Make sure that all your fragile items arrive safely this holiday season with this essential guide to shipping fragile items. 

Learn how to choose the best packaging components for fragile items and how to pack and ship them properly. 

What Is Considered a Fragile Item?

A fragile item is anything that can easily break and, therefore, requires special shipping and handling. Fragile items are made of various materials, including glass, ceramic, clay, and crystal. Examples of fragile items include televisions, cell phones, glassware, mirrors, picture frames, eyeglasses, books, and even artwork. 

Antiques may also fall into the “fragile” category as they require special shipping and handling to ensure that they arrive at their destination in one piece. 

Why Do Fragile Items Need Special Care When Shipping?

Fragile items need special care when shipping because the shipping process can be quite rough on packages. Packages can be thrown around, dropped, or may crash into each other during transit. Packages may go through several different pairs of hands at multiple stops along the way.

While such shipping conditions wouldn’t affect clothing items, they would certainly affect breakable items without the proper packaging. 

What Is the Best Type of Packaging for Shipping Fragile Items?

The best type of packaging for fragile shipping items is corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard makes up your traditional shipping boxes, but it’s so much more than that. Corrugated cardboard comes in various constructions and thicknesses depending on the level of protection you need for your fragile products. 

The most basic corrugated cardboard construction consists of a medium surrounded by two liners. The liner is a thin piece of cardboard, and the medium is a thin piece of paper folded into a waved shape designed to act as a cushion. 

This format is known as single wallboard, but there are other types to consider. A single face board only contains a single liner attached to a medium and is ideal for inner packaging components. 

The double wallboard contains two layers of medium surrounded by three liners. 

Finally, the triple wallboard contains three layers of medium surrounded by four liners. Double and triple wallboards are ideal for shipping heavy or fragile items. 

There are also different mediums to consider based on your shipping needs. The medium is arranged in a “fluted” format, of which there are different thicknesses to choose from. A thicker flute corresponds to a more durable and protective packaging. Here’s a quick guide to some of the different flute options: 

  • A flute is the thickest flute, with a thickness of five millimeters
  • C flute is the second-thickest flute with a thickness of four millimeters; it is also the most common type of flute
  • B flute is the third-thickest flute with a thickness of three millimeters
  • D flute is the fourth-thickest and thinnest flute measuring two millimeters thick
  • E flute is the third-thinnest flute with a thickness of 1.5 millimeters
  • F flute is the second-thinnest flute with a thickness of 0.6 millimeters
  • G flute is the thinnest flute with a thickness of 0.5 millimeters

What Is the Worst Type of Packaging for Shipping Fragile Items?

The worst type of packaging for fragile shipping items is poly mailer bags made out of polyethylene. These bags are extremely thin and lightweight and don’t offer much protection to their contents. 

But just because poly bags aren’t ideal for shipping fragile items doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful for shipping other items. 

Poly mailer bags are frequently used by eCommerce companies, specifically eCommerce clothing companies, as they are lightweight yet durable while protecting items from the elements. 

You can customize poly mailer bags with your brand information like corrugated cardboard. While traditional poly bags aren’t very environmentally friendly, there are now greener alternatives out there that you may want to consider to promote an environmentally conscious brand image. 

What Packaging Extras Do You Need When Shipping Fragile Items?

When shipping fragile items, you need more than just basic packaging components. You also need to include packaging extras to provide an extra layer of protection for your fragile products. 

Here are some examples of packaging extras you might need when shipping fragile items: 

  • Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is one of the most common protective packaging extras. In addition to it being fun to “pop,” it also provides a ton of extra cushioning for fragile items. It comes in various thicknesses and formats, including rolls and pouches. 
  • Corrugated wrap: Bubble wrap isn’t very environmentally friendly since it’s all plastic, and corrugated wrap offers a greener alternative. A corrugated wrap is scored cardboard material ideal for preventing chips and scratches. It comes in a roll and has different thicknesses. 
  • Packing peanuts: Packing peanuts are another popular type of protective packaging extras. Packing peanuts are great because they can fill the voids inboxes and provide an extra layer of insulation for fragile items. However, packing peanuts are made of styrofoam and aren’t very environmentally friendly. 
  • Packing foam: Packing foam can also provide cushioning for fragile items. This packaging extra comes in various forms, including sheets, sponge rolls, foam rolls, and egg crates. These items are thicker, denser, and larger than styrofoam. 
  • Packing paper: Packing paper is thicker and more protective than your typical sheet of paper and often comes in the form of Kraft paper and butcher paper. It should be used to wrap boxes and can attach with adhesives. 
  • Packing film: Alternatively, packing film can also wrap boxes and provide extra protection. Packing film is made of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and protects the packaging from tears, punctures, and other damage during the shipping process. 
  • Air pillows: Air pillows are an increasingly popular packaging extra made of plastic that’s then scored and inflated into a pillow. You can arrange air pillows in such a way that a single sheet can protect the top, bottom, and sides of a package. 
  • Filler paper: Filler paper refers to shredded recycled paper that provides an extra cushion for fragile items. Since filler paper is lightweight, it’s best-suited for lightweight, fragile items. 
  • Dividers: Dividers are made of corrugated cardboard and can divide the shipping box into different sections. Theses sections help to support products more during shipping and create a sense of awe during unboxing.
  • Inserts: Inserts are also corrugated cardboard and can perfectly fit the fragile items in question. You can customize these inserts to include your brand logo, colors, fonts, and more. Box Genie’s design engineers can help you create inserts of any shape to enhance your customer’s experience.

How to Properly Pack a Fragile Package?

Once you have obtained all the packaging components needed for your fragile package, it’s time to put them to use. Start by wrapping the fragile items individually to prevent any parts from breaking off. You may also want to consider individually packaging fragile items in separate boxes for an extra layer of protection. 

From there, you can arrange the items in the larger shipping box. Start by placing some padding in the bottom of the box in the form of bubble wrap, air pillows, packing peanuts, or filler paper. 

Then, place your items in the middle of the box. After that, go back and add padding on the sides of the items before finally covering the top.

Once the inside of the box is secure, focus your attention on the outside. You should tightly seal the box with heavy-duty packing tape along the openings of the box. You should also put tape on the sides and corners. 

Feel free to add extra packing tape as needed to ensure that the box stays intact during the entire shipping process. 

How to Properly Label and Ship a Fragile Package?

In addition to packaging a fragile package properly, it must be labeled and shipped properly to prevent damage during the shipping process. In terms of labeling, you need to clarify to everyone handling the box which way it should go by labeling both the top and bottom. 

It may also help to write “this side up” with a corresponding arrow and “fragile” so that workers are aware of the fragility of the contents. 

You also need to choose the proper shipping options. While choosing the longest and cheapest shipping option available might be tempting, this isn’t the best strategy for shipping a fragile package since it most likely means more stops and increased handling. 

Instead, you want to limit the stops and handling of your fragile package by choosing an expedited shipping service. There are even specialized shipping services that offer more careful handling. 

While you may have to pay more for these services, the peace of mind that your package will arrive safely is worth the extra cost. 

Should You Insure Your Fragile Package?

If you want even more peace of mind regarding your fragile package, you may want to consider purchasing insurance for it. Depending on your carrier and shipping service, they might include a certain amount of insurance. 

However, if you’re shipping an especially valuable and fragile item, then you should opt to purchase additional shipping insurance to protect the contents of your fragile package. 

If your fragile items are damaged during shipping, you can file an insurance claim. In most cases, claims can be completed either online or by mail. Be prepared to provide insurance, proof of value, and damage to have your claim processed. 

The carrier will then process your claim and, if approved, reimburse you for the value of the damaged item. 

Visit Box Genie For Help Shipping Fragile Items

If you’re looking for the best-corrugated cardboard for your fragile items, look no further than BoxGenie. BoxGenie can help you safely package and ship your items thanks to our line of high-quality boxes, dividers, and inserts


3 Ways to Optimize Packaging to Protect Your Products | Entrepreneur

Packing Breakables 101 | FedEx

Verify: Do 'Fragile' Labels Protect Your Packages? |

Trusted by top brands worldwide. Dedicated to smaller businesses like yours.

Over 2,000 brands trust us to help them grow and build successful businesses. Find out how custom packaging can work to help take your brilliant brand to the next level!

  • Black & Decker logo
  • Bose logo
  • Canon logo
  • Ecologic logo
  • Sergeant's logo

“They can’t be beat for price, speed, and quality. We trust them with all our packaging needs!”

Megan D., CEO at SSBD

“They can’t be beat for price, speed, and quality. We trust them with all our packaging needs!”

Megan D., CEO at SSBD

Ready to design your own box?

Start building your custom box now to see a preview of how it will look!