Figuring out how to pack and ship an item can be confusing and stressful. Whether you are wrapping up a care package for your sister or shipping ceramic bowls from your pottery business, taking the proper steps to safely ship your package is important. If you want to learn about proper packaging, read on for some great tips and advice.
For the safest package, think in layers. Each type of packing material protects items in a specific way, so capitalize on their strengths by using multiple types together. Wrap your object in small bubble wrap, then in larger bubble wrap. Pad out your box with large air pockets, and fill in smaller gaps with packing peanuts. Use foam spacers to separate multiple items packed together in the same box, so they can’t hit each other.
If you are shipping something with a delicate surface, such as a painting, be cautious how you pack it. Newspapers are usually a bad choice, as the ink can smudge and leave marks on a canvas. Instead, wrap the face of the painting with clean brown paper, or glassine, the material that professional galleries use.
When packing multiple objects in the same box, place the heaviest object at the bottom, and the most fragile items on top.
Keep It Snug
Snugness is key. If your item can slide around the box, it can break, even if the object itself is well wrapped. In order to best protect your shipment, make sure there is no wiggle room in the box. Pick an appropriate sized box for your object, and fill any gaps with pouches of inflated air, wadded up bubble wrap, or packing peanuts. You can even use smaller empty boxes as space fillers.
For truly fragile items, such as glass or porcelain, double-box it. Bubble-wrap your item and float it within a box of packing peanuts. The object should not be touching the bottom, walls or top of the box, it should only be touching packing peanuts. Float the box within a slightly larger box full of packing peanuts. Any forces applied to the outside of the package should be evenly distributed, keeping your breakable item nice and safe during transit.
The Shake Test
If you give your final wrapped package a gentle shake, it should be silent. Nothing should be sliding around. No objects should be able to hit each other.
Include a Packing List
Include an item list inside your package, so the recipient knows exactly what they should expect to find in the box. This simple tool can help keep communication clear and eliminate needless phone calls or email exchanges with recipients who aren’t sure if something is missing. If you are sending multiple packages to the same recipient, label the boxes and the packing lists out of the total number of packages being shipped, so they can be sure that they received all of them. Include the shipping and return information on the packing list as well, so that the shipping company can still deliver the items if something happens to your external shipping labels.
Keep It Clean
Most lost packages are caused by shipping label confusions. Use a fresh box, or if you are reusing a box, make sure you remove all old labels, so your mail handler doesn’t try to send your package to the wrong address. Print out your label on the computer, so it is easy and clear to read, and double check the address—especially the zip code.
Tape is Strength
Your box may be packed, but you aren’t quite done. Proper taping is one the most important parts of shipping a package. Packing tape is very strong, and is specifically designed to work in conjunction with cardboard boxes. Don’t use masking tape, scotch tape, or painter’s tape, all of which is too weak to withstand a cross-country journey.
When you are sealing up your box, don’t throw a single piece across the lid. Tape the lid in an H shape, sealing the edges of the lid and the top. Tape the bottom in the same way, so your box will be strong enough to support the weight of your package.
Pack It Up!
Next time you’re shipping an item, keep all these tips in mind to ensure your package arrives safe and free of damage!
Marian Sparks is a freelance writer and a crafting enthusiast from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of experience selling her handmade goods online and at shows, she enjoys coming up with new ideas and finding inspiration at the Paper Mart blog. During her free time, she also enjoys knitting and painting.