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Moving is crazy expensive, so paying for moving boxes is just out of the question. But if you’re like me, you don’t think, “Where can I get free moving boxes?” until moving day is right around the corner.
I used this list last time I moved and scored a bunch of free boxes without spending a penny. If you need boxes fast (and don’t want to buy them) you can use this list, too!
Before you go box hunting, though, there are a few things to note:
- Call your local store before you go to confirm that the shipment times in the list apply to your area.
- Ask before you take boxes. Most places won’t mind if you grab them, but it’s up to the store manager’s discretion.
- Also, the sturdiest boxes are fruit and book boxes. Use those to hold your heaviest or most fragile items.
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Note: Policies differ between stores, so think of each tip as a suggestion, not a rule.
Apps and Websites for Finding Moving Boxes
1. Use OfferUp to hunt down more boxes.
The OfferUp app connects to people in your area who are buying and selling locally. If you search for “free moving boxes,” OfferUp will point you to others looking to get rid of their boxes.
2. Search Facebook Marketplace to see who’s getting rid of boxes.
3. Ask your neighborhood for free boxes on the Nextdoor app or website.
Nextdoor is a hyper-localized app that connects you to people in your neighborhood. After creating a free profile, you can ask if anyone has extra boxes lying around or if they can point you to somewhere who does.
4. Search a local subreddit on Reddit.
Reddit, a.k.a. “The front page of the internet,” is an excellent place to get timely answers for all your questions. Type in your city and state, and follow the subreddit with the highest followers.
Once you’re in the subreddit (“Search r/subreddit name”), just type in “free moving boxes.” Any relevant answers — like in this thread — will pop up. If the answers are outdated, post your own question!
5. Use U-Haul Customer Connect to search for free boxes.
Customers often drop off their used U-Haul moving boxes at local stores for other customers to pick up for free.
If this is a bust, try U-Haul Customer Connect — it’s a new service that lets you search for free U-Haul moving boxes in your area by entering your zip code or city.
Not that there’s an official poll, but most of us would agree that U-Haul moving boxes are in the upper echelon of moving boxes.
6. Use Freecycle to search local internet forums for free boxes.
Just type in your location to Freecycle.org and search for “free moving boxes” — you’ll be directed to a community forum with discussion threads similar to Reddit.
7. Check your local listing of Craigslist free moving boxes.
One of the first places I always look for free moving boxes and free stuff is Craigslist. Just search for “free boxes” on your local Craigslist page and scroll through until you find what you need.
Retailers Who Give Away Empty Boxes
8. Get free moving boxes from Walmart after 10 p.m.
Night owl? If you can stay up until 10 p.m., visit your local Walmart to grab some moving boxes! Walmart unloads new shipments late at night, leaving empty boxes up for grabs for anyone willing to arrive late.
Also, I haven’t tried this, but apparently, you can get produce and meat boxes around 5 or 6 a.m. if you head in early and ask!
9. Grab free boxes from Target on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are when Target gets the most shipments.
A Target employee told us if you call your local Target before noon on those days, they’ll set aside free boxes for you.
10. Call Barnes & Noble ahead of time to secure sturdy boxes.
Barnes & Noble is a great place to get free moving boxes.
Since books tend to be heavy, they need strong boxes for transport. Perfect. Shipment dates vary by location, so find a Barnes & Noble near you and call ahead to get the most boxes.
11. Ask about printer paper boxes at Office Depot on shipment days.
12. Get free boxes from your local Walgreens.
Walgreens receives big shipments on Tuesdays, so call ahead and ask them to save some free boxes for you. Or go in store around noon and ask customer service.
13. Call your local Rite Aid Saturday morning to get free moving boxes.
Go into your local Rite Aid early Saturday morning to get free moving boxes, because they receive shipments on Friday nights.
14. Head to PetSmart on shipment days for more free moving boxes.
Next time you go into PetSmart to get your pup some chow, ask an employee or manager if they have any free moving boxes you can take off their hands.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are when they have the most boxes available, but call your nearest PetSmart location to make sure. Try to make it in before 10 a.m. or you might strike out.
15. Get boxes from Petco on Mondays.
If you’re more of a Petco dog mom (or dad!) the best time to grab free boxes is Monday morning around 9 a.m.
16. Hunt down more free boxes at Dollar Tree.
Dollar Tree receives deliveries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which means a ton of free boxes! They will gladly set some aside for you to pick up, and there’s a variety of sizes to choose from.
Restaurants that have clean empty boxes to give away
17. Head to McDonald’s early for free fry boxes.
You can score fry boxes for free from your local McDonald’s. When the fries arrive, they’re frozen, so no need to worry about a nasty, greasy smell.
When I called around noon, they’d already broken down the boxes for the day and thrown them in the recycle bin. Call a McDonald’s near you early in the morning and have them set some boxes aside if you want to avoid dumpster diving.
18. Get free boxes from Starbucks throughout the week.
Starbucks says they get shipments every two days. Since Tuesday is the store’s first freight day of the week, they’ll have an obscene amount of boxes to break down.
Call your local Starbucks to confirm shipment dates, and you should walk away with a bunch of free boxes!
Grocery stores with the best moving boxes
19. Get free produce boxes at Kroger.
When it comes to grocery store boxes, Kroger produce boxes are amazing, because they tend to have lids.
And while Kroger stores don’t save any boxes, at around 5 p.m. you can walk up to the produce department and ask for free boxes they’ve emptied, and they’ll gladly give you what they have!
20. Trader Joe’s has boxes available in the mornings and evenings.
Get Trader Joe’s boxes either first thing in the morning or in the evening around 8 p.m. They have all sorts of different sizes to choose from.
21. Get to Safeway early for free moving boxes.
If you can get to your local Safeway early in the morning, ask any produce clerk wearing a green apron for free moving boxes.
They usually arrive between 4 – 5 a.m., but you’ll have the best shot if you come in around 8 a.m. after they’ve unloaded boxes and have some to give away.
22. Be at Whole Foods early to get boxes before they compact them.
Get to Whole Foods early in the morning before they compact their boxes for the best chance of getting free moving boxes.
23. Call ahead at WinCo for free boxes.
WinCo will set boxes aside for you if you call and speak with a produce manager.
24. Grab boxes at Albertsons before they get rid of them.
Most of the time Albertsons recycles their boxes and gets credit for them, but when I called, they said they would be able to put some aside for me to pick up.
25. Find different-sized free boxes at Costco.
Even though Costco reuses most of their cardboard boxes for packing up people’s groceries, if you call, they will set aside however many you need, or just go in and they’ll let you grab as many as you want. They have a variety of sizes, but the downside is most of their free boxes have open tops.
Random places where you can always find moving boxes
26. Check your local recycling center.
Most recycling centers have a designated area where people drop off lightly-used boxes for others to reuse. You may find that some boxes are broken down as well, which makes it easier to stack them in your trunk. All you need is a bit of packaging tape to put them back together!
27. Check behind local liquor stores.
These boxes tend to be very durable and sturdy since they are used for glass bottle alcohol shipments.
Each liquor store may vary, but when I called, they were just getting shipments in and had a ton of free boxes to set aside for me.
They needed time to unload and break down all the boxes but said by 1 p.m. I would be able to go to the store and get however many I needed!
28. Near (or in) dumpsters in apartment complexes.
If you don’t mind reaching into a garbage bin, you can normally find a ton of boxes in apartment complexes.
People are always moving in and out, so your chances are good. Some people set boxes on the side of the dumpster for others to use, as well.
PRO TIP: When it comes to closing your boxes, brown packaging tape is ideal for short-term storage and lighter boxes. Gummed paper tape, like Duct Tape, is better suited for long-term storage and heavier boxes.
29. Save your boxes from online orders.
Whenever I get a box from Amazon, I always try to save the box for a future move. I will usually deconstruct the boxes and leave them in a pile until I need them. Then I use tape to reinforce the boxes when I need them.
30. Grab DIY wardrobe boxes from appliance and electronics stores.
Wardrobe boxes are hard to come by, but you can stop by appliance and electronics stores (think Best Buy or plumbing supply stores) for larger boxes, and apply your DIY chops.
Grab a dowel, a razor, and duct tape and follow these three steps:
- Cut round holes with your razor on both sides of your wardrobe box.
- Stick a dowel through the holes.
- Duct tape the dowel on both sides so it doesn’t slide out, and voila! You’ve got a wardrobe box.