What Movers Absolutely Refuse to Pack

June 3, 2024

When moving to a new home or office, most people hire professional movers to help transport their belongings. Using a moving company can save time and reduce stress during an already hectic process. However, it’s important to know that movers have policies about what items they are and are not allowed to pack and transport. Certain hazardous, fragile, or high-value objects are prohibited for legitimate reasons. Being aware of these restrictions allows you to properly prepare by setting aside any “do not move” items. This prevents unpleasant surprises on moving day and ensures your valuables are protected. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the types of items that reputable moving companies will not handle. Knowing these limitations in advance helps create a smooth, efficient moving experience.

Hazardous Materials

Movers are unable to pack hazardous materials that are flammable, corrosive, or explosive. This includes items like paint, cleaning supplies, batteries, propane tanks, and fireworks. The reason movers avoid these types of materials is because they can be dangerous to transport and the movers themselves do not have proper licenses or equipment to handle hazardous waste.

Flammable products like lighter fluid, certain adhesives, solvents, and thinners can easily ignite and cause a fire hazard during transit. Anything with a warning label that says “flammable” or “combustible” should be packed separately by the homeowner and properly sealed.

Corrosive substances like bleach, drain cleaners, battery acid, and ammonia can leak and damage other items when packed together. These caustic chemicals can also be harmful if they make contact with movers’ skin, so they require special handling that professional movers are not equipped for.

Explosives like ammunition, firecrackers, model rocket engines, and certain camping supplies are deemed too dangerous for movers to transport. Anything that can detonate, ignite, or self-combust poses a serious safety risk, so movers will refuse to pack these explosives.

In summary, flammable, corrosive, and explosive hazardous materials need to be packed and transported separately by homeowners, not by moving professionals. Attempting to hide these dangerous items in boxes or furniture is not only prohibited by movers, but it also puts them at risk during loading and unloading.

Perishable Food

Moving companies will not pack perishable food items that may spoil or go bad during transit. This includes fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, and anything that requires refrigeration.

Movers want to avoid food contamination or spills that could attract pests, ruin belongings, or pose a health hazard. They are not equipped with refrigerated trucks to keep perishables cold.

It’s best for the homeowner to use up perishable foods before moving day or donate any excess to local food banks. Non-perishable canned and packaged foods are okay to pack, but fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy need to be consumed or disposed of beforehand.

Some exceptions can be made for very short, local moves where transit time is an hour or less. But for longer distances, it’s not safe or practical for movers to haul perishable foods. They will refuse to pack or transport anything requiring refrigeration that may spoil.


Movers will not transport live plants or soil during a move. This includes potted plants, hanging plants, and any vegetation with roots attached. The reasons for this policy include:

– Live plants can harbor insects, diseases, and other contaminants that could potentially spread. Movers aim to keep trucks and belongings clean.

– Loose soil can spill and create a mess during transport. It also adds unnecessary weight to the load.

– Delicate plants may not survive the journey if exposed to temperature extremes or jostling during transit.

– Certain houseplants are toxic to humans and pets. Handling these plants has risks movers prefer to avoid.

Instead of moving live plants, give them away before your move date or ask friends to care for them temporarily. For extremely valuable plants, consider transporting them yourself in your own vehicle. Another option is to work with a professional plant-moving service, but this adds cost.

When packing up potted plants, remove the plant itself, keeping just the pot. Discard the soil so it doesn’t dirty your belongings. You can replant plants post-move by purchasing new soil.

Cleaning Supplies

Movers will not pack cleaning supplies like bleach, cleaning fluids, aerosols, and other household chemicals. These items are considered hazardous materials that could spill and damage your belongings or pose health risks to the movers.

Bleach and other strong chemical cleaners could leak during transport and ruin clothes, furniture, and other possessions. Cleaning fluids and aerosols are also flammable and could ignite if exposed to high heat during the move. Chemical fumes from leaks could also make movers feel ill if trapped in the enclosed space of the moving truck.

Instead of entrusting these caustic cleaning products to the movers, it’s recommended you pack them yourself in sealed bins. Label the containers clearly as “HAZARDOUS” so the movers will not accidentally mishandle them. Set aside any bleach, drain openers, oven cleaners, floor wax strippers, rug cleaners, mold removers, and other potent cleaners to pack yourself.

Make a list of all your household cleaners and disinfectants and ensure none get loaded onto the truck. You don’t want to jeopardize your belongings or the movers’ health by having these chemicals along for the ride. Handle them separately and pack them securely.


Movers will typically not pack oil-based paints or spray paint cans due to the risk of spills, leaks, and flammability. Oil-based paints like enamel, acrylic alkyd, and polyurethane paint contain solvents that can be highly flammable. If a can of oil-based paint leaks during transit, it could ignite and cause a fire.

Spray paint cans also contain flammable propellants and solvents under pressure. If exposed to high temperatures, spray paint cans may explode, rupture, or leak. This poses a safety hazard to movers and can damage other belongings.

Instead of packing oil-based paints or spray cans, it’s recommended to properly dispose of old paint before your move. Buy new paint at your destination once unpacked. You may pack and move water-based latex paints, as these are generally less hazardous. But check with your mover about any specific restrictions or packaging requirements.


Moving companies will not transport live ammunition or gunpowder. This includes any type of unspent bullet cartridges, shells, black powder, primers, and percussion caps. Transporting explosives puts the safety of movers and the public at risk.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tightly regulates the interstate transportation of ammunition and reloading components. It is illegal for regular citizens to ship these hazardous materials without a federal explosives license or permit. Movers must follow the same federal regulations that prohibit transporting ammunition or gunpowder.

Some key reasons professional movers avoid transporting ammunition are:

– Live rounds pose an explosion and fire hazard if mishandled or damaged. Movers cannot safely move ammunition in their trucks.

– Transporting ammunition requires special certified hazmat vehicles, licensed drivers, and extensive training. Most moving companies are not equipped or authorized to handle explosives.

– Moving ammunition across state lines is subject to strict regulations and permitting requirements. Movers want to avoid any liability with prohibited items.

Instead of asking movers to transport ammunition, firearms owners will need to make alternate arrangements. Possible options are having a friend properly package and drive the ammunition, shipping via a specialty transport company, or working with a licensed gun dealer. Check all applicable local, state, and federal laws first before attempting to transport ammunition.

 Jewelry and Valuables

Movers will typically not pack valuable items like expensive jewelry, cash, coins, and other irreplaceable items. This is for the protection of both the moving company and the customer. If lost or damaged, these high-value items would be difficult or impossible to replace.

Some common prohibitions when it comes to valuables include:

– Expensive jewelry such as diamond rings, gold necklaces, etc. Moving companies don’t want liability for items that could be worth thousands of dollars or more. It’s best for customers to keep these in their own possession.

– Cash, coins, checks. Moving companies don’t want cash going missing, whether by accident or through theft. Customers should keep cash and financial instruments with them for safekeeping.

– Rare collectibles like sports memorabilia or antique items. One-of-a-kind collectibles need special care that movers may not be able to provide.

– Personal financial documents and records. Social security cards, passports, stock certificates, etc. contain private information and should remain with the customer.

– Small valuable electronics like laptops and tablets. Easy to misplace and attractive to thieves. Customers should transport these personally.

The main theme is that movers do not want responsibility for items of high monetary or sentimental value. Customers can avoid headaches by keeping irreplaceable valuables and sensitive documents in their own hands. If in doubt, ask the mover about any items of concern. And consider getting supplemental insurance for extra protection.

Prohibited Items

Moving companies cannot legally transport items that are considered hazardous, illegal, or banned. This includes:

– Illegal drugs – Marijuana, even where legalized, cannot be transported across state lines. Other drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, etc. are illegal nationwide.

– Weapons – Firearms, ammunition, knives, brass knuckles, tasers. Some states have additional restrictions.

– Hazardous chemicals – Fertilizers, pesticides, lithium batteries, propane tanks, paint thinners. These can pose environmental and safety risks.

– Counterfeit goods – Fake merchandise, pirated movies/music, knockoff handbags. Transporting counterfeits violates trademark and copyright laws.

– Alcohol and cigarettes – Interstate transport and delivery of alcohol and tobacco products is prohibited without proper licensing and payment of taxes.

– Endangered species – Ivory, rare animal skins, certain plants and wildlife. Strictly banned under the Endangered Species Act.

– Currency – Large amounts of cash must be declared, and transporting counterfeit currency is illegal.

– Perishable food – Raw meat, dairy, fresh produce that can spoil during transit.

Moving companies are legally required to refuse loading prohibited items. It’s best for customers to dispose of or find alternatives ahead of time. Hazardous materials and contraband must never be packed.


When preparing for your move, it’s important to be aware of the items that most moving companies will not transport. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave these items behind or dispose of them. Here are some options for safely transporting prohibited items:

Specialty movers – There are moving companies that specialize in transporting specific types of goods, such as pianos, safes, artwork, or other high-value items. They have the proper equipment and expertise to move these items safely. This will likely cost more than a standard moving company.

Rent a truck – Consider renting a truck or trailer yourself and transport restricted items this way. Make sure they are properly secured for transport. This gives you full control over these items.

Ask friends – Reach out to friends or family members who may be driving to your new destination and ask if they can transport some boxes for you. This works well for smaller, fragile items.

Ship items – Explore shipping certain goods through a parcel service, like UPS, FedEx or DHL. Some items, like ammunition, may have shipping restrictions, so check regulations first.

Rent portable storage – Rent a portable storage container that you can pack with prohibited items and restricted access. The container is then transported for you by the rental company.

With some creative thinking, you can ensure all your belongings safely make it to your new home, even if the movers won’t pack them. Carefully consider how best to move restricted items.