Beware: Movers Won’t (or Shouldn’t) Pack These Items

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a “touch-free” move? In theory, it sounds ideal. However, if you hire a professional mover to transfer all the contents of your house from one location to another, there are some things they’ll refuse to touch.

Plus, there are things you’ll WANT to handle yourself.

When planning your move, it’s essential to know what’s on and off the table so you can make other arrangements or safely dispose of certain items.

Standard items on most movers’ no-no list include:


Movers know that produce and refrigerated foodstuffs can deteriorate or rot while being transported or invite insects and vermin. Frozen food items are also on most movers’ will-not-pack list.

As you approach your moving date, limit your grocery shopping as much as possible, and attempt to consume everything stored in your refrigerator and freezer to lighten your load.

If you have a cooler that can keep food frozen or cold during travel, you may be able to transport these items in your vehicle.

If your move is too far away, consider giving food to local friends and family or donating it to a food bank or soup kitchen. These organizations probably won’t accept open food containers, but may genuinely appreciate produce and frozen foods, assuming they can store and use them.

Plants and Animals

Maybe you don’t have a problem letting movers pack up your child’s hermit crab. Your mover, however, won’t go along with that. Few are willing to transport houseplants either.

Most inanimate objects are acceptable. But anything that may die or get sick in their custody is usually off the table.

Your living things will probably need better care than movers can provide in their transport vehicles, which are exposed to summer heat or winter cold and lack light and air circulation.

Dangerous Items

Many items around your home can, under the right conditions, ignite, explode, or cause chemical damage. Most movers will not agree to transport:

  • Pressurized containers - aerosol cans, fire extinguishers, disposable lighters, propane tanks, scuba tanks
  • Caustic items - batteries (car, household, shop), acids, bases
  • Cleaners and poisons - bleach, ammonia, pool chemicals, pesticides
  • Accelerants, fire starters, and vehicle fluids - gasoline, kerosene, motor oil, lamp oil, charcoal lighter fluid, nail polish and remover, fireworks, matches, lighters
  • Certain hobby materials and chemicals - paints, paint thinner, stripping fluids, varnishes, garden chemicals (including pesticides, fertilizer, herbicides), laboratory chemicals, photography chemicals, ammunition, gun reloading materials

Other Pack-It-Yourself Considerations

Some packing details are better managed yourself, even if your mover is willing to take care of them.

For instance, if a diamond ring is lost in the move, your moving or homeowners insurance policy may cover the replacement value. However, if it’s your great-grandmother’s diamond ring, that’s irreplaceable.

Sentimental, “priceless” items and sensitive, confidential information should remain in your possession.

Items on your packing list include:

  • Personal media - photographs, photo and wedding albums, framed photos, DVDs, videotapes, physical and digital files, desktop and laptop computers, cellphones, tablets
  • Legal and financial documents - wills, property deeds, vehicle titles, tax and investment records, insurance policies, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees and property settlements, checks, credit cards, and banking and credit card statements
  • Personal collections - coins, stamps, jewelry, historical items, gemstones, sterling silver, gold, platinum
  • Sentimental items - letters and cards, scrapbooks, journals, yearbooks, heirlooms
  • Identification and security - driver’s licenses, passports, and keys (to car, house, safe, safety deposit box, locks, etc.)
  • Personal health - medical records, dental records, written prescriptions, prescription medicines

Moving is stressful, but the goal is to arrive in your new home with all your belongings safe and intact. If you’re able to plan ahead and get a head start on your share of the packing chores, it will go a long way towards reducing the stress of moving day!