Will Movers Move Unboxed Items? Policies and Alternatives 

Written By

Machaela Casey
moving boxes and things not in boxes

Moving can be an exciting yet stressful experience, with countless decisions to make and tasks to complete. One common question that arises during the packing process is whether movers will transport items that aren’t neatly packed in boxes.

The answer isn’t always straightforward, as it depends on various factors such as the moving company’s policies, the type of items being moved, and the distance of the move. Understanding your movers’ preferences and requirements regarding unboxed items is crucial for a smooth and successful moving experience.

We’ll explore the benefits of boxing your belongings and typical mover policies on unboxed items. We’ll also discuss exceptions to the boxing rule and strategies for safely moving items that aren’t in boxes.

The Benefits Of Boxing Items For A Move

Boxing your belongings is one of the most effective ways to ensure a successful move. While it may seem like an extra step in the packing process, using boxes offers several key advantages that can make your move smoother, safer, and more efficient.

Enhanced Protection For Your Belongings

Sturdy Boxes Provide A Buffer Against Impacts

Sturdy, high-quality moving boxes create a protective barrier around your items. They cushion them against bumps, jolts, and vibrations during transport, helping minimize the risk of damage, especially for fragile or delicate items.

Boxes Help Prevent Scratches And Scuffs

When items are packed loosely or without proper containment, they can easily rub against each other. Boxing your belongings keeps them separated and secure, preventing scratches, scuffs, or other surface damage.

Improved Organization And Efficiency

Labeled Boxes Streamline The Packing And Unpacking Process

Labeling your boxes by room or content type makes it much easier to stay organized during the packing and unpacking stages. You can quickly identify where each box belongs, saving time and reducing stress.

Uniformly Sized Boxes Are Easier To Load And Stack In The Moving Truck

Using boxes of similar sizes allows for more efficient loading and stacking in the moving truck. Movers can optimize space and create a stable load, reducing the risk of shifting or toppling during transport.

This is particularly important when considering different moving truck sizes and how to best utilize the available space.

Potential Cost Savings

Boxing Items May Reduce The Time Required For The Move

When your belongings are properly boxed and labeled, movers can work more efficiently. This can translate to cost savings, especially if you’re paying for moving services by the hour.

Some Movers Offer Discounts For Well-Packed Moves

Certain moving companies may offer discounts or incentives for customers who have their items properly boxed and ready to go. Well-packed moves often require less time and labor, and they pose a lower risk of damage claims.

It’s worth asking your movers if they offer any such discounts, as it could save you money in the long run. Keep in mind that not all movers will pack your belongings for you, so it’s essential to clarify their policies and services beforehand.

Movers’ Typical Policies On Unboxed Items

When it comes to moving, movers may have different policies for unboxed items. These policies can vary based on the distance of the move, the types of items being transported, and liability considerations.

Local Moves Vs. Long-Distance Moves

Local Movers May Be More Flexible With Unboxed Items

For local moves with shorter distances, movers might be more open to moving unboxed items. The reduced transit time and handling can lower the risk of damage, making it more feasible to move certain items without boxes.

Long-Distance Movers Often Require Boxing For Added Protection

Long-distance moves have stricter policies on unboxed items. The longer transit time, multiple handling points, and exposure to various weather conditions increase the risk of damage, so most long distance moving services require all items to be properly boxed for protection.

The Type Of Items Being Moved

Non-Fragile Items May Be Moved Without Boxes

Non-fragile items like clothing, linens, or stuffed toys may be suitable for moving without boxes. These items are less likely to suffer damage during transport and can often be safely packed in alternative containers like suitcases or duffel bags.

Fragile Or High-Value Items Should Always Be Boxed

Fragile items, such as glassware, china, or electronics, should always be packed in appropriate boxes with adequate cushioning. The same applies to high-value items like artwork, antiques, or collectibles, as boxing these items helps protect them from impacts, vibrations, and other potential hazards during the move.

Liability And Insurance Considerations

Movers May Have Limited Liability For Damage To Unboxed Items

Many moving companies have limited liability for items that are not properly boxed. If an unboxed item is damaged during the move, the movers may not be held fully responsible, as the lack of proper packing can be considered negligence on the owner’s part.

Some Insurance Policies May Not Cover Unboxed Items

Some moving insurance policies may not provide coverage for items that are not packed in boxes. Review your insurance policy and discuss any concerns with your movers to ensure that your belongings are adequately protected during the move.

Exceptions To The Boxing Rule

Boxing your belongings is the preferred method for most moves. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Items That Are Difficult To Box

Large Furniture Pieces

Large furniture pieces, such as sofas, mattresses, and dining tables, are often too big to fit into standard moving boxes. These items are typically wrapped in protective materials like furniture pads or stretch wrap and moved as-is. If you have concerns about the safety of your furniture during the move, consider hiring one of the best furniture shipping companies to ensure proper handling and protection.

Oddly Shaped Items Like Lamps Or Plants

Some items, such as lamps, floor plants, or artwork, may have unusual shapes that make them difficult to box. Movers may use specialized crating or custom-built boxes to ensure the safe transport of these items or wrap them in protective materials and move them without a box.

Alternative Packing Methods

Suitcases And Duffel Bags For Clothing And Linens

Suitcases and duffel bags can be excellent alternatives to boxes for packing clothing, linens, and other soft items. They are designed to protect their contents, easy to carry, and stackable during the move, plus they can help you save on the cost of purchasing additional moving boxes.

Plastic Bins For Non-Fragile Items

Plastic storage bins with secure lids can be used to pack non-fragile items like books, toys, or kitchen utensils. These bins are sturdy, stackable, and often water-resistant, providing an added layer of protection for your belongings, and you can easily repurpose them for storage in your new home after the move.

Items That Should Never Be Boxed

Hazardous Materials Like Cleaning Supplies And Flammables

Hazardous materials, such as cleaning supplies, paints, or flammable liquids, should never be packed in boxes or moved by professional movers. These items can pose serious risks during transport and may be prohibited by law. If you need to move these items, consider disposing of them properly before the move or transporting them separately in your personal vehicle.

Perishable Food Items

Perishable food items, such as fresh produce, refrigerated goods, or open packages, should not be boxed or moved by professional movers. Plan to consume or dispose of perishable food items before your move, and pack any remaining non-perishable food in sealed containers to avoid spoilage, attracting pests, and potentially contaminating other belongings.

Strategies For Moving Unboxed Items

Moving unboxed items requires careful planning and execution to ensure their safety during transport. By communicating with your movers, using appropriate packing materials, and prioritizing the boxing of fragile and high-value items, you can successfully move your belongings without relying solely on boxes.

Communicate With Your Movers

Discuss Your Specific Needs And Concerns

Open communication with your movers is essential when moving unboxed items. Share your specific needs and concerns regarding the items you plan to move without boxes.

This conversation will help your movers understand your expectations and provide appropriate guidance and support throughout the moving process. It’s also a great opportunity to ask questions and clarify any uncertainties you may have.

Get Their Policies On Unboxed Items In Writing

Before finalizing your moving plans, request a written copy of your movers’ policies on handling unboxed items. This documentation will help you understand their procedures, limitations, and any potential additional costs associated with moving unboxed items.

Having these policies in writing will also serve as a reference point if any issues arise during the move. When in doubt, always consult with professional house movers to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Use Appropriate Packing Materials

Bubble Wrap, Packing Paper, And Furniture Pads For Added Protection

When moving unboxed items, it’s crucial to use appropriate packing materials to protect your belongings from damage. Bubble wrap, packing paper, and furniture pads can provide an extra layer of cushioning and protection for your items during transport.

These materials can help prevent scratches, dents, and other forms of damage that may occur during the moving process. For more advice on safeguarding your possessions, check out our packing tips for moving.

Stretch Wrap For Securing Drawers And Doors

Stretch wrap is an invaluable tool when moving furniture with drawers or doors. By wrapping these items securely with stretch wrap, you can prevent drawers and doors from opening during transport, minimizing the risk of damage or loss of contents.

This simple step can provide added peace of mind and ensure your furniture arrives at your new home in the same condition as it left. Just be sure to use enough stretch wrap to create a tight, secure seal around the furniture.

Prioritize Boxing Fragile And High-Value Items

Dishes, Glassware, And Electronics Should Always Be Boxed

While some items can be safely moved without boxes, fragile items like dishes, glassware, and electronics should always be packed in appropriate boxes with adequate cushioning. These items are more susceptible to damage during transport and require the added protection that boxes provide.

Use dish pack boxes, cell kits, and other specialized packing materials to ensure the safety of your delicate belongings. Don’t forget to label these boxes as “Fragile” to alert your movers to handle them with extra care.

Artwork And Antiques Require Specialized Packing

Artwork, antiques, and other high-value items often require specialized packing techniques to ensure their safety during the move. Custom crating, mirror boxes, and other purpose-built containers can provide the necessary protection for these delicate and valuable items.

Consider hiring professional packers or specialized art handlers to ensure your treasured possessions are properly packed and transported to your new home. These experts have the knowledge and materials to safeguard your valuable items during the moving process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens if I have items that won’t fit in boxes?

If you have large or oddly shaped items that can’t be packed in boxes, talk to your moving company about your options. They may recommend using stretch wrap, furniture pads, or other packing methods to protect these items during the move.

  • Will movers refuse to move my items if they’re not in boxes?

While movers usually prefer items to be packed in boxes for safety and efficiency, they may agree to move certain unboxed items on a case-by-case basis. It’s crucial to discuss your specific needs with your moving company and get their policies on unboxed items in writing to avoid misunderstandings.

  • Are there additional fees for moving unboxed items?

Some moving companies may charge extra fees for handling unboxed items due to the additional time and effort required to safely protect and transport them. Be sure to discuss any potential additional costs with your movers before the move and get a written estimate that clearly outlines any fees for moving unboxed items.

  • Can I use alternative containers like suitcases or plastic bins?

Absolutely! Alternative containers such as suitcases, duffel bags, or plastic bins are great for packing non-fragile items like clothing, linens, and other soft goods. Just make sure these containers are sturdy and can be securely closed to keep items from falling out during the move.

  • How can I ensure my unboxed items are protected during the move?

To protect your unboxed items during the move, use packing materials like bubble wrap, packing paper, furniture pads, and stretch wrap. These materials can help cushion and secure your items, reducing the risk of damage during transport. Don’t forget to clearly label any unboxed items as fragile or delicate so your movers handle them with extra care.


Moving can be a complex process, and understanding your movers’ policies on unboxed items is crucial for a successful and stress-free experience. While boxing your belongings is generally preferred for protection and efficiency, there may be situations where unboxed items need to be moved.

By communicating openly with your movers, prioritizing the boxing of fragile and high-value items, and using appropriate packing materials, you can ensure that your unboxed items are transported safely. A well-organized and properly packed move not only streamlines the process but also gives you peace of mind knowing that your belongings are secure throughout the journey to your new home.