Bubble Wrap vs. Packing Paper – When Is It Best to Use Which Material?

December 16, 2022 / Posted in Before the Move
Maya Brown

Born in Atlanta, Maya has called many places home in her lifetime. She's a content writer and moving expert who loves to help people relocate smoothly.

When it’s time to move, there is an age-old battle – bubble wrap vs. packing paper. These are the two main wrapping materials, and they are often combined together for added security. It can get confusing when you’re thinking about what to wrap your belongings in because there are many factors to consider. So, is it better to use packing paper or bubble wrap, and in which case? Let’s find out.

Inside of a box with a present and bubble wrap
Half of the move is done when you get the necessary supplies

Well, because there are so many factors to think about – from efficiency to impact on the environment, the answer can get a bit complicated. The air-filled bubbles are perfect for securing your fragile belongings, while using papers can be great for protecting sensitive surfaces from scratches. So, the short answer is that it depends on what you use it for. But things are never quite that simple, so the long answer is – well, read on to find out.

Before You Start Wrapping up Your Belongings, You Should Declutter Your Home

One of the first things you should write on your relocation to-do list is to buy the supplies you need to pack up everything you’re bringing to your new home. They should be bought ideally a few weeks before the move because that’s how long it will take to put everything into each box. Sure, you can use old newspapers or other things you find around the house, but only quality supplies will ensure that your things will arrive completely intact and unscathed.

However, before you go looking for supplies, an important step to take is to declutter your home and get rid of stuff you no longer need. Go through each room and see if there’s any stuff you want to sell, throw away, or maybe donate to Goodwill. That’s the first necessary step if you want to move efficiently. After you’re left with things you want to bring to your new residence, it’s time to make a household inventory, and that will help you to get an idea of how much material you should buy.

Plans for what to do after decluttering
When you declutter your house, you'll be left with less stuff to pack

Bubble Wrap vs. Packing Paper – What Is the Superior Moving Material?

As we’ve mentioned, there is no clear answer to this debate, and both of these materials have their own pros and cons. They’re used for wrapping up different things, and they are often combined for maximum protection. It’s good to know about the advantages and disadvantages of both, even if you decide to book packing services that will do the job for you.

Protection efficiency, affordability, and environmental impact are some of the aspects you should consider when you’re thinking about what types of packing materials you should use. Keep in mind that wrapping things up in a combination of materials is the ultimate relocation hack, and that’s why you should never buy only one type of supply.

There Are Quite a Few Pros to Using Bubble Wrap to Pack

Plastic bubbles are great because they provide full protection for almost anything. You can be sure that they will absorb all the hits and vibrations all throughout the process of cross-country moving. These plastic bubbles not only provide absolute security for your items, but they can also be used for wrapping almost everything, including things with sharp edges or irregular shapes. It also comes in various forms, such as sheets and bags, as well as different sizes.

On top of that, using this material for wrapping things up is pretty affordable, especially if you compare it to similar supplies. For example, you can use foam sheets to do the job, but they can get quite expensive when you’re buying them in larger quantities. Also, plastic bubbles are lightweight, and this is important because the relocation cost your chosen long-distance moving company offers you depends on the total weight of everything you’re moving.

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There Are Some Downsides to Using Plastic Bubbles

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect material. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages, and to properly pack your items, you should be aware of both. Here are some downsides to using plastic bubbles:

  • It’s not the most delicate material – you shouldn’t put it directly onto sensitive surfaces such as electronic appliances,
  • Although lightweight, it takes up space inside the box – be prepared to possibly buy more boxes than originally estimated,
  • It’s not the most eco-friendly material out there – you can’t put it with the rest of your recyclable plastic.

The Plastic Bubbles Are Not Exactly Nature’s Best Friends, but They Can Be Reused

The plastic bubbles are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene film, and this material is not routinely recycled. If you realize that you can’t go without it, but being eco-friendly is important to you, you can think about using it for other purposes after the move. It can be used for insulating drafty windows, protecting your plants and newly planted seeds, cushioning fruits and vegetables that are prone to bruising, and many other things.

But there is also a more eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap. You might have come across something called honeycomb papers while you were searching for supplies online. Sure, it has a weird name, but this is a material that combines the best of both worlds when it comes to papers and plastic bubbles. So, what is bubble packing paper? It’s a new material made from 100% recycled material with a honeycomb pattern over the surface. It can be a great alternative because it is very efficient in cushioning fragile items.

Bubble wrap used for long-distance moving
Is bubble wrap better than honeycomb paper? It depends on how important it is for you to be environmentally friendly

The Advantages of Using Packing Paper

When it comes to using paper to protect your belongings, there are also some pros and cons. Like plastic bubbles, everything depends on what you use them for. So, let’s look at some of the positive aspects of using this wrapping method:

  • The soft and smooth quality is very gentle to delicate surfaces – this makes it a perfect option for your most fragile possessions such as china and glass because they won’t get scratched,
  • It will wrap tightly around your belongings – which will keep them protected from dust, dirt, and any possible scratches,
  • It’s a cheap and clean option – there’s no need to try to save on relocation costs by using old newspapers because the clean sheets are also very affordable, and they won’t leave stains on your items because they’re ink-free,
  • Papers are lightweight, and they take up less space in the box – same as with plastic bubbles, they won’t add much to the total weight of your shipment, but it’s even more convenient because they won’t take up as much space as plastic bubbles or other padding materials do,
  • It can be easily bundled together – for more durable and firm protection, the bundles made from sheets can be a great method for cushioning your belongings,
  • It’s a more eco-friendly option – it’s biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Papers Are Not Good Enough Protection for Certain Things

The biggest downside to using this material is that it can’t be used for certain household items on its own. They are also easily tearable when used for objects with sharp edges, and moisture can destroy them fairly quickly.

Because it can’t protect items as air-filled bubbles can, they should be combined with different materials to make sure everything is secure. In those cases, it acts as the first protective layer that prevents any scratches or smudges from happening. Check out this video with helpful tips on how to pack like a pro before we go over what should be wrapped in what:

What Should You Use to Pack Every Kind of Your Household Belongings

Now that we’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of both of these materials, it’s time to talk about the best ways for wrapping up different items you’re bringing with you. To make sure you put everything you need into boxes, check out our list of the most commonly forgotten things to pack.

What Is Packing Paper For?

As we’ve mentioned, the soft and gentle surface of this material makes it perfect for wrapping the most delicate belongings, where it acts as the first layer of protection. It will ensure that no scratches or smudges happen, and your relocation budget won’t suffer a bit because of it. It will also save space while being able to properly secure and separate different household objects. Here are some of them:

The Air-Filled Bubbles Are Perfect for Wrapping up Irregularly Shaped Objects

Once you’ve wrapped things in their initial layer of protection, it’s a good idea that the most delicate and fragile things get wrapped with plastic bubbles as a second layer. As we’ve mentioned, the air-filled bubbles provide a secure and soft cushioning, and they are also great for wrapping oddly shaped objects that may have sharp edges. That’s why it should be used for things such as decorative pieces and artwork or any furniture you have that is not rounded.

Take Special Care When Wrapping up Your Electronic Devices

When it comes to packaging electronics, you should keep in mind that they require special treatment because they are very sensitive. When wrapping your TV, laptop computer, or any other electronic device, it’s important to combine both of these materials. So, put the initial protective layer that will ensure no scratches happen and the second layer of plastic bubbles to additionally secure everything.

Keep in mind that for this, you will require anti-static bubbles because they will protect the devices from static electricity. They are specifically designed to protect these sensitive devices, and using them for your electronics is very important because the regular bubbles can create static, and that can result in costly damage.

Person putting a fragile label on a box
It's important to pack everything up the right way, especially your most beloved belongings

For the Best Preservation Possible, It’s Vital to Combine Materials

As we’ve just discussed, wrapping electronic devices requires both of these materials, but this combination is the key to efficiently packing almost everything, especially your most precious and fragile things. Even better, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only these two because there is a wide variety of different moving supplies. That’s why you should learn more about how to use plastic wrap, packaging peanuts, and other materials that will additionally secure your belongings.

All of these materials should be used not only to pack individual things but also to fill the empty space in boxes with bundles so that the stuff inside doesn’t move during the ride and damage one another. That can also happen if you leave out any unnecessary stuff inside your car if you’re shipping it with an auto transport company. It’s one of the most important steps in preparing your vehicle to be shipped by a car shipping company.

It’s Time to Find the Right Cross Country Movers and Fill up Those Boxes

If you’re moving DIY-style, you need to think about how to choose the best-sized boxes and quality materials. But if you’re having trouble with it, your chosen long-distance movers will surely provide you with their quality stuff. Avoid having a last-minute move so you will be able to organize the relocation with great efficiency. The long-distance moving services you choose will surely help you in accomplishing a stress-free move, and the same can be said for an easy unpacking process in your new place. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and let the professionals do what they know best.

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