How to Pack Clothes for Moving

Three Parts:Preparing to Pack Your ClothesLearning to Pack Your Clothes EfficientlyPacking Your Clothes by Category

Moving can be exciting and stressful. While it offers an opportunity for change and reinvention, it also comes with to-do lists and details and a lot of packing. It might seem like your clothes will be easy to move and require only suitcases and duffel bags, but you might want to be a little more organized than that. Clothing is heavy, and it is important to keep your garments safe from damage and dry when transporting it from your old home to your new home. Pack clothes for moving by planning ahead and using the proper packing materials.

Part 1
Preparing to Pack Your Clothes

  1. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 1
    Lay out and sort your clothes. Often times over the years clothes can become piled up without you even realizing it. The first step to sort this all out is to get all of your clothes out from your dresser, closet, attic, and below your bed. Lay everything out, either across your floor, or on top of your bed. Begin to pair things together, based on color, size, and fabric.[1]
    • Once you have started to make categories, place each of your articles in select piles.
    • Begin to match box and suitcase sizes. If you have a relatively small pile of specific articles, you can pair that pile with a smaller box. Some of the larger piles might have to be matched with a suitcase or larger box.
  2. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 2
    Get rid of unnecessary items. This is the perfect time to try on some of the old in your closet that you haven't worn in ten years. Check the clothes for mildew, moth balls, flees, bedbugs, etc. Smell them to see if they have a musty scent. Determine whether or not they are outdated. After you search through your closet/cupboard, you should have a pile of outdated, outgrown, and worn out clothes to throw away.[2]
    • Run your fingernail overtop of the fabric. This will help loosen any bugs, or bedbug fecal matter (dried blood) which is present on your clothes. It is best to dispose of these clothes, especially if they are old and haven't been worn in a while.
    • Donate clothing that is still in good shape and does not fit you or is not appropriate for the climate in your new home. Many people like to take clothes to Goodwill or homeless shelters.
    • Throw out clothing that is torn, stained or too worn to wear in public. This is especially true when it comes to any old underwear and socks which have been crammed in your dresser drawer for many years.
  3. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 3
    Put aside clothing you will need immediately. You will probably not finish all of your unpacking on the first day of your move, so keep a small bag with a few changes of clothes that you can use when you first arrive at your new home. Remember to leave out an outfit for moving day as well, and include undergarments and socks.[3]
    • Pack the items you need upon arrival to your new home in a separate container. This could include not just clothes, but also toothbrushes, deodorant, hairspray, etc.
  4. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 4
    Use old clothing to package breakable items. When you move, chances are you will have to move glassware, dishes, etc. Wrap these items in some of those clothes you were going to throw away. Find specific items which fit the shape and size of what you want to wrap. If there are elongated items you can place them in pants legs. If it is a wide plate you wish to wrap, place it in the body of a shirt.[4]
    • Carefully stack these items on top of one another, or side-to-side. Do not throw the items down and break them.
    • You can also add extra layers of old clothes in between the items when you start packing them up. Add a shirt, or an extra pair of pants, in between the items.
    • Pack your glasses or stemware in knee high socks.
  5. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 5
    Leave some items in your dresser drawers. If you are taking your dresser with you when you move, you can leave some of the items in the drawers. You should leave lightweight items like underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc., while taking out sweatpants, jeans, coats, etc. You then have the choice of taking your dresser as a whole or breaking it down into its component parts. Get people who are big, or who have upper body strength to move the dresser.[5][6][7]
    • If your drawers are generally loose, with no locking mechanism, it it best to remove the drawers. You will want to wrap each of the drawers separately, with a large container of plastic wrap. Go around the drawer in both directions, multiple times. Do this until the drawer has been completely wrapped, and all of the contents are secure.
    • If you decide to take the dresser as a whole, you will want to secure the drawers. Take a bungee cord and wrap it all the way around the dresser, overtop of one of the drawers. Hook the two ends of the bungee cord. Then take more bungee cords and wrap it around the other drawers, all the way around the dresser.
    • Safely secure the dresser in the moving van. You can either use bungee cords or lifting straps. Tightly wrap them around your dresser and secure them to the base/side of your truck (on the inside).

Part 2
Learning to Pack Your Clothes Efficiently

  1. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 6
    Fold and/or bundle your clothes. You will want to make sure your folds are neat and tight so that you can fit as many clothes into each of your boxes. The best way to fold them is inside out, that way the creases that ensue will be easier to get out when you unpack. Bundle wrapping is another great option if you don't mind getting your clothes slightly creased.[8]
    • For bundle wrapping, lay out a large piece of clothing on a clean surface like a table. This article of clothing could be a jacket, winter coat, large sweater.
    • Lay clothes on top of the large article one by one. Start with the next largest size of clothes and work towards the middle, until you are laying down your smallest articles.
    • Finally, take one end of the largest article on the bottom in your hands. Begin to roll until all of the clothes are wrapped tightly together in one bundle. You can add a scrunchy, or a few rubber bands over the bundle to keep it secure.
  2. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 7
    Pack your clothes into small boxes. Like books, the weight of clothes can be greatly underestimated. Because of this, it is best to pack your clothes into many smaller boxes rather than a few large boxes. If not, the bottoms can fall out of the boxes, and they can be very hard to carry.[9][10]
    • When you are purchasing/borrowing boxes to use, try and get 12X12 inch boxes. Any larger than that can be hard to carry.
    • Lift your boxes occasionally as you pack. This will give you a feel for how heavy they are getting and when to move onto a new box.
  3. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 8
    Use your luggage to transport your clothes. This is probably the cheapest way to move your clothes if you already own suitcases. Simply fold them neatly, placing them one over the other. Try to keep pants/shorts on the bottom of the suitcase, leaving room at the top for shirts and dresses.[11][12]
    • If you can, use suitcases with wheels. They will be much better to move, both into your moving vehicle, and into your new house.
    • Be careful not to pack delicate garments tightly in a suitcase. You can either pack them loosely, or use another method of packing. Suitcases are best designed to transport t-shirts, jeans, and shorts, all of which can be ironed later on.
  4. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 9
    Utilize wardrobe boxes. When you are trying to transport dress shirts, pants, dresses, etc. you need a way to keep them from getting wrinkled. Wardrobe boxes are tall, with handles on both sides, and are equipped with a hanging rack at the top. They allow you to hang your clothes on hangers, thereby not having to fold them. This way you also will have most of your clothes hangers packed as well, and put to good use.[13][14]
    • Find wardrobe boxes with a metal pole rather than the cardboard ones. Especially if you want to hang a lot of clothes in the box, the metal rack will hold up better over time, and can be reused later.
    • Wardrobe boxes are rather expensive. If you can, limit their use. Only buy one or two, and only place your most precious articles in them.
  5. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 10
    Place your clothes in garbage, or vacuum sealed bags. Garbage bags are a cheap, easy way to protect your hanging clothes. Cut a hole at the bottom of a garbage bag with a pair of scissors; one large enough to get hangers through. Slide your clothes on hangers through the hole. Tie the bag in a knot at the bottom of your clothes, and secure the top with a zip-tie.[15][16]
    • Vacuum sealed bags are another great option. They are found pretty cheaply at most department stores and will provide you with a little extra space as you pack.
    • Place your clothes in the vacuum sealed bags, either folded or laid flat, depending on the size of your bags. Seal the top of the bag off (usually come with a plastic zipper). Attach the hose of a vacuum cleaner to the bag and suck out the air.
    • Once the excess air has been eliminated, you will now have fairly thin bags of clothes which can be packed in suitcases or boxes.
  6. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 11
    Put labels on your boxes. Each of the labels should have: season, size, type (clothes, jackets, coats, undergarments, etc.), who it belongs to, and where it is going in the new house. You can buy pre-made labels for moving, or use some labels from when you last wrapped Christmas packages. Taping a piece of paper onto the box is another great option. Make sure that you use enough tape to secure the label.[17][18]
    • Completely cover the labels in clear tape. This will protect it from rain damage if your boxes are left out in the rain. You will still be able to see the label clearly.
    • Write the labels in a dark pen, or a magic marker. This way the label won't rub off in between when it is shipped.
  7. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 12
    Pack shoes separately from your clothing. This will prevent your clothes from getting dirty. Use shoeboxes to pack your shoes if you still have them. You can stack the shoeboxes on top of one another in a larger box.[19]
    • Stuff shoes with socks or paper to ensure they keep their form and do not get crushed if you are packing them without shoeboxes. This will also prevent them from scuffing one another.
    • Alternate the position of your shoes in the boxes to save space.
  8. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 13
    Transport your clothing without packing. If you are making a short move, there is no need to pack everything. For example, if you are only moving a few streets away, you can lay down your clothing, still on the hangers, in the backseat of your car. You can also be more lenient with how much you take at once. Only take a few boxes over at once. Take the clothes which you won't need anytime soon over to your new house first.[20][21]

Part 3
Packing Your Clothes by Category

  1. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 14
    Group your clothes by material. Place all of the same types of materials in the same box. Whether it be silks, cottons, polyesters, wools, etc. Each type of fabric needs a different treatment, has a different thickness, and different susceptibilities to creasing. When you get to your new house, it will be much easier to sort out your clothes this way, and prioritize which ones need to come out first.[22]
    • Woolen fabrics are generally thicker, and less susceptible to creasing. To pack away these clothes, fold them like normal, and place them in one over the others. You might want to place a paper towel in between each of them so that they do not tangle and knot together. You might also consider getting a few extra boxes to accommodate the thickness of the fabric.
    • Silks and cottons are thinner and easily creased. You can fold them and place them into boxes if you don't mind the creases. There is always the option to iron your clothes once you move into your new home. However, if you don't want them to get creased, you can place each of the articles on hangers, and drape a plastic clothing bag over top. Hang them in your moving vehicle when you get ready to move.
    • Polyesters and other synthetics can be crammed into boxes. They are fairly thin and don't crease easily. Fold them up like any other normal clothes and place them in boxes one on top of the other.
  2. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 15
    Pack your out of season clothing first. You will not need those items right away, and you can mark the boxes and bags so that you unpack them last. For instance, if you moving in the beginning of summer, you can pack up your fall sweaters and winter coats from the start. If you are moving in the middle of January, pack away your short sleeve t-shirts and shorts.
    • If you are packing in one of those in between months, leave some clothes that you might use near the top of the box.[23]
    • Pack away your specialty clothes as well. This includes hiking clothes, swim trunks, etc. Chances are, before a big move, you will not be traveling to use these items.
  3. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 16
    Organize your clothes by season. In separate boxes pack summer, fall, winter, and spring clothes. Summer and spring clothes are generally lighter, and can be packed tightly together. These clothes are somewhat easier to crease, so you can leave a few special pieces on hangers. However, you need to remain efficient with your space, so choose wisely. Winter and fall clothes are thicker, and less likely to crease. You will need more boxes, but you won't need many hanger if at all.[24]
    • Make sure to label each box. You do not want to have to go searching through every single box to find what you need.
    • Prioritize certain clothes depending on where you are planning on living. If you are moving up north, pack your winter clothes first. That way when you get there those boxes will be ready for you. If you are moving southward, pack your summer/spring clothes first.
  4. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 17
    Separate your clothes by size. Place all large items in one box, and smaller items in another. For example, pack your sweaters, jackets, coats, jeans, etc. in one box. Pack underwear, socks, gloves, earmuffs, leggings, etc. into a smaller box. Because you will be mixing and matching here, depending on size, make sure you write a clear label on the outside of your box about the contents.[25]
    • Maintain a list as you are packing to make writing the label that much easier.
    • Combine this method with other methods. For example, pack together large items which are used solely during winter time. Smaller items which are all silk. This will make it much easier when it comes time to unpack.
  5. Image titled Pack Clothes for Moving Step 18
    Divide your clothes based on purpose. Pack together all of your pants into one box. Gather together all of your underwear and place them in another. Have a separate box for only dress shirts. This method is designed for a quick moving time. If you are planning on having a longer move-in time, it is best to try one of the other methods which allow you to pack a wide array of clothes together in one box.[26]


  • Remember to pack your jewelry separately. You do not want to lose your accessories in your clothing or risk snagging or tearing your clothes.
  • Pack only dried and clean clothes. You do not want mildew to be formed in the process of moving. You also don't want unwanted odors/stains being transferred to your other clothes.
  • Use protective layers of paper towels, or cloths to separate your more delicate articles of clothing.
  • Pack hats in separate, large boxes. You want to make sure they have enough room so that they don't bend or scuff.
  • Place heavier items at the bottom of your boxes, and lighter items near the top.


  • Include insect repellent in your boxes, especially if you will have your clothes packed for a long time. Spiders, ants, and other creepy crawlies love to make home in your warm fabrics. You can usually find specialized repellents for clothing specifically.
  • Double box some items which are particularly heavy. Simply place a smaller, heavy box inside a larger one. This will make it easier to move, and will keep the smaller box from falling apart.[27]

Things You'll Need

  • Luggage
  • Wardrobe boxes
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Marker
  • Vacuum-sealed bags
  • Garbage bags
  • Labels
  • Bungie cords

Sources and Citations

Show more... (24)

Article Info

Categories: Moving House and Packing