What Movers Won’t Move: What Not to Pack When Moving
That’s right – despite reputable movers’ readiness and willingness to assist you to the best of their abilities during the house moving process, some household goods are considered too dangerous to be transported, and therefore your moving company will not pack or move those hazardous items.
To have a list of non-allowable items is the only way to be sure that you won’t pack something that you shouldn’t have, or that you won’t prepare some items for packing only to find out that your professional packers will refuse to handle them. This article will offer you a fairly complete list of items movers won’t move, including a detailed explanation of why those items are prohibited and how you should dispose of them prior to moving day.
So, what not to pack when moving? Which items professional movers won’t take? And why? The answers are coming…
Why movers won’t move certain items
As you can probably guess, it’s all about safety. You must understand that safety is of paramount importance when valuable possessions are transported from one home to another, often hundreds or thousands of miles across the country.
Moving companies won’t move certain items because there’s an elevated risk of damage to
- their moving company representatives (the movers),
- their own property (the moving truck),
- the customer’s possessions inside the truck,
- items that belong to other customers (in cases of consolidated shipping),
- harm to the environment, or
- even health risks to the general public.
Each good professional moving company will have their own version of a non-allowables list of prohibited items – a detailed list of non-transportable goods which you shouldn’t bother packing or preparing for packing simply because the moving company you choose to hire will not pack or transport them for you.
Some of those no-no items are also illegal to move, so it’s not only about moving companies being too cautious – it’s also about professional moving companies abiding by the law.
Don’t forget to ask your mover for their full list of moving companies restricted items. Request that list as early in your preparation as possible to avoid losing precious time later on, especially when you’re forced to re-pack some of the boxes.
What not to pack when moving: Hazardous materials
Moving companies are not allowed to transport any flammable, corrosive or explosive items because federal laws forbid them to do so. Also, highly dangerous goods that can burn, corrode or explode present major risks to the people involved in the move, to your own property, to the mover’s property, or to the environment as well.
The risk of serious injury or even death is never out of the question when such dangerous items are being transported from one home to another, so you should easily understand why moving companies won’t move hazardous materials.
List of hazardous materials movers won’t move
Here’s a general list of things not to pack due to their hazardous nature. This list is fairly comprehensive but you must remember to ask your chosen moving company for their own edition of these non-allowable items.
- Guns and ammunition
- Black powder, smokeless powder
- Igniters or primers
- Lighter fluid/matches
- Signal flares
- Gasoline/Kerosene or other petroleum products
- Yard equipment containing fuel
- Motor oil/Antifreeze
- Lamp oil
- Fluid cleaners
- Pesticides/Fertilizer/Weed killers/Poisons
- Propane tanks
- Paint, paint thinners, and other paint-related materials
- Nail polish and nail polish remover
- Aerosol cans (deodorant, hair spray)
- Pool chemicals
- Fire extinguishers
- Scuba diving tanks
- Car batteries
- Cleaning supplies/bleach
- Liquor (alcoholic beverages)
- Dangerous or unidentified liquids
Important notes on moving hazardous materials
Even though you should have the non-allowables list from your movers by now, you may still find yourself unsure whether you are allowed to pack and move a specific household item or not. In such cases, just contact the moving company and ask them.
Guns, firearms, and ammunition
Will movers move guns, firearms, and ammunition?
No, they will not.
If you own firearms and ammunition, you must do a meticulous research when it comes to hauling them across different states because each state has its own regulations. Sometimes these regulations are so vastly distinct that you may find yourself in trouble.
This is why a good option for gun owners like you is to leave your weapons at a federally licensed firearms dealer who will ship them safely for you. Yes, this way you will have to cover the shipping costs as well, but violating any gun laws in another state may prove to be even costlier for you.
Power equipment or yard equipment
If you possess any power equipment or yard equipment (lawn mowers, chain saws, weed trimmers, etc.), remember to drain completely the fuel from their tanks before transportation. This is the only way professional movers will agree to transport a piece of fuel-driven equipment for you.
Will movers move liquor?
The regulations regarding the transportation of liquor and alcoholic beverages vary from state to state – some movers may agree to move bottled and well-packed bottles of liquor, others will refuse to do so. Find out if the laws in your intended destination permit the move of alcoholic beverages before you start packing them.
If you own a special liquor collection, like an expensive wine collection, then you need to contact a specialty moving company with solid experience in that particular field. Alternatively, you may need to transport your bottles of alcohol in your own vehicle, in which case you should not transport opened liquor bottles for safety reasons.
Will movers move cleaning supplies?
Moving companies will usually not pack and move cleaning supplies due to the risk of such liquids spilling over inside the moving van and causing damage to the rest of the household items.
Keep in mind that you will need those cleaning supplies to clean up the place you’re about to leave. And after the cleaning operation is over, give to neighbors or friends whatever quantities of cleaning products you have left. After all, they do not normally cost too much, so you can buy brand new cleaning supplies when you arrive in your new home.
If you are moving locally (just a short distance away), you may consider moving some of these dangerous items in your own car – just make sure that you pack them adequately and that you don’t expose any of them to extreme heat.
Long distance move
On the other hand, if you are moving long distance, then taking hazardous materials with you will not be practical at all. In which case, it’s best if you give them to someone or dispose of them properly and buy new ones at your new location.
If you are unsure about how to best dispose of a particular dangerous item, you should call your Environmental Protection Agency office for advice.
Final word of advice
You are strongly advised to not try to fool your moving company by packing hazardous items without informing them first. Why?
First of all, because it is too risky and if something happens to your household goods while they are on the move, neither your mover nor your insurance company will cover their loss or damage. And second of all, if something bad does happen, you will be held accountable and liable for any caused damages.
What not to pack when moving: Perishable food
Will movers pack and move food?
Perishables are definitely not dangerous the way flammable, corrosive and explosive materials are, but they can still make a huge mess during a house move. Perishable food can quickly become bad, it may release unpleasant odors, it may attract insects or rodents, it may grow mold and will cause significant damage to the rest of your items for transportation.
Under normal circumstances, moving companies won’t agree to take your perishables for the reasons stated above. Such foods include
- Frozen foods
- Refrigerated foods
- Fresh foods
- Open containers of non-perishable foods
Moving long distance. If you’re only moving a short distance away, like moving across town or to a neighboring town or city, then certain movers may actually agree to transport some of your perishable food locally as long as you have taken extra care to pack it safely. Most movers will agree to transport non-perishables (canned goods, dried fruit, spices, etc.) provided that it is well-packed for the road. However, you shouldn’t count on that since it all depends on the individual moving company and their policy.
Moving short distance. For short distance moves, you can choose to take some of the perishables in your own vehicle simply because they won’t be long on the road. Be extra careful here, for meat, dairy products, and eggs can spoil really quickly even when the weather outside is not too hot.
Moving companies won’t agree to take any perishables if you’re moving long distance, like moving to a new state. And you shouldn’t risk transporting on your own any food that can go bad fairly quickly. Instead,
- empty and clean thoroughly your refrigerator and/or freezer at least 24 hours before your movers knock on your door,
- give your food supplies to friends or neighbors if you fail to use them up before moving day, or
- do the honorable thing and donate your food to those in need. Some cities have food banks which, unlike your mover, won’t refuse to take your perishable food.
What not to pack when moving: Plants
Will movers move plants?
No, they will not.
The list of things movers won’t move also includes plants – the highly perishables found in every single home.
Moving companies will not normally transport plants because it is too risky.
- It is illegal for moving companies to transport house plants on moves longer than 150 miles unless they have a special license,
- the backs of moving trucks become extremely hot and your leafy friends will almost certainly not survive the relocation trip, and
- specific pests and parasites could use plants to be carried over to a new region of the country.
Moving long distance. If you’re moving to a new home that is far away, then your only viable option is to gift your house plants to friends, neighbors, local schools, nursing homes or hospitals where they will continue to fill people’s hearts with joy. You probably won’t be too thrilled to do it, but think about the well-being of your lovely plants as there is a good chance that they won’t make it during the long haul.
Moving short distance. For much shorter relocation trips (local moves), ask your moving company whether they will be willing to transport your plants, and if yes, under what conditions. Still, you shouldn’t count on that, and your best bet is to plan to move your plants yourself in your own vehicle. Be mindful that potted plants require an extensive preparation prior to moving day so that they can survive the trip to your new home.
Useful info: How to move plants to a new home
What not to pack when moving: Pets
Will movers move pets?
One of the things that long distance movers won’t move is pets. In fact, under no circumstances are any pets (dogs, cats, birds, fish, exotic animals, etc.) allowed to be transported inside a moving van – the air conditions there are bad and temperatures can quickly reach extreme values, even on much shorter hauls. And, of course, that last thing you’d ever want to do is endanger the life of your animal friends.
Under the presented circumstances, you will have to plan and organize the best way your pet will reach the new home. Here are the options you have to do just that:
- Your own vehicle. Moving your pet in your own car makes the most sense because that’s the transportation method that will make your animal feel the calmest and safest. Most pets are really sensitive to abrupt changes to their environment and will react to the added stress of moving house. First, make sure you take your pet to a certified vet for a full check-up prior to the trip, and secondly, choose the right shipping container for extra safety and peace of mind. Click here to learn the best way to move a dog to a new home, click here to learn the best way to move a cat to a new home.
- Air travel. Most airline companies accept dogs and cats, but you must contact the airline of your choice or access their website to learn their specific requirements for pet travel. If your animal friend is neither a dog nor a cat, check with the airline companies if they are on the list of Accepted Live Animals.
- Professional pet movers. Fortunately, there are those moving companies that specialize in pet transportation and will make sure your animal reaches the new address in perfect health. Professional pet movers with years of experience will make your life so much easier if, for whatever reason, you are unable to move your pet by yourself.
Read also: How to ship pets to another state
What not to pack when moving: Irreplaceable items
By now, you should know what items moving companies won’t move – dangerous goods, perishables, plants, and pets. The final category of things movers will not move include irreplaceable items – items that are so valuable that they cannot be restored or replaced if the worst happens on the road.
Possessions of extreme sentimental or monetary value include, but are not limited to:
- Personal documents /marriage licenses, passports, wills, insurance documents, birth certificates, Social Security cards, financial statements, tax records, medical records, deeds/
- Credit/debit cards
- Stocks and bonds
- Airline tickets
- Keys (car, house, safety deposit box, etc.)
- Collections (stamp, coins, baseball cards, etc.)
- One-of-a-kind artwork
- Photos, photo albums
- Super-expensive jewelry
- Expensive electronic devices /cell phones, laptops, e-book readers, etc./
Because most of the above items are outstandingly valuable and/or irreplaceable, moving companies prefer not to transport them as the risk is too great. Good movers do their best to leave satisfied customers, and if they happen to damage or lose an item that is extremely dear to a client of theirs, that very client will be very dissatisfied (to put it mildly), leave a negative review about their services, or file a compensation claim.
You have no business handing your valuable possessions to movers in the first place – pack your irreplaceable items from the rest of your household belongings and make sure they never leave your side during the entire moving process. Needless to say, their secure transportation is entirely your responsibility.
Sometimes it can be rather discouraging and even stressful to not know what things not to pack or prepare to be packed by professional packers.
Don’t forget to request the list of non-allowable items from your selected moving company – this way, you will stay at least one step ahead during the move. This is an important step that you shouldn’t skip unless you want to spend even more time repacking your stuff.
And, should you feel unsure about whether something is safe enough to be packed and moved, do not hesitate to consult with knowledgeable moving experts.