How to Pack a Shipping Container with Household Goods
20th April, 2017
Knowing how to pack a shipping container with household goods isn’t as easy as it seems! Here’s a step by step process that shows you how to pack a container like a pro, and keep your valuables protected during transport:
Step 1: Decide which items to pack
Step2: Prepare the loading area
Step3: Prepare and pack individual items
Step 4: Plan how to load a shipping container
Step 5: Load the shipping container
Step 6: Conduct a last check and lock the container
Step 1: Decide Which Items to Pack
Moving is a great time to go through your household possessions, identifying the items you’d like to keep, and what’s no longer needed. The less you need to pack and move, the more you can save on storage and removalist costs, as well as time spent loading and unloading shipping containers. If heading interstate or overseas, you’ll need to weigh up whether it’s worth taking some household goods with you, or purchasing new ones when you arrive at your destination. For a little inspiration, check out our How to Declutter Before Moving House Checklist.
Once you’ve determine which household items you’re keeping, you’ll need to determine whether they can all fit into a shipping container. The most common sized container for moving personal effects is the 20ft shipping container.
What fits in a 20ft shipping container?
Generally, a 20ft shipping container is large enough to hold the entire contents of a standard three to four bedroom home.
To get technical; the internal capacity of a 20ft shipping container is 38m3, with a length of 5.95m, a width of 2.53 and a height of 2.75m. It has a total weight allowance of 8 tonnes.
Step 2: Prepare the Loading Area
It’s recommended that the shipping container is placed somewhere convenient, facing a garage or loading door for easy and fast access. Also ensure the container isn’t blocking any residential or commercial traffic on a public road or shared car park. Whether the container is placed on a lawn, gravel or concrete surface, it’s a good idea to protect it from scratches and marks by propping it up with either a couple of bricks or planks of wood in each corner. This is particularly useful to balance out the container if it will be sitting on uneven ground.
Step 3: Prepare and Pack Individual Items
The first element of mastering how to pack a storage container is knowing how to organise your items efficiently. They need to be wrapped and packed using the correct packaging materials and techniques. All valuable and fragile items must be carefully wrapped and padded out using bubble wrap and protective removalist blankets, otherwise you risk severe damage and breakage during transport. Once all your household goods have been wrapped and packed with the right packaging, place your household items in strong moving boxes, or smaller containers (such as sturdy plastic tubs with lids) that offer strong external protection.
Make sure to fill up empty space inside the boxes so that items can’t shift around. Some ships that transport shipping containers can tilt by up to 30 degrees during transport. So, anything that’s not tightly packaged can be crushed by other items. Use soft materials to create a buffer between items—pillows and cushions work well. Once each box is full, use a marker to summarise what’s inside and label them with ‘fragile’, or other relevant information. As you go, it’s important to add them to an inventory list to keep track of what’s been packed and later, check that you’ve received all your household goods when you unload the shipping container.
Step 4: Plan How to Load a Shipping Container
Planning is critical to get right when learning how to load a shipping container because it makes the process smooth and quick. Think about where your large furniture will sit in the container, as well as where you can put items to retain the structural integrity of the container. This is best done by placing large and heavy furniture throughout the container floor, stacking items on top of each other to create more room and considering where to put smaller boxes in gaps. By spreading everything out, you can protect boxes better and stop the contents of the shipping container moving during transport.
Once this is done, consider what order your household goods need to be packed in to fit in the plan. If there’s a lot of bigger items, they can be marked with tape or another indicator so you know which end of the container they will be loaded into.
If you have essential items that you’ll need as soon as your container reaches its destination, be sure to clearly identify these, and pack them closest to the door of the container for easy access.
Step 5: Load the Shipping Container
Now that you have planned how to pack a shipping container with your items, when the container arrives you’ll be ready to start loading straight away. Load the items in the order you devised during step four, and tick them off your inventory list as they go in. Fit everything in the container as snugly and securely as possible, beginning with larger furniture and filling the leftover gaps with smaller boxes. To stop movement and scratching, slide soft items like pillows, sheets or packing paper in between furniture and boxes. You can even use soft items as a buffer between your household goods and the sides of the container. Secure everything as you go using strong rope or pulley devices to fasten your goods onto the tie-off points along the container walls.
Step 6: Conduct a Final Check and Lock the Shipping Container
When everything has been loaded, go through your inventory list and check if anything has been missed. Look over the shipping container and make any adjustments to better lock down and protect fragile boxes and anything valuable. Check that you’ve used all the space across the width of the container and retained a balanced height to prevent a spill from a stacked box or two. If the contents of your container looks safe and secure, close the container doors and use a strong padlock to lock the arms ready for transport. We recommend a straight shackle padlock or a similar lock that’s resistant to bolt cutters for better protection.
Well, that’s how to pack a shipping container with household goods! With these simple steps, your valuables will be safe and secure during transport and ready for you at your destination. Just remember, if you don’t have the time or resources to do all this yourself, you can always contact professional removalists to look after it all for you.