How To Pack A Messy House To Move

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Moving is stressful enough, so it can be intimidating if you face the challenge of packing up a cluttered house. It can be hard to figure out where to start, leading you not to start at all. But if you know how to pack a messy house to move, you’ll find that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Focus on one room at a time when you’re packing a messy house instead of trying to pack similar items together. Before you begin the packing process, take some time to toss or donate what you no longer want or need. Start early, so you have ample time and ensure you have the right supplies.

Of course, enlisting help is also beneficial, especially from trusted friends and family that will keep you focused. If you’re preparing for a move, take a breath, stay calm, and devise a plan of action to pack up your house.

10 Essential Tips For Packing A Messy House To Move

Tackling any big project requires a plan, so you don’t lose focus or let things fall through the cracks. It also helps you stay on track, so you don’t end up stressed out and running out of time. Here are the essential tips you should include in your packing plan.

1. Start The Packing Process Early

Starting early is the best way to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by packing for a move. Many people think a month sounds like a lot of time, but one month flies by quickly.

You should book your movers two months out at least. Then plan to give yourself at least 7 weeks to do everything necessary for your impending move without undue stress.

If you work frequently or already have a packed schedule, add a couple of weeks to this timeline to give yourself some extra breathing room. Therefore, you might want to start 9 weeks before moving day.

Additionally, if you have any vacations planned during this time frame, add that to your overall packing schedule. For example, if you’re going out of town for one week, your new timeline would be 10 weeks or roughly 2.5 months.

2. Make A List To Pack A Messy House For A Move

Now that you’ve committed to a dedicated timeline, the first thing to do is make a list. Include your time frame on your checklist to ensure you can stay on track.

An example timeline (working with 7 weeks from moving day) would look something like this:

7 To 3 Weeks Before Moving Day
  • 7 Weeks — Start gathering all necessary supplies and lining up larger supplies (furniture dolly, straps, etc.) for moving day. Also, if you’ll need one, arrange for a storage POD or another holding area for packed items.
  • 5 to 4 Weeks — Start decluttering and getting rid of everything you won’t take with you.
  • 4 to 3 Weeks — Pack infrequently used things based on their location in the home. Label all containers, bags, and boxes with the contents and room they belong in.
The Final Three Weeks
  • 3 to 2 Weeks — Pack your remaining items, excluding essentials you will need to continue using through moving day. Label everything. Set aside things you plan to take on your person or in your own vehicle the day of the move, so they don’t end up in the moving van.
  • 2 to 1 Week — Start organizing your essentials into a central location and label a box for them as “Open Me First.” Also, start packing up the items you’ll take with you personally and identify them as “Going In Car With ‘Your Name.'”.
  • 1 Week to Moving Day — Do a walk-through of all packed boxes and ensure everything is secure. Confirm your moving day with your helpers and moving company. Have any supplies for moving day ready to go.

3. Gather The Right Packing Supplies

Get a variety of sturdy boxes of various sizes, wrapping materials, bubble wrap, newspaper, etc. Heavy duty trash bags are also an excellent way to gather things like towels and linens, but make sure to label them clearly, so they don’t get mistaken for trash.

You’ll also need packing tape, markers to label boxes and containers, and supplies for moving day. If you have professional movers, they should have any dolly and furniture straps necessary. Otherwise, you’ll need these items as well.

If you don’t have enough space to store boxes and other packed items, you may also need to rent a storage container for your driveway. A quick Google search can help you find options in your area.

4. Donate And Toss Items Before You Start Packing A Messy House

Before you put anything in a box, make sure you really want it. If you haven’t used it in a while or don’t love it, don’t take it with you. It doesn’t make sense to pack items you don’t want or that are broken or expired.

You can sell or donate these unwanted items. Likewise, anything that’s broken, expired, or damaged, toss it. You must dispose of any hazardous materials responsibly according to your local waste department’s guidelines.

5. Go Room By Room

When packing, go by room instead of by items. You get to know where things are in your home, so this will be the easiest way for you to find things later and make unpacking easier.

6. Start With Your Least-Used Spaces And Items

Begin packing in areas you don’t often access and going through less-frequently used items. For example, you might start with your attic, seasonal items, a guest room, etc. Other things to begin with are memory items, like photo albums, yearbooks, trophies, etc.

Basically, all the stuff you don’t need access to daily needs to get packed first. Conversely, they’ll be the last things you unpack in your new place. Then, you can work your way toward the more frequently used items and rooms.

7. Put Together A Box Of Essentials

When you start packing your more everyday items, pull out essentials so your household can still function through moving day. For example, keep out medications, toiletries you use daily, and tableware for each family member (unless you plan to use disposable ones).

Other things to put in your essentials box are necessary paperwork, pet supplies, your kids’ favorite toys, and enough clothing for everyone through moving day. You also should keep out your cleaning and basic kitchen supplies to continue to cook meals and give the home a final clean before you move.

These items should be the last things you pack up and the first you unpack in your new home. So label these boxes “Open Me First.” Anything you need to bring with you on moving day should go in its own container and be noted accordingly.

For example, include medications, your toothbrush, papers for the movers and your new home, a cell phone charger, a suitcase with some toiletry and clothing items, etc. Think of it as packing for a three-day weekend. This will make moving day and the first few nights in your new home much more manageable.

8. Arrange For Help In Advance

Part of the moving process needs to be arranging for help in advance. Don’t wait till the last minute to get professional movers or ask friends and family for help.

You should book professional movers at least two months before your moving date. Ideally, get your movers on the books three months out so you can get the company that’s your first choice. Give friends a heads up about the big day and let them know you could use some help.

About one month out, nail down definite friends and family that will be able to help out that day. Send reminders about a week before the move. Make sure to have drinks and snacks for everyone volunteering to help you.

9. Take Frequent Breaks When Packing A Messy House To Move

Another reason to start the process early is so you can pace yourself. Take frequent breaks, so you don’t exhaust yourself or become agitated. Schedule mini-breaks during your packing sessions and give yourself an off day here and there throughout the entire process.

10. Don’t Start Traveling Down Memory Lane

Stay on track while you pack. You’ll come across many memories as you box up belongings, which can eat away at your timeline. Save your reminiscing for when you’re unpacking, so your moving deadline doesn’t creep up on you.

Can’t Get Past The Clutter When You’re Packing?

If you are too overwhelmed with clutter or your home looks like it should be on Hoarders, don’t underestimate the power of specialized help. You can find professional organizers, house cleaners, and packers through recommendations or a site like Angi.

Final Look At Packing A Messy House To Move

Packing up a messy house to move is undoubtedly an enormous task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The important thing is to start the process early, make a list to help you stay on track, and arrange for help. A couple of months before the move, make sure you schedule professional movers, start gathering necessary supplies, and declutter so you don’t pack items unnecessarily.

Work room by room, and start with less frequently used rooms, so your household continues to function well. Leave all your essentials and items you’ll need first until the very end. Bring things you would need for a three-day weekend and anything for move-in day in your personal vehicle for easy access.

Once you’re all packed, you can give the home a final clean and a proper farewell.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall