The best way to label moving boxes

The Best Way to Label Moving Boxes

Is labeling a box really that complicated? Can’t I just write something on the side and be done? Is there any such thing as the best way to label moving boxes? Well no and sure you COULD and YES DEFINITELY!! Consider this scenario:

It’s the morning after moving day. You are feeling better after the exhausting day you had yesterday and you are excited to start unpacking and putting your home together!

But first, coffee.

Uh, but which box is it in? Maybe you labeled all the kitchen boxes “kitchen” so you start looking through. You find the coffee pot in the 3rd box.

Great! Now, how about filters? Coffee? Coffee mug?

This is too much work, you’re going to Starbucks.

Just hop in the shower real fast.

If only you knew where the towels were. And the shampoo…

You get the picture.

Consistent and clear box labeling can make a world of difference when it comes time to unpack your boxes. And here’s the deal: Moving is stressful! Make it as easy on yourself as possible.

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The best way to label moving boxes

This is the Best Way to Label Moving Boxes

So here’s what you’re gonna do:

  1. Number each box
  2. Write down the contents of each box
  3. Color-code each box

This is not as complicated as it seems, nor is it going to be as much work as you think it will, so don’t freak out! I’m going to break this all down for you step by step. 

But first, what exactly are you going to need?

Supplies You Will Need


There are free printable moving labels all over the internet! Honestly, you could make your own out of squares of paper if you really want. But you can print off a nice set for free too.

Permanent Markers

Don’t buy cheap markers! Good quality markers are not that expensive anyway and you are going to get good use out of them. Make sure that they are waterproof!

Clear Packing Tape

You are going to want clear packing tape to completely cover your labels after you put them on your boxes. This will protect the labels from rain and smudging and help prevent them from falling off.

Multi-Colored Markers OR Multi-Colored Duct Tape

This is what you are going to use to keep track of which room each box belongs to. So you are going to want a decent variety of colors. You can use colored permanent markers (waterproof!) or you could use different colored or patterned duct tape. If you go with tape, just make sure it’s heavy-duty tape (like duct tape!) that will stay on the box, NOT something crafty like washi tape. You can also use colored stickers, as long as they have a strong adhesive.

Master Inventory List

This is where you are going to track the contents of your boxes. It can be a digital list, but you are going to want to make sure you have at least 2 different copies printed out for moving day. If you only have a paper version, make AT LEAST 3 copies and keep them in separate places! This is not something you want to lose.

Make sure you have all of your supplies before you start packing or things are going to quickly get out of hand.

Here we go!

Use colored markers to code which room each box goes in

1. Number Your Boxes

Give each moving box a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, you get the idea. Write the number on 3 sides of the box and on the top, so that no matter which way you are looking at the box, you can easily see what’s inside. You want to write the number fairly large, so that’s it’s easy to see. If you have a label on one side of the box, make sure the number is written on that. 

2. Write Down the Contents

Record the contents of the box on your master inventory list, under the corresponding number. Don’t rely on your memory, even if it is an excellent one! You will have so much going on that you are trying to keep track of, I guarantee you will forget things. Lots of things. 

In addition to a description of the contents, which can be as detailed as you’d like, write down which room the box will need to go in.

3. Color-Code Your Boxes

You are going to color-code each box based on which room it needs to go in. It’s important to remember that you should label them based on which room they will be going to in the NEW house, not which room they were in in the old house.

Assign a color to each room. Make sure you write down the code and keep in with your master inventory list or moving day plan. You could even use a map of your new house to show which color goes where.

For every box, mark on the label with the color signifying it’s corresponding room. Or stick a piece of duct tape on it. If you are using markers, you can write the numbers on the side of the boxes in the corresponding colors if you want. If you are using tape, you can slap a piece of tape on each side. 

On moving day, tape colored pieces of paper (or another identifiable that matches the labeling on the boxes) on the door of each room so everyone knows what goes where. Then when it’s time to unload, no one has to ask you where every box goes. All they have to do is match the box to the room.

Make a coded map of you house as a color key

Extra Tips for Labeling Your Moving Boxes

1. This is the order to do things in: pack, seal, label. Don’t pre-label or it may not be accurate. Don’t wait too long after packing to write down the contents or you won’t remember what’s in the box.

2. When you are labeling the box, add any extra special instructions like “Fragile” or “This Side Up” or “Handle with Care.” These types of instructions should be written in giant black or red letters on the box it such a way that it can’t be overlooked.

3. If you are using pre-used boxes make sure that there aren’t already labels or writing on them that will cause confusion when it comes time to unpack. If so, cover the writing and/or old labels with your new label or scratch it out or put opaque tape over it. Whatever you need to do to make sure that it is crystal clear what the actual label is.

4. To make unpacking extra easy, label each box with a priority level (high, medium, low), based on what needs to be unpacked first.

5. Put together an “open first” box with essentials for your first 24 hr, like a coffee pot and shower curtain.

See? That wasn’t so bad! Being methodical with your labeling will make unloading and unpacking a breeze!

Do you have a different way that you like to label boxes? Tell me about it in the comments! (Although I stand by my statement that this is the best way to label moving boxes!)

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