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Outside The Box

A Moving And Shipping Blog

What’s the Best Way to Pack Clothes?

Posted in Packing on Jul 23, 2018, tagged with clothes, packing tips

You’ve purged your wardrobe, gotten rid of all the items you no longer wear, want, or need, and now you are ready to start packing. Instead of haphazardly tossing all your clothes into a box and making this a problem for “future-you”, take some time to sort and prep your clothes for easy unpacking later. It may seem like a chore now, but you’ll be thankful you did it when you are exhausted after moving day.

Categorize and Conquer

Unless you are a minimalist, you will likely have a few boxes worth of clothing to pack up. Start by dividing your clothing into categories. There are several different methods for doing this, and the categories that are right for you may vary. Here are a few options to get you started:

Season: A popular approach to packing up clothes is to sort and box them by season. Start with the items that are out-of-season right now because you likely won’t need them before the move and you can take your time unpacking them. Pack up to the season you’re currently in, and include everything you don’t anticipate needing before the move—swimsuits, extra mittens, whatever. Just make sure to keep important items near the top of a clearly labelled box in case they become necessary. Don’t forget to keep the climate of the location you are moving to in mind.

Location: Sort your clothing by the furniture or area in which it resides, for instance the closet or top drawer.

PRO PACKING TIP: As you pack, set aside the clothes you’ll need for your moving day essentials pack.

Material: Alternatively (or additionally), if you have some expensive pieces that need extra care, you can sort your clothing by fabric type in order to accommodate their respective packing needs—some materials, such as silks, cottons, and linens, wrinkle or crease more easily than others and may need to be hung in wardrobe boxes as opposed to being folded and packed into standard boxes. Clothing items made of synthetic materials can be rolled up without worry, and bulky fabrics such as knit wool can be compressed in vacuum-sealed bags to save space.

Type: Sorting your clothes into categories based on their type is a straightforward method that makes it easy to unpack. Types can include:

  • Dresses
  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Jackets
  • Accessories (belts, ties, fashion scarves, etc)

If necessary, you can break these categories down even further into sweaters, button ups, t-shirts, etc.

PRO PACKING TIP: Pack shoes separately from your clothes in small boxes to cut down on weight and keep your clothes clean. Insert wadded up socks, small clothing items, or other materials inside your shoes to help them keep their form and utilize as much space as possible.

If you have to pack shoes with items you don’t want getting dirty, bang them outside as much as possible to get rid of dirt, then wrap shower caps around the bottom of the shoes or place them in plastic bags.

  • Size - If your clothing items still need further sorting, you can break them down by size. This will make it easier to pack boxes without overloading them. Fill large boxes with small, light items such as socks and intimates, and load up smaller boxes with bigger and heavier items, such as jeans or jackets.

Box It Up

Now that your clothes are sorted, they are ready to get packed. The best way to pack your clothes is largely a matter of personal preference and the type of fabrics you are working with. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Packing Method

  • Fold - A classic packing method, carefully folding your clothes is an easy way to keep them neat so you can pack more into each box. Folding clothes means they can also be easily placed back into their drawers without any additional effort when unpacking.
  • Roll - Rolling your clothing is a method many travelers swear by. Whether it takes up less space is debatable, but it certainly does help you utilize your space more effectively.
  • Bundle Wrap - Start by laying out your largest and most easily wrinkled items on top of each other, with every other layer inverted. Place harder-to-wrinkle, smaller items in the center and begin rolling them to form a soft core. If you’re not familiar with what bundle wrapping is, check out this video from NBC.
  • On the Hanger - Easily wrinkled, delicate, and expensive garments should be left on the hanger to keep them protected from damage.

Type of Container

  • Small Boxes - Individually, most clothing items don’t weigh very much, but together their weight can add up quite quickly. Packing your clothes in small boxes limits how much you can put in and keeps them from getting too heavy. If you intend to ship your clothes separately, you’ll have to pack your clothes into boxes—shipping companies won’t transport luggage.
  • Luggage - Packing your clothes into suitcases makes them very easy to transport. You can easily roll them to and from the car, but it can be tempting to overload a suitcase, so remember that you may need to carry it upstairs and don’t pack it with more than you can safely lift.
  • Wardrobe Boxes - Wardrobe boxes are cardboard boxes that have a metal hanging bar for clothes that are still on hangers, which makes them perfect for easily wrinkled and delicate items. They come in a variety of heights for different clothing lengths, and it’s easy to quickly transfer your clothes to and from the closet using wardrobe boxes. The only downside is that they can be a little more costly than standard boxes, so if you are trying to save money, you may want to reserve them for your most important items. The best shipping companies will also be able to ship wardrobe boxes.
  • Skip the Box - Keep your clothes on the hangers and—depending on the width of your hangers—tie them together in groups of 5-10 using elastics, and place them inside of garment bags or garbage bags knotted at the bottom to keep them clean. Lay the bundled clothes flat in your car to transport, or leave them inside of drawers—just make sure you secure them in the drawer using tape. Alternatively, you can save lots of space by compressing bulky clothes like winter coats and wool jumpers with vacuum packs.

PRO PACKING TIP: For easy unpacking and storage, label your boxes with as much information as possible so you don’t have to hunt through boxes to find a favorite top. Make sure to include:

  • Season
  • Material
  • Type (tops, bottoms, coats, specialty items, etc.)
  • Owner
  • Room

Case Clothed

Packing up your clothes is a lot of work, so reward yourself for getting this big job done. With your wardrobe packed, you’re one step closer to the moving day finish line. Stay on top of your moving day schedule[link?] with our guide.

Looking for more packing tips? Check out our Room by Room Guide to Packing your House.