Pack a Moving Truck

Packing a moving truck can be almost as overwhelming as moving itself, and arranging your furniture in a way that maximizes your space and minimizes damage is a tricky endeavor. But if you know how to pack a moving truck the right way, then the task will be easy and even fun. Follow these steps to find out how to do it.


Preparing to Pack the Moving Truck

  1. Gather materials. To pack your truck in the safest and most efficient way possible, you'll need a few extra items to help you move your heaviest items and to protect your most delicate belongings. You can get these supplies from a moving supply store or a hardware store. Here's what you'll need:
    • A dolly. This will help you move your heaviest furniture as well as your boxes.
    • Paper padding, plastic stretch wrap, or furniture pads. This will help keep your furniture free from damage.
    • Packing tape. This will hold the padding over your furniture together.
    • Straps. These will help your furniture stay together and will keep it from shifting.
    • A large tarp or plastic wrap. This should cover the floor of the truck to keep your furniture from getting dirty.
  2. Prepare the cab. You should put the items you really need in the cab so you don't forget about them and end up packing them up in the back of the truck. You'll need to bring a toolkit so you can reassemble your furniture as soon as you need to, overnight items so you don't have to search for them, as well as the most fragile items that you don't want to put in the truck.
    • If you or someone who is helping you is also driving a car to your new home, you can also give your fragile items to that person.
    • Fragile items include valuable plates, anything made of glass, and even light bulbs from disassembled lamps.
    • Your overnight items should include enough for you to live with for a day without having to unpack. This will help you avoid an annoying situation where you've packed away your deodorant and have to buy a new one because you can't find it.
    • Put your computer and small electronic items, or even a television, in the cab, if they will fit. You can add these items later during the packing process.
  3. Disassemble your furniture. This will help make your furniture easier to pack and light enough to carry. Before your furniture leaves your house, it should be taken apart into manageable pieces. Not everything can be taken apart, of course, but taking apart a few key items will make moving much easier.Here's what you can do:[1]
    • Remove the cushions from your sofas.
    • Take apart your bed and your bed frames. Tape your bed frames together.
    • Take the bulbs out of your lamps and place them in a separate container or bag. The last thing you want is for glass to get crushed all over your truck.
    • If you have heavy dressers, take the drawers out and carry them to the truck individually. When you load the dresser back into the truck, you can put the drawers back in and even tape them shut.
    • Filing cabinets can be the heaviest item of all. Take out your drawers and carry them to the truck separately before you put them back in.
    • If you remove any screws or hardware from the furniture, put it in a bag and tape it to the furniture, or put a note in the bag that clearly says which piece of furniture it's from.
    • Take apart your bed rails or table legs, and roll them into large rugs or carpets.
  4. Pack books and bookcases to make the most of the space. If you have a lot of books, and a lot of bookcases, go out and get specific boxes that will fit on the bookcases. That is a lot of wasted space otherwise, and regular boxes are usually too wide and too tall to fit on bookshelves. You can pack some books on the bookcases, but you must have a way to keep them from coming off the shelves. On higher shelves, it would be better to pack lighter items in the boxes. Since books are very heavy, even the standard U-Haul "small" box is too heavy for many people to carry. Smaller boxes of books will allow less strong people to carry the books.
    • You can get small and odd-sized boxes at local companies that recycle them from industry. All you'll need is the specific measurements of the shelves you wish to populate
    • The smaller boxes will also help you with the chaos of moving. After packing the boxes, they can be put on the shelves until you move; after you arrive at your new location, they can sit on the shelves until you are ready to pack them.
  5. Move all of your furniture out in front of the truck. Moving as much of your furniture out into the street as you can will help you see how much you're working with, and will make it easier for you to see which items are the heaviest.
    • Only do this if you don't annoy your neighbors or end up taking up too much space.
    • You can also load right from your house into the truck, but you'll have to keep out an eye for which items should go in first (heaviest to lightest).
    • Make sure you have a clear path between your home and the truck.

Packing the Moving Truck

  1. Load the heaviest items and appliances into the truck first. You should have two people in the truck who will be the designated "loaders," while the rest of the people will carry the furniture to the truck or hand it to them if it's light enough. Pack these items into the front of the truck to maximize your space and to keep the truck from dragging if the back is too heavy. If the truck drags, you could be in a dangerous driving situation, so it's best to avoid it.[2]
    • The heaviest items include your appliances, such as the stove, washing machine, fridge, and dishwasher.
    • If you're packing a fridge, don't forget to defrost it at least 1 to 2 days before your move.
    • Keep these items in their upright positions and distribute the heavy items along the back wall of the truck. If you have a washer and dryer, position them on the opposite side from the fridge.
    • Next, load large pieces of furniture, such as sofas, living room chairs, and entertainment units.
    • Remember that you'll be packing from floor to ceiling, with the heaviest items on the bottom. Pack {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} tiers of items, and wrap a strap around the items when you're done with each layer to hold them together.
  2. Protect your remaining furniture. Though some people like to wrap their furniture in advance, it's best to wrap the items as soon as you get them in a truck. When you move an item into the truck, you should put it on top of the paper padding, cover it in the padding, and then tape it down. Here are some extra tips for protecting your furniture:
    • For extra protection, after you wrap a mirror or painting, you can put it between your mattress and box spring, or surround it by cushions.
    • Wrap up your couch cushions and pillows.
    • Wrap your mattresses.
    • If you plan ahead, you probably have a lot of things that you need to move with you anyway that would make great protective pads in the truck. When packing your house, leave all blankets, sheets, towels and other linens unboxed and use them when packing.
  3. Move the longer items into the truck. These will include your sofas, table-tops, headboards, long mirrors, and your box spring and mattress. Put them against the longest walls of the truck to save space and keep them upright. Secure these items to the side of the truck with ties if it has a place for them.
    • Your sofa, mattress, and box spring will provide cushion for other items.
    • Put dressers and desks against your mattresses so the drawers can have a cushion if they open.
    • Any item with drawers should be facing the truck walls so the drawers can't open too much.
  4. Pack your boxes into the truck. Choose boxes of similar size and strength so you can stack them on top of each other. Place the heaviest and largest boxes on the bottom, medium-weight boxes in the middle, and lighter items on top. You will be creating three layers of weight.
    • Make sure you have labeled the boxes to say which room they should go in.
    • Pack a layer of heavy, medium-sized, and light boxes, and repeat the process until the truck is mostly full.
    • Try to create tiers that have a similar height, so you can pack the boxes to create an even surface.
    • Move from the front to the back of the truck.
    • As you go along, place in items that are hard to stack in between crevices to save space. Items like cushions and strollers are great for this.
  5. Put in any remaining items. Your goal should be to pack the truck as tightly as possible without squeezing the items together too tightly. Squeeze in any unwieldy items where you can, and place fragile items on top so they don't get crushed.
    • Try to fit together the remaining parts as if you were working on a jigsaw puzzle. Everything will be able to fit together if you arrange it the right way.
    • Place items that don't fit anywhere else in the front of the truck, such as grills.
    • If you rent a truck that is larger than you need and you do not fill the truck completely, you can minimize moving and jostling by leaving the empty space at the back of the truck and keeping the height of your packing low and even.


  • Wear comfortable footwear on the day of the move.
  • Label each box thoroughly for an easier time unpacking. This will also help you make sure that you have everything.
  • Use the space inside of furniture by packing small items inside drawers and other storage areas. Put the items into the furniture after you have it on the truck.
  • Talk to the truck rental company to find out what size truck you need. They can estimate this based on the number of rooms or square feet in your home. If the truck is too small, not everything may fit or things could get damaged by squishing and over packing. If the truck is too large, the empty space may cause items to shift and get damaged during the move.


  • Distribute the weight evenly on both sides of the truck. Do not put too many heavy items on one side or the other.
  • Do not move a heavy piece of furniture by yourself. Make sure to have enough people helping that the load doesn't feel unmanageable. If you take on too much, you may do permanent damage to your back.
  • Avoid clothing that can easily snag on furniture or you may have an accident.
  • Remember to lift with your legs and not your back.
  • If you're feeling dizzy from moving too many items, take a break.

Things You'll Need

  • A dolly
  • Paper padding, plastic stretch wrap, or furniture pads
  • Packing tape
  • Straps
  • A large tarp

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Sources and Citations