Did someone say “free moving boxes”? Yep! Everyone knows moving can be crazy expensive, so snagging some freebies where you can is a must. And honestly, getting free boxes is one of the best moving hacks to save you money. (Well, aside from relocating to a place that will pay you to move there.)
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. While you’re on the phone, be sure to ask permission to take boxes. Most places won’t mind if you grab them, but it’s up to the store manager’s discretion. And since policies differ between stores, think of each tip as a suggestion, not a rule.
That said, if you need boxes fast and don’t want to buy them, use this list to get your moving boxes free!
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How much do moving boxes typically cost?
That depends on the number, size, and type of box you need. If you need a ton of bigger boxes, that’ll cost more than if you just need a few smaller boxes. However, you can look at Uhaul’s moving box kits to get an idea of how much it would cost for you.
If you’ve got a lot of stuff and little to no moving supplies, the biggest kit is $698.30. On the other hand, their cheapest kit is $29.93. It’s quite a range, but generally speaking, the Apartment Kit is a good average estimate at $153.39.
Retailers Who Give Away Empty Boxes
1. 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.
Word is you can get produce and meat boxes around 5 or 6 a.m. if you head in early and ask!
2. 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. Shipment dates vary by location, so find a Barnes & Noble near you and call ahead to get the most boxes.
3. Call your local Rite Aid on Friday morning to get free moving boxes.
Go into your local Rite Aid early Friday morning to get free moving boxes since they receive shipments on Thursdays.
4. 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.
5. Get free boxes from Petco on Mondays.
If you’re more of a Petco dog mom (or dad!), we’ve found the best time to grab free boxes is Monday morning around 9 a.m. at our local Petco.
6. Hunt down more free boxes at Dollar Tree.
Dollar Tree receives deliveries several days a week, which means a ton of free boxes! Call ahead and ask if they would be willing to set some aside for you to pick up.
RELATED: Cardboard boxes aren’t the only thing you can reuse; we’ve got a list of things you can recycle.
Restaurants That Have Clean Empty Boxes to Give Away
7. 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 we 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.
8. Get free boxes from Starbucks throughout the week.
Starbucks says they get shipments every other day, starting Monday evenings. The team member we spoke with suggested calling the morning after delivery, so for Monday night delivery, call Tuesday morning and ask for them to set aside some boxes.
Call your local Starbucks to confirm shipment dates, and you should walk away with a bunch of free boxes!
RELATED: 11 Awesome Ways to Repurpose an Empty Cardboard Box
Grocery Stores With the Best Moving Boxes
9. 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., ask a team member in the produce department for free empty boxes, and they’ll most likely give you what they have!
10. 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. They have all sorts of different sizes to choose from.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Call ahead at WinCo for free boxes.
Your local WinCo might set boxes aside for you if you call and speak with a produce manager.
14. Grab boxes at Albertsons before they get rid of them.
15. 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’ll set aside some for you 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
16. 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!
17. Find free boxes 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 we called at 9 a.m., they were just getting shipments in and had a ton of free boxes to set aside.
They needed time to unload and break down all the boxes but said that by 1 p.m., we could come in and get however many we needed!
18. 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.
19. Save your boxes from online orders.
Save the shipping boxes from your online shopping if you’ve got space somewhere around your home or garage. Break them down and stack them to save room — retape them when you’re ready to use them.
20. 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.
Cut round holes with your utility knife 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.
Find free moving boxes via apps and websites
21. 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.
22. Search Facebook Marketplace to see who’s getting rid of boxes.
23. 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 someone who does.
24. Search a local subreddit on Reddit.
Reddit, a.k.a. “The front page of the internet,” is an excellent place to get timely answers to 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 will pop up. If the answers are outdated, post your own question!
25. Use U-Haul Customer Connect to search for free boxes.
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. 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.
26. 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.
27. Check your local listing of Craigslist free moving boxes.
One of the first places we 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.