One of the main tasks on everyone’s moving checklist is definitely going to be packing. No matter the size, distance or type of your move, packing your belongings is the inevitable step in the moving process. Although most moving companies offer packing services to ease the burden off your shoulders, that could be an added expense in your budget.

So, if you’re amongst those trying to find all possible areas that could cut down on your total costs, buckle up, for packing is surely one of those good areas. Along with saving on the labor costs, you can also save a good chunk on your packing supplies. Wondering how? Just read along to hit the right spots for getting free packing supplies!

What Packing Materials Can You Get For Free?

Packing supplies include a lot of things – boxes, tape, bubble wrap, cushioning, labelling materials and more. While some of these you may have to purchase first hand, there are a few others which you can definitely get hold of for free. Let’s have a look at what materials could these be.

1. Cardboard Boxes:

Amongst all packing materials, finding cardboard boxes for cheap or even free is the easiest. That’s because they are practically found almost everywhere. Right from any electronics that you may purchase to some parcels that you may receive from online marketplaces like Amazon, most of these things are packed and delivered in cardboard boxes. And they are also going to be your most essential packing supply, as packing your belongings in boxes will make them convenient for transportation.

Also See: Guide To Best Cheap Moving Boxes | How to Find Free Moving Boxes?

2. Bubble Wrap:

If you’re an experienced mover, you’ll know that packing your fragile items could be the trickiest, right? A little carelessness, and your grandma’s antique saucer pan could be lying in pieces. That’s exactly why having proper cushioning materials is rather important. And bubble wrap is a commonly used packing supply for this purpose. Along with providing adequate protection for your fragile items, bubble wraps are also oddly satisfying for many people (Try bursting out a few bubbles, but after you’re done with your work!), Though they may not be as easily available as cardboard boxes, you may still get a hold on a few sheets of bubble wrap for free.

3. Packing Paper:

Another commonly used cushioning material is packing paper. Not only for your fragile or delicate items, but packing paper is also used as a padding to keep your items sturdy in the boxes. They also act as an extra layer of protection for your belongings, in case the boxes are exposed to some dirt or dust. Again, finding clean packing paper for free, could be a little tough but not entirely an impossible task.

4. Newspapers:

Just like cardboard boxes, you will practically find newspapers anywhere. They can be used as additional packing paper for padding purposes. However, do keep in mind that newspapers cannot be used for all items or surfaces as the newsprint ink could easily stain your belongings. You could be using them as an additional layer over your packing paper, to maximize the security of your items.

You can visit our blog on making packing easier to read more about this.

Good To Know: All these packing supplies that you may get for free, may not always be clean or in a usable condition. It is important that you properly check all the materials before using them, so as to ensure that they will not be spoiling your belongings.

Where Can You Get Free Packing Supplies?

Just by taking a look around you, you’ll realize there are so many places that easily offer free packing supplies. While some of these are specific outlets meant for these purposes, a few others are just places that regularly utilize these supplies, but may not know what to do with them later. Here are a few sources that you could check out to grab a few packing supplies for free.

Retail Outlets

Large Retailers: Popularly known as the “big box stores”, most large retailers have tons of boxes coming in and going out on a daily basis. Because of the nature of their business, you can find a variety of differently sized boxes at these outlets. And since they utilize them on a daily basis, chances are that you might get quite a few boxes for free. Some of these major retailers that you could check out include:

  • Starbucks
  • Dollar Stores
  • Costco
  • Target
  • PetSmart
  • Office Depot or OfficeMax
  • Walmart

In all these retail stores and a few others as well, you can easily get hold of 5 to 20 boxes, depending on the availability at your location.

Grocery Stores: You will notice a good quantity of boxes and packing materials lying around in grocery stores, especially around the delivery dates. And these dates could be as frequent as every alternate day, or depending on your location, even everyday. You can get in touch with the store manager and request them to keep aside those boxes and other materials for you. It is better if you are aware of the store’s delivery schedule because that way you’ll be able to schedule your pick-up as well. Just make sure to thoroughly check the supplies before using them, as chances of the boxes being damp or dirty are a little higher when taken from grocery stores.

Liquor Stores: To keep the bottles steady and safe during transit, liquor stores and wine breweries frequently use sturdy boxes and packing materials. It is always a good idea to inquire about packing materials in all liquor and wine stores around, since chances of you getting hold of some sturdy boxes are really high. Not only cardboard boxes, these stores also use quality packing materials for safeguarding the bottles during delivery and transportation. The biggest advantage of getting supplies from these liquor shops is that their good quality boxes are ideal for packing your fragile items like dishes and glassware. Plus, most of these boxes may also comparatively be clean.

Book Stores: Another store where you will find good quality packing supplies and boxes is a book store. The weight, size and the delicate nature of books demand sturdy and stiff boxes for their transportation. So, you can easily use those boxes for packing up your stationery supplies as well as your beloved books. We suggest that you check with known bookstores like Barnes & Noble as they may have more frequent shipments, meaning more readily available packing supplies.

Furniture Shops: If you are looking for packing materials beyond boxes, you should definitely check out the furniture stores. Packing supplies like bubble wrap, packing paper and styrofoam may just be available in excess at many of the furniture stores as they use them on a regular basis. Since these companies wouldn’t want to sell their products wrapped in used materials, chances are that you might be able to get hold of them for free and use it for your move. All you need to do is get in touch with their store manager and request them to keep aside a few materials which you can go and pick-up at the earliest.

Local Classifieds: You may be able to get hold on a couple of packing supplies from your locality itself. Just check out the local classifieds, where people do put up ads about giving away the packing supplies that they no longer need. If you’re lucky, then you may get those supplies for free or some individuals may sell them for as cheap as $1.

Recycling Drop Off Points: Some recycling drop off points in your neighborhood may also be accepting used cardboard boxes to recycle. You can check them out once, and if they are in good shape, clean and not infested, they may be good enough to pack some of your belongings.

U-Haul Customer Connect: Whenever you’re planning a move, U-Haul is a name that you may frequently come across. Yes, along with being one of the reputed moving companies, offering a variety of services, U-Haul also has some great community initiatives. One such initiative is U-Haul Customer Connect. Under this initiative, U-Haul allows people to drop off their boxes at U-Haul stores. You can simply check out their website or walk up to your nearest store to check the availability of these boxes. Since many U-Haul stores are located close to each other, you can check out a couple of them together, if needed.

Online Resources

Craigslist: Our list of places to get free packing supplies is going to be incomplete without the mention of Craigslist. No matter your location, you have quite good chances of getting free boxes as well as other moving supplies from someone on Craigslist. Just check out the listings that mention free boxes or create an ad of your own, highlighting the materials you need.

As one of the oldest marketplaces available online, Craigslist has a huge reach out, and chances are that you might be able to get hold of quite a few packing supplies if you start your search early enough. We suggest that you check more frequently at the beginning of the week because many people prefer to move during the weekends. So, you may have higher chances of grabbing free boxes at that time.

Freecycle: As the name suggests, Freecycle is an online, non-profit organization that aims to safeguard the environment by recycling and reducing the waste that goes into landfills. All items available on their website are free of charge, and with that, signing up for it is free as well. Just check around if another member in your locality is giving away their packing supplies, or you could also let people know that you’re looking for packing supplies. If you’re in luck, you may be able to get all your packing supplies from boxes and bubble wraps to tape and markers, all under one roof, for free.

Facebook And Reddit Groups: Social media can really be a powerful boon for reaching out to a majority of people together. While Facebook will most probably have a group for almost everything, other social media platforms like twitter and reddit could also be useful in asking people for packing supplies. You could look around for moving boxes and packing supplies groups specifically, or even put up a post letting people know what you need. Better yet, request your friends and contacts to amplify it, so it reaches as many people as possible.

OfferUp: An app similar to Craigslist, OfferUp is a simple mobile app through which you could easily find people who may be giving away their packing supplies for free. You could either search for a specific post or even put up your own ad letting people know what you need. And along with packing supplies like boxes and tape, you could also use OfferUp to sell your old furniture or buy some pieces for your new location.

LetGo: Again a mobile app, very similar to OfferUp, LetGo connects all people who are looking to sell out their packing supplies as well as those wanting to buy or get some for free. You may get hold of a few boxes as well as other packing materials, either available for free, or sold by someone at very nominal costs.

Reach Out To People Around You

Ask Friends And Neighbors: Even though you may consider it a long shot, you’ll be surprised to know how resourceful your friends and neighbors could be. If someone has just recently moved to your neighborhood, chances are that they might have quite a few packing supplies that you could use. And even otherwise, someone who has recently purchased a new TV or who frequently orders from Amazon, may also have a few boxes to spare that you could use. Just reach out to them and ask, moving could be a stressful event and getting assistance from friends and family will only help ease a little stress off your shoulders.

Community Bulletin Boards: Whether it’s in church or in your apartment community, you could also pin up a poster for the packing supplies you need, on the bulletin boards. Neighbors, acquaintances or even good samaritans may just be able to help you with what you need. Just make sure to put up your contact details as well so they could reach out to you easily.

Things To Keep In Mind When Packing Your Belongings

  • Before you start collecting your packing supplies, it is important for you to chalk out your requirements. Now, this will be possible only when you know exactly which items need to be packed and moved. For this, you could start off by downsizing your items – make an inventory of all the items that you’re surely going to pack and all the other items that you could give away for charity or otherwise. After you’re ready with your final inventory, it will just be a lot easier to figure out the exact quantity and type of packing materials that you need.
  • When you’re trying to look for free packing supplies, it is always better to start early. Although there are a number of places that you could easily check out for these supplies, they may or may not always be available at the time when you need it. Plus, demands do usually go up in the peak season, so it may get even more difficult for you to get hold of the packing supplies for free.
  • It is important that you thoroughly check all the packing supplies that you get for free. Because there are high chances of them already being used once, twice or even more, they may not be durable or clean enough for you to use. Even though you’re looking to save on a few costs, you most definitely do not want to damage your belongings, right? So, it’s always better to check first before you plan on using them for your valuables.
  • If you can’t get hold of free boxes or other packing supplies like bubble wraps, you can also try and use their alternatives. For instance, your old clothes, bedsheets or even pillows could also be used as padding and cushioning materials to protect your belongings. Similarly, you could also use suitcases, baskets or hampers, instead of using cardboard boxes. These alternatives are not only easily available in your houses, but can also save you the time and efforts in looking out for packing supplies elsewhere.


Now that you know how and where could you get hold of free packing supplies, you can plan your moving budget accordingly. Though it may take some efforts, planning and reaching out on your end, it will all be worth it when you’ll be able to use the amount you saved on packing supplies, elsewhere. If you’re looking for moving containers or moving labor to help you with your DIY move, do check our other blogs out that have recommendations of the best moving companies out there.

Read Also: 5 Best Packing Service Companies | Best Packing Materials And How To Use Them