Move-Out Packing Tips

Uncle Marty’s Move-Out Packing Tips for 2023

It’s move-out season again and students are packing up their belongings to carry home, ship home, and/or put in storage. Here are a few tips from Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office in Collegetown—a locally-owned shipping and storage small business helping Cornell students move out safely for over 12 years now—on how to pack up safely:

  • Fragile Items: Wrap fragile items like dishes, glasses, and electronics individually. Often, you can use your own towels, blankets, and/or clothing: wrap your glasses in socks; use t-shirts to separate plates; wrap a hoodie around that ceramic bowl. Place fragile items at least two inches apart from each other with cushioning between, and then make sure your fragile items are not near the edge of the box you’re packing them in. Also make sure there’s nothing too heavy on top that could crush them, as well as enough cushioning underneath to absorb shock if boxes are dropped.
  • Liquids: If you must ship or store liquids, first make sure each container is sealed securely. Then, wrap the container in a towel, hoodie, or other absorbent material. Finally, double bag the wrapped container so that, in case there are leaks, nothing else in the package will be damaged. Keep in mind that liquids are heavy, and often cost more to ship or store than the liquid is worth. Some liquids, like alcohol and perfumes, are prohibited in storage facilities and shipping systems, so we advise leaving those types of liquids out completely. There are also heavy fines for liquids that leak in transit, so when in doubt just leave the liquid out!
  • Mini-Fridges: Unplug and defrost your mini-fridge at least two days before you plan to put it into storage. Ice buildup in the freezer section will take a day or two to thaw out, and most storage companies will not accept a fridge that is not cleaned out, dry, and ready to store. Be sure to wipe it out as well so food residue doesn’t attract pests while it’s being stored and mold doesn’t form inside while it’s sealed up for a few months.
  • Printers: If you’re packing up a printer, remove the toner or ink cartridge(s) first and bag them separately. When printers encounter vibrations in shipping or pressure in storage, non-removed ink and toner can leak into the inner workings of the printer and cause damage.
  • Box Selection: Be careful what boxes you use. Boxes advertised as “moving boxes” are usually made of lightweight cardboard and are not designed to survive the rough shipping cycle or pressure of a stack of boxes in storage. These are the types of boxes you might find at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, etc. Yes, they may be fine if you’re just moving from one apartment to the next, but if you’re shipping or putting your items in storage, we recommend boxes rated for shipping that are much sturdier.
  • Taping Boxes: Use true packing tape, not masking, duct, or office tape. Duct tape can split on a seam and masking tape is just too weak, however packing tape is designed for box sealing. Make sure to fold the flaps so that there’s a center seam (not a pinwheel pattern), which means that two opposite flaps should fold in, then the other two opposite flaps should fold over them and meet in the middle. Tape that center seam, then tape the two edges, top and bottom. The tape should form an H (or I, depending on how you look at it).

Check out more information on these packing tips and more at

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