How to Pack Dishes and Glasses for Moving

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Chances are your kitchen will wind up being the last room you pack up before moving since you’ll be using it up to and including your last day at your old place. While not overwhelming in and of itself, packing dishes and glassware has to be done carefully and correctly to minimize damage. As a professional moving company with over 90 years of experience, United understands that the last thing you want to deal with is a box full of broken items. So, the first thing to do is check out these expert and time-tested tips for getting the job done right.

Materials You’ll Need to Pack Your Dishes

Dishes, glassware and fine china are all fragile and will need extra padding to make the move unscathed. Here’s a list of packing materials you should have handy: 

  • Medium-sized boxes or dish boxes 
  • Packing paper 
  • Tissue paper 
  • Bubble wrap 
  • Packing tape 
  • Black marking pen 
  • A dish pack

When packing china and other fragile items for a long-distance move, United recommends using a dish pack. Dish packs are typically sturdy corrugated cartons of double-wall construction made especially for packing china, glassware and other fragile items less than 18 inches in height and width. 

Packing Tips for Protecting Fragile Dishes

Step 1: Before Starting, Set Aside Dishware

Before beginning to package your plates, bowls or cups, take some time to set aside extra dishware to use before your move. At United, we recommend setting aside a few “everyday” plates, glasses and mugs for the days leading up to your move so you won’t have to find and unpack items every time you want to eat. Alternatively, you could use heavy, good quality paper plates until move day. Even better, try one of the new biodegradable varieties. 

Step 2: Carefully Wrap Each Dish in Packing Paper

The best material to use for packing your dishes is packing paper. In case you’re wondering, packing paper is the same as newspaper, but blank.  


Lay several layers of packing paper on a flat surface. Start from a corner, wrapping diagonally and continuously tucking in the overlapping edges until the plate is completely wrapped. For added protection, tape down any loose ends. 


Wrap your bowls using the same technique we recommend for plates, starting with the corner of the packing paper, wrapping diagonally and tucking in any overlapping edges. Nest like-sized bowls together and add another layer of packing paper in between each.  

 That said, not all bowls are alike. It’s probably best not to nest a delicate or decorative bowl into a stack of other bowls made of wood, metal or heavy crockery. Pack more fragile items separately and consider using inexpensive plastic bowls to add more padding.  


Two things about mugs: If your mug collection largely consists of mismatched souvenir items or “World’s Best Uncle” tributes be sure to weed out the “keepers” from the also-rans; secondly, the typical coffee mug is made of porcelain, a relatively fragile material. Use a bit more TLC when packing them up, including fully wrapping each mug individually before placing it into the packing box. 

Cups and Glasses

Plastic glasses and cups are easy: just stack them inside of each other. For breakable glassware, start by wrapping each glass or cup individually in a double layer of packing paper or bubble wrap. Make sure to add extra padding between your glasses and cup layers. 

 Wine Glasses and Stemware

Careful preparation and packing of these especially fragile items will minimize the risk of breakage. Also keep in mind that United Van Lines can provide box inserts designed specifically for packing bottles and glassware that separate each glass with layers of cardboard.  

 As an extra precaution, consider stuffing the inside of each glass with tissue paper plus a sheet or two on the outside as well. Then, tightly wrap each glass in several layers of bubble wrap or packing paper and add more padding between layers. 

Pots and Pans

Prevent scratches and dents in your cookware by completely wrapping them in packing paper.  For added protection, tape down any loose ends. Any glass lids should be packed separately using bubble wrap or packing paper. Heavier items, including those made of cast iron, should be placed in your packing boxes first. 

Fine China and Crystal

Lay several layers of packing paper on a flat surface. Start from a corner, wrapping diagonally and continuously tucking in the overlapping edges until each plate is completely wrapped. Even if you’re using a dish pack for china, wrap all pieces individually in multiple layers of clean packing paper or bubble wrap. Add an extra layer of paper around coffee and teacup handles for more protection. 

 Step 3: Create More Padding Inside the Box

Prevent dishes from shifting by crumpling packing paper into loose balls or using foam peanuts or bubble wrap to fill up any open space inside the box. You can also use soft items such as towels, blankets, socks and even clothing to create even more padding.  

 Step 4: Pack the Heaviest Items at the Bottom

You don’t want heavy items bearing down upon – and potentially crushing – lighter, more fragile ones.  Pack items like glass plates or large china serving pieces first so that they’re at the bottom of the box.  

Step 5: Strategically Pack Each Dish

To prevent chips, pack plates and bowls on their sides, as if you were loading them into a dishwasher. Stack nested bowls upside down on their rims and pack all glasses and cups upside down in rows. When placing mugs or glasses into the box, make sure all handles are facing in the same direction.  

 Step 6: Fill the Box to the Top

After the box has been filled with dishware, fill in the top of the box with packing paper for additional padding.  

Step 7: Secure the Top of the Box with Packing Tape

Close the moving box and apply a few layers of packing tape. Do not use masking or cellophane tape: they can easily detach and cause the contents to spill. 

Step 8: Clearly Label

Write “fragile” on the box with a black marker so that it’s easy to see and read.  

Customizable Packing Services 

Simplify your move with packing and unpacking services from United. Our customizable packing services will help you prepare for your move with ease.  

 Ready to Get Moving? Get a quote from United Van Lines today.   

Do you need help settling in? Check out our other blogs for moving tips and packing advice, as well as city guides and a wealth of other helpful, time-saving information.

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