How to Easily Pack Kitchen Items for Your Move

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Packing up your entire kitchen is one of the most daunting parts of a move. All those plates, bowls, cups, pots, pans — where do you even start packing such fragile, oddly-shaped items? As America’s #1 Mover®, United Van Lines understands that one of the most crucial aspects of ensuring a seamless move experience is the packing phase. This step-by-step guide will show you how to pack up your kitchen efficiently. With some strategic planning and the right materials, you’ll have your kitchen packed up in no time.

We’ll cover which boxes and wrapping supplies to have on hand, tips for disassembling appliances, the best order for packing, and how to safely transport everything to your new home. We’ll even help you sort through and throw away perishable foods and household chemicals.

Let’s take it one cabinet and drawer at a time.

The 6 Steps to Packing Your Kitchen

The reason packing a kitchen can be so challenging is it contains a diverse collection of items. What’s more, things like plates and appliances require different packing methods and levels of care. However, here is a set of universal steps to help you start the process.

1. Downsize Unneeded Kitchen Items

As with any other room in your house, you should begin the packing process by sorting through what you have. Look for items you’ve kept around but rarely — if ever — use. Are they worth the cost of moving? Still have that fondue set you planned to use for a special occasion but never opened? It’s time to say goodbye. If something is broken, get rid of it. 

For appliances that are still in good shape but aren’t worth moving, consider gifting them to your neighbors or donating them. 

After going through dishes, cookware and appliances, sift through your pantry and fridge. Make sure you wind down your grocery shopping a few days before your move to prevent food waste. You can’t take perishable food items with you, so get rid of anything you know you won’t get to before your move.  For non-expired canned goods, consider donating them to local food banks.  

Planning to take some of your pantry items with you? Tape all dry goods boxes closed before packing them so nothing spills out.   In the case of non-perishable bottles of liquid, tape them shut, wrap them then place them in a sealable bag to prevent leakage during transit. 

2. Gather Packing Supplies

Your kitchen has a lot of disparate items that need packing. Start by grabbing some packing supplies, keeping in mind people often underestimate the number of boxes they need. Use sturdy, small boxes, medium boxes and large boxes with flaps that can be completely closed. 

In addition to gathering enough boxes in varying sizes, you need: 

  • Packing paper, plastic wrap, and bubble wrap 
  • Small sealable plastic bags 
  • Dividers for glasses and stemware 
  • Packing tape for sealing the boxes 
  • Felt tip markers for labeling the boxes 

Remember, when you are packing breakable items, you should line the bottom of your boxes with crumpled packing paper. Mark the outside of the box as “fragile” and draw an arrow to indicate which side of the box should face up. 

Want another pro tip? Don’t forget to pack a box just for essentials. You’ll need those first couple of days in your new place, labeling the box clearly so you know to unpack it first. 

3. Prepare an Essential Kitchen Items Box

In addition to a first night box, pack a box of essential kitchen items you’ll need immediately before and after your move. Make sure to lay out everything that needs to go into this box and pack it first to avoid accidentally packing away something you need for meal prep once you get to your new home. It should include things like a set of utensils, a plate and bowl for each family member, an all-purpose pot or pan, and your coffee maker.

4. Prepare Your Boxes

United Van Lines cartons It’s important to select the right type of box for the job and to line the bottom of the box with crumpled packing paper. 

Medium boxes should be used for plates, bowls, cookware and some appliances, such as your microwave. Whenever possible, use the original boxes for any appliances. Otherwise, use a box that fits snugly. Small boxes work best for smaller kitchen appliances or unique items, such as vases, that don’t fit anywhere else.  

If boxes have multiple layers of items, pad the area between layers with extra packing paper and fill in the gaps between items with crumpled packing paper before sealing the box.  

5. Pack Seldom Used Items First

It’s a good idea to pack your kitchen in the order of how frequently items are used. First, pack items you haven’t used in a few months, such seasonal plates or items for special events like birthdays. Next, move on to items you use less frequently, like your crockpot or rice cooker. Finally, pack items you use most often but won’t need immediately after your move, like pots, pans, toaster ovens and blenders.

Always pack boxes with the heaviest items on the bottom. If the box contains multiple layers, place the lightest and most fragile items on top. Be careful not to make boxes too heavy.

6. Seal and Label Each Box

Use packing tape to seal each box well. Then, label each box with what’s inside to make unpacking easier. Always label boxes with breakable items as “fragile” with an arrow to indicate which side of the box should point up.  

Packing Specific Kitchen Items

While the above list works as a great set of guidelines to get the process started, it won’t help with everything since packing a kitchen requires a wide range of packing methods. Keep reading to get expert tips from United Van Lines on how to pack specific kitchen items. 


First, individually wrap each plate in clean packing paper. Take one corner of the paper and wrap it diagonally across the dish, continually tucking in the overlapping edges. If you have multiple plates of the same size, stack them on top of each other with packing paper in between each plate. Stand the wrapped plates on their edges in a sturdy box — never lay them flat.  

For bowls with glass lids, wrap a layer of paper around the bowl. Place the lid upside-down in the bowl, then wrap both the bowl and lid together with a double layer of paper. 

When packing oddly shaped items like pitchers, vases or other unusually shaped dishes, protect handles by wrapping paper around them first. Then, wrap the rest of the item with a double layer of paper. 

Individually wrap each cup and protect the handles with an extra layer of paper. Place the wrapped cups upside-down in the box. Remember to put the heaviest items on the bottom and build up the layers with lighter items on top, separating each layer with crumpled paper. 

Check out professional tips for packing dishes if you’d like additional advice. 

Glasses and Stemware

When packing up your delicate glass cups and wine glasses, you’ll want to take some extra precautions since they can break so easily. United Van Lines recommends using dividers in your moving boxes to separate each glass. Look for them where you buy other moving supplies.  

To pack each glass, wrap it up well with a few sheets of packing paper. Place the wrapped glasses in the box divider rows, rims facing up. Don’t forget to fill in any empty spaces between the glasses with more paper or bubble wrap. This helps ensure they don’t shift around or bump into each other on the drive to the new place. 

A couple more tips — never set anything else on top of the glasses, even if it looks like there’s room. Also, don’t stack other boxes on top of the glassware box. Keep that one as low as possible in the truck. With a little care and these packing strategies, your delicate glasses should make the move safely. 


Gather your forks, spoons and knives together. Cover your whole utensil tray or organizer with some plastic wrap. Wrap them in a few sheets of packing paper and place them in a box. 

Super-sharp knives require some extra care. Wrap each blade individually in paper first. Next, wrap the whole bundle in a dish towel and lay it flat in a pot or resealable plastic container.  

In the case of serving spoons, spatulas and the like, wrap those separately, too. Stick them all together on top of the utensil box so they’re easy to grab when you get to the new place. 


 Wrap pots, pans, and other cookware in clean packing paper using the same method you did with the plates. When possible, nest pots together to conserve space. But remember, never pack plates and pots together.  Pots and pans should always be packed in a separate box with non-fragile items. 

Check Out Other Packing Guides From United Van Lines

We hope you found our kitchen packing guide helpful. United Van Lines has many more just like it, covering everything from how to pack books to mirrors. Browse our selection of packing guides and packing videos to learn other ways to make your move a breeze. 

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Your move should be easy and stress-free, no matter the distance or size. With over 1 million customers moved and exceptional customer rating, United Van Lines can help you with things like packing (full and partial options), unpacking, storage, debris pick up, car shipping, technology installation, additional moving protection options and more. Get a quote today!

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