Un-packing Tips from the Pros

Un-packing Tips from the Pros

Moving doesn’t have to be a giant pain: if you’re prepared for your move, it can go smoothly. You may have already seen my Top Ten Packing Tips for Moving from last month. Here are my TOP TEN UN-PACKING TIPS FOR MOVING, that I’ve learned from working with the professionals, and from moving fairly frequently, to help make your move as organized and stress-free as possible.

Image showing how to carry boxes on your back.

1 – How to carry a box.

In your hands, right? Actually, no. If you watch the movers, they carry the boxes on their backs! They usually stack a few small or medium boxes, or carry one large one, by bracing them from behind and using their backs. It’s way easier to lift a heavy box from behind than in front of you. Carrying a box in front makes you use your back more, in the wrong way. Hopefully you’re following my 4th tip from the recent Packing post and packing more small and medium boxes that aren’t too heavy, but if not, this tip will help save you from back pain.

2 – What to unpack first.

Start by unpacking your bed/bedding, towels and toiletries. It’s likely you aren’t going to be able to unpack everything in one day. At the end of the day you’re going to be tired and sore, so make sure the first thing you set up is your bed. Unpack your toiletries and bathroom so that you can shower and relax in the evening. A good night’s sleep will really help prepare you for a second (and even third) day of unpacking/organizing.

Protect your floors by putting a moving pad or paper underneath your boxes.

3 – Protect your floors.

Place crush/paper down on floors – both hardwood or carpet – to protect them from potential damage. Also, do not stack boxes up against walls, especially newly painted ones. Leave a good gap of a few inches. It’s best to pile boxes in the middle of a room. Be especially careful when carrying boxes up stairs or around corners. Be aware of your surroundings so you don’t scuff up the walls/floors. Think small when carrying your box, and take your time getting it from point A to point B.

This is how you correctly open a box in three easy steps.

4 – How to correctly open a box.

This was a surprise to me, but once I learned it, it made complete sense. Most people slice down the center of the box (where it’s taped together), then they cut the sides. The correct way to open a box is to start off by cutting the tape holding the sides of the box together (see step 1). Then, use your fingers to pull up the middle of the box so that you’re not cutting into anything placed on top (see step 2), then start cutting down the middle. Hopefully you’ve packed the box with paper (link from old post) on top, but just to be safe, or if you don’t know who packed the box, opening a box this way will ensure you aren’t going to damage anything at the top of the box. Save a few of the larger boxes for CRUSH (I’ll get to this in a few steps), but the rest you should break down and stack up by size somewhere out of the way. If you have a moving company, the movers will take the boxes. Otherwise you can bind and recycle them, store them, or give them to someone else who needs them (provided they are still in good shape).

Flatten your paper to make sure nothing gets thrown out accidentally.

5 – How to make sure nothing gets thrown out.

They key to making sure nothing gets thrown out accidentally, is to flatten each piece of paper in each box. There might be a lot of empty crush in the box, but just make sure by flattening each piece in a stack. Then as you start to unpack wrapped items, you can add the paper to the pile. This is nearly a foolproof way to make sure nothing small gets thrown out with the crumpled up paper (because there won’t be any, it will all be flat).

Create a crush box for all your paper.

6 – Create crush boxes.

Once you have a decent-sized stack of paper, fold it in half (and even in half again) and place it in the bottom of an empty box. Mark your box CRUSH and fill it with as much paper as it will hold. Once you think the box is full, get inside and stomp it down (think grape stomp while doing it!). You’ve already made sure it’s all just paper, so nothing will get damaged. This will allow a lot of paper to get crushed into one box. If you end up giving your boxes to someone else, they will also have paper. Or, your movers will gladly take these off your hands and use them for future jobs.

Don't be afraid to stomp down that crush - channel a grape stomp!

Protect your surfaces by putting paper down, unpacking your items in groups, and then putting them in their new spots.

7 – Cover your surfaces.

Similarly to the tip about protecting your floors, make sure you protect your counter tops and other surfaces. Use packing paper to cover your surfaces. You can even make the layers a few sheets thick. Then place items on those into their appropriate category on top of your counters/surfaces. If you don’t have a lot of surface spaces, unpack as many boxes as you can and place in categories on your surface, then when there is no more room, begin to put items away in their appropriate spots. You can edit, rearrange and finesse later.

8 – Un-pack over the box or a counter/flat surface.

Even those with the best of intentions can make mistakes and have a case of ‘butter fingers.’ That’s why it’s important to unwrap all items over a box or a flat surface. The theory here is that if you unpack over a box or surface, and your hands slip because of the paper, your item won’t have far to fall and hopefully will be protected enough not to break. Don’t rush when it comes to unpacking.

9 – Put things away first and ‘finesse’ or edit later.

On my professional jobs, I will often clear off a counter space and put categories away, only to find out there is more of a category and I have to rearrange and finesse. Put as much as you can away first, then assess how much more space you need to fit the rest. If you don’t want to purge any more times, you may have to stack things (like drinking glasses). Get the boxes unpacked first, worry about the editing and finessing for another day (but don’t put this off for too long).

10 – Make a list.

As you’re unpacking, start making a list of containers you may need in your new space. I always urge against buying containers before you know how a space will be used. You also want to make sure you measure spaces before you purchase containers. Clear rectangular storage bins are NOT always the answer (more on this in a future post). Unless you are ok with buying a lot of options and returning what you don’t use, I recommend holding off until you know how your stuff will fit in the new space to buy containers. I also recommend you purge as you unpack, especially if you realize there’s not enough space in your new place. This happens a lot for those who are downsizing. For those who have the opposite problem (upgrading into a new space), realize this does not mean you should buy more to fill the space; you’ll grow into it over time. Remember, space is your friend.

Phew! Hopefully these tips help to make your move as stress free and easy as humanly possible. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Happy moving!

Lauren Mang
lauren@letmeorganizeit.com
20 Comments
  • Kitty S
    Posted at 05:05h, 01 October Reply

    I can see how these tips will make my unpacking after I move next month exceptionally easy. Thank you for sharing these golden tips.

    • Lauren
      Posted at 17:58h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks Kitty! Let me know if you have any questions. In the coming months I’ll also be doing a review on some packing cubes that I’ve found helpful. Stay tuned.

  • Justin@Movingboxesbrisbane
    Posted at 01:46h, 21 March Reply

    Pack up your remotes and electrical cords with the units they belong to. You can use larger zip-lock bags to hold the cords, wires and remotes, then pack them in the same box as the component. This will save time and frustration when you unpack and set each component up.

  • Jack@CardboardBoxesMelbourne
    Posted at 21:29h, 22 March Reply

    Once you get to your new place, sort your boxes into their prospective rooms before beginning to unpack any of them. If you finish unpacking a room and then find another one or two boxes, you may have to reorganize everything you just put away.

  • Dave Anderson
    Posted at 21:51h, 06 February Reply

    I know that moving is one of the most stressful things that a family can encounter from choosing a house to packing to transporting everything from your old house. I appreciate the tips on how to correctly carry and pack boxes. I think that hiring a packing and unpacking service would make the stress of moving a lot less. It would also make it so that you can feel comfortable in the new house a lot easier.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 23:01h, 10 May Reply

      Thanks Dave – I agree with you. Organizers are great to hire before/during/after a move to assist with all the mental prep and then the physical prep (packing, unpacking) and we have a great list of resources at our fingertips (handymen, AV people, movers, art installers, etc.). You can find a professional organizer in your area by visiting http://www.napo.net and looking up ‘find an organizer.’

  • Packers5th.in
    Posted at 12:37h, 19 June Reply

    To make your shifting tension free, this post is very good for the UN-packing tips from Pepsures. Thanks for posting this important information and sharing it with us.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 05:47h, 21 June Reply

      Thanks Packers!

  • Aashi
    Posted at 07:09h, 13 September Reply

    Your tips are useful I think moving with helps movers is better than our self. I appreciate the efforts you people put in to share moving tips and tricks blogs on such kind of topics; it was helpful. Keep Posting!

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 14:49h, 13 September Reply

      Thank you Aashi! I’ve spent 20 hours over the last two days packing up a lovely family for their big cross country move. They’re off today and I will fly out to unpack them on the other end next week.
      I thought of a few more ideas for packing posts and videos that I’ll share as soon as I can. I appreciate your comments! Happy un/packing!

  • Sahar
    Posted at 04:18h, 12 November Reply

    Wow, these are some really great ideas for anyone planning a move. I think it’s wise to start planning from early because a house move can be very overwhelming. Thank you for the post!

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 20:10h, 12 November Reply

      Thanks Sahar! Yes, moves can be one of the biggest stressors a person goes through (other than divorce and death). I’m happy that you found this list helpful. Did you see my other post (on unpacking)? I agree, it’s best to plan these things out 3-6 months in advance (starting to downsize here and there 6 months before the move, having an organizer and or mover come on board for assistance 2-3 months in advance, especially during the summer, etc.). Perhaps I should have a packing/moving checklist – great idea for another blog! Thank you.

  • Ronin Deborah
    Posted at 12:46h, 30 May Reply

    You share the creative ideas. your blog are really useful for me. I found your website just right for my needs. I am glad to find it. There are so many developers working on this part but this is one of the best innovative post ever. Thanks for such post.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 14:41h, 30 May Reply

      Wow Ronin thank you so much! I aim to be as helpful as possible to others and am so glad that this blog has been beneficial to you. If you like the packing and unpacking tips you’ll be happy to hear I’m working on video versions of these blogs, plus additional tips. It’s move season now so I’m helping a lot of people downsize, pack and unpack, and set up systems in their new homes. Let me know if you have any specific questions that I can assist with.

  • Derek Dewitt
    Posted at 12:07h, 30 August Reply

    My wife and I are moving later this year, so thanks for sharing these unpacking tips. I like your point about placing crush or paper down on the floor. We’ll be sure to do this so we don’t scratch the floors.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 14:34h, 30 August Reply

      Derek – thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m working on some videos for this too! Let me know if you have any questions before/during/after the move. Happy packing!

  • Richard Sean
    Posted at 09:11h, 01 September Reply

    Great tips. I like your blog. Useful tips you share with me. Packing is very difficult work. Thanks for valuable tips sharing.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 21:33h, 01 September Reply

      Thanks Richard. I’m glad you’ve found these suggestions helpful! I love adding value to people’s lives. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

  • Deven Carley
    Posted at 14:10h, 05 March Reply

    It is a very advantageous post for me. I’ve enjoyed reading the post. It is a very supportive and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more of its valuable content. Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 20:40h, 05 March Reply

      It’s my pleasure! Let me know if you have specific questions or if I can clear anything up for you. Happy un-packing!

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