Top 5 Dangers of Using Free Moving Boxes

Top 5 Dangers of Using Free Moving Boxes

Sure, they’re free, but are used cardboard boxes really the best choice for moving day?

Here are 5 dangers for relying on free moving boxes to keep your things protected.


Finding moving boxes is one of the top items on everyone’s moving checklist. And in most households, that involves scrounging up as many free boxes as you can find.

You stake out the local grocery store for discarded produce boxes or enlist the help of the “recently moved” on Facebook (and face it…everyone is dying to get rid of those unwanted boxes!). But are used boxes really the best choice?

Unfortunately, no.

It takes a lot of boxes to relocate successfully. And yes, that includes moving into your first apartment. Even a minimalist move between studio apartments needs around 30 boxes. A 5-person family would need more than 100 boxes in varying sizes. And the quality of those boxes makes a huge difference in your move.

Here are five good reasons to skip those free moving boxes.


1. Stability

Cardboard is essentially a thick paper. Once a cardboard box has been used to transport something, it has already been placed under strain and (probably) exposed to the elements. And a weak box is not able to keep your prized possessions safe during your move.

Picture this: Great-Grandma’s heirloom tea set is safely tucked away and intricately wrapped in bubble wrap. You pick up the heavy box (the same one that had rotting vegetables in it last week) and the bottom falls out. Great Grandma’s tea set is shattered (and so is your heart).

In a comparison contest between a used box and a new moving box, new wins hands down.


2. Pest Infestation

Yes. You read that right. You have no idea where those boxes have been.

At best, they’ve been sitting in Aunt Carol’s garage, attracting termites and losing their stability day-by-day. At worst? The back alley of a restaurant with old food and grimy bugs crawling all over it. And if the previous box owner had bed bugs…hoo boy. You’ve got a bed bug infestation in your bright and shiny new home.

Unless you’re 100% sure of the source that your boxes come from, you might want to skip it; the pest control fees alone are much more than just purchasing new moving boxes in the first place. Not to mention the emotional anguish of an already stressful move and the prospect of a bug infestation. It’s not worth your sanity.


Unused cardboard boxes can handle your move without cracking under the pressure.

3. Dirt

If an infestation wasn’t bad enough, oils, dirt, and smells can become trapped inside the used cardboard. (Yet another way that free moving boxes could ruin your possessions.)

If you happen to pack clothes or linens in a soiled box, you run the risk of the dirt, oil, or smells permanently ruining the fabrics. Have you ever tried to get oil out of fabric? Take our advice; don’t run that risk.

With brand new boxes, the worst you’ll need to do is rewash your items when you get to your new home to get rid of some cardboard dust.


4. Wrong Sizes

This alone may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re dealing with moving boxes, size matters.

Obviously, you can’t pack big items in small boxes, and if your boxes are too big, your items can roll around and break. Also think about the time (and money!) you will spend attempting to cushion your items with newspaper or bubble wrap. If you had a box that was the right size, you could save hours trying to Tetris the items in.

The free moving boxes that are easiest to get a hold of tend to be all the same size. But how are you going to fit your flat screen or your framed wall art in that? Buying a new box that’s perfectly sized will be the best at protecting your breakables.


5. Injury Risk

“What? How can utilizing a used box hurt me?

Remember when we mentioned the bottom falling out and your contents spilling onto the ground? Well, what if foot happened to be underneath it? The average cost of a foot x-ray is much less than springing for sturdier boxes. That doesn’t even factor in the cost of the doctor and treatment.

Are those free boxes worth it at that point? Probably not.


Ways to Use Free Moving Boxes (Responsibly)

So what if used boxes are bestowed on you and you’re in a reuse and recycle mentality? What can you do with those old boxes?

child's feet sticking out of cardboard box

  • Pack lightweight, non-fragile items. If your source is trusted and the boxes are clean, use them for your linens, clothes, and other light items. Don’t put heavy, fragile, or valuable items in them.
  • Repurpose into gift tags. (There’s some money saving advice if I ever saw it!) Cut pieces of thin cardboard into tag shapes and tie some twine on a package for a cute, rustic look.
  • Arts and Crafts. Got kids? If you do, then you know the best toy is a big cardboard box! Make sure it’s clean and those kids will stay out of the way while you’re moving! They’ll be in their “spaceship” while keeping from underfoot.
  • Compost them! Yep! Cardboard is compostable. You’ll feed your compost, which in turn will feed your beautiful new garden at your new abode.
  • Keep weeds at bay. Expert gardeners agree: there’s no better weed barrier for your garden than a sheet of cardboard. Not only is it compostable (see above), it’s also breathable.



We know that using free moving boxes is tempting when faced with the cost of a move. Unfortunately, used boxes can cost you more in the long run than if you’d just bought new ones from the start.

Looking for a more eco-friendly option? You can rent plastic moving boxes for a sturdy and sustainable move.

From packing to driving, Cento Moving has everything you need to make your move stress-free. Call us today for an instant quote and we will make sure your valuables make it from A-Z safely.


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