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Should I use plastic totes or moving boxes for my move?

August 27th, 2015 - 3:09 PM

Plastic totes for moving?

Plastic totes are great for storing pretty much anything, like clothes, Christmas décor, crafts, toys, etc. But are they great for moving? If you ask around, you’ll get a mixture of answers. We’re here to set the record straight: it’s far better to use moving boxes instead of plastic totes for a long-distance move. Here’s why:

Which is better for moving? Plastic storage bins or moving boxes?

Why you should use moving boxes instead of plastic storage bins

Take a look at these reasons why moving boxes are the best way to move your household goods.

Plastic totes don’t stack well.

Moving boxes can be stacked edge-to-edge, allowing them to hold their shape with other boxes stacked on top. Plastic bins can also stack, but not flush against one another. This can make them more vulnerable to breaking, caving or cracking. Plus, you’ll need to secure the stack to prevent shifting. Check out the picture below for comparison. The moving boxes stack flush against one another while the plastic bins only touch at the lid (leaving big gaps in between).

boxes vs. totes for moving

Plastic storage totes take up space.

If you use a moving company like U-Pack® where the cost of your move depends on the space you use, then you know just how important it is to maximize the space you have. Because plastic bins aren’t “square” like boxes, they can take up more space in the truck.

Plastic storage containers are for storage, not moving.

Moving boxes are made of sturdy corrugated cardboard designed specifically for protecting household goods as you move. Storage totes are plastic, designed for storing household goods (like board games and knickknacks). When in doubt, it’s best to choose the option that you know will keep your items safe and sound along the way.

Plastic storage bins are challenging for movers.

If you hire movers to help you load, they might find it challenging to fit all your plastic totes into the truck efficiently. While most professional movers are familiar with stacking boxes with other household goods, it might be hard for them to ensure a tight fit with plastic bins that don’t stack flush against one another.

Plastic totes get heavy fast.

Imagine you’re moving heavier items like books. If you pack them all inside a tote, it gets heavy quick, making it difficult to lift and load. But, if you pack those books into smaller-sized moving boxes, they’ll be much easier to carry (watch this video on how to pack books).

Plastic bins aren’t the standard.

Sturdy boxes are used globally for shipping commercial goods because they offer the ultimate protection for the items inside. Because boxes are used primarily for shipping, it makes sense to use them for protecting your household goods on the road.

Plastic totes don’t store well.

Boxes can be folded and put away while plastic totes can’t break down. If you think you’ll use your boxes again, you can fold and store them until you’re ready. You could even keep them around if someone you know is moving soon. If you move primarily with storage totes, you’ll have a lot left over. You may use some for storage, but what about the rest? All those totes can take up valuable space in your new place.

Plastic storage bins aren’t recyclable.

The great thing about moving boxes is that you can take them to your local recycle center after you move. It’s a great way to go green and help the environment!

What if I already have some storage bins? Can I still use them?

While we recommend only using moving boxes, we understand that you might have some you want to take with you. You could put non-fragile items (like clothing or linens) into the bins. Just make sure you fill the tote completely, so items don’t shift. Also, be aware of where you place the bins in the truck – you don’t want to stack other heavy boxes or totes on top.

Plastic totes or moving boxes? Which should I choose?

If your ultimate goal is to move your belongings safely across the country, we highly recommend using moving boxes and not plastic totes. Check out the U-Pack Box Store to see an assortment of affordable moving boxes, box kits, and moving supplies.

If you have any questions about moving, or if you need to get a moving quote, give us a call at 800-413-4799 or leave a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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