Kitchens are one of the most difficult rooms to pack, thanks to the abundance of small and oddly-shaped items, delicate and breakable pieces, and the sheer amount of stuff that tends to collect in our drawers and cupboards. The prospect of such a daunting task can make it easy to procrastinate your kitchen packing, but this is definitely one room not to put off or rush through.
Tackle this difficult-to-pack room first and save yourself the unpleasant experience of unpacking shards of your old dishware. Here’s how to get started:
Start by Decluttering
Decluttering your kitchen before you pack means you’ll have less stuff to pack and then unpack in your new home. This step is especially important if you’re downsizing or moving into a space with a smaller kitchen.
Rather than packing everything into boxes as you empty your drawers and cabinets, lay out each item and honestly assess whether you need it. Get rid of duplicate items, donate anything useable that you no longer need, and toss anything that is damaged or broken.
Organizing while you declutter will help you put together an inventory of how many items are stored away in your pantry or cupboards, which will make it easier to determine what to keep, what to toss, and what you might be able to use before you move. Check out this organized pantry by Clutter Healing:
PRO TIP: Set aside a box of essential kitchen items you’ll need for the last few days in your old home, including:
Collect Packing Supplies
You’ll need a range of box sizes and strengths to pack your kitchen:
- Large boxes: Ideal for packing lighter, bulky items like plastic containers, small appliances, and baking supplies.
- Medium boxes: Use for packing heavier things like pantry items, silverware, and the contents of your kitchen drawers.
- Heavy-duty boxes: Boxes with thick, double-walls are best for dishware, glasses, and stemware.
You’ll also need newspaper, packing paper, and bubble wrap to protect your breakables.
|PRO TIP: Avoid loading all your stuff into a single box. Overpacking boxes increases the likelihood of breakage or other damage, as well as injury.|
Start by packing items you don’t use often, such as vases, single-use appliances, serving dishes, special utensils, cookbooks, and other decor items. Once these items are safely stowed, you can turn your attention to the rest of your kitchen. Keep reading to get our tips on how to pack china, knives, appliances, and more.
Before you pack up any food, purge your cupboards and pantry. Toss any opened or perishable food items, and donate or throw away any cleaning supplies that are almost empty or which can’t be transported. During your purge, ask yourself whether the weight of the item is worth the cost of moving it—this will help you decide whether to bring it along, whether to factor it into your pre-move meal plan, or whether to toss it. Sort anything you plan to keep into baskets or bins for easy access:
Follow these tips for packing food items that make the cut:
- Pack canned goods into smaller boxes. Cans can get heavy quickly.
- Dispose of glass jars, or wrap them in soft padding to prevent breakage in transit.
- Securely seal opened packages with tape, or tuck them inside resealable bags to prevent leakage—if you choose to move opened packages at all.
- Label boxes containing food as “PERISHABLE” so you know to unpack them right away.
NOTE: If you’re moving long distance, shipping companies will not transport food. In this case, you may need to leave behind or dispose of a good portion of your pantry items. Make the most of what you’ve got on hand with our tips for emptying your fridge and pantry before you move.
How to Pack Spices
If you're moving locally, unload your spice rack and wrap each jar individually, then pack into a box. Mark the box as "PERISHABLE" so you know to unpack it right away.
If you're moving long distance, try to use up your spices as much as possible before your moving day arrives. Movers won't transport food or spices because they can attract pests.
Because they are both bulky and breakable, dishes can be one of the most challenging kitchen items to pack. There are three rules to keep in mind when packing dishes:
- Always add a layer of cushioning, such as bubble wrap or crumpled (not folded) packing paper, to the bottom of the box you are packing your dishes into.
- Always use new boxes. The last thing you want is for your dishes to come tumbling out of the bottom of an old box.
- When it comes to packing dishware and glassware, there’s no such thing as too much packing paper.
PRO TIP: Sonya at Spacewise Organizing recommends using kitchen packing sets with cardboard sleeves and foam envelopes for dishes and small collectibles.
"The boxes may seem expensive, but they're well worth it because they'll save you having to buy replacement items. Use small to medium size boxes for glassware so that they're not too heavy or unwieldy to carry. To wrap dishes and other breakables, brown packing paper is much easier to use than newspaper and doesn't smudge your glass."
How you pack your dishes depends on the type of dishes you are packing:
Everyday Use Dishware
For more durable dishware, try bundling three pieces together with a protective layer of paper in between each piece, then wrapping the bundle in a double layer of paper. Coffee filters also work well between dishes.
|PRO TIP: Don’t pack dishes flat—lay them on their side so they are upright. This reduces the risk of breakage.|
If you can’t find a pre-sectioned box for your everyday use glassware, wrap each cup and mug individually with packing paper or bubble wrap. When you pack them into the box, position handles so they are facing the same direction.
Pieces of fine china should always be wrapped individually. Wrap each piece in a double layer of bubble wrap, then in clean paper or packing paper. Place heavier items like platters and plates at the bottom of your box, with lighter pieces towards the top. Mark your box as “FRAGILE”.
If you can, use pre-sectioned boxes for added durability and protection, or purchase cell dividers. If you use unsectioned boxes, avoid stacking glasses on top of each other, unless you have a solid layer of packing materials to separate the layers, such as a layer of thick corrugated cardboard.
Like your fine china, crystal stemware should be wrapped individually in a layer of bubble wrap, then in packing paper. This box should also be clearly labeled “FRAGILE”.
Pots and Pans
While pots and pans may not be as breakable as your dishes, they are bulky and have their own set of packing challenges to overcome, such as handles, lids, and other protuberances. Pack your pots and pans using these tips:
- If you can, stack smaller pots and pans into larger ones.
- Protect pans, especially non-stick pans, by adding a layer of packing paper, or even a tea towel, between the layers to prevent scratches.
- Wrap glass lids in bubble wrap or packing paper.
- If you still have room on top of your pots and pans, don’t overload your box with heavy items. This is a great place to pack lighter items like plastic storage containers.
|PRO TIP: Layering towels or t-shirts inside pots can help level out the handles, which makes pots and pans easier to pack.|
Don’t forget to reserve one all-purpose pot and one all-purpose pan for your essentials box.
Shoeboxes are perfect for packing silverware, and let’s be honest—we all have empty shoeboxes lying around. Start by sorting your silverware by type, then wrapping each bundle with an elastic band. Reserve one set of silverware for each member of your family and set it aside in your essentials box.
Sharp knives require some extra care. Here's how to pack knives:
- If you can wrap your entire knife block, secure the knives in place with tape and wrap the entire block in bubble wrap before loading it into your box.
- Wrap sharp knife blades individually with newspaper or cardboard. Extra-sharp chef’s knives can be wrapped in t-shirts or towels, since they can easily penetrate packing paper.
- Pack knives into a separate box. Their sharp blades can easily penetrate wrapping and cause damage to other items.
- Roll wrapped knives into packing paper and secure with tape.
The best way to pack small appliances like blenders, toasters, and coffee makers is to pack them back into their original packaging, if you still have it. If you don’t, use small- or medium-sized boxes with thick cardboard walls.
Here’s how to pack up your small appliances:
- Make sure each appliance is clean and dry before you pack it up.
- Remove sharp blades and cover them with cardboard to prevent injury when unpacking.
- Tie all cords and secure with a zip tie or twist tie before boxing.
- Wrap the appliance in packing paper or cover with a towel.
- Fill empty spaces in the box with packing paper to prevent shifting in transit.
- If you still have the owner’s manual, tuck it into the box or tape it to the front of the appliance.
- Pack glass components separately. Cover them in bubble wrap and/or packing paper before boxing.
If you’re moving your large appliances, such as your fridge, oven, or laundry machine to your new home, make sure it is fully prepared and ready to move at least 24 hours in advance. Clean your appliances to help protect the rest of your stuff. Here's a great tip for cleaning oven racks from @an_organized_life:
All appliances should be wrapped in moving blankets prior to moving, but you should always check with your moving company to find out the best way to pack these items. Remember that it could be a time consuming process if you need to take additional steps like defrosting your freezer or arranging for a professional to come disconnect gas appliances.
Because these appliances are expensive to replace and difficult to move, they are great candidates for shipping to your new home, especially if you are moving long distance.
Here are our tips for preparing your large appliances for moving or shipping:
- Disconnect and drain hoses, and leave the dishwasher door open for a few days before your moving crew arrives to fully dry it out.
- When dry, wrap the hoses in towels and packing paper, then place them inside the dishwasher.
- Tape the door shut and wrap in moving blankets.
- Clean your oven and stove top thoroughly. Grease left on the stovetop will catch dust and dirt in transit.
- Detach all removable parts and pack them safely into a separate box.
- If you have a gas stove, contact a qualified professional to help disconnect your oven prior to moving day.
- Tape down all burners and protective pans. Tape the door shut.
- Wrap in moving blankets.
- Defrost, clean, and dry out your fridge and freezer, paying special attention to your ice maker if you have one.
- Pack all loose parts, including bins and drawers, into a secured container, or tape them securely so they don’t shift in transit.
- Vacuum the condenser/compressor.
- Empty and clean the evaporator pan, leaving enough time for it to completely dry.
- If your fridge has a water dispenser or automatic ice maker, turn off the water and disconnect the water line.
- Tape the door shut and wrap in moving blankets.
Final Tips for Packing your Kitchen
These general tips for packing your kitchen will help ensure all your kitchen gadgets, dishes, and appliances make it to their new home in one piece:
- Fill empty spaces with crumpled packing paper to reduce shifting and risk of breakage. Linens or towels also work well for cushioning.
- Add a protective layer of padding using crumpled (not folded) packing paper or bubble wrap to the bottom of each box.
- Make sure boxes are securely taped at the bottom.
- Fill boxes till about 3” from the top edge, then pad with crumpled paper, linens, or towels.
- Consider the weight of your items when loading boxes. Kitchen appliances and supplies can get heavy quickly, so you may want to use a larger quantity of smaller boxes rather than fewer larger boxes.
Finished packing your kitchen? Move on to the next room in your home with our room-by-room guide to packing your house: