What’s Better for a Move: Plastic Containers or Cardboard Boxes?

When tackling a move, it can be hard to know which container is best for keeping your items safe, away from the elements, and the most moving-friendly. Nobody wants to pick up a box or container full of fragile things and have the bottom give out or lid break or just have everything fall apart. Torn between using plastic containers or cardboard boxes for your relocation? Read below for a guide to choosing the right packing and moving options for you.

Plastic Totes vs. Cardboard Boxes

Overall, for small moves across town or nearby, using boxes or plastic containers doesn’t make a ton of difference when it comes to durability or ease of use. However, when choosing the right containers for a longer distance move where things have to be stacked or shipped for long periods, it’s important to choose the right packing materials to get your items to your new home safely.


Plastic containers can generally be bigger than cardboard boxes, but that’s not always an advantage. Large totes packed high with items can be too heavy to lift, move, or stack properly. If you choose plastic containers for a move, make sure to choose smaller, easier to move styles rather than large tubs.


Boxes are designed to be more standardized dimension-wise for stacking and for storage, but if you’re reusing boxes or just don’t have boxes of just one size, it can make things tricky to save space in your moving truck. Generally speaking, plastic totes are designed to be stacked easily, but don’t have the design to make them slide into tight spaces easily due to handles or ridges poking out.


Plastic totes are generally more angled, which can compromise the lid when stacking things on top of one another. Unless you have items packed up to the hilt and have support for the bin’s lid, watch out for stacking heavy items on top – the lid could break. Moving boxes are generally made from highly durable materials, but can be more susceptible to the elements or breaking when not taped or secured correctly.


Plastic containers can be more challenging to ship than cardboard boxes due to their size and dimensions. Cardboard boxes are generally the better choice when shipping items long distance.

Regardless of which option you choose in the end, make sure to pack your items securely and safely. Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and never place heavy items on top of lighter ones – especially when moving long distance. Stay safe and happy moving!

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