5 Tips for Packing Your Most Delicate Items

It’s not fun breaking a glass cup under normal circumstances. It’s even less fun when a glass gets broken during a move. Not only will you have to replace the broken items, you also have to deal with the cleanup after you unpack. If you’re not careful, you could even injure yourself during cleanup.

Protecting your fragile items when moving starts with how you pack them. You’ll want to spend extra care and time to make sure these delicate items make it through the move unscathed. If you’re ready to get started, here are some tips on how to make a damage-free move.

Know Which Items Require Special Handling

When people think of fragile items, their mind immediately goes to items like glassware, plates, and fine china. However, there are other items that also require delicate handling in order to keep it in good condition:

  • Musical instruments – many instruments are made from materials that are sensitive to both temperature and humidity. In order to keep it in good condition, these should always be packed in hardshell cases designed specifically for the instrument’s unique shape.
  • Fine art – moving pictures, frames, or paintings is a delicate process as they can easily break or rip during a move
  • Electronics – TVs, cameras, and A/V equipment all require extra care when moving. You can easily destroy the screen of a LCD TV if something hard knocks into it. Whenever possible, use the original box it was shipped in. Some moving companies will provide specialty boxes for TVs and will even dismount and pack it for you.
  • Antiques – do you have pieces of furniture or knick-knacks that have been passed down through your family? Or maybe you simply like antiques. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to make sure these items are handled carefully to ensure nothing breaks or gets scuffed during the move

Get the Right Materials

In order to get the job done properly, you need the right tools. If you have different types of breakable items, you’ll need different materials. For example, electronics might require a different packing method from more delicate items like fine china or glassware. Some standard items you should have on hand include:

  • Packing peanuts – these will help fill up any empty space between your fragile items and the box to prevent too much unnecessary movement
  • Bubble wrap – they’re not just fun to pop, they’re also meant to provide cushioning for your breakable items. You can wrap items in bubble wrap and also line the bottoms of the boxes with it.
  • Furniture pads – these protect your larger items by covering up the exposed areas with padded blankets. Most professional movers will supply the furniture pads, but it’s not a bad idea to wrap your large furniture yourself!
  • Dividers – use these for glasses and stemware to prevent them from shifting and colliding into each other
  • Paper – packing paper is a simple and affordable option to protect your glassware and other valuables. Wrap both the outside and fill hollow items with packing paper to soften vibrations.

Use Smaller Boxes for Packable Items

Not only are smaller boxes easier to handle when moving, they’re also great because you’re not over-packing them. Wrap each item individually with packing paper and/or bubble wrap before you pack it in the box. The less empty space there is in your box, the less room there is for the items to move during transit.

Speaking of boxes, never use flimsy boxes for your fragile items! The thicker and sturdier they are, the better. Thin boxes means your glassware or ceramics will move when there’s even the slightest vibration or jostling. Choose the most rigid box you can and reinforce these boxes with packing tape for extra support. You don’t want the boxes breaking on you!

Mark Your Fragile Items!

Whether you are moving yourself or hiring professional movers, you should always mark which boxes have fragile items. Even if you’re doing all the loading and unloading, it’s easy to forget where you put all the breakable items and you might end up stacking other boxes on top of your box of glassware. As you might expect, this can only lead to disaster. Similarly, movers won’t know which packed boxes contain all the delicate items unless you specify!

If you don’t have a black or red sharpie, buy one! Write ‘fragile’ on all the sides of the box as large as possible. You might even want to buy different color tape to draw more attention to the fragile boxes. Don’t forget to mark which way the box should be placed. You can draw arrows pointing in the correction direction and write “this end up” or you can get stickers to include on the boxes.

For larger items like TVs, furniture, etc. you should still put a sticker or some kind of warning to ensure these items get treated with care. This is especially true if you have furniture with glass or ceramic parts. Don’t forget to bubble wrap the breakable parts for added security.

Take Your Time

Packing is an arduous task and it’s easy to want to rush through the process so you can get it done as soon as possible. Even when you’re packing your regular stuff, you want to have plenty of time to organize and pack properly. This is doubly important with  your fragile items. After all, the time you might save packing things quickly could lead to a lot of time and potentially money wasted cleaning up any broken items.

While you’re at it, leave the fragile items for last. It takes a lot of time to properly pack everything and you might discover that if you start with your breakables first you’ve run out of time for everything else. The best way to avoid this issue is to start packing earlier than you think you need to. Ideally, you should start at least a month beforehand so you have time to do a little bit every day. Start packing rooms and/or items you don’t use often in the beginning and slowly build your way up until you only have the essentials to pack the day before moving day. That way, you won’t feel rushed and you can finish the entire job.

Protect Your Fragile Items

Making sure your fragile items get to your new home safely takes a lot of time and a bit of money to do properly. However, it’s well worth it as you won’t have to worry about opening a box full of broken glass when unpacking! If you don’t have the time or you’re intimidated by packing these items, consider asking a professional moving company if they offer packing services. Many offer partial and full options and know exactly how to protect your breakable items.

At Great Movers, we know exactly how to take care of all your belongings and will even pack some items free of charge for you like your TV, floor lamps, and glass tables! So what are you waiting for? Give us a call once you’re ready to make your move.


What happens if some items break during a move?

Most reputable moving companies provide partial valuation service for your items which will reimburse you for $0.60 per pound for each broken item. With that said, if you have a lot of expensive, breakable items you might consider purchasing moving insurance to fully protect your items.

How can I protect my piano during a move?

Work with a moving company who has handled pianos in the past. They will know exactly how to place it in the truck and many will even provide references for piano tuners once you are in your new place.

What happens if I need to move a hot tub?

Call the movers in advance to let them know you are moving a hot tub. Despite its large size, hot tubs do require care when being handled to make sure the electrical components don’t get damaged.