Using Plastic Containers to Help with Your Move


When it’s time to move, most of us assume that we should just pick up loads of cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes are helpful, of course. They’re convenient for packing, and they’re cheap. However, sometimes it makes sense to pack your things in plastic boxes and containers, instead.

Plastic containers are a bit more of a splurge but they’ll also last longer. Plus, plastic container boxes can more easily be stored in places like your basement, where you might experience dampness that would ruin cardboard boxes and their contents.

Plastic is also sturdier than their cardboard counterparts for multiple moves. If you’re planning to move your things into storage, and then into your new home, plastic might be the solution you’re looking for. On the flip side, you can get similar results with high-quality cardboard boxes that are meant to last for multiple moves or long-term storage.

In addition, some movers in Orange County and Los Angeles will actually provide you with reusable plastic containers to pack your stuff into before your move. You’ll return these to the moving company when you’re unpacked.

In general, though, movers will provide you with cardboard boxes. But you can splurge on plastic containers for certain items.

When You Might Prefer Packing with Plastic Containers

Storing off-season clothes

One of the best uses of plastic containers over cardboard is for storing off-season clothes. When you’re packing up your closet before a move, sort out any clothes that you use for skiing or cold-weather vacations. Since you don’t use these clothes often, you can store them in labeled plastic bins, which can easily be stored in your garage, attic, or the back of your closet.

You can also use plastic bins for similarly storing kids’ clothes that don’t fit. For instance, maybe you buy clothes ahead at secondhand sales so you can save money. Stick these too-big items into labeled plastic bins for easy storage. Or store outgrown clothes in labeled bins to use for the next kid.

Moving files

Do you have personal files and paperwork to move during this moving process? In this case, specialized plastic bins may be just the thing. If you don’t want to invest in a large metal filing cabinet, putting files in portable plastic containers is a good idea.

You can get file-drawer sized containers that even include an option for hanging file folders. This makes it easy to organize your paperwork without having to find a place in your home with a larger filing cabinet.

Storing tools

Smaller plastic bins make great portable toolkits. If you’re not a huge handyman but have a few tools in your garage for emergencies, storing them in stackable totes can make sense. Shoebox-sized totes are perfect for storing hand tools. Plus, this makes it easy to take all of your tools with you to the area where you need to do some work.

Another option is to use larger plastic bins for storing small power tools. Again, this makes it easy to carry your tools around to where you need them. And you can just keep them out of the way in the shed or garage when you aren’t using them.

Organizing personal care items

Trying to decide how to organize your bathrooms during the move? Shoebox-sized plastic totes are the perfect solution. You can pack your personal care items into these totes, which usually fit easily underneath a bathroom vanity or in a linen closet.

One tip for using this technique: color coding. Keep a plastic tote for each family member in the linen closet, and each person can have a different color. You can store everything from face wash and makeup to toothpaste and hair ties in these plastic totes. And since they’re all color-coded, they’ll be easy for family members to find.

Storing Holiday decorations

Plastic totes are ideal for any sort of long-term storage, especially the kind of storage where you’ll get items in and out of storage annually. This means they’re perfect for holiday decorations.

Color-coding is a great option here, too. In fact, many manufacturers create plastic totes specifically for holiday storage — orange for fall and Halloween decorations, red and green for Christmas, etc. Look for these totes on sale just after the holiday season. And then, use them during your move, and for years afterward, to store your holiday items.

Long-term Storage

The bottom line here is that plastic totes and bins are often a better storage option for any sort of long-term storage. Whether you need to store clothes, your good dishes that get used annually, or other items that you don’t need to get out often, plastic bins are a good go-to.

The key to making this strategy work for you is to have a place to keep all these bins and to make sure they’re labeled appropriately. You don’t want to have to sort through every bin in your attic to find one thing you’re looking for, after all! So be sure to use labels on your plastic totes just like you would with regular moving boxes.

Also, be sure to talk to your moving company about your plastic bins. If you’re paying the movers to pack, they may only use their own cardboard boxes or reusable plastic totes. Double check the rules before you pack many of your items into plastic bins ahead of your move!