Best Types of Moving Boxes for Your Packing Needs

A woman packing her apartment into many boxes

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Moving boxes are the same weight and quality as ordinary shipping boxes—unless you purchase the kind made from thicker cardboard that allows for heavier packing. So the question most people have is whether to hunt for recycled moving boxes from friends and family who've recently moved, find some slightly-used ones from grocery stores, or purchase new ones.

The answer is usually found in a combination of need and cost. For expensive, fragile or sentimental items that you don't want to be damaged, it's always best to err on the side of caution and purchase new moving boxes.

When choosing to purchase moving boxes, keep these tips in mind.

Don't Overpack

The rule of thumb is that each box should not weigh more than 50 pounds. Even if you've hired movers, remember that you may have to move the boxes yourself, from one room to another, so make sure you're able to lift them. Some boxes, such as a wardrobe moving boxes or electronic boxes, may naturally be heavier. Just try to keep the number of boxes over 50 pounds to a minimum.

Different Sizes

  • 1.5 cubic foot moving box (16 by 12 1/2 by 12 1/2 inches): This box is used the most and can safely carry up to 60 pounds. Again, aim to keep the weight under 50 pounds. This box is great for books, for packing kitchen items, dishes, fragile and small appliances, lamps, and/or shades.
  • 3.0 cubic foot moving box (18 by 18 by 16 inches): This box can safely carry up to 65 pounds. It's great for clothing, pots and pans, and electronics.
  • 4.5 cubic foot moving box (18 by 18 by 24 inches): This box can safely carry up to 65 pounds and is great for larger lamps, linens, and larger kitchen appliances.
  • 6.0 cubic foot moving box (22 by 22 by 21 1/2 inches): Can carry up to 70 pounds, but a word of caution: Do not overstuff this box, as it can become very heavy. Use this box for pillows, toys, large blankets, and couch/chair cushions.
  • 6.1 cubic foot moving box (24 by 18 by 24 inches): This box is a rectangular shape and may work better for blankets and comforters and cushions. Use it for objects that do not fit properly into the 6.0 cubic box.

    Wardrobe Boxes

    • Hanging wardrobe box: These come in various sizes (small, medium and large) and include a metal bar and shaped just like a wardrobe. They are great for hanging closet items that you can't pack flat. Just remember that they are heavy and take up a lot of room. If you can pack clothes flat, this will save you some money. Some movers use these boxes to move chandeliers or delicate wind chimes that are better to move hanging than flat.
    • Lay down wardrobe moving box (approximately 32 by 19 7/8 by 9 inches): This type of box resembles a dresser drawer and is great for packing clothing that you prefer only to fold once. Just remember not to over-pack this box as it cannot withstand heavy items.

    Other Types

    • Picture and/or mirror boxes: All mirror boxes can be telescoped, meaning that two can be put together to get a longer fit. When fitting two boxes together, make sure you use a strong filament tape to secure them together and to handle the additional weight. Mirror boxes are designed to handle framed pictures, artwork, and mirrors. Bubble wrap is recommended for all framed items.
    • Dish packs: These are good for packing glasses, cups or liquor/wine bottles. Just make sure you don't overpack them. Check the weight to ensure they are still manageable. Overpacking dish packs can result in dropped boxes and shattered items.
    • Mattress box: These boxes aren't necessary as most movers will wrap your mattress in plastic bags, which are much cheaper to purchase. However, boxes will keep your mattress from being punctured, or if it's being stored for a while, it'll protect it better from outside elements. Mattress boxes come in many sizes from cribs to twin to king-size.