How To Pack Shoes For Moving Without Shoe Boxes

How To Pack Shoes For Moving Without Shoe Boxes

In getting ready for a move, we quickly realize how foolish we were to throw out the packaging for everything as soon as we opened it. This may not apply to most of your closet, but it certainly applies to shoes.

Shoe boxes are just the right size, perfect for protecting shoes from damage in a move, and not a waste of extra space since shoes can be stored in their original boxes and still be easily accessed.

And yet, for whatever reason, many of us are in the habit of getting rid of shoe boxes immediately. If that sounds like you – fear not! You can pack your shoes for a move without shoe boxes and still keep them in good condition along the way. Stick around to learn exactly how that works.

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Clean Them First

Cleaning Shoes with a Sponge

Feet smell, so shoes come to smell over time; there’s no way around it. You might have some very old shoes that are past the point of no return, and now would be a good time to throw those out. As for the rest, you can clean them all pretty easily.

Most sneakers and other canvas shoes can be washed in the washing machine, which should take care of a decent amount of the problem. Just make sure not to wash them with clothes, which they might damage, and never put them in the dryer. Let them air dry completely before starting to pack them.

Dress shoes can be hand-cleaned with a mild detergent or specialized cleaning products, depending on the material. If the cleaning process involves moisture, let them dry completely before moving on to prevent mold. You can use baking soda or charcoal deodorizer bags to help with the smell.

Now would also be a good time for any necessary repairs or replacements, like new insoles or laces.

Sort Through Your Shoes

If you noticed any shoes that you don’t fit into or wear anymore, but that were too nice to be thrown out before cleaning, you can donate them! Lots of charity collection groups take shoes, but not all of them do, so check with the charity you’re thinking of before giving them something they’ll just have to throw away themselves.

Organize the shoes you’re keeping by season and by how formal or casual they are. For example, water shoes for watersportsOpens in a new tab. and your best pair of dress shoes don’t really need to be kept together.

If you won’t have enough space for everything, shoes that are out of season can go in storage for now. When packing for multiple people in your household, do this for everyone’s shoes separately, so nothing gets mixed up.

Don’t forget to leave out at least the pair of shoes you want to wear on moving day, and possibly any shoes you know you’ll desperately need before it’s time to unpack everything.

Finally, Pack Them

The first thing you’ll want to do when you get to actually packing your shoes is stuff them with something to retain their shape. Socks are one of the best options for this, since this will save you on packing material costs and space in other clothing boxes.

Wrap the stuffed shoes together in pairs, using packing paper, bubble wrap, or clean cloth items like beach towels. Don’t use newspaper or other printed paper for stuffing or wrapping shoes, especially dress shoes, as the ink can cause damage and stains.

Use the smallest boxes possible to pack your shoes. It’s fine to pack more than one pair in a box, if that’s the smallest box you have, but boxes closer to the actual size of the shoes will protect them better.

You can fill gaps in the small box with more paper, bubble wrap, or cloth. This time, it would be ok to use printed paper if that’s all that’s left, since it won’t be coming into contact with the shoes. Tape the small boxes shut and label them with whatever description of the shoes will be meaningful to you when you’re unpacking.

If you’d like, these smaller boxes can be stacked together in large moving boxes to make carrying them more efficient. Just watch the weight of the box in doing so, to save your or your movers’ backs (especially if those movers are going to be you!), and keep heavier pairs at the bottom to protect the lighter pairs.

These larger boxes can be labeled simply “shoes” or according to the type of shoes you packed in them (i.e. a box with all your tennis shoes and crocs could be marked “casual”). You can also label the box based on whose shoes they are so that they end up in the correct room.

For instance, “bedroom 1” for you and perhaps “bedroom 2 or 3” for your kids.

Keep Your Shoes Organized

When you get to your location, if your boxes were labeled well, your shoes should be pretty well sorted. Keep them grouped together as much as you can to make them easier to find and to save time in your next move.

Final Thoughts On Packing Shoes Without Shoe Boxes

When moving, everything is easier when you have the original boxes stuff came in. We move so often that we’re in the habit of never throwing out original packaging. This is especially true for things like shoes, computers and other electronics.

But, some of us don’t have the space (or desire if we’re being honest) to hang onto all of our old boxes. That’s okay because with a little creativity and resourcefulness, there is nothing that we can’t pack and move.

Hope this article helped with your packing and moving process!

Good Luck with your move!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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