How to Pack a Messy House to Move

by | Mar 22, 2022 | 0 comments

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Planning a move is stressful. Ideally, you’ll have all your possessions safely stored in a bunch of meticulously organized boxes. Yeah, that doesn’t usually happen. It’s even more difficult if your house isn’t clean, so here’s how to pack a messy house to move – the easy way.

Note: The above photo is a real picture of our cross-country move.

I’m going to be honest here, I’ve been there. Even after keeping the house clean with it being on the market or moving from a tiny rental into a bigger house I still had plenty of mess to sort out.

How to Pack a Messy House to Move – The Easy Way

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to moving with a messy house – follow these tips and it will make things a lot easier.

Well, as easy as you can get while moving.

The key here is that you need to consider what to do with your possessions on both side of the move. Both packing, and then when you plan on unpacking later.

Want to clean up first? Here’s how to clean a messy house step by step.

Pack Like Items Together

organizing a packing a messy house to move

The room by room method for packing is great if your house is organized and things are in their right place. But if your house is messy, chances are you have things scattered about.

To make unpacking easier (and cleaner!) on the other side, do your best to pack like items together. This can be a bit of a pain initially since you may have multiple boxes going at once but trust me, it’s worth it.

Here’s an example: You want to pack your extra blankets. Grab the ones from the linen closet, any that are under the bed or lingering in bedrooms, extras strewn on the couch, and so on. When you go to unpack they can all get put away properly.

Tip: The one exception here is books; either pack them in smaller boxes or spread them out over multiple boxes with lighter items like blankets on top.

Sort Junk As You Go

A messy room full of boxes and clutter

If you’re able, this is a great time to pare down on your belongings. As you pack keep a box for donations and a garbage bag nearby. Make quick decisions for each time: keep, donate, or toss.

This isn’t the time for tough choices or parting with treasured collections, but anything you throw away now means less to move and deal with later.

You should also go around and throw away as much trash as you can early on in the process, too. That way you have less mess to deal with and more room to move around.

Tip: If you have a lot of trash you can pay for a company to bring a dumpster to your house and they’ll haul it away, or if it’s more donations arrange for the charity to pick up.

Label Things Clearly

Packing a labelled box

Are you one of those people who knows exactly what’s in that towering pile of unfiled paperwork? How about your extra set of car keys that are wedged between the wall and bedside table?

If you don’t have time to organize your mess the next best thing is making clear labels. Typically you’d label the contents, but you may not be entirely sure about what’s inside.

In that case, label the specific location the box was packed from. For example, “paperwork to be filed, was packed from on top of the dining room table.”

Tip: Make sure the most important boxes are clearly marked so you can easily find them.

Avoid “Junk” Boxes


Yeah, this is a mistake I’ve learned from personally. When we were moving the very last box was just odds and ends from the house. It sat in the basement for 3 years before I just ended up tossing the whole thing.

If you can do your best to pack like items together and pare down, you shouldn’t have too much leftover junk.

But, if you really can’t avoid the “junk box” try and use smaller boxes instead of one big one. That way it’s easier to sort later.

Tip: Ziplock bags are great for keeping smaller items from spilling everywhere inside bigger boxes.

Don’t Stress About “Full” Boxes

Packing fine china carefully

There’s nothing worse than waiting around to find that “right” thing to fit inside a box. Not only does this slow down the packing process, it also makes it harder to unpack on the other side.

If you’re packing like items together or doing the specific area method stray items just mess it up.

Seal the boxes once you’re done packing so nothing can be added or removed (great tip when you have kids!)

Tip: Make sure your boxes are light enough to be moved easily!

Moving Companies Can be Hit or Miss

Movers carrying a dresser onto a moving truck

If you’re really stressed about packing and moving, a moving company can really alleviate that worry. Especially if you don’t have a lot of help or have a lot of difficult things to move.

But when your house is messy that’s another stress; maybe you don’t feel comfortable with strangers packing your belongings.

A moving company can either be good or bad, depending on your personality and the company itself. Sometimes they’re great – they’ll pack up your mess and take it to your destination, no fuss. Some even unpack for you so those dining table piles are right back on the table!

(My mom said that when the military moved them they packed up the dirty baby bottles!)

But if you’re like me and like the control, stick to just having the moving company do the actual moving.
In that case, make sure you’re clear about where each box should go.

Tip: Ask questions, especially about the moving company’s methods to make sure it’s what you want.

Child packing their belongings

Other Tips to Help You Pack a Messy House to Move

  • When you start packing you’ll want to work through the things you use least often and then work towards the important stuff as you get closer to your move.
  • Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of stuff you don’t need!
  • Create a “open this first” box filled with essentials so you’re not looking around for those basic items as you unpack.
  • You don’t need that many clothes, that’s a good place to start packing if you’re not sure where to begin.
  • A packing checklist can help you stay organized.

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Everett Franchuk

Everett Franchuk

Everett loves to plan parties and events, decorate, and make crafts/DIY projects. As a parent of 5 in his early 30s, he decided to start The Best Nest to offer practical tips and ideas.

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