How To Pack Your Clothes For Moving

How To Pack Clothes For Moving

You are moving out, which means new opportunities and new adventures. You are going to want to look your best.

Packing your clothes can seem different than packing the other parts of the house. The process is not as “high impact.” Organizing the kitchen is loud and stressful; moving the furniture is heavy and annoying. Going through all of your old clothes can be a more somber experience.

Still, there is work to be done. Your clothes need to be in the best shape possible.

Read on to learn more about packing your clothes for a move. At the bottom, check out the tips to prepare your clothes for a cross-country journey.

Table of Contents

Ruthlessly Remove Old Clothes from your Collection

Put on a good playlist and go through your collection. Remember the memories as you comb through all of your clothes.

Then mercilessly decide which ones will follow you to a new closet.

You can donate some clothes. Others, you can sell. Multiple apps (Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, etc) are available to help facilitate such a process.

Tip: Do not pack ALL of your clothes just yet. Set aside a small bag of clothes and hygienic essentials that will get you through the rest of the move – before, during and after.

Organize your clothes

Arrange clothes in your closet by type. Suit pants should be together, dresses next to each other, and dress shirts lined up next to each other as well. When you transfer them, having them grouped together will make it easier.

Do the same with the clothes in your drawers—group the undershirts and undergarments, t-shirts, and jeans.

Clean your clothes

Before you move, wash the clothes, so they are fresher when unpacking. Not only does this help your clothes smell good even after moving, but the washing and drying machine might not be fully available upon arrival, so it is best to prepare.

Create Your Clothes Packing Strategy

Clothes without Hangers

You have a few options that you might not have considered for your foldable clothes. See if any of the solutions below fit your situation.

Leave Them in the Dresser

If your dressers are coming with you on your move, let them travel to your new home in the drawers.

The easiest way to move your clothes is to leave them in the dresser drawers. However, be sure to secure the drawers, so they do not open during transit. Also, move them (the dresser and the drawers) separately into and out of the truck. A dresser full of clothes can get extremely heavy.

Pack Clothes into Moving Boxes

If you cannot leave the clothes in the drawers, they can be packed into cardboard moving boxes. Fold them properly to save as much space as possible. A lot of condensed clothes in one package can be heavy, so be mindful about overstuffing.

You probably have old suitcases that you can fill as well. (Although we love using suitcases to pack books. It’s one of our favorite packing hacks). The advantage of using a suitcase is twofold. You’re going to move the suitcase anyhow so why not utilize it. Second, a suitcase is able to be wheeled, it’s like having a built in dolly.

Save space with vacuum sealed bags

If you need space and have the extra funds, consider vacuum-sealed bags. A vacuum cleaning hose removes the air from the bag once the clothes are added. The clothes are flattened together and gives you more room in your suitcase or box. These bags provide extra protection from moisture or damage.

Note: You will need access to a vacuum and connecting hose for this option.

Plastic storage units for seasonal wear

Is it the middle of August, but you have several winter coats that are taking up valuable space in your closet?

Store them away in plastic storage containers. If you do not foresee yourself needing them soon, eliminate a step in the future by packing them away in the storage containers now. These containers usually have handles on the sides to allow for easier lifting.

For the clothes you will not be wearing for months, keep them in a plastic tub with grips and handles.

Clothes on Hangers

Clothes on hangers might be a tad fancier, but they can be easier to move since folding is not required. You have a few options to help you transport the clothes in your closet safely.

Trash bags (unscented)

Large trash bags are a much cheaper option than some of the alternatives. Buy some of the most oversized size trash bags and cut a small hole at the bottom. Take a handful of hangers with the same type of clothing, like dress shirts, and fit the trash bag over them. Once the hanger hook is through the hole, use a rubber band on them to keep everything tight.

Pull the drawstring at the bottom and use tape to seal it shut in case something becomes loose.

Wardrobe box

The Wardrobe Box has multiple selling points. It serves as a portable closet. You simply lift your clothes from the hanging rod in your closet and place them on the rod located in the wardrobe box. Your clothes will be unbothered while in the moving truck.

Wardrobe Box

I’ve never used a Wardrobe Box for a move, but have used them a few times for bowl games. Staff has the option of filling up a wardrobe box and then they are shipped to the bowl location on a truck. I was skeptical at first, they seemed a bit overkill, but they’re actually pretty awesome.

You can hang up a good amount of stuff and then there is room at the bottom for shoes. I’ll also throw a small bag filled with things socks and belts in the bottom as well.

Note: These can be an expensive option, and the wardrobe boxes can take up space.

Garment bags

It is a good idea to cover your fanciest suits and dresses with extra protection by purchasing and keeping them in garment bags.


To be sure, you probably have a couple of pairs of tennis shoes that you can throw into a box with no worries of care, but that is not the case for every shoe.

To help the shoe keep shape during a move, stuff each one with packing paper or cloth material.

Wrap the shoes with packing paper and place them in boxes, a plastic container, or a sturdy suitcase.

Label the Boxes and Containers

For each box, plastic container, or wardrobe box, clearly label the contents. If your family is moving, write out the name of the person who owns the clothes. Then, write where the box should go once in the house. This small step can make a difference for your movers and when you are unpacking.

Also, be as SPECIFIC as possible. If a box contains your country concert outfitsOpens in a new tab., then label the box “Country Concert Outfits”. Trust me, when you’re sitting in a brand new house with a hundred boxes to open up, you’ll thank yourself.

If you do not want to use a permanent marker on the plastic storage containers, write the details on a piece of paper or sticky note and put a piece of tape over it.

How to Pack Clothes for Moving Cross-Country

Moving across the country is an exciting prospect. You just have to bring all of your belongings with you. That includes clothes.

Clothes should receive attentive care for a move since you will need to use them immediately upon arrival. You can find the perfect position for the couch later, but you will need to start using the clothes as soon as you arrive. For a cross-country move, it is essential to take extra care.

Here are a few tips for a smooth experience with your clothes looking and smelling fresh when moving cross-country.

  • Reiterating an earlier point: Clean your clothes before packing them. They will be in a moving truck for quite a while. Give them a head start to prevent musty smells.
  • Wardrobe Boxes might be worth the price. Keeping your clothes (for ex. dress shirts, khaki pantsOpens in a new tab., etc) on the hangers and kept away in a specific space is going to be the quickest way to pack them while letting them maintain their shape.
  • Wire hangers are terrible for clothes, especially your nice pieces. If your hanging clothes are crossing the country in a Wardrobe box or trash bags, buy a nice set of hangers. Do some research about your clothes and which hangers are most suitable for them.
  • Vacuum Sealed Bags might be worth the price. If your goal is protection and freshness, vacuum-sealed bags might be worth the investment while also saving space.

Move Smart, Not Hard

You can follow a hundred different precautions while moving, yet scenarios can still go wrong. Fortunately, after following these steps, you should be extra prepared to transport your clothes safely to your new adventure.


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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