How to Pack For Shipping


We meet a lot of terrible packers. Their strategy seems to be to spend as little time and money as possible on packing and packing materials. Finally, after enough of their stuff gets broken, they begin to realize that good packing is really cheaper in the long run.

This section is written so you can avoid the expensive breaking and learning process and go directly to packing smart.

UPS has now issued an excellent how to for package shipping.
You can see this at UPS web page.

Following these recommendations would be the surest way of

  1. Keeping your UPS shipping insurance in force
  2. Avoiding breakage ( no matter who you ship with.)

As an addition to the UPS guidlines, we offer these shipping tips on packing for shipping.
These are the absolute fundamental shipping tips.

  1. Realize that packing for shipping tips are different from packing for moving tips. Shipping conditions are far rougher than moving conditions. Boxes are frequently dropped or thrown. Boxes are turned over and shipped upside down — whether or not you label them This Side Up. Basic shipping tips include better boxes and more padding.
  2. One of the best shipping tips to avoid damage is to pack the item in a box large enough to offer some clearance all around. Gently fill the clearance space with some sort of soft material. (We call it padding.) The padding protects the item inside. The amount of padding required depends on the fragility of the item and on the nature of the packing material. Safe thicknesses for padding have been determined by years of experience. (See item 5, below.) Rugged items like shovels or wiping rags require virtually no padding at all. Fragile or expensive items like computers or vases ought to have 3 inches of padding or more.
  3. Another simple shipping tip is use of a strong box for packing. A good box acts like a suit of armor to protect it’s contents. It keeps heavy weights from crushing your item. It keeps sharp objects like fork lift prongs and table corners from entering the box and breaking the item. See our shipping box page for details about boxes.
    The load capacity of most boxes is marked in a circular Box Makers Seal on the bottom of the box. Generally you should load a box up to, no more, than half the marked capacity. If the box is loaded too heavily, split the load into two or more boxes.
    If you must use a used box, don’t put a heavy load in it. Used boxes are weaker than new ones.
    Another good shipping tip is to use a double wall box to ship expensive items even if the items are not fragile at all. (Furs, a wedding dress, or a stack of $400 suits.)
  4. Always put in enough padding to guarantee the box is completely full. Mound the padding slightly above the top of the packing box to be sure.
    Boxes which are less than completely full will collapse when heavy boxes are stacked on top of them.
    An alternative to putting in unnecessary padding is to cut down the box.
    Drop by and talk to us. We’ll show you how to do it.
  5. Use enough padding. When in doubt; use more than you think is necessary.
    Moderately priced clothing and bedding need no padding at all — in fact, they can be used as padding.
    Absolutely unbreakable items like wrenches, flatware or simple metal parts just need enough padding to keep them from rattling around and punching through the box.
    Almost unbreakable items like electric motors or automotive water pumps need at least a half inch of padding plus whatever it takes to fill the box.
    Tough but breakable items like kitchen appliances, metal lamp bases or telephones need at least an inch of padding.
    Slightly fragile items like calculators, jewelry boxes (empty), portable radios or brass musical instruments need at least 2 inches of padding — heavier items need a bit more; lighter ones a bit less.
    Fragile items like dishes, glasses and larger electronics need to be double boxed with at least 2 inches of padding between the inner and outer box.
  6. The main shipping tip for items that are especially valuable is to have an outer box that is double walled.
  7. When multiple items are shipped in the same box, pad all the items.
    Be sure adequate padding is placed between each item.
  8. General shipping tips include not mixing heavy items and fragile items in the same box. The heavy items will break the fragile items.
    When double boxing, no padding is required between the various inner boxes — just between the inner and outer boxes.
    If a material has the potential to make a mess if it spills — seal it in a zip lock bag — or even one zip lock inside another.This includes:
    Bottles of liquid — like perfume, shoe polish or vanilla.
    Granular material — like laundry detergents, spices, or fertilizers.
  9. Remember! Most flammable or toxic materials require special arrangements to be shipped. Check with the carrier.
    This shipping tip is a legal requirement — be sure to check.
    If the contents of the box are water sensitive, or if the box is apt to get rained on, line the inside of the shipping box with a plastic bag. (Frequently, a garbage bag or a leaf bag works fine.)
  10. Be sure the box is completely labeled.
    If shipping by truck freight, apply an address label on 3 sides of the box. (Labels can get scraped off by heavy boxes.) UPS frowns on multiple address labels — but they will accept them. The post office will not accept them at all.
    Here’s a way to avoid losing labels. Use a fresh, new box and write right on the box with a bold, indelible, black marker.(If you make a mistake in the address, cover it with a label.)

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