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Outside The Box

A Moving And Shipping Blog

Packing Peanuts vs. Bubble Wrap When Moving

Posted in Moving on Sep 04, 2015, tagged with moving tips, packing materials, preparing for your move

When it comes to packing up your belongings for a move, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right packing materials for the job. In most cases you will be choosing between the two more popular types of packing materials: bubble wrap and packing peanuts.

Both of these options can be very effective at keeping your belongings safe, but each is designed for specific tasks. Taking a moment to learn more about each may help you choose the best option for each item you are packing to avoid damage.

Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts are small pieces of Styrofoam used to fill up space, provide cushioning, and help prevent shock in moving boxes. They can also be used as filler so objects don’t slide around and are great for use in between a second layer of boxes for extra protection.

Pros:

  • One advantage that packing peanuts have over bubble wrap is that you can push items down into the packing peanuts so they are properly surrounded and protected. You can also fill a container part way, place the item in the middle and then finish filling the box to help ensure it is properly protected and does not slide.
  • Typically cheaper than bubble wrap.
  • Reusable.
  • There are biodegradable options available.

Cons:

  • Little pieces of Styrofoam from the packing peanuts can easily get all over, which can be difficult to pick up due to static cling.
  • Non-biodegradable peanuts can't be recycled.
  • If you don't use enough of them your items can shift.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is a sheet of plastic that has pockets of air at set intervals. There are different types of bubble wrap available to choose from. Some options have a large number of very small ‘bubbles’ of air, while others have much larger pockets of air, but fewer in number. Smaller bubbles of air take up less space and protect the item from surface scratches, but provide less protection overall. You can use bubble wrap to line the insides of moving boxes, or simply wrap each individual item in bubble wrap to provide the needed protection.

Pros:

  • Bubble wrap is much nicer in terms of keeping everything clean because you simply unwrap it and throw it away when you’re done.
  • Reusable and sometimes recyclable, with biodegradable options available.
  • Lightweight and easy to find.
  • Can be more expensive than packing peanuts, but still low-cost. 
  • Instant stress-reliever. 

Cons:

  • With bubble wrap you have to wrap each individual item to get the same level of protection as packing peanuts and you don’t have the extra space fillers to prevent items from shifting and sliding in the box.

When to Use Bubble Wrap vs. Packing Peanuts

Knowing when to use bubble wrap or when to use packing peanuts depends on the items you’re packing:

  • Items that have breakable parts or surfaces that are easily scratched are better protected in bubble wrap. If you will not be packing such items in a box, but are taking them with you, bubble wrap may help to protect them as well.
     
  • If you have loose items that will be in a box, use packing peanuts to keep them from sliding into each other. If they are bubble wrapped, but you also want to stop them from colliding into each other or other items in the box, packing peanuts will help to prevent damage by filling in small air pockets that may decrease the likelihood of damaged items.

While bubble wrap protects the surface, packing peanuts help to prevent movement while providing cushioning. Think about what the goal is with packing and what you don’t want to happen, then you’ll know if you should use bubble wrap, packing peanuts or a combination of both.

If you have any questions about packing materials, need advice about how to pack specific items, or want a free quote, fill out our contact form online or give us a call at 1-800-626-1257.