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How to Pack Clothes for Moving

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Sort & Clean Clothing
Woman staring into a full closet.

Before you start packing, take a thorough look at your clothes. Decide which items you’re taking with you, choose clothing to give away and determine what should be stored. Use a critical eye and evaluate each piece. 

By decluttering, donating and organizing your clothes properly, you’ll save time packing as well as unpacking. After sorting your clothes, wash and iron or dry clean everything. It would also be a good idea to make any small repairs or finally get those alterations done.

Tip: After you wash clothes, make sure they are completely dry before packing. Even slightly damp clothes can mildew when packed tightly in a box or suitcase. 

Pack a Moving Bag
Someone packing a suitcase with clothes.

Pack essentials you’ll need right before and a few days after your move. Include items such as pajamas, athletic wear, underwear, comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes and a work outfit. 

  • Pack extra shirts you don’t mind getting dirty or sweaty. 
  • Place travel-size toiletries, medicines, phone chargers and other must-haves in a plastic bag and put it on top of your clothes. 
  • Always assume that the moving and unpacking will take longer than you expect. This is especially true when thinking about how to pack clothes for moving across the country. 

Tip: Pack a small kitchen trash bag in your suitcase to put dirty clothes in. 

Fold or Roll Clothes
Woman sorting her sweaters in piles.

All the best advice on how to pack clothes for moving starts with folding or rolling your clothing. Done properly, this will save space and cut down on the number of boxes or other containers you'll need to pack and move. You’ll also have a much easier time unpacking at your new home.  

Folding is an efficient way to pack non-hanging garments. When folding, make sure you have a flat surface such as a bed, table or floor to work on. For example, here’s how to fold a pair of pants.

  • Starting at the waist, smooth out a pair of pants with your hands. 
  • Fold the pants in half with the legs touching. Smooth the pants again. 
  • Fold the top of the pants one-third down from the top. Smooth the fabric before, during and after each fold to mitigate wrinkles. 
  • Repeat smoothing the pants and folding them until you have a flat square. 

Rolling is probably the best way to pack clothes to save space. Rolling a garment compresses it into its smallest size and is a good option if you're not concerned about wrinkles. Here’s how to roll a t-shirt.

  • Smooth the garment first. Fold the garment in half, neck to the bottom. 
  • Fold each sleeve inward. Next, gently roll the shirt to the bottom, leaving just enough space to fold the open end of the shirt over the roll.

Moving Clothes Boxes & Other Packing Options
Clothes hanging in a wardrobe box.

The next step in knowing how to pack clothes for moving is deciding on what containers to pack them in.

  • The best way to move clothes on hangers is a wardrobe box. Designed with a built-in hanging rod, a wardrobe box lets you easily move your hanging clothes directly from the closet right into the box. Unpacking is just as easy. Plus, you can place bulky clothing such as sweaters in the bottom of the box. 
  • Small or medium moving boxes work best for folded clothing. Layer your folded clothes neatly into each box and don’t overpack. Line the inside of the box with packing paper or plastic wrap to protect contents from moisture or dirt. 
  • Pack all your suitcases with folded clothes, especially if you’re moving across the country. Suitcases will keep clothes clean, organized and easy to unpack at your new place. 
  • Remove your dresser drawers and place neatly folded clothes into each one. Use packing stretch wrap around the drawer to keep the clothes from falling out or getting dirty. When you arrive at your new place, remove the wrap and slide the drawers back in. 
  • Garment bags provide an extra level of protection for delicate or finer clothing on hangers. Use them to pack leathers, furs, vintage pieces or clothing made from lace, chiffon or other fragile elements. You can place garment bags in a wardrobe box or transport them in your car. 
  • Trash bags may be the least expensive and best way to move clothes on hangers. Simply slip large, drawstring trash bags under and over your hanging clothes while they are still in the closet. Cinch the drawstring around the hangers and tie it securely. 
Packing & Storing Clothing
Someone placing bulky clothing into a vacuum bag.

There are two excellent ways to pack clothing for storage when you are moving. You can use clear plastic or solid plastic bins or vacuum bags.

  • Vacuum storage bags allow you to pack and store bulky clothing such as thick sweaters and winter jackets using much less space. You can also use vacuum-sealed bags to pack and protect specialty clothes such as silks, linen or expensive cashmere pieces. As a bonus, the sealed bag will block moisture, bugs and other things that can damage your clothing. 
  • Use plastic storage containers to pack anything you won’t be using soon, such as seasonal items, clothing you don’t wear often or keepsakes. 
More Tips On Packing Clothes for a Move
Items packed into a clear plastic storage box.
  • Make sure to stay organized. Deal with each person’s clothes before moving on. 
  • Keep similar items together: shirts with shirts and work clothes with other work clothes. 
  • Pack shoes separately to prevent damage to clothes. See our guide for tips on packing shoes. 
  • If you’re moving to college, save space by packing a duffle bag or two with parallel rows of rolled clothes. 
  • Pack valuables such as jewelry or other valuables in plastic containers and put them in your car. 
  • Consider using socks, underwear or other clothing items as padding for fragile items such as dishes or decor. 
  • Make sure to label every clothing container with names, contents and the designated room or closet to make unpacking as easy as possible. Labels will help you instantly know what to open first and what to store for later.

Getting your clothes organized and packed is a big part of making your move happen. Equipped with this helpful information on how to pack clothes for moving, you can easily check this big job off your moving to-do list. From moving boxes and packing tape to moving truck rental, The Home Depot has everything you need to make your next move smooth.