When to Use Styrofoam, Packing Peanuts, Newspaper, or Bubble Wrap for Packing

couple packing boxes

Boxes with lots of empty spaces? One of the worst things that can happen on your moving journey. Whether you’re packing dishes or home decor, you need to make sure all of the items you place in a box have no chance of shifting or moving en route. It’s likely that many boxes will be stacked on top of each other and may even slide back and forth in the moving truck. Any items inside those boxes need to stay in place or you run the risk of damage, broken items, and spills.

Your best bet: use a combination of packing supplies, like Styrofoam, packing peanuts, newspaper, and bubble wrap, to secure all your prized possessions in boxes and totes. Use these tips to decide which types of packing supplies will help you get through that move like a pro, and how to use them:

Packing with Styrofoam

If you’ve ever had larger electronics or artwork shipped to your home, the items were probably packed with Styrofoam blocks and sheets. If you didn’t get a chance to set those packing supplies aside, you can head to the home improvement store or even an office supply store to buy blocks and sheets in different sizes and thicknesses.

Styrofoam is ideal for padding larger boxes with thin construction or providing an extra layer of protection for heavy items like computer monitors or flat-screen televisions. You can tape smaller pieces together to create separators within a larger box if you need to pack different types of fragile items together. Styrofoam is also easy to cut down with a knife or a pair of scissors so you can customize each piece for different items.

Examples of best uses for Styrofoam:

  • Protecting corners of television and computer screens
  • Padding an entire box when packing electronics or other fragile items
  • Creating dividers within a box
  • Preventing items from shifting
  • Encasing glassware and other delicate items when stacking items in a box

Packing Using Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts are usually made out of foam, but their smaller, nugget-type shape makes them a great filler material when you’re left with pockets of empty space in a larger box. Packing peanuts are some of the most versatile packing supplies you can use because they can be used both during and after your move.

Consider collecting packing peanuts when you have items shipped to your home so you can use them when moving or when shipping items yourself. You can also buy packing peanuts in bulk from an online shipping store or even head to your local office supply store to buy larger bags of anti-static green or white packing peanuts.

Packing peanuts are ideal for packing smaller items individually in boxes. You simply fill about 1/3 of the box with packing peanuts to create a cushioned base. Place your item in the middle of the box and then fill the rest of the box with packing peanuts. Use packing paper or newspaper to set everything in place before taping up the box.

You could also use packing peanuts to fill space when packing multiple fragile items in a box. For example, if you wrapped a full set of glassware, including wine glasses and tumblers, individually in packing paper, you could place these items in a box one by one and layer the box with packing peanuts. This way, the glassware would be suspended within the box between layers of packing material with little to no risk of breakage.

Examples of best uses for packing peanuts:

  • Protecting multiple fragile items packed in the same box
  • Filling empty space to prevent items from shifting
  • Packing vases, glassware, ceramic items, and other fragile home goods in the same box

Packing Using Bubble Wrap

Another versatile product to use when packing, bubble wrap can add an extra layer of cushioning and padding around items that are at a higher risk of breaking or getting damaged during a move. You can buy large sheets of bubble wrap from office supply and shipping supply stores and cut them down to size for different packing projects.

One of the best ways to maximize the benefits of bubble wrap is to pre-wrap some of your items before wrapping them in newspaper or packing items with Styrofoam. You can take an extra step to wrap pointy items in a plastic bag to prevent them from poking through bubble wrap before wrapping the items again or packing them in a box. It’s also a good idea to tape the sides down-as if you were wrapping a present-so that the items don’t slip out from the bubble wrap in transit.

Examples of best uses for bubble wrap:

  • Protecting glassware, vases, picture frames, and mirrors
  • Covering the screen of flat-screen televisions and computer monitors
  • Wrapping small electronics and kitchen accessories

Packing Using Newspaper

Sheets of plain newsprint can be valuable to you when you are packing easily breakable items such as dinner plates, picture frames, glassware, and other smaller items that do not have their own box.

Think back to when you bought your dishes and other kitchen items; it’s likely that those items were packed tightly between corrugated paper and Styrofoam. Unless you kept those original packing materials, your next best bet would be to wrap those dishes in newspaper before stacking them in a cardboard moving box with bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or Styrofoam blocks for extra cushioning. Scrunched-up newspaper can also be used as filler material to fill empty spaces in larger boxes.

You can start collecting the weekly Sunday newspaper (since that edition usually has the most sheets) or just purchase a few copies of the weekday newspaper from the local bookstore or newsstand. You could also ask friends and neighbors who get the paper to set aside a few issues for you.

Examples of best uses for newspaper:

  • Wrapping dinnerware and glassware before packing
  • Covering layers of packing peanuts before taping down the box
  • Covering mirrors and glass coverings on picture frames to prevent scratches
  • Filling gaps between Styrofoam pieces or other items inside a packing box

Make sure you’re well equipped for that upcoming move by choosing and using the right packing supplies. From Styrofoam wedges to rolls of bubble wrap, be sure to stock up on these moving essentials to protect and preserve your belongings.

Sabah Karimi

Sabah Karimi

Sabah Karimi is a freelance writer and copywriter based in Saint Petersburg, Florida. She’s moved many more times than the Census Bureau average of 11.7 times in her lifetime. Find her on Twitter at @sabahk.
Sabah Karimi
  • Rose Marry

    Thanks for sharing nice tips. We should all follow your tips for making our parcels more secure and safe.