Bubble wrap provides a cushion of air that keeps valuables and fragile items in good shape when they must be moved or shipped. Wrap the items in a sheet of plain newsprint or acid-free paper first to protect your goods from marks that may otherwise be left behind from the plastic bubble shapes.
Using Bubble Wrap
No matter what you're wrapping, face the bubbles in toward the fragile object for maximum protection. This helps cushion and distribute the weight more evenly, should the box containing the wrapped item fall or shift. It also helps protect the bubbles from breakage.
Bubble Wrap Sleeves
Items that are fairly flat, such as thin external hard drives or lightweight picture frames, can be placed in bubble-wrap sleeves for ease of packing. These sleeves look a bit like a bag made completely of bubble wrap. Since the bags usually are made with small bubbles, they're best for lightweight items. Such items may be bagged individually and stacked, then wrapped with even more bubble wrap, if you like.
Even though bubble wrap does a great job of protecting your wares, there is a downside -- it may leave bubble-shaped marks on your belongings. For washable items such as dishware, this may not be a concern, but for prized possessions, wrapping the goods in acid-free paper or plain newsprint first prevents the problem. Tape the paper completely around the object; then wrap it in bubble wrap.
The Wrapping Process
Cut the Bubble Wrap
Cut a piece of bubble wrap large enough to wrap several times around the object you wish to protect. For heavy or fragile items, use wrap with large-sized bubbles. Cut the bubble wrap with scissors.
Wrap the Object
Wrap the bubble wrap around the object several times, keeping the object centered within the wrap. If you're concerned about bubble marks on the piece, wrap the object in plain newsprint or acid-free paper first.
Tape and Tuck
Tape the bubble wrap to itself to hold it in place near the center. Use packaging tape for best results. Tuck loose ends from some the inner layers inward if the object didn't take up much space inside the cylinder of bubble wrap. Tape the ends shut so the item does not slide out.
Packing Wrapped Items
Once you've wrapped all fragile items, package them in thick corrugated cardboard boxes. For items that may break easily, such as teacups, line the bottom of the box first with several layers of thick bubble wrap or an inch or more of packing peanuts. Arrange wrapped items within the box; then fill in any space remaining on the sides or top with wads of Kraft paper, bubble wrap or packing peanuts. If packed properly, the items should remain safe and intact even if the box is dropped onto its side or from several feet.
Save bubble wrap to reuse it if you frequently pack or ship items. Only use the wrap with its bubbles intact, unpopped.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.