What Not to Pack When Moving

Michael Miller is a reputable author at Great Nation Moving and an expert in moving, packing and storage topics.

What Not to Pack When Moving

When moving to a new place, you’ll certainly want to take your household items and personal belongings with you – so, you’ll start packing them for the move. 

Packing and moving all your earthly possessions, however, is not a good idea – there are many things that are not worth taking to your new home (damaged or worn-out items, outdated or outgrown items, items you don’t really need or like, etc.) and some things that movers simply won’t move (non-allowable items).

Packing non-allowable items will be a waste of time and effort – your movers will refuse to take them, so unless you can move them yourself (in your car, in your luggage, etc.), you will just have to leave them behind.

It is, therefore, very important to know in advance what movers won’t move – so you don’t lose precious time packing non-allowables and so you can decide what to do with them (move them yourself, use them up before the move, give them away, etc.).

Find out what not to pack when moving – and why:

Why movers won’t move certain items?

From furniture and electronics to books and toys, professional movers move all kinds of items.  Yet, there are specific things they won’t move due to legal, ethical, or safety reasons.

According to federal and state laws and regulations, shippers of household items are not allowed to transport certain goods. Many states prohibit the import and/or transportation of specific items – and some things are just illegal to move. Professional moving companies abide by the law, so they won’t take illegal items.

Movers will usually refuse to take irreplaceable and highly valuable items, too. No matter how careful, experienced, and responsible the moving professionals may be, anything can happen on the road and the shipment – or some items from it – may get damaged, destroyed, or stolen. So, movers won’t risk taking items of extremely high monetary or sentimental value – such prized belongings should stay with their owners.

The main reason movers won’t move certain items, however, is SAFETY. The pros don’t allow on their trucks anything that can cause damage to the moving vehicle or to the shipment, cause harm to the environment, or pose health risks to the movers, to people on the road, or to the general public.

It’s important to note that every professional moving company has its own list of non-allowable items, so when you choose a mover to work it, you need to ask them for their list of company restricted items and consult it carefully before you start packing your belongings for moving.

What items will movers not move?

The items movers won’t move fall into five major categories:

1) Hazardous materials

Movers don’t take hazardous materials (flammable, corrosive, or explosive items) as the risk of transporting such items is too big.

Therefore, you should not pack for moving anything hazardous in nature:

  • Acids
  • Aerosol cans (sprays, deodorants, etc.)
  • Ammonia
  • Antifreeze
  • Car batteries
  • Cleaning supplies (liquid cleaners that may spill, cleaning agents containing harsh chemicals, etc.)
  • Disinfectants
  • Dyes
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks and signal flares
  • Gasoline, kerosene, and other petroleum products
  • Gunpowder
  • Lamp oil
  • Motor oil
  • Nail polish and nail polish removers
  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Pesticides, fertilizer, and weed killers
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Propane tanks

If you have guns and ammunition, you need to check the laws of the state you’re moving to and the states along the way, then discuss the matter with your movers. They may agree to transport unloaded firearms – it depends on the company’s policy and the regulations in the specific states the truck will pass through. If your movers won’t take your weapons, your best choice is to entrust them to a federally licensed firearms dealer who will ship them safely for you.

When it comes to alcohol, most moving companies will agree to take your liquor bottles as long as they’re properly sealed and safely packed.

If you want your movers to relocate any fuel-powered yard equipment (lawn mowers, chain saws, etc.), you need to completely drain the fuel from the tanks when preparing the pieces for moving.

2) Perishable food

Perishable food can go bad quickly and create a huge mess during the move. Spoiled perishables may start releasing unpleasant odors, grow mold, or even attract insects or rodents – as a result, the entire shipment (or, at the very least, some more delicate items) may get ruined. To prevent this from happening, movers refuse to load frozen foods, refrigerated foods, and fresh foods on the moving truck.  

Canned food, on the other hand, is relatively safe to move, so most moving companies will agree to take canned products.

Unless you’re moving locally, though, it’s best to use up your food supplies before the move – or donate them to food banks or local charities.

3) Plants

Plants are very delicate, so they’re unlikely to survive being transported in a moving truck (in the dark, subjected to shocks and vibrations, exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations, etc.). Therefore, movers don’t take plants in their trucks – unless it’s a very short distance move (and it still depends on the company policy).

In fact, it is illegal for moving companies to transport plants on moves longer than 150 miles because of the risk of transferring pests and parasites from one area to another.

If you want to move your plants to your new home, your best option is to transport them in your car.

4) Pets

Pets should never be transported in a moving truck – it would put their safety and well-being at risk (the air conditions in a moving vehicle are very bad, there is a lot of jostling during the ride, the temperatures can quickly reach extreme values, etc.). Besides, pets are part of the family, so they should travel with the family, not be transported with the household goods.

Under no circumstances will home movers move pets – it will be up to you to take your animal friends to your new home:

  • If you’re driving to your final destination, you can transport your pets in your car;
  • If you’re flying to your new city, you can take your pets on the plane with you;
  • If you can’t take your animal friends to your new home yourself, you can hire experienced pet movers who specialize in pet relocation to ship your animal friend to your new location.

5) Irreplaceable items

As already mentioned above, movers won’t move items that can’t be replaced if they’re lost or destroyed during the move:

  • Family heirlooms
  • Collections
  • Photos and photo albums
  • Keepsakes, mementos, and other sentimental items
  • Keys and tickets
  • Documents

Antiques, expensive electronics, artwork, and other extremely valuable items can be relocated by professional movers but they need to be declared in a special high-value article inventory form and properly insured. You may need to hire specialty movers for some items of particularly high value (such as antique furniture and pieces of art).

When possible, it’s best to move your valuables and essentials yourself – to ensure your peace of mind and prevent potential losses, headaches, and heartaches.

Knowing what movers won’t move in advance will save you some time and effort (you will know what not to pack for moving, so you won’t waste time, energy, and packing materials preparing these items for moving) and will give you enough time to decide what to do with your non-allowable items.

If you’re moving short distance, you will likely be able to move most of these things yourself – just be sure to pack as safely as possible and transport them with great care.

If you’re moving long distance, you will, of course, take your pets, your valuables, and your essentials with you – and even some of your plants, in case you’re driving to your new home – but it will be impractical (and, oftentimes, impossible) to take hazardous materials and perishable goods with you. Try to use up as much of them as possible before the move and give them away to friends, neighbors, or charities everything else – or just dispose of hazardous materials the right way.One final word of advice – It’s a very bad idea to pack non-allowable items for moving and include them in your shipment without the knowledge of the movers. If these items are discovered, you will be fined – and if you have violated any state laws, the company will report you. Besides, if an accident occurs (a flammable item ignites and causes a fire in the moving truck, for example), you’ll be held accountable and liable for all the damage.

By Michael Miller

Michael Miller is a reputable author at Great Nation Moving and an expert in moving, packing and storage topics.

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