Moving Day: Non-Allowables – What NOT to Pack

Posted on Mar 5, 2014

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 What Not to Pack


Do You Know What NOT To Pack On Moving Day?


There are “No, No’s”, “Unmentionables” of the Moving Trade – otherwise known as Non-Allowables.


There are some items prohibited either by Federal law, State law or by the movers themselves.  I've included this as an x'd out "don't pack" list.  Take special note of this if for instance you are moving into the State of California as they have strict rules as to even what plants and food you can bring into the state.    

Additionally, you will want to consider keeping items of personal importance or sentimental value with you rather than packing it for the moving van.  This will eliminate worry over irreplaceable items.  I've included this as a checked "to pack" list.

While the following checklist will keep you well informed, you’ll want to verify the specific regulations of each individual moving company.


Hazardous materials

Note:  If you do pack any of these items and something occurs in transit to your property, the moving company will not cover damages or loss and most likely  your insurance will not either!
  •  Acids
  • Aerosal cans
  • Ammonia
  • Ammunition
  • Car batteries
  • Charcoal/lighter fluid
  • Chemistry sets
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Darkroom chemicals
  • Fertilizer
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Fuels/oils
  • Gun reloading supplies
  • Household batteries
  • Kerosene
  • Liquid bleach
  • Loaded guns
  • Matches
  • Nail polish/remover
  • Paint thinners
  • Paints/varnishes
  • Pesticides
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Propane tanks
  • Scuba tanks
  • Sterno fuel
  • Weed killer

NOTE: Drain fuel from your power mower and other machinery. Discard partly used cans of any substances that may be flammable or combustible or those stored in containers that may leak.  Properly dispose of items containing mercury if you aren't moving these items (i.e. fluorescent light bulbs, thermometers, thermostats).


You may be wondering, "What do I do with these item?  I can't dump them. I can't burn them."  If friends and family are not interested you can contact the health department either on a city or state level to determine an approved safe collection site.  Also, don't forget that many auto parts or service centers will recycle your motor oil and antifreeze.  You may find this online recycle locator a handy tool as well:  There you can do a quick search for a recycling solution.


Ordinarily moving companies will not transport items on the Perishables list.  However, if you are moving less than 150 miles and your items will be delivered within 24 hours of from time of original pickup, movers may agree to transport these items provided they properly packed and require no servicing in transit.  Additionally, with regard to house plants, for distances under 150 miles and trip times shorter than 8 hours, movers may offer transport.



NOTE: You should empty refrigerators and freezers and keep appliance doors open for at least 24 hours in advance of loading to allow appliances to dry out and prevent mold.
  • Food without adequate preservation
  • Frozen food
  • Open or half-used foods
  • Plants *(SEE THE BOXMoving House Plants) →
  • Produce
  • Refrigerated foods

Moving House Plants

ransport house plants in a temperature-controlled environment, such as your car. Atlas does not transport perishable items over long distances; extreme temperatures and lack of fresh air in a moving van can be fatal. However, for distances under 150 miles and trip times shorter than 8 hours, Atlas may offer service. Talk to your Atlas Account Representative about the best option for your plants. - See more at:

Even though the Movers won't be moving your house plants over a long distance, you probably want to keep them - and keep them alive at that.  So if you decide to transport those fragile beauties yourself, here's some tips to keep in mind:

  1. First, if you are moving into California, Arizona, or Florida, they have especially rigid regulations for allowing live plants into the state - you may not be permitted.  Check with the state's department of natural resources to find out more.
  2. Try to transport your plants in a temperature-controlled environment, like your car.
  3. Pack your plants in the morning or the night before.  Wrap large plants with an old bed sheet, this helps prevent branches from breaking.
  4. Place each pot in a cardboard box, laundry basket, or the like so it fits snugly at the bottom.
  5. Pack the space between the pot and the box to hold the pot in place; make sure the plants can "breathe".
  6. Load plants as close to your departure time as possible. It's not recommended to load them in the trunk of your car; heat, cold, and lack of fresh air is harmful, even fatal.
  7. If the weather is warm, keep the windows of the car cracked (if you are hauling your car rather than driving it), spritz the leaves to keep humidity levels up.  Keep the plants away from direct sunlight.
  8. If the weather is cold, your plants are especially vulnerable.  Help protect plants by  wrapping them with newspaper or paper bags.
  9. Water your plants only if they seem unusually dry. Otherwise, wait until you have arrived at your final destination.
  10. If you travel for more than three days, bring plants indoors when you lodge and expose them to light.
You can see more at: - they have a entire page dedicated to the top 10 houseplants and how to care for them.
known for especially rigid restrictions. Check with your state's department of natural resources to learn what you should know before you move plants to another state. - See more at:
known for especially rigid restrictions. Check with your state's department of natural resources to learn what you should know before you move plants to another state. - See more at:

Personal importance/sentimental value

  • Address books
  • Airline tickets
  • Car titles
  • Cash
  • Cell phones
  • Checkbooks
  • Computer data files/backups
  • Family photographs/photo albums
  • Financial documents (stocks, bonds, CDs, IRAs, deeds, tax records
  • Home videos
  • Insurance policies
  • Jewelry and furs
  • Keys (car, furniture, new home, safe)
  • Laptop computers
  • Medical/dental records
  • New home documents
  • Prescription medicine
  • Professional files/research projects
  • School records
  • Sterling Silver

And for those "Must-Have's" on the Non-Allowables list, consider shipping via USPS.

Tell me, can you think of any Non-Allowables not included here?


Be sure to visit the home page of this series, The Ultimate Movers Guide for more tips with any other aspect of moving or packing.







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