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How to Easily Pack Dishes and Stop Breaking Plates

If you’ve ever lost a wine glass in transit, you’re probably wondering how to pack dishes without losing any. We’ve all been there – you arrive at your new place and unpack a couple of glasses to go with some celebratory drinks, only to find that they cracked on the way. Here’s what you need to know about packing dishes safely, to end moving day with your feet up and your dishes intact.

Packing Materials You Need to Pack Dishes

When packing dishes, the name of the game is “wiggle room.” While extra space is usually a good thing, you want as little of it as possible when packing dishes. That’s where your key packing ingredient comes in – packing paper. It’ll protect most of your highly breakable dishes from glassware to fine China, so you’ll want plenty of it. As for the other packing materials, the list is simple.

This what you need to pack dishes safely:

  • Packing paper

  • Dish boxes

  • Medium sized boxes

  • Packing tape

  • Labels and markers

And that’s it. Forget the bubble wrap and if you can forgo the printed newspaper, please do. While it can usually be washed off, newspaper ink comes off on dishes and there’s always a chance that it stains for good.

Why use a dish box?
When figuring out how many moving boxes you need, be sure to tack on a few dish boxes. They’re designed to hold dishes and other fragile items, so they’re stronger and thicker than most boxes. This extra padding helps to absorb shock and makes for sturdier transport. If an accident happens, your dishes will be better off in a dish box.

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How to Pack Dishes: General Steps

Want to know how to pack dishes without breaking them? The steps are similar for most dishes, but you’ll want to read on for tips to keep the stems on your wine glasses and the chips off your plates.

Generally, there are five primary steps to follow when you learn how to pack dishes for a move.

Step 1: Assemble each box and tape them very well. The boxes may get heavy so be sure to use enough tape that the box won’t cave under the weight of your dishes.

Step 2: Line each box with crumpled up paper to create a six-inch cushion at the bottom. Be sure to crumple up the paper rather than fold it to get the most protection out of each piece.

Step 3: Lay out your packing paper on a flat surface and place the dish you’re packing in the middle. Wrap the dish according to its specific needs, secure the paper with tape, and place the dish in the box.

Step 4: Keep packing dishes in the box until it’s full and use extra balls of paper or soft fabrics to fill in any spaces. The key to packing dishes in the right order? Always start with the heaviest items and pack light pieces such as glasses at the top of the moving boxes.

Step 5: Once your dishes are wrapped and packed, top the box with balled up paper for added protection, just as you did with the bottom of the box. Close it up, tape it, and label the box. Be sure to write the room it belongs to, which way up the box should go, and that its contents are fragile.

Top Tip: Don’t pack the dish boxes too heavy. It’s easy to do, so be conscious of how much you’re loading into each box and try to keep each one under 45 pounds.

How to Pack Bowls and Plates

Though they’re different shapes, you can pack bowls and plates using the same method. They don’t have any protruding parts or handles, making them the best dishes to start with when first learning how to pack dishes. They’re also the heaviest dishes, so you’ll want to put them in the boxes first.

There are two methods for packing bowls and plates – individually or in bundles. We don’t recommend stacking multiple dishes in one go, so it’s best to go for the individual method. It could save you a plate or two.

Wrapping any fine China or valuable dishes takes time. Be sure to put in the extra effort when deciding how to pack your dishes.

First, lay your packing paper out on a table or flat surface and then place the dish in the middle. Bring one corner of the paper to the center of the dish at a time until all four corners meet in the middle. Then tuck or tape the paper to secure it and put each dish in the box vertically, as though you’re loading a dishwasher.

Repeat this for each dish until the bottom of your box is full. Lighter dishes only go on top of heavier ones, so start another box once the first layer is complete.

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How to Pack Cups, Mugs, and Glasses

When packing dishes such as cups and mugs, you can treat them much like small bowls. They’ll take plenty of packing paper, but are generally more durable than stemmed glasses.

To pack your cups, mugs, and glasses safely, start by filling them with crumpled packing paper. You can then use one or two sheets to actually wrap the vessels. Start at one corner of the packing paper, with your dish on an angle.

Roll the dish across the paper to the opposite corner. At the same time, fold in the excess paper for added protection. If you think your dishes are strong enough, you can wrap two of them in one sheet of paper.

Once you get halfway across the paper, place the next dish beside the first one and keep rolling to the end of the paper. This works best if they're the same shape and material, so it’s best not to pair your favorite mug with that beer stein.

How to Pack Stemware

These will likely be your most delicate dishes. They’re glass or crystal and fragile from top to bottom, so it’s crucial that you know how to pack these dishes before you start.

Before wrapping, gently stuff some balls of packing paper into the bowl of the glass to support it. Then lay the glass on an angle in one corner of your packing paper. Roll the glass to the opposite corner of the paper, tucking and crumpling the paper around the glass as you go.

If you have extra large packing paper, you can try wrapping two glasses in one sheet. Once you’ve wrapped the first glass in half a sheet of paper, lay the second glass next to it. Then keep rolling and wrapping until it’s completely covered in paper.

Check that you can’t feel the edges of your glass through the paper. If you can, go ahead and wrap the glass or glasses with more paper.

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How to Pack Pots and Pans

When considering how to pack your dishes you may be tempted to skip on the pots and pans, but don’t. Non-stick pans are particularly susceptible to scratches and all cookware can get dented.

To protect your pots and pans when moving, protect them with plenty of packing paper. Place the cookware on your packing paper and fold one corner of paper at a time to the center. Then reinforce any pots by stuffing packing paper inside the vessel.

While their surfaces do need the extra padding, pots and pans don’t need to travel in dish boxes or barrels. Standard medium-sized packing boxes should do the trick just fine.

More Tips for How to Pack Dishes

Beyond purchasing enough packing paper to wrap a small village, there are a few other packing tips and tricks to make packing dishes easier. Here’s what you need to remember as you become an expert in how to pack dishes:

  • Pack heavier items first

  • Always stack dishes vertically

  • Cut down on packing paper by using towels

  • Cushion everything and plug all spaces in each box

  • Label every box fragile and “this way up”

  • Put dish boxes in the moving truck gently

  • Don’t pack boxes too heavy – 45 pounds max.

  • Fill packing boxes to the top

Now that you have all the info you need to pack dishes without breaking any, it’s time to grab that packing paper and dish box and start packing up your kitchen. Remember these tips as you go and you’ll arrive in your new home with all your dishes in one piece.


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