You’re getting ready to move and you need an entire home’s worth of boxes to pack your belongings in. Moving is expensive, so you’re hoping to find free moving boxes to offset some of the costs.
Generally speaking, you need around 30 small boxes, 40 medium boxes, 20 large boxes, three extra-large boxes and six wardrobe boxes to pack up a three-bedroom home, according to MYMOVE. This can add up fast, considering one medium moving box costs $1.98 at Home Depot.
Can you get free cardboard boxes from Home Depot instead? If you’re okay with boxes that have been previously used, the answer is probably yes.
How Can I Get Free Packaging Boxes?
Now that you’ve learned how expensive it is to purchase them brand new, you’re probably more interested in finding free moving boxes.
No doubt, you’ll be relieved to learn there’s no shortage of places to get free moving boxes. Of course, every store has different policies and procedures, so it’s always best to check with an employee to learn the specifics.
You might find deliveries are a certain day, and boxes go fast, so you have to get to the store during a specific timeframe. A store might also automatically put empty boxes into a cardboard compactor, unless you ask in advance for them to be set aside.
Depending on the number of boxes you need, it can also take awhile to collect enough for your move. Therefore, it’s best to start collecting them several weeks in advance, so you have plenty of time to get everything you need.
20 Places To Get Free Moving Boxes
You’re moving out of your neighborhood, but it’s almost inevitable someone else recently moved in. Many people are more than happy to help their new neighbors — and create more space in their new home — so they post their moving boxes for free on Nextdoor.
2. Facebook Marketplace
A great place to connect with people in your local community who have something you need, it’s not uncommon to see listings advertising free boxes on Facebook Marketplace. Simply respond to the posting and arrange for pickup.
From job postings to apartment listings, Craigslist has it all — including people wanting to give away free moving boxes. Simply navigate to the page for your local area and type “free moving boxes” into the search field.
4. U-Haul Customer Connect
Sure, U-Haul sells new boxes, but you can also use the company’s Customer Connect feature to score them for free. This forum allows you to find customers looking to get rid of their boxes, effectively turning their cast-offs into your treasure.
A grassroots site and entirely nonprofit movement to keep useable items out of landfills, Freecycle is a solid place to find free boxes. Browse the listings to find someone in your local area trying to get rid of their moving boxes.
An ideal spot to search for free boxes, BoxGiver is an online marketplace designed to give users a space to buy, sell or donate packaging materials in their local area. Type in your location and click the “free” filter to see the search results.
If you’ve ever used OfferUp, you know the site is a great place to buy, sell and donate items — including finding free moving boxes within your local community. Finding what you need is as easy as typing “free moving boxes” into the site’s search feature.
Another site that helps you connect with members of your community to buy, sell or donate items, 5miles is a great place to find free moving boxes. You’ll see all available listings in your local area after typing in your search terms and location.
9. Local Recycling Center
If your local recycling plant accepts cardboard boxes, they’re definitely receiving plenty of them. They likely sort incoming materials, so boxes should all be grouped together. Before making the trip, give the office a call to confirm.
10. Liquor Stores
Your local liquor stores probably stock their shelves at least a couple times per week, and the new items come in boxes. Since liquor bottles are both fragile and sealed tightly, these boxes should also be extra sturdy and clean.
11. Big Box Stores
Chances are, your local area has its fair share of chain stores, such as Target, Walmart, Costco, Home Depot and Lowe’s. These stores likely receive shipments for all kinds of goods every day, so they should have plenty of boxes to spare.
12. Grocery Stores
Whether you shop at a chain like Kroger, Publix or Whole Foods or a local store, your supermarket is constantly restocking its shelves. In most cases, boxes are required to do this, so find out what time of day they’re available and arrange to pick them up.
13. Book Stores
Chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million and local book shops likely receive several shipments of books per week. These boxes should be in particularly pristine condition, as books stack neatly inside, without risk of drips or spills.
They might not be the first place that comes to mind, but pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid rely on regular shipments to keep their aisles stocked. Check in with a manager or a stockroom employee to ask if you can take some off their hands.
15. Pet Stores
When picking up supplies for your furry friend at PetSmart or Petco, ask an employee when shipments come in and if you can have some of the empty boxes. Chances are, they get new boxes several times per week and would be happy to have you take them off your hands.
A hidden gem you probably didn’t consider, your local schools likely get several shipments per week to ensure they’re well stocked with supplies and equipment. Ask a janitor if they’re willing to put boxes aside for you and arrange for pickup.
17. Apartment Complexes
Big apartment buildings have a lot of tenants, which means people frequently move in and out. They most likely have a dumpster specifically for recycling, so it’s worth checking to see if anyone has left moving boxes on top of or beside it for the taking.
18. Bars and Night Clubs
Liquor flows at bars and night clubs, meaning these establishments need regular deliveries to keep their shelves stocked. Ask a bartender or manager what day deliveries come in and if they’re willing to save empty boxes for you.
Keeping fresh food and supplies in stock requires restaurants to receive frequent deliveries. You might be able to really stock up by visiting an area with several restaurants in a row.
20. Office Buildings
Office buildings might not be front of mind when it comes to free moving boxes but they get shipments all the time. From copy paper to computer boxes, a business park can be a great place to score a ton of dry, sturdy boxes.
Be Selective With Free Moving Boxes
Finding free moving boxes can easily allow you to save hundreds of dollars. However, it’s important to note that you still need to be selective with the boxes you accept.
It’s important to be sure all the free boxes you bring home meet the following criteria, according to Moving.Tips.
- Dry. Do not accept any wet boxes or those that have previously sustained water damage.
- Clean. You don’t want to put your belongings in a dirty box. At a minimum, you’ll have to wash every item in it after the move, but the grime could also cause permanent damage. Carefully inspect each box for bugs, as you don’t want to bring an infestation into your new home.
- Sturdy. Free moving boxes are supposed to help you save money on your move. However, if the boxes aren’t strong enough to hold your items without breaking, replacing your items will likely cost a lot more than the price of purchasing boxes brand new.
Overall, finding free boxes is a great way to cut costs on your move. Since gathering enough quality boxes from a trusted source to pack your entire home might take awhile, it’s best to start well before you actually need them — at least several weeks.
It’s almost inevitable you’ll need to use several different sources, and likely visit each one multiple times to get enough boxes. This will require a notable time commitment, so prepare to spend a lot of time driving around town completing this project.
Hopefully, you won’t run into too many roadblocks, but if you do have trouble finding free moving boxes, don’t give up. Some stores and other sources will be very generous, while other potential suppliers won’t offer as many — or none at all — as you expected.
This can feel discouraging, but stay motivated by focusing on all the money you’ll be saving. Then, when you’re all unpacked in your new home, try to return the favor by finding someone else who needs moving boxes and passing them along.
Information is accurate as of Nov. 28, 2022.