How to pack clothes for moving short-distance, long-distance, or overseas

Here’s a guide on how to pack clothes for moving!

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Moving to a new home is exciting. New memories and new experiences await! You know what isn’t exciting? Packing all of your stuff; it’s time-consuming and tiring. 

Clothes, in particular, are a pain because different fabrics require different packing methods. Should you fold or roll? Put it in a box or put it in your suitcase? Plus, the travel distance can affect how your clothes are supposed to be loaded into the vehicle. 

If you’re already overwhelmed by your wardrobe and don’t know where to start, here’s a guide on how to pack clothes for moving long distances, short distances, or overseas!

Best clothing packing methods

How do you easily pack clothes for moving? These are the easiest and most transport-proof methods.

Cardboard boxes

Suitable for: Short distance, long distance, overseas

The most ideal item to use when moving clothes. They come in a variety of sizes and can fit a lot of items.


Suitable for: Short distance, long distance

Suitcases are a good option for clothing packing since they’re padded, adding a layer of protection over your clothes. If you’re moving overseas, pack a few items in your suitcase and have the rest shipped in boxes. You don’t want to lug around a dozen suitcases at the airport.

person packing their clothes in a suitcase

Duffel bags

Suitable for: Short distance, long distance

Their smaller size and flexible material make them suitable for shoes and bags. They’re also the perfect size for your “moving clothes”—the ones you’ll wear when you move out and move in!

Wardrobe boxes

Suitable for: Short distance, long distance

Can’t figure out how to pack hanging clothes for moving? Wardrobe boxes are the key. They’re sturdy cardboard boxes but taller and come with a rod you can place hangers on. For clothes you can’t fold, like silk shirts and linen dresses, it’s best to put them here so they won’t wrinkle and can easily be transferred to your closet!

wardrobe box with hung clothes inside

Vacuum bags

Suitable for: Short distance, long distance, overseas

Don’t know how to pack all your winter coats and jackets? Vacuum bags are one of the best ways to pack clothing for moving since they compress clothes and help save space!

Dresser or cabinet

Suitable for: Short distance

Feeling lazy to place everything in boxes and suitcases? If your new place is only a few miles away, you can bring your cabinet as is. Ask movers to place it in the moving truck carefully. When you get to your new place, you can just put it in the bedroom and voila! No packing or unpacking needed.

cabinet dresser in a room

What to do before moving clothes

If you’ve never decluttered your closet, now’s the perfect time. Trust us, you won’t want to bring all your clothes to your new home!

  • Edit your closet - Check which bags, tops, bottoms, shoes, and jackets are worth keeping, which ones you haven’t worn in a while, which ones you always wear, and those with sentimental value. Take everything out of your drawers to better understand what you own.

  • Sort your clothes into three piles - Organize your wardrobe into keepers, sellers, and donations! If you have difficulty letting go of a few things, ask yourself: Have you worn it in the past couple of weeks? Are you planning on wearing it again? Does it still fit you? Is it still in good condition? If you answered “no” to most of those, put them in the Donate or Sell piles.

  • Donate barely-used items - The first step of your closet purge begins with donating clothes, bags, and shoes you haven’t worn often. Place them in moving bags and drop them off at a local organization. They should all be in good condition so someone else can love them!

  • Sell trendy pieces - Thrifting is in! Have a designer sweater you never wore? Or maybe you just discovered you had your mom’s vintage jeans? Make a few bucks off them by selling them on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc. 

  • Wash/clean every item you’re keeping - Now that you have a more curated wardrobe, it’s time to clean each piece. This will prevent dirty clothes from mixing with clean ones and ensures everything is fresh and ready for their new space.

How to pack clothes for a move

With your entire wardrobe ready for a house change, you’re prepared to pack clothing for moving!

1. Group your clothes into seasons

Instead of mixing your entire wardrobe and organizing it when you get to your new place, make it easier for yourself by dividing your wardrobe into summer, fall, winter, and spring categories. Label your boxes for easier checking!

2. Vacuum seal “off-season” clothes

Moving during summer? Time to vacuum pack all those thick and heavy coats and sweaters! This tried-and-true method saves you more space in your suitcase or box. 

person vacuum sealing their clothes

3. Create a “moving week” clothing bundle

Moving can be stressful, and it can take weeks (sometimes months) to fully unpack your clothes. Create a “moving week” wardrobe full of essentials, such as enough underwear, socks, tops, and bottoms, so you won’t run out of things to wear while getting your new home ready!

4. Roll lighter clothes and fold heavier ones

What’s the best way to pack clothes to move? Is it by folding or rolling it? It’s both!

Rolling has proven to be an effective space-saver for light, non-hanging clothes. It squeezes air between the folds and means the most available space is used. 

Folding, a simple and classic way, works well for heavier clothes like jeans, sweaters, and other bottoms as it lays flat on the surface and allows you to stack them on top of each other in boxes.

person folding their clothes on a table

Need more confidence on how to fold clothes for packing? Here’s an example:

  • Put your shirt on a flat surface, face down.

  • Fold both sleeves towards the middle of the top.

  • Once done, fold the bottom half of the shirt up and smooth out any wrinkles.

5. Leave underwear and socks in your dresser (and move them as is)

Before you do this, ask your apartment movers or house movers if they allow transporting heavy items with clothes still inside. If they do, stuff your drawers with underwear, socks, and towels. It’ll be one less thing to worry about during the moving process. 

Remove each drawer and seal them with plastic wrap before placing them back in. This guarantees your clothes won’t spill out when being transported!

underwear neatly rolled in an organiser

More tips for packing clothes to move

Properly organizing and packing your clothes is a huge step toward making the moving process stress-free. Here are some packing hacks that can make it feel like a piece of cake:

  • Store jewelry in egg cartons or small plastic bags to avoid them getting lost in your dresser.

  • Don’t want to buy wardrobe boxes? No worries. Take your hanging clothes and wrap garbage bags over them to prevent dust and damage.

  • Don’t overstuff boxes, as it can make them prone to tears!

  • Wrap breakable items in clothes to avoid cracks and other damages.

Can’t wait to live in your new home? Find a trusted local mover to help you get from your old place to the next!

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FAQs on packing clothes for moving

Make your packing strategy 2-3 months before your move-out date, as you’ll have to assess your wardrobe and donate and sell items. Ideally, you pack 2-3 weeks before you move out and are finished a few days or a week before.

Transporting your dressers and cabinets as they are! You won’t need extra cardboard boxes, just plastic wrap to protect everything. Since some movers don’t allow this, the next affordable option is to make your suitcases do double duty and pack all your clothes inside them. For clothing that can’t be folded, put garbage bags over them to protect them from dust.

Group your hangers and wrap a rubber band over them. Ensure the band is loose enough to go over the hangers, as you don’t want them to suddenly snap—the power from the snap could break the necks of the hangers.

If you kept their original boxes, store them there and stuff each shoe with socks or packing paper to hold their shape and avoid damage in transit. But if you don’t have their original boxes, you can place them in cardboard boxes or duffel bags. Just stuff them with socks or paper to help keep their shape.

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