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Where to Get Free Cardboard Boxes for Moving


Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

26th Jul 2021 (Last updated on 19th Jun 2024) 9 minute read

Before moving, you’ll need to get prepared and find as many cardboard boxes as possible to pack up your home. Considering the cost of moving house, we've looked at the ways you can stretch your budget further. One of these is by obtaining free cardboard boxes. Not only will this help you save money, but you'll also be keeping these boxes out of landfills.

That said, make sure the free boxes you get are clean, sturdy and suitable for your move. You should also make sure you have permission to take the boxes. This is especially the case if they are outside a supermarket or business, for example. Below we have listed the places where you’ll be able to find free cardboard boxes for moving, allowing you to save money.

  1. 1. Ask Friends and Family
  2. 2. Facebook Marketplace and Community Groups
  3. 3. Nextdoor
  4. 4. Gumtree
  5. 5. Freecycle
  6. 6. Freegle
  7. 7. Ask Supermarkets and Local Shops
  8. 8. Fast Food Chains
  9. 9. Ask at Bookstores
  10. 10. Check with Local Recycling Centres
  11. 11. Office Buildings
  12. 12. Local Schools
  13. 13. DIY Shops
  14. 14. Warehouses and Storage Facilities
  15. 15. Restaurants and Cafes
  16. Moving Boxes FAQs
  17. Saving Money on Your Move

1. Ask Friends and Family

It’s a good idea to start with your friends and family as it’s more than likely they’ll have some spare boxes leftover from moving or from deliveries that they haven’t gotten around to recycling yet.

You may even be doing them a favour by taking boxes and packing materials off their hands and putting them to good use. Alternatively, they could point you in the direction of someone they know who has spare boxes.

2. Facebook Marketplace and Community Groups

By simply putting up a Facebook status, you can receive lots of help from friends, family and people in your local area. There will also be a range of local organisations and community groups to join where you might be able to find second-hand boxes to use.

With Facebook Marketplace, you can filter to your location and the surrounding areas and directly contact individuals who are giving away boxes and packing supplies.

3. Nextdoor

The Nextdoor app is a great platform to exchange recommendations for your area and hear about local news and announcements, but it is also another perfect place to seek out free cardboard moving boxes. You can post a request, respond to anyone offering packing supplies or search the marketplace section on the platform.

The app uses a mapping feature that enables users to post messages at a hyper-local level, meaning someone giving away packing boxes could be just around the corner from you.

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4. Gumtree

Many online selling platforms have items listed for free and one of those items is cardboard boxes. The benefit of using websites such as Gumtree is that you can filter it to only listings in your local area. You can use community pages or even groups specifically set up for swapping items. There will also be a number of people who have just moved and are looking to pass on their moving boxes. Don’t forget to thoroughly inspect the boxes before using them.

You can also use Gumtree to declutter your home before moving, meaning you'll be packing fewer items and using fewer boxes. You may even find items for your new home.

5. Freecycle

Another way to find cardboard boxes for moving is by using Freecycle. The benefit of Freecycle is that it is a grassroots, nonprofit organisation aimed at keeping items out of landfills. Membership is free and to date over 5,300 towns are registered, so there's a good chance you'll find what you need nearby.

As with all second-hand boxes, it’s important to be realistic and to inspect the boxes before using them. Many cardboard boxes will only survive a few house moves so you need to check their condition first and ask how many moves they have been through.

6. Freegle

UK organisation Freegle is a service which aims to reduce landfill waste by allowing people to offer items for free to others, rather than throwing them away. The site will match you with someone local who is giving away the items you need, such as moving boxes.

7. Ask Supermarkets and Local Shops

Most large supermarkets chains will give away cardboard boxes of varying sizes, you simply have to ask. As most supermarket chains have items delivered in bulk, the boxes are likely to be large and strong, especially those used to carry heavy items such as alcohol.

Additionally, local fruit and vegetable shops will have their stock delivered in heavy-duty cardboard boxes and many are happy to provide some if you ask. It’s also worth asking if they have any wooden crates as these will be good for heavier items and can also be kept as longer-term storage or display in your home afterwards.

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8. Fast Food Chains

Fast food restaurants may not be an obvious solution, but they can be a great place to find free moving boxes. As they will have multiple deliveries on a regular basis, there should be an abundance of free cardboard boxes to choose from. Many of the boxes will be high quality as they are made to carry heavy items such as frozen food and bulk orders.

9. Ask at Bookstores

Another solution to finding free packing boxes is to ask local bookstores. Whether they are a well-known chain or a small, independent business, bookstores will have many strong and sturdy boxes available.

Apart from your household appliances, your books will likely be some of the heavier items you need to pack. Boxes from bookstores are designed to carry a large number of books and so will be strong enough to survive the move. Don’t forget to research how to pack books correctly to ensure they are not damaged during the journey.

10. Check with Local Recycling Centres

Another place to look is your nearest recycling centre. This is where all cardboard boxes go when they aren’t being used and so there should be plenty available. Be aware that you may have more luck with a recycling centre that accepts corrugated cardboard boxes.

Many will be flattened down when they arrive but they can be easily returned to their original shape. Before taking the boxes with you, make sure you check for any insects, damp or unwanted items inside. Also, consider strengthening them with packing tape to ensure they hold.

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11. Office Buildings

Office buildings will have regular deliveries and likely have a number of cardboard boxes in their recycling on a weekly basis. Providing you find the right person to ask, for example, an office manager, maintenance person or receptionist, most companies will be happy for you to take any boxes you need.

12. Local Schools

Local schools also have regular deliveries. With the need for books and writing materials, many of the deliveries they receive will likely come in sturdy boxes. If there is a school nearby, contact their reception to see if they are happy for you to repurpose any boxes they may have. Be aware that schools have strict regulations when it comes to visitors so make sure you call ahead and have permission before showing up.

13. DIY Shops

DIY shops is another place that will likely have deliveries in sturdy boxes. Whether it's a big chain or a local, independent business, many items for sale in these stores can be particularly heavy and require appropriate packing materials. Providing they are not needed, many of these places should be happy to provide you with good quality boxes.

14. Warehouses and Storage Facilities

Whilst many storage companies may sell cardboard boxes to their customers, they may have used boxes either from people moving out of their storage containers or from deliveries. These used boxes may be available for free. Alternatively, if storage is a service you are considering utilising, you may be able to get a discount on boxes and packing materials.

Be aware that many of these places are located on the outskirts of cities so you may need to travel to them by car.

15. Restaurants and Cafes

Cafes, restaurants and other businesses will receive a few deliveries a week containing a variety of different-sized boxes. From small packing boxes to big bulk orders, they will have a range to choose from, many which would only be recycled or thrown away anyway.

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Moving Boxes FAQs

How Much Do Moving Boxes Cost?

Moving boxes vary in price depending on their size and where you buy them. They can, however, be quite expensive. We've researched a few examples to give you an idea of costs.

At Wilko, a StorePAK 1-2 Bed Moving Kit, consisting of 5 small boxes, 7 Medium Boxes and 3 large boxes, costs £55.

A set of 25 small packing boxes from Amazon costs £19.99, with a set of 5 large Heavy Duty Cardboard boxes from StorePAK on Argos costing £40.

Do Removal Companies Provide Moving Boxes?

Many removal companies can supply customers with moving boxes and other packing materials. Be aware that this often comes with an added cost depending on which company you use.

One benefit of using boxes from your removal company is that they will be of high quality. Good removalists will know what materials would be better suited to your needs. They may also be able to give you an estimate of how many boxes you'll need.

Can I Hire Someone to Pack for Me?

Packing is one of the services offered by many removal companies. You can opt for full professional packing services or a part-packing service. This allows you to pack some of your items, but heavier, valuable or more awkward items are packed by professionals. Always research house packing tips to keep goods in the best possible condition.

In the majority of cases, for a full or part pack, the company will supply their own boxes.

How Do I Secure My Moving Boxes?

The best way to secure packing boxes for a move is with good-quality packing tape. Make sure the box is closed properly and not overpacked. You can also buy "Fragile" tape relatively cheaply, which helps your removal company know which boxes are to be handled with extra care.

How Many Times Can Cardboard Boxes Be Reused?

The more often a box is used, the more wear it will likely have. With this in mind, you will need to make sure any fragile items are packed in sturdy boxes to avoid breakages. Cardboard boxes can be used multiple times but they will lose effectiveness after each use.

The best way to ensure there are no accidents is to stress test the boxes before moving day, so you know how much weight each box can safely hold.

Saving Money on Your Move

Now that you know where you can obtain a variety of cardboard boxes for moving, you can begin the packing process and continue organising your moving date. Don't forget to compare removal quotes with Compare My Move to save up to 70% on your overall moving costs.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.