How to Pack Your Kitchen for Moving

5 steps to pack your kitchen for moving

Your move will feel a million times easier if you know how to pack your kitchen. We look at some of the most important parts of the process and break it down into five easy steps.

  1. How to get organized
  2. How to pack dishes
  3. How to pack glassware
  4. How to pack pots and pans
  5. How to pack knives

Step 1: How to get organized

It’s like the saying goes: measure twice, cut once. The more you plan, the easier it’ll be to pack your kitchen—and the less likely you are to waste time and effort in the midst of a busy move.

Of course, if you still end up with too much stuff come moving day, we can help you find an affordable storage unit.

Decide what’s essential

Pack as much as you can the week before you move. As you get your kitchen ready for moving day, keep a few essential items handy so you still have plates to eat off and pots to cook in.

Plan out your meals

It’s easy to get so focused on packing your cupboards that you forget about all the food you’ll need to either pack or throw away. Cut down on waste and maximize packing space by using ingredients you already have (and buying only what you absolutely need). If you do it right, most of the perishable food from your fridge and pantry will be gone by moving day.

This is also an opportunity to help someone in need by donating food.

Get the best packing supplies

Make sure you have the right packing supplies. From packaging fragile items to boxing up pots and pans, you can save yourself a headache by using the right packing materials. Say goodbye to broken dishes, lost items, and extra money spent on replacing things.

Thankfully, you don’t have to start from scratch. We’ve put together a list of packing essentials:

Step 2: How to pack dishes

When packing dishes, it’s helpful to (1) have adequate space to wrap each dish in packing paper, (2) pad the top and bottom of each box, (3) create bundles of up to four dishes, and (4) use caution with fragile items.

Clear a space

Get all your packing materials and clear off your kitchen table. You need a flat surface and plenty of room to wrap your plates.

Create bundles

You can pack sturdier dishes in bundles of four. Put one dish in the center of the packing paper and fold one corner over the top. Place the next dish on top and repeat the process until you have a bundle. Then wrap the other corners and pack the bundle vertically in your box.

Be careful packaging fragile items

It’s okay to pack some items in bundles, but you should individually wrap fragile items like china.

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Packing tip: Leave a few essentials out of the box

Packing tip: Leave a few essentials out of the box

Keep a few plates and sets of silverware handy and save a box for packing these items at the last minute. You don’t want to get everything packed and realize you don’t have anything to eat off of.

Step 3: How to pack kitchen glassware

You don’t want to arrive at your new home to a box full of broken beer steins you collected in college and cracked stemware you received as a wedding gift. Use these packing tips to make sure your kitchen glasses arrive at your new home in one piece.

Use specialty boxes

Your glassware is likely some of the most fragile stuff you have in your kitchen. If you’re going to shell out for specialty packing materials, go for boxes designed for glasses. We’ve done the hard work for you and made a list of our top three recommendations.

Double-wrap your glasses

Two-ply toilet paper is more popular than single-ply for good reason. Treat your glasses as well as your tush and use two layers of wrapping. You won’t regret it.

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Let's party!

Let's party!

Nothing feels quite as nice as having everything in perfect condition when you finish unpacking. Celebrate by inviting your neighbors over for a party, and make a great first impression with these housewarming party favors guaranteed to impress your guests.

Step 4: How to pack pots and pans

Pots and pans are a cinch to pack if you do it right. With a little effort, you can minimize the number of boxes you need (and the number you’ll have to haul and unpack later).

Clean your pots and pans

It doesn’t matter if you know the best way to store pots and pans if you haven’t washed them.

Use the nesting method

Think Russian nesting dolls. Place smaller pots and pans inside of larger ones, and repeat the process until you have three or four layers. Separate each layer with wrapping or padding to prevent dings and scratches.

You can easily pack your lids in separate boxes. If the lids are breakable, wrap them up just like you would your plates.

Include pantry items

An easy way to keep your kitchen items together is to put dry pantry items like dry beans, rice, or flour on top of your pots and pans. Just make sure you have enough space to close the box and tape the lid.

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Best way to store pots and pans

Best way to store pots and pans

Pots and pans don’t need as much padding as fragile items, but you should still line the bottom of your boxes with crumpled packing paper.

You can also use storage bins and totes instead of boxes. This will cost you more up front, but you can use the containers for other things after you unpack.

Step 5: How to pack knives

Knives cause more accidental injuries than anything else in the kitchen.1 Stay safe by following these packing tips.

Don’t mix in other items

Use a box just for your knives. There are specialty boxes if you need them, but the main point is to make sure there’s nothing else mixed in with the knives. Think of them like misbehaving kids who need a time-out. Bad things (like accidentally cutting yourself) can happen if you don’t separate them.

Wrap knives in a towel

Put three or four knives on a hand towel with the blades pointing in the same direction. Begin at the bottom and roll up the towel so there is a cushion between each blade. Then fold over the side of the towel to protect the tips—and your hands.

Label the blade direction

Wrap the knives in a layer of packing paper once you have them rolled up in a towel. On the outside of the packing paper, label the direction of the knife blades. You can either write “Knives” with an arrow or draw a picture of a knife with the blade pointing the right way.

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Holy guacamole!

Holy guacamole!

The popularity of avocados is exploding—and so are related knife injuries. In the last decade, more than 50,000 people have gone to the emergency department with injuries from cutting avocados.2

Use the same common sense when packing knives as you would slicing an avocado. Be sure to check out our packing safety tips.

Bonus tip: How to pack kitchen appliances

A house doesn’t quite feel like home without your trusty coffee maker, microwave, and toaster. Follow these simple tips to make sure you don’t have to eat your Pop-Tarts cold.

Tips for large kitchen appliances

Your large kitchen appliances like the stove and fridge need some special attention. The stove has a lot of attached pieces you need to remove like racks, knobs, and coils. Additionally, if you have a gas stove, make sure to turn off the gas before disconnecting it.

There are three things to remember for your fridge: (1) clean it, (2) defrost it, and (3) follow the user manual to disconnect it. If you’ve lost your user manual, just check Google. It’s 2020.

Clean your small kitchen appliances

Shake the crumbs out of your toaster and clean your microwave’s turntable plate. You don’t want any small critters making the voyage with you—and it feels great for everything to be clean on Day One in your new place.

Disassemble your kitchen appliances

Take apart your small kitchen appliances so nothing gets broken in transit. You paid a lot for that KitchenAid mixer, so take a second to wrap the bowl separately.

Just make sure to keep all the parts in the same box. Moving day isn’t a great time to play Where’s Waldo? with your waffle maker.

Use your Tetris skills

Kitchen appliances have odd shapes, but that doesn’t mean you have to use extra boxes. Put several individually wrapped appliances in the same box if possible. If there just isn’t space, fill in the gaps with other kitchen supplies like cereal boxes, brown sugar, and measuring cups.

About Kurt Manwaring

Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.
  • Vikas Godara

    Nice and very useful article for packing up the kitchen stuff.
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    Packers and movers in india

  • Ken Hwan

    I really appreciate your tip to try and wrap your more fragile dishes individually to protect them! My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house, and we are concerned that we won’t be able to take the china that my grandmother left for us. After reading your article, I will be sure to wrap all of them individually! http://www.mountain-movers.com