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Packing Materials 101: 15 Things You Don’t Need to Buy

Unless your employer’s paying for every cent of your move, the moving process can put a serious dent in your budget. Even if you get a good rate on your movers, moving expenses can add up quickly.

Before you move you’ll probably gather a shopping list of everything you’ll need — from boxes to packing materials and supplies — and these items can add up to some serious cash. Before you fork over your life savings for bubble wrap and packing peanuts (you’d be surprised how much they’re charging these days!), consider how you can repurpose these items around the house as packing materials for a more wallet-friendly move.

1. Towels

Don’t even think about designating a big box to hold all your towels. You’re going to put these to good use. Your towels can wrap small sculptures, vases, platters, mirrors, picture frames, and other breakables. A folded towel can even provide cushion at the bottom of a box with delicate items, too. Pro-tip: Use towels when packing kitchen boxes for extra cushioning for plates or to prevent pots and pans from scratches and dents.

2. Plastic Bags

Whether you have cheap sandwich bags or heavy duty freezer bags with zippers on hand, you can put all of them to good use. Plastic bags of any sort can hold hair accessories, batteries, hardware from disassembled furniture, and pretty much anything else you don’t want to just dump in a box. It’s a good idea to put nail polish, half-used shampoo, and other liquids in sealed bags.

3. Suitcases

Save yourself a few dollars on moving boxes, and get a bit creative with your suitcases. Chances are, you’re probably planning to put your clothing inside, but suitcases are durable enough to hold heavier items such as electronics, books, movies, and your shoe collection.

4. Garbage Bags

No need to pack your clothing in a moving box if you’re just moving across town. Keep your clothes on hangers, and wrap a trash bag around as many hangers that will fit inside. At your new place, simply hang the clothes on the rod, and remove the bag.

packing materials
Via Grown and Flown

5. Drawers

Talk about convenient: You can move your dresser drawers with your clothing inside. Just use Glad Press ‘n Seal wrap to keep everything secure.

6. Baskets

Remember those wicker baskets Grandma gave you last Christmas? Repurpose them on moving day to hold light items, like your scarf or knitting collection.

7. Plastic Bins

Large Rubbermaid containers aren’t just for holding your holiday decorations and seasonal clothes; they make excellent moving boxes. You can often catch them on sale after Halloween and Christmas, so keep an eye out if you know you’re moving around the holidays.

8. Bags

Every type of bag serves a purpose come move-in day. From your stash of gift bags to backpacks to gym bags, you can use ‘em all for packing! They’re great for packing knick-knacks and storing on the floor of your car or in the trunk.

9. Under-Bed Storage

No need to take items out of your under-bed storage containers. Just move everything as it is.

10. Twist Ties

If you’re moving a lot of electronic equipment, you’ll appreciate this one. Twist ties from bread packaging are great for keeping cords secure, so you’re not spending hours detangling your laptop charger at your new place.

11. Socks

Balls of socks are ideal for filling in empty space in boxes with breakables. Socks keep things secure and provide cushioning.

12. Hamper

These are great for holding blankets, pillows, sheets, shoes, small rolled up rugs, etc.

13. Trash Pail

Garbage cans are strong, so they should be used for heavy things, like your laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, bags of pet food, or shoes. Just make sure the bin is clean ahead of time.

14. Beer Boxes

Now you officially have a very good reason to drink beer any day of the week. These boxes are super strong and are great for moving canned goods, movies, books, electronics, and plants. Pro-tip: Check out places to find free moving boxes.

15. Clothing

Anything that doesn’t have to be dry cleaned can be used as packing materials. Towels, soft sweaters, pajamas, and sweatshirts provide boxes with a fair amount of cushioning. You can also use t-shirts and tanks to wrap breakables.

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