Packing Safely: How to Plan for Moving Questionable Items

Hiring a moving company makes any large move easier. Whether you’re moving your family across the country, relocating for a new job, or buying and moving into your first apartment, having the extra help available is always handy. Although moving companies will move almost anything, there are still a few items that may be considered as “non-allowable” items. These items should be kept separate from the rest of your packed household goods and handled by yourself.

So what are all these items? “Non-allowable” items essentially fall into three categories:

1. Items movers cannot move
2. Items movers will not move, under special circumstances
3. Items you should move yourself

Here is a list of items that fall under these three categories and advice on how to deal with each one before your big moving day.

Hazardous Materials

These are materials that pose a threat to your household goods and to human safety. Mixing these items in with other items when packing can be dangerous. Most moving companies will ask you to handle these items on your own or dispose of them safely. Items include, but are not limited to: ammunition, car batteries, charcoal, cleaning solvents, fire extinguisher, fireworks, liquid bleach, matches, nail polish, paints, pesticides, pool chemicals, and weed killer.

If you are trying to get rid of these items before a move, consider giving them to friends or family that might still use them. The online search tool at can help you find recyclers in your community. You can also take the products to a collection point for hazardous waste in your community; a local or state health department can tell you where it is.

Keep these things in mind when you are getting rid of hazardous materials:

  • Never dump hazardous products
  • Never burn hazardous wastes, not even in a barrel or stove. Burning may cause toxic gases and create hazardous ash and smoke
  • Recycle used motor oil and antifreeze; many auto service centers and auto parts stores will accept used motor oil or antifreeze, or both
  • Mercury is a threat to health; fluorescent light bulbs, thermometers, thermostats, and blood pressure meters all contain mercury. Call your local trash department or health department to find out where you can recycle these products


Make sure you are not packing anything that may rot or spoil during the move. This mostly includes food items that are fresh, frozen, refrigerated or opened as well as indoor or outdoor plants. Use up the food you have the week before your move. Be creative and make meals that use everything in the kitchen in order to get rid of the food. Donate or throw away the rest of the food that you do not use or eat in time of the move.

Along with using up all of the food in your house, make sure to do this 24 hours prior to the mover’s arrival. If you are transporting your refrigerator, empty it and keep the doors open for at least 24 hours before it is loaded onto a truck. Doing this will ensure the refrigerator is dried out, which prevents the growth of mold.

If there are circumstances in which you must take perishables with you, talk to your mover about the situation. Ask for any special arrangements that could be made for you during the move.

Personal or Sentimental Items

While most movers don’t have a problem with moving personal or sentimental items, it’s recommended that you pack them and take care of them yourself. In the unfortunate event that something might happen to the moving van or something else during the move, it’s important that you are in possession of what cannot be replaced. Some items may include: car keys, checkbooks, jewelry, medical and dental records, medications, albums, photographs, important travel documents, and professional files.

As always, if you have any questions about a specific item, make sure to talk to your mover and get an expert opinion. Movers are available to make your move easier and they are used to these types of questions.

As you prepare for the big move, keep these things in mind and happy packing!

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