To Keep or To Toss – Moving Boxes


    Moving boxes are precious! You collect them from neighbors, the supermarket, the packing store, and the big box hardware store. They’re so perfectly useful. Then you move in, unpack, and pile up the boxes. It seems a shame to toss them out with the recycling trash. Should you keep them in case you or someone you know needs them? Maybe you should keep some.

    With moving boxes, size is important. Manuela Irwin, a relocation expert at, recommends keeping small boxes, often called “book boxes.” She says they “are easy to carry and load.” Too-big boxes become too heavy when packed and can break. Get rid of the largest boxes, such as wardrobe boxes, appliances boxes, and commercial bin-size boxes, which are almost impossible to carry when loaded. They also take up too much storage space even when flattened.

    After you toss the biggest boxes and stored the small, easily carried boxes, you’ll have a variety of sizes and shapes. Consider that lots of your things will not fit in very small boxes; test a medium size box to see if a lamp, vase, or tray will fit. You will probably discover right away that sizes are not worth storing.

    Most of us are tempted to save the box something new came in, but the reality is that we will probably never repack that flat-screen or fancy blender in its original box. Even if you decide to save it, discard the egg carton shell or other custom packaging; it’s easy to find new packing material, Irwin reminds us.

    After you have your stack of saved boxes, Irwin advises that you throw away any that are torn, dirty, otherwise damaged, or that don’t pass a whiff test. If a box smells of cleaning products, spices, or anything dirty, you won’t want to use it again.

    For boxes that survive your post-moving purge, cut off the tape, fold them flat, and store them in a stack in a dry place until needed.


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