What is Bubble Wrap®? (with pictures)

Lauren Romano
Lauren Romano
Bubble wrap can be used to cushion items when packing for a move.
Bubble wrap can be used to cushion items when packing for a move.

Since the invention of Bubble Wrap®, it has not just been used as packing material, it has turned into a phenomenon. Marc Chavannes and Alfred W. Fielding invented Bubble Wrap® in 1957. They also co-founded the company Sealed Air Corporation in 1960, of which Bubble Wrap® is a registered trademark. They also manufacture other packing materials.

Bubble Wrap® comes in various shapes and sizes. Its general design is a sheet of plastic with bubbles of air evenly spaced across the entire surface. While each sheet contains bubbles of the same size, you can find Bubble Wrap® that comes with several sized bubbles from the small to the quite large. It can fit inside any container and wrap around any item that needs protecting.

Some shipping envelopes are padded on the inside with Bubble Wrap.
Some shipping envelopes are padded on the inside with Bubble Wrap.

Quite a few people have a love of popping Bubble Wrap®. Some people even consider it to be a stress releaser. While some may prefer to pop actual Bubble Wrap®, there are also several sites where you can virtually pop the bubbles. It is a much cheaper and more eco-friendly way to get your bubble-popping fix.

Bubble Wrap® is excellent for packaging as it is not only cushioned, but it is water-resistant as well. It can keep dirt and dust off your items and is relatively inexpensive to purchase. You can find rolls of the product, including small rolls and very large rolls, so you have enough for your needs whether you are moving, shipping or just temporarily boxing up the items. There are also bubble wrap bags that can completely envelope your fragile items.

Bubble wrap may be used to mail compact discs.
Bubble wrap may be used to mail compact discs.

When people think of Bubble Wrap®, they may automatically think of the clear color. Over the years, several colors have come onto the market including red, yellow and green. You will not find the various colors in every office supply store, but they can be found at specialty stores and online.

In addition to the rolls and bags of Bubble Wrap®, there are also shipping envelopes that are padded on the inside with the bubbles. They are made to fit smaller items, such as CDs or books, which can get damaged during the shipping process. Many people may usually think of the manila padded packing envelopes, but you can also find ones in various colors and patterns that are appropriate for every occasion.

Whether you use Bubble Wrap® for packing or popping, it is a product that is easily accessible to buy online, in any office supply store and in various other stores. There is even a Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day, which takes place on January 26.

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Discussion Comments

I have a thing for very small and colorful bubble wrap bags. I think they are adorable! Any time I'm sending small things through the mail like jewelry or makeup, I use these bags.

Sometimes I also use them when I'm going on a trip and I have to put breakables in my suitcase. I've had some of my fragile belongings break in checked-in baggage before, so I don't take that risk any more. I either use the bubble brap bags or the bubble wrap sheets to keep them secure.

@andee-- I sold a bunch of unwanted DVDs recently and I used the bubble wrap envelopes too. My DVDs were actually missing the DVD box, they just had a paper case, so I also wrapped them in bulk Bubble Wrap before I put them in the envelopes.

If I had the DVD boxes, I'm sure that the envelopes would have been enough. But I wanted to make sure that the DVDs wouldn't break on the way to their destination. Thankfully, the all reached safely and in perfect condition.

@vigilant-- Hey! Don't feel bad! Lot's of people love popping bubble wrap. I'm not that into it now but I remember when they first came out, it was like my favorite new toy. I could spend hours playing with it and it seemed like I could never pop all the bubbles.


@myharley-- I know! I had no idea that there is a Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day either. That's so funny! You learn something new everyday!

I always reuse Bubble Wrap too. Not just because it's better for the environment but because it's kind of expensive when you use a lot of it as @summing said. Thankfully, I do online shopping a lot and everything comes in Bubble Wrap. I open the packages carefully so that I can retain the Bubble Wrap in good condition and use it later.

Even when I receive envelopes padded with Bubble Wrap, I remove the Bubble Wrap and save it. And these are actually Bubble Wrap bags and work perfect once you trim the envelope paper from the sides! I had a blog sale last month and I only had to buy envelopes as I had tons of Bubble Wrap at home. It saved me so much money!


Bubble wraps are really, really useful for moving. You can buy the big rolls quite cheaply at Walmart and places like that and it's great for wrapping big items like your TV and framed pictures.

You can also get pouches in various sizes to make it easy to pack fragile items like glasses. That's a real timesaver!

Everyone of my kids love to pop bubble wrap. One Christmas my son was much more entertained by stepping on pieces of bubble wrap than he was with any of the presents he received.

I don't think just the kids enjoy doing this though. There is something that is hard to resist about hearing that popping noise as you burst the bubbles of air.

This also is great to use if you need to protect items when you are moving. If you have enough to wrap around large objects this keeps them from getting scratched, and works much better than just throwing a blanket over them.


When I was going through my CD collection to sell what I didn't want anymore I used the envelopes that had the bubble cushioning in them. I sold most of my CDs online so needed to ship them.

All I had to do was insert the CD into the envelope and put an address on it. It was nice knowing this was just the right amount of protection I needed without needing to add any extra cushioning.

I have also received things in the mail that are wrapped inside a bubble envelope. These are also handy to keep and reuse for protecting small or large items.

Who knew there was a Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day! I have never heard of that before and would be curious to know how that got started.

I find it interesting how such a simple invention can make such a difference. It is one of those things where I wish I had come up with the idea. Not only companies that ship a lot of product, but also most individuals, have probably used bubble wrap at one time or another.

When I receive a package that has bubble wrap packaging inside I like to save it and reuse it. It is always in perfect condition and this way I am not adding to the landfill, but recycling this material that can easily be used again.

@summing - When I was looking for bubble wrap to buy in bulk I actually found the best prices for the amount I needed at Amazon. When I factored in free shipping, this was the most cost effective for me.

It was sure cheaper than buying a small roll of it at a local office supply store. The rolls of bubble wrap also have pre-measured lines that makes it very easy to tear it into individual pieces without using scissors.

When I was doing a lot shipping, using bubble wrap really came in handy. It can also add to your total shipping cost, but I would rather do that than have something arrive broken or damaged.

Does anyone know of a place where I can find good discounts for buying bubble wrap in bulk?

I have just started my own eBay business and all of a sudden I am shipping things constantly. I am using a lot of bubble wrap and also wasting a lot of money on shipping materials.


I am a little embarrassed to admit how much I still like popping Bubble Wrap. Whenever I see a sheet I have to pop at least 6 or 7 of the bubbles.

There is just something so simple and visceral about popping them. I know that I am not the only one that feels this way. I suspect that half the people who read these words have submitted to the weird small pleasure of bubble wrap.

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    • Bubble wrap can be used to cushion items when packing for a move.
      Bubble wrap can be used to cushion items when packing for a move.
    • Some shipping envelopes are padded on the inside with Bubble Wrap.
      Some shipping envelopes are padded on the inside with Bubble Wrap.
    • Bubble wrap may be used to mail compact discs.
      Bubble wrap may be used to mail compact discs.
    • Someone mailing books may use bubble wrap to protect it during shipping.
      Someone mailing books may use bubble wrap to protect it during shipping.