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What not to pack when moving to a new house!

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Let’s say moving day is a month away. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a checklist of things to do, including what needs to be packed and when. But there’s another important checklist that people often forget: things not to pack. When you’re getting ready to move, there are some items that you intuitively know shouldn’t be loaded into the van, like propane tanks and lighter fluid. There’s also less obvious non-allowable items, such as nail polish and prescription medication. 

Whether you’re packing your belongings on your own or having the movers pack for you, it’s important to know what can and can’t be loaded onto the truck. Familiarizing yourself with the list of prohibited moving items beforehand gives you time to either properly dispose of those items, give them to friends or family, or make alternate transportation arrangements such as bringing them in your family car.

Hazardous materials

We recommend disposing of items such as fuel and pesticides several weeks before moving day. Hazardous materials aren’t allowed on the van; this helps protect your household goods from damage due to fires, explosions or leaks.

Disposing of hazardous materials can seem like an overwhelming task, especially with everything else you’ve got going on. To help you as you begin clearing out your garage and cabinets, here’s a list of items that aren’t allowed on the moving van:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Ammonia
  • Ammunition
  • Car batteries
  • Charcoal/lighter fluid
  • Chemistry sets
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Darkroom chemicals
  • Fertilizer

  • Matches
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Fuels/oils
  • Household batteries
  • Kerosene
  • Liquid bleach
  • Loaded guns
  • Nail polish
  • Paint thinners
  • Paints/varnishes
  • Pesticides
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Propane tanks
  • Sterno fuel
  • Weed killer


It goes without saying that you probably don’t want to pack your frozen peas and half-used mayonnaise container on the moving van… that would just be gross and smelly! For this reason, it’s a good idea in the weeks before your move to either eat or dispose of your frozen foods, open or half-used foods, refrigerated foods, produce, and any food that isn’t adequately preserved. Now’s a good time to clear out any expired cans of beans hiding in the back of your pantry!

Plants are also considered prohibited moving items. Movers will attempt to move your plants if you request it, but they will not accept liability or provide additional care for them. Due to lack of water and sunlight on the van, it’s recommended that you find alternate transportation for your plants, or give them to a friend or family member before your move.

An exception to this is if you’re moving less than 150 miles away and your items will be delivered within 24 hours of pickup and require no additional care servicing. I’d still pass on the peas and mayo, though.

Personal items

Any belongings that have sentimental value or personal importance should not be loaded onto the van. This includes any documents or records that contain private or financial information. In the unlikely event of loss or damage to your belongings, anything that you would consider irreplaceable should travel with you, not with the movers. Some items that come to mind are:

  • Address books
  • Airline tickets
  • Car titles
  • Cash
  • Cell phones
  • Checkbooks
  • Computer data files/backups
  • Family photographs/photo albums
  • Financial documents
  • Home videos
  • Insurance policies
  • Jewelry and furs
  • Keys
  • Laptop computers
  • Medical/dental records
  • New home documents
  • Prescription medicine
  • Professional files/research projects
  • School records

When preparing for your move, keep in mind that these lists of prohibited moving items aren’t exhaustive. Use your best judgment when deciding what to bring with you, what to dispose of, and what is acceptable for the movers to load! 

We hope this is a good jumping-off point as you get your belongings ready for moving day, and if you have any questions about what’s okay to pack and what isn’t, give us a call!

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