Get ahead of your next move with our best moving supplies list. Click below to hear our spiel on everything from bubble wrap to tool sets.
The Ultimate List of Moving Supplies for an Easy Move
If you think you need just boxes and tape for your move, think again. Having the right packing and moving supplies on hand can make the difference between a “that wasn’t so bad” move and an “I’m never doing that again!” move.
That’s why we’ve created a list of essential moving equipment that you can refer to as you prepare to move. Our list tells you what supplies you need to make your move manageable and how to use them. We’ll even point out ways to save money on your moving supplies.
Get the answers to some frequently asked questions about moving supplies below, then keep reading to find our ultimate list of moving supplies.
Are you still looking for a mover? Check out our list of the best moving companies.
The ultimate list of moving supplies
These are the essential items you can’t do without.
Boxes are pretty much the most important moving supply you’ll use. We recommend getting a variety of box sizes and types to make packing easier. At a minimum, get small boxes for heavy items like books and large boxes for light, bulky items like pillows or blankets. Medium boxes with box dividers work well for fragile items like dishes.
If you want to save money and you have time to do some research, you can sometimes find free boxes on websites like Freecycle or Craigslist. People often list their used moving boxes when they’re done with them. Keep in mind that used boxes might not have the structural integrity of new boxes, so pack carefully if you go this route.
Newspaper also provides a frugal, if less effective, option. Just hold on to your newspaper for a few weeks, or even ask your neighbors for their papers after they’re done reading. Just remember that newspaper won’t have nearly the cushioning ability of proper packing supplies, so avoid using it for really delicate items.
Label your boxes as you pack. Everyone has their own method: some people prefer the simplicity of writing on a box, while others prefer to develop a color code using colored stickers. For a highly visible and clear solution, try these moving labels. Whatever you use, be sure to label the boxes on multiple sides.
While you might be tempted to get the cheapest packing tape you find, we recommend spending a few dollars more on quality tape. Cheap tape is often too thin to use easily, and it doesn’t have great sticking power. Stick to brands you’ve heard of. Use a tape gun to dispense tape quickly, and buy your packing tape in bulk rolls to save on the overall cost. You might not think you need much tape, but you’ll use more than you’d expect.
Cargo straps or rope
As you load your moving truck, use cargo straps or rope to keep your items from shifting around. Unsecured items can move and cause damage. Cargo straps let you secure your items to the side of the moving truck or to each other. Just make sure your straps are thick enough to secure heavy furniture without breaking.
Moving your furniture and appliances
If you’re transporting furniture, you’ll want these supplies.
Use furniture pads to protect your big pieces. Throwing a pad over your dresser can mean the difference between good-as-new and a huge gouge on top that you see every time you go to get socks.
While you can buy furniture pads, we recommend renting them. You can usually get a dozen pads for between $10 and $20 from a moving company—about the same cost as buying a single pad. Alternatively, you can use blankets as a thrifty replacement. Just don’t expect your blankets to survive the move unscathed.
These plastic covers slide on over your furniture to protect it. While these covers don’t offer much in the way of padding, they help keep your items clean and can prevent surface damage. Covers can also preserve your warranty on expensive items like mattresses. At a minimum, get mattress bags and couch covers. Just slide the covers over your mattress or couch, then tape them shut.
Dollies and hand trucks
We recommend renting handtrucks and dollies from a moving company rather than buying them, unless you plan to move lots of furniture on a regular basis and have plenty of storage room. You can rent a dolly or hand truck for less than $20—far cheaper than it would be to purchase one.
If you’ll have to move bulky items up and down lots of stairs, consider using wearable moving straps instead of a dolly. These straps make it easier for you and a friend to move heavy items. Make sure you read the instructions to avoid injury from misuse.
Though you might not intend to dismantle your dining table, you may change your mind when you’re trying to fit everything in the moving truck. A simple tool set makes it easy to disassemble your table or any other furniture you need to deal with. Keep your tools handy for reassembly at your new place.
Stretch wrap has various useful applications in moving. We suggest using it to keep drawers closed on items like dressers and nightstands. You can also use it to protect furniture, especially wood pieces, from scratches and other surface damage.
Get your deposit back with these items.
Keep plenty of garbage bags on hand as you move. Use them to throw away trash or pack last-minute items. (They’re great for protecting pillows, for example.) Plus, if you have extras, they won’t go to waste. You can use your garbage bags at your new place.
A bucket is invaluable for deep cleaning. Most hardware stores carry inexpensive five-gallon buckets that you can use to clean. Make sure you get a bucket with a lid—after you clean, you can pack items inside.
You probably already have a broom, so just keep it handy during your move. You’ll want it to clean your old place and your new home. You should also use it to sweep out your rental truck after your move to ensure you get your deposit back.
Small (but important) supplies
These small, inexpensive items can make a big difference.
A utility knife makes opening boxes a breeze. Just be careful as you use your knife—if you’ve packed your boxes to the top, it’s easy to accidentally cut your belongings as you slice through the tape holding the box shut.
Your moving truck will hold almost all of your earthly possessions. Protect them with a sturdy padlock. While you can pick up cheap padlocks at any supermarket, we recommend splurging a little on a hefty padlock that resists picking and cutting, like this Centurion model. It costs a little more, but it’s still much (much!) cheaper than replacing everything you own.
What’s harder than carrying all your boxes and furniture to and from a moving truck? Carrying all your boxes and furniture with an injured hand. Invest in some work gloves to protect yourself from scrapes, cuts, and punctures. Your hands will thank you.
As you disassemble furniture, put screws, bolts, or washers in small plastic bags, then label the bag so you know what the hardware goes to. Keep all these bags in one convenient place so you can quickly find the hardware you need when it’s time to reassemble. Snack- or sandwich-sized bags work best for this.
You can also use gallon-sized bags to hold cords and cables. As you pack your entertainment center, for example, put your console cords in one bag and your receiver cables in another. As always, don’t forget to label.
Any well-organized move requires lots of labeling. Keep a permanent marker or two (or three or four) on hand to easily label anything. We suggest getting a Sharpie multipack, so you can leave a marker in each room. After all, you have better things to do than search for a writing utensil.
Moving supply FAQs
Can I get packing supplies from my moving company?
You might be tempted to get all your moving supplies from a moving company—after all, it’s a one-stop shop with boxes, tape, and everything else you can think of—but you can usually save money by getting the bulk of your supplies elsewhere.
That being said, you can save money by renting some supplies from a moving company rather than buying them outright yourself.
How many boxes do I need?
You can use an online calculator to get a rough estimate of how many boxes you’ll need. Take your estimate with a grain of salt, however—you may need more or fewer boxes depending on your personal packing style and how full your rooms are.
As a rule of thumb, it’s better to err on the side of overestimating. You don’t want to be cramming your fragile dishes in a small box to save room, and you definitely don’t want to run out of boxes at 11:46 p.m. the night before your move.
How much do moving supplies cost?
Many people forget to account for the price of moving supplies when they calculate the price of moving. The materials can add up quickly, so be sure to account for them in your budget.
The cost of your moving supplies will depend on what you get. If you’re making a local move, for example, you might not need a padlock since you won’t be leaving things in your truck overnight. Likewise, you may already have some items, like a toolbox and cargo straps.
The cost also depends on how much stuff you have to move and what kind of move you choose. Obviously, the more stuff you have, the more supplies you need. But if you choose a full-service moving company, your moving package could include most supplies. Expect to spend more of your budget on supplies if you do a DIY move.
With that in mind, we can’t give you a definitive answer to how much you’ll spend on supplies, but we can offer a rough range. If you already have plenty of supplies and manage to find free boxes, you might spend as little as $50, even on a DIY move. If you choose to buy absolutely everything, you could spend as much as $500. Most people will fall somewhere in between.
If you want to save money on moving supplies, ask around. Over 10% of Americans move annually, so you’re likely to know someone who has extra boxes or packing tape sitting around. Similarly, you probably know someone who has tools you can borrow or gloves you can use. Put out a call for supplies on social media, and you might be surprised at what you get.
Make your move
For the best moving experience, prepare for your move by gathering the proper supplies. Use our list to figure out what you have and what you need. Be sure to get your moving supplies ahead of time so you can enjoy a safe, well-organized move.
Are there any other moving supplies you can’t move without? Tell us about them in the comments below.