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Do Movers Pack for You? What Movers Won’t Move and More

Hiring a moving company is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your move. While it might technically be possible to pack and move all by yourself, that’s a lot to put on your plate. It’s smart to leave at least part of the task to professionals — but just how much of the moving process can movers take on themselves?

Do movers pack for you? What do they pack, and where do their services end? Here’s what you need to know to get the best value out of a professional moving service and avoid common pitfalls along the way.

What to expect from movers

Professional movers can handle virtually all the tasks associated with moving your personal items. Here’s what you can expect a professional mover to do for you:

  • Supply packing materials. You shouldn’t have to buy boxes, tape, or packing material unless you decide to pack some items before the movers arrive.
  • Pack. Professional movers know how to pack your things so nothing gets broken in transit.
  • Disassemble furniture. Movers will take apart any large items. Tables, desks, cabinets, and anything else designed to be broken down for transport will be reassembled at your destination.
  • Load and unload. Movers will pack your items onto the truck and organize the load for damage-free transportation.
  • Unpack. Movers won’t just leave dozens or hundreds of boxes scattered around your new home — they’ll unpack the boxes as well, if you want them to. In reality, you’ll probably want to handle most of the unpacking yourself, but keep in mind that anything they pack, they’ll also unpack if that is part of your contracted agreement.
  • Dispose of the waste. When the movers are ready to leave, they’ll cart away any empty boxes and leftover packing materials.

What movers won’t move

Movers will pack almost everything — almost. Call ahead to get a list of items that the movers won’t handle. Many will be in the garage, such as gasoline, fireworks, pesticides, paint thinner, and other dangerous items. If your bathroom has ammonia, nail polish, or nail polish remover, you’ll need to discard or move them yourself. The same applies to scuba tanks, darkroom chemicals, and batteries.

Depending upon the move, movers may or may not take food items. Unless it’s a same-day move across town, anything frozen or refrigerated is off the table to prevent the food from spoiling. Open food containers are also a no-go because of the risk of attracting pests or spilling.

Some movers may also prohibit certain items due to the potential for loss or theft. Double-check that cash, financial and medical records, medicine, and other very personal items are included in the moving service you’ve hired. Also, some movers either won’t move very heavy items like treadmills and elliptical machines, or if they do, it’s with a fee attached (often because they need to bring extra staff in to help move the item).

Again, check directly with the professional moving company that you hired for their list of prohibited items. We also provided a more comprehensive list at the end of this blog post.

Be aware of moving company frauds

As you research and compare moving companies, you’re bound to read reviews about potential movers. But reviews don’t always paint a complete picture, especially because they can be faked. If there are very few or no reviews online, that itself can be a red flag.

There are plenty of potential moving company scams to look out for, but one precaution you can take is making sure the moving company is licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Look for the mover’s USDOT number on their website or ask the company for it directly. Use this number to search the FMCSA database to make sure it’s authorized — if not, it’s probably a fraud. If you believe that you have been the victim of moving fraud, you can file a complaint using the online FMCSA complaint tool or by calling the federal agency at 1-888-DOT-SAFT.

do movers pack for you

Here are some lists to use as guidance

It’s important to contact your moving company directly for their policy and list of restrictions.

Prohibited hazardous items movers won’t move

  • Acids/ammonia/bleach
  • Ammunition/firearms/weapons
  • Batteries/car batteries
  • Charcoal
  • Chemistry sets
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Corrosives
  • Darkroom chemicals
  • Fertilizer/pesticides/weed killer
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Fuels/oils/gasoline/kerosene/lighter fluid/sterno/propane tanks/motor oil/antifreeze
  • Matches
  • Nail polish/nail polish remover
  • Oxygen bottles
  • Paint/stain/varnishes/paint thinner
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Scuba tanks

Google Search: Where To Get Rid Of Hazardous Waste Near Me

Perishable items movers won’t move

  • Frozen food
  • Living plants
  • Open food containers
  • Produce
  • Refrigerated food

Check to see if your professional movers have restrictions on moving anything in glass jars that can crack and/or leak. When you book a moving company, ask if they partner with Move for Hunger, a nonprofit that donates nonperishables that otherwise would be thrown away.

Keep your valuables close

  • Cash
  • Cell phones
  • Computer backup files
  • Family photos and videos
  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Laptops
  • Medicine
  • Personal, financial, medical, and insurance documents (including items such as credit cards, checkbooks, policy documents, wills, car title, deeds, anything with your account information, or social security number)
  • Pets (we consider pets valuable so we listed them here)

You should also include in your valuables list anything that has emotional or sentimental value to you and your family that cannot be replaced.

Moving is a whirlwind, with all the excitement that goes along with it. While there can be a lot to consider, knowing what to expect from a moving company is a big step toward making your move a great one. Happy moving!

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