The 8 biggest mistakes when packing for a house move – expert advice

| Edited:

The 8 biggest mistakes when packing for a house move – expert advice

As cardboard box suppliers to removal companies we have access to some of the best advice out there for moving house. We asked professionals in the removals trade the following question:

What are the biggest mistakes people make when they pack up their house for a move?

Here’s the top 8 most popular answers. Can you guess what number one will be?

Hint: it relates to a very British obsession! We’ll reveal all at the end of this article.

Mistake #8: Packing a box dangerously

One respondent to our survey sent us a photo of an amazon box marked ‘knives’ with the bare blade of a large kitchen knife pointing out of the side. When we asked how common that was, we found out it happens more often than you think. This is extremely dangerous for obvious reasons.

Another person responded, “filling a box with vacuum packed clothes makes it way too heavy”.

So don’t let sharp things stab anyone and don’t break anyone’s backs with too much weight! Think about the safety of yourselves and the people coming into your home to help you.

Mistake #7: Choosing to pack themselves

It’s not just because removals companies offer packing services. This was a popular frustration because people don’t pack very well, for many of the reasons explained throughout this article. “They should let the professionals do it” is the general consensus.

Many companies give tips and advice to their customers but sometimes that goes largely ignored. Here’s a handy tip we were provided with to make sure nothing gets smashed in transit:

“From a corner rock the box; if you can hear things moving around or clashing together, it isn’t packed properly. Don’t leave any space in the box.”

When we asked what people should use to ensure there is no space in the box, the response was “loose items - towels and bedding for example”. Make sure that fragile items are wrapped in paper or bubble wrap too.

wrap and protect fragile items using paper or towels

Generally though, house moves go a lot more smoothly if the professionals can take care of it.

Mistake #6: Using bags instead of boxes

Using bags instead of boxes makes it much harder for your removal company to move your stuff and load it into their van. Bags don’t stack well, and often aren’t suitable. “Bin bags full of shoes” was one professional’s personal gripe.

When we asked for more on why bags were no good, we had the following response:

“The main issue is that the vans don't pack as well, things don't stay in one place and things can get broken so much easier.

It doesn't really make too much difference if clothing or bedding goes into bags because you can put them on top and fill gaps etc..

But we have had it where entertainment systems, pots and pans, glassware, ornaments, basically all household contents are all bagged and it ends up just being a big mountain in a pile in the van.” 

After a disastrous job, another mover said, “one customer of mine packed crockery into plastic bags!” That's just asking for trouble.

Don’t be that person. Just use good quality boxes!

using bags to pack a house

Mistake #5: Underestimating how much stuff there is or not packing it all

A few experts responded to our survey with stories of customers being totally unprepared on the day of the move because they had underestimated the amount of stuff they had in cupboards and drawers (and forgotten what was languishing in the loft!).

One particularly laid back customer caused problems on moving day because they were “still in their bed when we knocked the door at 8am... with literally nothing packed”.

Others make a mistake by “trying to do most of the packing on moving day” which is a very high stress strategy because often, people “think they've packed when they still have stuff everywhere”.

Many agreed that packing always takes longer than you expect, so always factor that in and plan in advance. There are certain things you can pack well in advance, such as spare crockery, guest bedding and other items you don’t use very often. Our How to Pack for Moving Day guide has more helpful tips like this. 

Mistake #4: Using the wrong tape or no tape at all

One professional lamented the use of masking tape to seal boxes. One said it happens all too often that a customer won’t use any tape at all – they’ll simply fold the flaps of the box and tuck them in – this makes the boxes liable to suddenly open up when the weight of the objects becomes too much. No one wants all their stuff ending up on the pavement outside the house!

Look for low noise brown tape - it's the most popular for house moves. If you can get hold of a tape dispenser that will make it much quicker and easier to seal the boxes too. You'll feel like a pro!

sealing cartons with tape and dispenser

Mistake #3: No room allocation written on the boxes

When you pack up a room, simply write the room name on the box! If not done, “this can slow down the job process or cause an absolute nuisance” said one mover. Writing a room allocation on the box helps in so many ways. It means that household items are moved into the correct room in the new house and unpacking is quicker and simpler as a result. It’s also useful for when items need to go into storage for a while, because after time has passed no one will remember which box should go where.

Another respondent suggested, “they could number the boxes”. For example, if the master bedroom has 3 boxes, you’d label them, ‘master bedroom 1/3’, ‘master bedroom 2/3’ and ‘master bedroom 3/3’. That way all the boxes for a room can stay together and everyone knows easily if one has been misplaced in another room.

write rooms on boxes when moving home

Mistake #2: Using crisp boxes

Crisps are light, and are packaged in plenty of air. This means that crisp boxes are single wall boxes with no strength or durability. They are not designed for transporting household items. However, people sometimes source free cardboard boxes from supermarkets and end up with these low-quality unsuitable crisp boxes. One removal expert said customers will overload the crisp boxes: “They're big boxes... then they’ll put 30kg in them”. Ouch. Don’t do that.

Double wall boxes are best for removals as a minimum – even stronger boxes are available. Some experts warned against putting too many books in a box. Books are really heavy. A strong, smaller box should be used for books compared to the rest of the boxes.

book boxes

These are our best book boxes for house and office moves. They’re strong and compact, and when full are still manageable to lift. These boxes are typically bought by removal businesses as the minimum order is 500. Product ref: AD653


So this leads us to the top answer in our survey of professional movers.

Mistake #1

What should you not do when moving house?

Pack the Kettle. This is the number 1 mistake people make when packing for a house move according to removal professionals. If there’s anything that will make a house move less stressful it’s a good cup of tea, and if you pack your kettle you’ve got no chance! Keep everyone happy by knowing where your kettle is at all times. That goes for tea bags and milk too.

don't pack your kettle when you move house

BONUS ADVICE: If you are moving abroad...

Don’t pack your passport away in a box! Believe it or not, international removal companies have seen this happen. Their customer packs the house up, the removals guys come in, load everything into vans and leave for another country or send everything by sea freight. Only for the customer to discover they can’t find their passport when it’s already gone by that point! An absolute nightmare you definitely want to avoid.


We hope you enjoyed our top packing tips for moving home. We’ve written previously about house move tips and choosing the right boxes for a move but this is the first time we’ve made a DON’T list, compiled directly from our removal customers who are keen to ensure your house move goes smoothly and you avoid the pitfalls they see every day.

Ask your removal company about their packing services, as it’s a lot easier if you let them do the job for you. They’ll use good quality removal boxes and packaging to secure your beloved belongings and they’ll help you have a stress-free move.

A big thank you to everyone in the removal industry who responded to our questionnaire. Some of your answers were priceless!