Types Of Boxes To Get -- And To Avoid -- For Your Upcoming Move

It seems like practically everyone at some point deals with making their first big move, even if that move is just across town. Even if you realize you should wrap your fragile items in paper or bubble wrap, you may have little understanding about which types of boxes are best for different purposes. As you go out on your box gathering venture, look for specific kinds that are the most helpful for moving. 

Great Moving Boxes

Smaller Heavy-Duty Boxes

If you have quite a few books and magazines to move, pick up several heavy-duty boxes that aren't very large. You often can get these in meat departments of supermarkets; they are clean and dry because they only contained prepackaged items or foam containers enclosing the contents. The frozen food department is another possible source of these boxes. 

It can feel tempting to load books in large boxes, but people tend to forget how heavy those boxes are when packed with reading material. 

Egg Carton Boxes

Boxes that contained egg cartons also are excellent. They're sturdy, and many of them actually have places where you can insert your hands near the top and grab hold, making them very easy to transport. These are not only good for carrying reading material, but for a large number of fragile items that won't fit so easily in the smaller boxes.

Liquor Cartons

These boxes are exceptionally sturdy since they must hold several heavy bottles that may be fragile. They're only about half the size of egg carton boxes and tend to be very similar in size and shape, making them easy to pack into a truck or trailer. 

Boxes for Copy Paper

These are some of the nicest sturdy containers because they have secure lids you can take off and put back on. The trick is finding them. Ask your friends and relatives who work in an office -- or in a building with offices -- to scavenge these boxes for you. You also may be able to get them at a photocopy shop. Stop in and ask when boxes are available; the timing often depends on when paper supplies arrive.

Boxes to Avoid

Fruit Boxes

Avoid picking up fruit boxes. Those that contained tropical fruit such as bananas are especially inadvisable, but even boxes that held other kinds of fruit should be avoided. They're sturdy and good-sized, but they can be a haven for insects and spiders that nestled up in the fruit. 

Large Lightweight Boxes

Even if you only want to pack items such as clothes or linens in these boxes, they have a tendency to tear or become crushed, leaving your belongings vulnerable to damage. Pack those things in other boxes or in big plastic bags instead. 


Depending on store management policies in your area, you may need to call and schedule a box pickup ahead of time. Many supermarkets insist on breaking boxes down immediately to get them out of the way. Others, however, have their shelf-stocking personnel place empty boxes in carts in back, up front or even throughout the store so customers can grab them. 

Another possibility involves checking online classified ads that list free items. Many people have empty boxes after a move that they need to get rid of. They'll probably have the kinds you need. 

Ask Local Moving Companies

Some moving companies charge for boxes and other packing supplies, but others provide a certain number of these items for free if you contract with them for the move. If acquiring all the boxes you'll need feels like a hassle, you can cut that project to a certain extent with the help of a local moving company.