Kitchen Packing: How to Prepare, Pack, & Unpack Your Kitchen Like a Pro

The kitchen is one of the trickiest parts of your home to pack and unpack when moving. Here’s the only guide you need to tackle kitchen packing like a pro.
Kitchen Packing

Packing a kitchen is one of the trickiest parts of moving.

The kitchen is one of the last spaces that you need to be functional in your old home, and one of the first that you need to be functional in your new home. That makes the timing of packing, moving, and unpacking a kitchen difficult to get just right.

Before you pack any boxes, use this guide so you’ll be ready to prepare, pack, and unpack your kitchen like a pro. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the following steps:

How to Prepare Your Kitchen for a Move

Before any actual packing begins, there are steps you can take to make the entire moving process faster and easier once the time arrives.

One month before your move, start planning your meals

If you’re moving far enough away that it will be difficult to transport food without it spoiling, now is the time to start planning for that.

Make a meal plan that helps you use up frozen and refrigerated items so you can avoid throwing them away on moving day. It’s also a good idea to try to use up pantry items now, too — that way, there will be less to pack and move, and you can restock the pantry once you arrive at your new home.

Declutter your kitchen

Around a month before your move is also a great time to go through your kitchen and declutter the space. By getting rid of anything you don’t need, you ensure that you only have to pack and move things you genuinely need with you in your new home. Plus, decluttering now means you’ll start fresh with a decluttered kitchen in your new home.

Gather the right moving supplies

kitchen packing supplies

Moving your kitchen requires some specialized supplies. You’ll need:

  • Sturdy moving boxes in different sizes
  • Packing paper
  • Packing tape
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands for securing utensils and flatware
  • Markers or packing labels
  • Bubble wrap or another cushion for fragile items like plates and glasses
  • Special boxes with dividers for holding glasses and cups

If you have any extremely fragile items, like stemware, you’ll want to start thinking about how to pack those safely. Get extra bubble wrap and packing paper so you can protect them.

RELATED: Use this guide for the best packing tape to use for a move.

One week before you move, start packing nonessentials

Even though you want to be able to use your kitchen right up until your moving day, about a week before is a good time to start packing some kitchen items. Try to pack only items that you don’t use frequently, like specialized small appliances, holiday dishes, or duplicates of items you won’t need in your last few days in your old home.

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How to Pack Your Kitchen

Moving day is here (or just around the corner), and it’s time to pack the kitchen! Here’s how to pack all your kitchen supplies to ensure they arrive at your new home safe and sound.

How to pack dishes

For breakable dishes, start by lining your box with packing paper. You may also want to scrunch up some paper and place it in the bottom of the box to provide an extra cushion.

how to pack dishes

  • Pack plates by placing one plate on a sheet of packing paper. Place a few layers of paper or a layer of bubble wrap on top, then add another plate. Repeat this process until you have a stack of plates, and then secure the stack with plastic wrap before covering it in a protective layer of packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • Pack bowls using the same process as plates, but secure them in stacks of two instead of four.
  • Pack dishes in a box that is similar to their size, so there isn’t room for them to jostle around inside the box. Fill empty spaces around them with scrunched up packing paper or bubble wrap so everything stays secure.
  • Companies like UHaul sell boxes that are sized and outfitted with separators just for dishes. Consider these specialized supplies if they fit your budget.

LEARN MORE: Read our in-depth guide on how to pack dishes and glassware for more on how to pack and make sure your dishware arrives safely intact.

How to pack glassware

Glassware can also go into specialized boxes, which have cardboard grid dividers to keep fragile cups and glasses from touching one another. If you’re going to pack glassware in a box with other items, make sure the glassware is on top and nothing gets packed on top of it.

How to pack glassware

  • Using packing paper or bubble wrap, individually wrap each piece of glassware.
  • Individually wrapped glasses that are the same size and shape can be stacked, and then have the entire stack wrapped. Otherwise, stick to a single layer of glassware.

How to pack utensils

Some movers pack utensils by wrapping plastic around the entire cutlery tray, so that’s always an option. Otherwise, you can pack utensils in groups.

  • Stack groups of 4-6 pieces of flatware of the save type (i.e. all spoons or all forks). Secure the stack with a rubber band, then wrap it in plastic wrap or packing paper.
  • Repeat this with all flatware.
  • When packing knives, make sure to wrap them so no sharp edges are exposed, and never put them in a box pointing up. You have want to take extra precautions with large knives — put them in secure food storage containers, or wrap them in towels secured with rubber bands.

How to pack pots, pans, and other large item

When packing pots, pans, and other large items, don’t add too many other items to the box with them, or it may become very heavy.

  • Individually wrap pot lids in packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • Try to nest pots and pans together so you can fit them all in one box.
  • Fill empty spaces in the box with extra packing paper to keep items secure without adding extra weight.

How to pack small appliances

Small and medium sized appliances can be tricky to move, but these tips should help:

  • Try to find a box as close to the exact size of the appliance as possible. Pack appliances in their own boxes without any other items, and fill in extra space with packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • Unplug appliances a few days in advance, and do anything that needs to be done to prepare them for transport (i.e. removing water).
  • Remove and individually wrap accessories.
  • Tape down any moving parts.

How to pack large appliances

How to pack large appliances

Large appliances, especially those connected to water or gas lines, will take more time and preparation to pack and move properly.

  • A few days before your move, unplug and disconnect any large appliances you plan to take with you.
  • Start defrosting your fridge early to give it time to finish the process.
  • Carefully clean any appliances you plan on moving.
  • Protect your floor in front of your appliances.
  • Use a hand truck or furniture dolly.
  • If you aren’t sure how to move a refrigerator, oven, or other large appliance safely, consider hiring a professional moving company to help.

How to pack cookbooks

Cookbooks aren’t fragile, and their narrow shape may make it seem like you can just tuck them into extra space in your other kitchen boxes. Here’s why you shouldn’t do that: Books are heavy. Just as you would when storing any other books, cookbooks should be packed together in small boxes to make them easier to carry.

How to pack food

If you’re packing food from your refrigerator or freezer, be sure to use a cooler and plenty of ice to keep the food cold enough not to spoil during transport. Keep in mind that moving companies will not transport perishable foods, for health and safety reasons.

For pantry items:

  • Use small boxes, since cans and dry goods are typically heavy.
  • Wrap breakable containers of liquid in plastic (or put them in plastic bags) to help prevent leaks.
  • Put layers of packing paper or bubble wrap in between items to further cushion them.

Don’t pack cleaning supplies just yet

Many people keep their cleaning supplies in the kitchen. If you’re one of them, hold off on packing those. You’ll need them to clean up any messes left behind during the packing process, and to do a final clean in your old home before you leave.

Load kitchen boxes last when moving

After the kitchen is all packed, don’t load the boxes until everything else is loaded up. Your kitchen boxes should be the last ones placed on the moving truck, so they can be the first ones to be unloaded when you get to your new home. That will allow you to start unpacking the kitchen right away, getting it ready for use quickly.

RELATED: Need moving boxes? Check out these 20 places to find free moving boxes to save on moving supply costs.

How to Unpack Your Kitchen After a Move

After all the preparation and care that went into packing, you might feel ready to jump right into unpacking the kitchen in your new home. But not so fast — kitchen unpacking also requires planning and preparation.

Get your new kitchen ready to move in

Get your new kitchen ready to move in

Before unpacking any boxes, there are some steps you should take to make sure your new kitchen is ready to go.

  • Clean everything. Even though your new home should have been cleaned prior to your arrival, this is the easiest it will ever be to reach all your cabinets and drawers, so take the time to wipe them down before unpacking.
  • Paint, if you’re planning to. It’ll be much easier to paint the kitchen and cabinets without all your belongings there, so this is the best time to paint if that’s part of your moving plan.
  • Think about where everything will go. Before opening any boxes, move around the kitchen and envision cooking a meal. See where it feels natural to put things.
  • Adjust and line shelves and drawers. Lining drawers helps keep them clean over time, so do that now while the drawers are still empty. You can also adjust the height of your shelves to fit your belongings.

PRO TIP: Line the tops of the cabinets with wax paper. Then, when they get grimy from dust and steam, you can just remove the paper and replace it.

Unpack fragile items first

When it’s time to start unpacking, begin with fragile items. The longer they stay packed away, the more opportunity there is for them to break, so putting them away early on will help protect them.

Stay organized while unpacking your kitchen

Try to be orderly while unpacking. Open one box, and then put away everything in it before moving on to another box. If you encounter any items that you aren’t sure where you’ll keep, put them in a designated “unsure” box and come back to them later.

Put items close to where you’ll use them

As you’re putting kitchen items away, put them in the same areas where you’ll likely use them. For example, oven mitts should be near the stove, and cutting boards should be close to the area where you envision doing your prep work before cooking. A well-organized kitchen will be one of the best feelings you can get after moving.

Arrange your kitchen based on how often you use things

Similarly, put things away based on how often you use them. The pots and pans you use every day should be easy to reach and grab, while a small appliance you only use occasionally can live in a less accessible spot, like the back of a cupboard.

Restock the fridge, freezer, and pantry

If you emptied your fridge, freezer, and pantry with your meal plan before the move, now is the time to restock on pantry essentials, dry goods, and any other food you need.

Get Helpful Moving Resources from Neighbor

Now that you’re ready to properly prepare, pack, and unpack your kitchen, it’s time to think about how you’ll move all the other parts of your home, too. Download our free ultimate moving checklist for a moving calendar, guides, printable packing labels, and more essential moving resources.

Moving and packing guides

Other moving resources

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