The garage is often a dumping ground for stuff we don’t know what to do with (or just don’t want to deal with), which makes it one of the hardest spaces to pack. To make matters more difficult, the items that end up in your garage or shed are often oddly shaped, time-consuming, and difficult to pack thanks to sharp or heavy components that require special care.
The good news is that the items relegated to your garage also likely don’t get used very often, which makes them a great place to start your packing process. Here’s how to get the ball rolling:
Decluttering a Garage
Chances are, there are tons of things you can dispose of in your garage to make the packing process easier, including many items that cannot be shipped or moved, such as:
- Partially used propane tanks
- Unused charcoal for your grill
- Car batteries
- Pool chemicals
- Paint thinner
Make sure you dispose of these materials properly. Never dump them down the drain or into your regular trash; instead, give them to a friend or neighbor if they’re still usable, or check online to find a depot where you can drop off hazardous materials.
Decluttering your garage also gives you an opportunity to get rid of anything you don’t use anymore, like those cross-country skis that have been collecting dust for the last decade or that belt sander that you swore you’d use. As long as it’s still in good, working condition, bigger ticket items like sports equipment, lawn care equipment, and tools are great items to sell at a yard sale.
Declutter Like a Pro
As you declutter, organize the items you want to keep based on shape and size, such as long-handled tools or tools with sharp edges. This will make them easier to pack.
Before you start packing your shed or garage, make sure you collect enough boxes in an assortment of sizes, as well as ample newspaper and other packing materials to properly wrap and cushion everything. Moving blankets will also be helpful for sharper edged items, and old socks can be useful for smaller hand tools.
Garages and sheds are usually full of oddly-shaped, potentially hazardous items. Keep these tips in mind throughout the process to stay safe:
- Don’t assume your moving or shipping company will be able to transport everything you want to take. Always ask if they can move items you aren’t sure about, such as riding mowers, leaf or snow blowers, trampolines, satellite dishes, swing sets, and other large or potentially hazardous items. If your moving company can’t handle these items, you may wish to consider LTL (less than truckload) shipping.
- Clearly label boxes with “GARAGE” or “DANGEROUS/HAZARDOUS” so your movers or shipping company know to take special care with these boxes.
- Create an inventory or attach a list of items to each box so people don’t unsuspectingly reach into boxes containing sharp or dangerous items.
With your stuff already sorted, it’s easy to keep the ball rolling and get packing. Here’s how to pack tools for moving, along with some of the most common items found in your garage or shed.
If you’re downsizing, you may have to bite the bullet and get rid of tools that take up more space, like table saws, belt sanders, or drill presses. If your new home has space for your workshop tools, how you pack tools for moving will depend on their size and weight.
|PRO TIP: Make sure you keep any tools you’ll need while packing or unpacking the rest of your house handy.|
Hand tools like screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, and wrenches are best packed into toolboxes. Wrap each tool separately in packing paper, or simply place them into your toolbox and fill in any empty spaces with crushed paper to prevent shifting.
If you don’t have a toolbox, wrap each tool separately and pack it into a strong cardboard box. Smaller boxes typically work better, since the weight of these tools can add up quickly.
Any tools that have sharp points or blades should be carefully wrapped with bubble wrap or towels and secured in place with packing tape.
Power tools like drills or hand-held sanders will require a few extra steps to pack:
- Remove any attachments from power tools and pack them separately.
- Drain power tools of oil and gas before moving, or remove batteries if applicable.
- Coil the electric cord around the body of the tool.
- Wrap the tool in old clothing, towels, or rags. Wrap any breakable or fragile parts in bubble wrap.
- Box your tool. Use the original packaging if possible. If you tossed the original box, crumple packing paper on the bottom of a small, sturdy box, place your tool inside, then pad the top with more crumpled packing paper.
For large, free-standing power tools like table saws or band saws, your best choice is to work with a professional moving or shipping company who knows how to pack and transport these items.
Gas-powered tools like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, and snow blowers will require some extra care when packing:
- Drain gas-powered tools of any gas before moving. Siphon it out using a hand pump, then let the appliance idle to drain any remaining fuel. No mover will agree to transport anything with fuel in the tank, no matter how small the amount.
- Disconnect any spark plugs—there can still be combustible fumes in the tank, even after you drain it.
- Wrap any sharp or breakable pieces in bubble wrap, then wrap the entire appliance in moving blankets.
Garden tools are easy to pack. Here's how to pack shovels and rakes, as well as other garden tools, for your upcoming move:
- Clean tools first to avoid getting unnecessary dust and dirt on your other belongings.
- Bundle long-handled tools like rakes, brooms, shovels, and spades together. Wrap in a moving blanket or old towels. Secure moving blankets with tape or rope.
- Wrap any sharp-edged tools like saws, shears, and hoes in blankets, towels, or bubble wrap. Secure wrapping with tape or rope.
Smaller garden tools like trowels can be packed into toolboxes.
Outdoor furniture is usually made of different materials than indoor furniture, which means it requires different packing considerations.
- Remove cushions and pack them into a large carton, wardrobe, or even garbage bags if you’re moving locally.
- Clean frames of furniture to remove dust and dirt (and also any bugs that might be trying to hitch a ride). Dismantle as much as as possible, then wrap everything in bubble wrap and moving blankets.
- Stack and secure furniture that can’t be dismantled.
|PRO TIP: Don’t stack wicker furniture. Environmental changes (like living in the back of a truck) can make these pieces swell and stick together.|
- Wrap glass tops separately and carefully. Read our guide to packing your kitchen to learn how to pack a glass tabletop.
Keep your outdoor umbrella clean and dry while you move by wrapping it in paper padding or a plastic bag, then taping it shut. A mattress bag also works well for this purpose.
Most weighted umbrella stands don’t require any special considerations when packing—just empty it first so it’s not heavy to move.
If you’re moving your grill, give it a good cleaning to get rid of any grease, soot, or ash—you don’t want grime to transfer to your other belongings. You should also empty any remaining propane since it can’t be moved anyway.
Pots and planters
Small ceramic planters can be packed like any other fragile item. Wrap them individually in packing paper or bubble wrap, then carefully place them inside the box.
The trick to moving your bicycle long distance is to disassemble and pack it properly into a special bike moving box.
Start by cleaning your bike, then disassemble what you can:
- Remove pedals, then wrap them in packing paper and store them in their own box.
- Remove the seat and any other accessories like belts and lights. Wrap the seat in packing paper or bubble wrap, then pack everything into a box designated for bike parts.
- Remove the front brake, re-attach the nut, then wrap the braking unit with bubble wrap before taping it to the bike frame.
- Remove handlebars and wrap them in bubble wrap.
- Remove the front wheel, then deflate the tires halfway to make them easier to fit into your moving box.
Once you’ve disassembled what you can, you can start packing your bike away. You should always look for information specific to your bike’s make and model before you dismantle, but these steps can help you get started:
- The rear derailleur is the most fragile part of your bike, so make sure you protect it well. Keep it safe by shifting your bike chain onto the smallest chainring and the largest gear cog. Then, wrap the derailleur in bubble wrap and tape it in place.
- Place foam tube protectors along the metal frame of the bike to prevent scratches. Secure the foam in place with packing tape or zip ties.
- Wrap axle protectors and crank arms for the left pedal in bubble wrap.
- Attach the front wheel to your bike: Lay your bike down flat, and place the front wheel next to the non-chain side of the bike. Position the wheel directly above the already-wrapped left pedal, taking care to position the pedal between the spokes without touching them. Secure the wheel in place using a handful of zip ties.
- Secure the handlebars (which you should have already removed) to the frame using zip ties, taking care not to bend or twist cables during the process.
- Slide your bicycle carefully into the box. Fill in any remaining spaces with packing materials, close the box, and tape securely.