How to Pack Shoes for Moving (with Photos) – 7 Steps & Avoid These 2 Tips

6 Min Read

When packing shoes, gauge how much room you have. Sort your shoes by how carefully they need to be transported. Then prepare the shoes for packing: clean them, deodorize them and stuff them with packing paper or shoe trees.

Now bag, wrap or box your shoes. Once you’re done, arrange them in the moving box, suitcase, etc. Put the heavier shoes under the lighter ones.

Hi! My name’s George and I’m a shoe expert. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to pack shoes for moving. I have a large shoe collection; I’ve moved over 12 times in the past 8 years, sometimes across borders.

Below, we’ll learn to pack shoes step-by-step with pictures. We’ll go through sorting, preparing and stuffing shoes. We’ll finish with packing and arranging shoes.

I’ll also cover some finer points, like which packing material to use and which shoes need to be packed carefully.

Let’s dive in by starting with…

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Table of Contents


Assess How Much Space You Have

With more space, you can move more shoes. Your shoes are also less likely to be squished together. The reverse is true if you have less space.

So start by thinking about how much room you have. If you get a whole moving truck to yourself, that’s one thing. If you have to pack clothes and shoes in one or two suitcases, that’s something else.


Decide Which Shoes You're Taking With You

Before you start packing, go over your footwear collection. Are you going to wear all those shoes and boots again?

Look for shoes that:

  • You can’t wear because they’re the wrong size
  • You can’t wear because they’re damaged beyond repair
  • You won’t wear because you don’t like them

Shoes that are no longer wearable, you may want to throw out or recycle. Shoes that you can’t or won’t wear, you can always sell or donate to charity.

Either way, no sense wasting time and space on footwear you’re never going to wear again.

On the same note, make an inventory of the shoes you will be wearing over and over again. For instance, you’re likely to need your best walking shoes for rain during your travels.


Sort Your Shoes

If you have unlimited space, you can pack all your shoes carefully. If space is limited, you’ll have to prioritize some shoes over others.

To do that, sort shoes by importance and how carefully they need to be handled.

Shoes that need more care include:

  • Dress and your favorite pair of formal shoes
  • Leather shoes and boots
  • High-end shoes

Shoes that may need less care include:

  • All-rubber and all-foam models (e.g. Crocs)
  • Mesh athletic shoes
  • Canvas sneaker models

Use your best judgment. As a rule, nice shoes you want to keep in good condition need to be packed carefully. They may require a shoe box.


Prepare Shoes for Packing

A. Clean your shoes thoroughly

Even a bit of dirt from a shoe’s sole can make a mess of suede and textile. Make sure you take extra time learning how to clean boots and suede shoes properly.

B. Choose shoes that need to be transported separately from others

This includes:

  • Shoes and boots that scuff easily
  • Polished shoes and boots that can mark other footwear
  • Shoes and boots with pointy bits that can puncture other shoes

C. Remove odors

If you have any smelly shoes, now’s a good time to get rid of that smell.

You can clean a shoe’s inside and upper with a good shoe cleaner.

You can also deodorize a shoe’s lining with household items like:

  • Dry tea bags
  • Citrus peel: orange, lime and lemon
  • Baking soda wrapped in layers of muslin or gauze

Now that you’ve prepared your shoes, let’s move on to the first stage of packing.


Stuff Your Shoes

It’s best to fill all your shoes up; yes, even the ones you’ll be boxing. This stops them from wrinkling, creasing and losing shape.

Acid-free paper is best. It’ll normalize moisture levels, protecting leather from shrinkage and mold.

To stuff your shoes, use:

  1. Packing paper or – my personal choice – acid-free tissue paper. Tissue paper is a little trickier to stuff with, but it maintains a good moisture level.
  2. Shoe trees. These are another good choice. I like cedar wood because it repels moths, but plastic and metal will do too.
  3. Sneaker shields. For sneakers, especially patent leather ones, these work well with tissue paper. They make sure the toe box keeps its shape and doesn’t crease.
  4. For tall boots, you can use a plastic bottle or crumpled paper to keep the shaft upright. This will prevent the leather from creasing.

Once you’ve stuffed your shoe(s), it’s time to…


Bag, Wrap or Box Your Shoes

Now it’s time to actually pack your shoes. There are 3 main ways to do this.

Boxing Shoes

Take a cardboard box and put your shoes inside. The original shoebox works best if you still have it. It’s specifically made to fit a specific shoe model.

Separate the shoes with some crumpled packing paper. This is especially important if they have metal parts or polish on them. It prevents scuffing, smudging, etc.

Don’t put the shoes in sole-to-sole. Box them upper-to-upper. If your shoes press on each other at all, make extra sure to pack them well first.

Wrapping Shoes

If you don’t have the space for another box, or a shoe is durable, you can wrap it instead.

A pair of Crocs in bubble wrap, for example, will survive just about any trip. The same applies to many other shoes.

First, make sure the shoe is stuffed. Next, apply bubble wrap. Make sure you get the whole shoe, including the toe box, heel section, etc.

Now apply a little packing tape to keep the wrap together. Keep the shoe well away from any pointy objects that can puncture the wrap.

Bagging Shoes

A garment bag is a good way to transport shoes. I often use these for flat shoes with hard soles. Just pop your shoe inside, close the bag and put it in your suitcase, packing box or shoebox.

For flat shoes you can also use a closet door shoe hanger as a portable shoe “bag”. Just put your shoes in, fold the bag over itself and pack with folded clothes. This isn’t the best option, but it works for limited space.

Do not use plastic bags. These tear easily and don’t protect your shoes at all.


Arrange Your Shoes Carefully

Alright, now it’s time to actually put your shoes in whatever you’re transporting them in.

Shipping pods and large packing boxes

Put the heaviest shoes and rigid shoe boxes at the bottom. Put lighter shoes and unboxed shoes at the top.

If you have many unboxed shoes, I strongly recommend lining the container you’re using with bubble wrap.

Suitcases and carry-on bags

Try to keep shoes away from pointy, hard parts. If you can’t, put a sock or some folded clothing between the shoe and the part.

Again, pack heavier shoes and shoe boxes at the bottom. For suitcases with wheels, this means above the wheel area.

In Conclusion

Start by gauging how much space you have. Sort your shoes by how much care they need during packing and transportation.

Then prepare and stuff your shoes. Box, wrap or bag them – one by one or pair by pair.

If you do everything properly, your shoes will arrive odor-free and in the same condition they left in.


George P.H.

Last Updated:

July 6, 2022

George P.H.

George is the founder of Shoethority. He started testing and studying shoes after a series of sports injuries. He now shares his knowledge with Shoethority readers as a writer, tester and editor.