a sea of boxes for longer than necessary.

And when it gets to the other side, if you’ve packed properly, it can make unpacking much easier.

We asked some moving experts to give some tips on the most efficient way to box up your belongings.

What to buy for moving house

Before you start, you need to be prepared with something to actually put stuff in.

While you might have saved up a few boxes, you’re going to need a lot so may have to buy a moving pack online.

You’ll also need to make sure that the boxes are strong enough for what you want them to hold.

Maureen Bennett at Bennett Removals said: ‘It’s a good idea to have a number of boxes in a variety of different sizes.

‘According to UK Removal industry-standard box sizes of your small, medium and large boxes should be the following dimensions:

Small Boxes= 318mm x 268mm x 318mm.

Medium Boxes= 457mm x 330mm x 330mm

Large Boxes= 457mm x 457mm x 499mm

‘In addition to this, to make sure your items are safe and packed securely you’re going to need a few extra things including plenty of bubble wrap, packing paper, tape (the strong stuff) and waterproof boxes or storage bins for items that may leak or need to be protected.’

Where to start

It can all seem a little overwhelming at first but the key is to sit down and plan, breaking it down into manageable chunks.

Maureen adds: ‘Start by making a list of everything you wish to pack and move with you, and then try to picture where they will go in your new place.’

From there, it’s important to get rid of anything you actually don’t want. You want to start fresh in a new home, maximising your space, rather than just transporting everything you have.

Maureen explains: ‘A few months or weeks before you plan on moving, take a look around your home and make three piles. 

‘Pile number one will be your dump pile, pile number two will be your donate pile and finally, pile number three will be your keep pile. By sorting and decluttering your space in advance you will save yourselves loads of time and most importantly stress when it comes to the final move.’

If you’re struggling Lisa Rogerson, from Help for Movers, recommends getting help from a professional.

She says: ‘Don’t pay to move items that you no longer need/want. Therefore less packing too.

‘There is a professional association of declutterers that have members who can help if you just don’t know where to start.’

Once you’ve cleared everything out and got rid of any junk, you’ll need to start filling boxes and they’re always going to take up space in the room.

Maureen explains that you need to look at different areas at different times: ‘Start by packing up the rooms that you use least often as they tend to have less important or essential goods in them.

‘Typically these will be the rooms that you tend to store stuff in and are usually in the upstairs area of your house if you have one.’

Get the order right

Don’t just throw everything in and hope for the best. It will be much harder to deal with when you’re unpacking and might mean you end up with boxes that are too heavy.

Maureen stresses that the order you do things in is important.

She says: ‘Always pack the most important things LAST. For example, any important documents, passports or identification cards, medicines and toiletries, tools, along with any snacks, changes of clothes and bedding, should all be packed last as they may be the first things you need once you get into your new place. 

‘This is also a great tip because it means you know exactly where all your most valuable items are, instead of them being lost amongst everything else. 

‘Furthermore, ensure that you pack all of your things in a suitable way. For example, always pack heavy items in smaller boxes as they are generally easier to carry that way, and pack lighter objects in bigger boxes as they will fit more of your belongings. 

‘Lastly, when it comes to packing anything that is of liquid form or may leak or spill make sure you pack this far away from any non-waterproof items, especially clothes and furniture.

‘It’s also a good idea to store these things in a waterproof container to prevent any leakages.’

Lisa also recommends setting items aside for an overnight bag, so when you get to your new place, you have the basic necessities like your toothbrush and can head to bed without pulling the boxes apart.

She said: ‘I always include medication, toiletries, change of clothes, some cleaning items, loo rolls and a lightbulb.

‘I always have a box packed for each bedroom, with bedding that will be needed first clearly marked.

‘Last to be loaded, will be first to be unloaded. My kettle is ALWAYS one of the last items loaded.’

Mark your boxes

Labelling your boxes means you have a good idea of what to unpack when.

Lisa says: ‘The better you organise, label and pack, the smoother the unpacking will be. You don’t want your kitchen pots and pans in the bedroom any more than your underwear in the kitchen.

‘Mark boxes clearly (top and sides) with rooms and brief descriptions.

‘Take pictures of cables from electrical items ie computers, TVs etc. This will help you to set them back up when you unpack at your new home.’

The living room

Kate Hart, Removals and Relocation Manager at Fantastic Services, has some room by room tips.

Flat-screen TV

Kate recommends unplugging the TV and placing all detachable cords, wires and remotes in a single plastic bag.

It you still have the box the TV came in, use that and the protective foam but if not, line a suitably sized box with a soft blanket, making sure there are no gaps.

Kate adds you should then place the plastic bag with all the cords inside and secure tightly with packing tape.

Couch and armrest

Kate says: ‘Use stretch wrap along the entire frame to protect the surface from scratches. You can also wrap the couch in soft blankets and secure it with packing tape for extra protection.’

Table and chairs

For other furniture, take apart what you can and put the screws for each piece in separate bags, labelled with what they belong to.

Kate adds: ‘Tape all the parts of each piece together, so you don’t mix them up and attach the screws to the respective piece. Wrap the parts of each piece in a blanket and secure with packing tape. Label each.’

Framed pictures

Kate has a specific method to help protect pictures without taking up too much space.

She says: ‘Take each picture frame and wrap it three times in the shape of a six-pointed star. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of the box and place the frames vertically in the box.’

The kitchen

You’ll need kitchen items quickly when you move so make sure everything is very accessible.

Alot of the items are breakable so you need to take precautions.

Crockery, glassware, pots and pans

Kate says: ‘Use packing paper between each plate and stack them on top of each other by placing a plate over a sheet of paper. Wrap the loose ends and place in the box vertically. Fill the gaps in the box and label it “FRAGILE”.

Put a soft cloth on the bottom of the box and separate the tableware by shape and size. Like with the plates, place one over the other, and wrap in packing paper. Stack from the edges to the middle of the box, lips down. Fill the gaps.

Tape the bottom of a large box, making it as sturdy as you can. Place a soft cloth on the bottom. Choose a few pots or pans that can be nested inside each other, while separating them with packing paper or old newspapers. Wrap the entire bundle with a large piece of newsprint and seal with packing tape. Put in the box as many of these as you can and fill in the gaps.’

Appliances

You’ll also need to think about the appliances you are taking in the kitchen.

‘Leave the packing of the fridge for the second last day before the move,’ Kate says.

‘Eat or dispose of all the food inside, and make sure to defrost the appliance the night before the move. After that is done, clean the inside well and close the doors securely with packing tape. You can wrap the fridge with stretch wrap if you’re worried about scratches.

‘Make sure the washing machine is completely dry -do not use it for at least 24 hours.

‘Next, shut off the water supply and unplug the washing machine. Disconnect and drain the hoses to make sure there is no residual water inside. Remove the water hoses from the washing machine.

‘Secure the lid and attach the cords to the back of the machine with stretch wrap or packing tape. Wrap the entire washing machine with blankets to avoid scratches and secure those blankets with packing tape to keep in place.’

The bedrooms

Mattress

Moving is a good chance to properly clean your mattress. You can pay to get it professionally cleaned, or at least do it yourself with baking soda and a vacuum.

After that, you need to package it up properly. Kate says: ‘Take out the mattress and make sure it is 100% dry. Place it in a thick polyethene mattress storage bag. You can purchase one from a specialised furniture store. Tape the plastic protector’s ends shut with packing tape.’

Bed frame

Next up, you need to move your bed, taking a similar approach to furniture in other rooms.

Kate says: ‘Once the mattress is gone, it’s time to disassemble the bed frame. Tape all the parts together. Place the bolts in a small plastic bag and tape that bag to the bed frame parts.

‘You can also take photos or a video of the way you disassembled the bed frame in order to see how to put it back together again.’

Wardrobe

Then pack up your clothes and if your wardrobe is coming with you, you can disassemble it like the bed frame above.

The bathroom

The bathroom is complicated as it contains both breakable items and things that can leak, so you need to take extra care.

Toiletries

Kate says: ‘The worst part of packing toiletries is the fear of them spilling in the box. This is why toiletries are best packed in plastic boxes.

‘Additionally, you can avoid spillage by using a small piece of the stretch wrap when closing the lids of each bottle.’

Bathroom mirror

For the mirror, put it in a box, lined with a soft cloth and place the mirror inside.

Cover the upside with another cloth and close the box. Label the box as fragile.

Unpacking 

Finally, if you’ve followed all the tips, unpacking once you get to your new place should be easier.

But Maureen says you still need to plan.

She says: ‘Just like the packing process, the unpacking stage needs plenty of organisation as well.

‘If you followed step one, you should know at this stage where the majority of your possessions are going to go. Don’t panic if not, we know that this can be one of the more overwhelming stages of moving. 

‘Just like when you were packing, separate your boxes into the rooms they will be living in and then you will be able to easily unpack them at your own leisure. Start by unpacking your most important items FIRST and then gradually you can do the rest when you need too.’

You might think you’re done with decluttering but unpacking is another chance to get rid of anything that might have slipped through.

Maureen says: ‘You may have held on to something you thought you needed when decluttering the first time around, and now it may come of no use.

‘If this is the case, which it usually is, set up two piles (donate and dump) and have another clear out! Your new home will thank you for it!’

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