Will Movers Move Items in Trash Bags?

Packing bulky, light, and non-breakable items in trash bags can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to cardboard boxes and totes.However, not all moving companies will move items packed in trash bags.It usually depends on –

  • Whether you’re moving locally or long-distance
  • What you intend to pack in trash bags
  • Whether your driver or crew chief is an employee or an owner-operator

To avoid moving day hassles and delays, ask about each company’s policy during the pre-move screening process.

But first, check out these helpful articles.

  • Best Interstate Movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, it’s worth hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews.
  • How much will your move cost? – Our moving cost calculator is a great resource. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.
  • Consider moving containers – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks. These are the best moving container companies.

Why use garbage bags for packing and moving?

Dealing with mountains of empty boxes after a move can be a pain in the neck.

You should use garbage bags sparingly, but the pros far outweigh the cons.


  • They’re inexpensive and reusable
  • Some are biodegradable
  • They’re great for filling tight spaces in moving trucks
  • You can use them for a variety of purposes


  • You can’t pack many items in trash bags
  • Cheap bags tear easily
  • Some movers won’t move items packed in garbage bags

Tips for using trash bags when moving

Buy high-quality, heavy-duty trash bags

There are big differences between cheap and expensive garbage bags.

Good ones maybe twice as expensive, but they probably won’t tear open during your move.

In addition, you may need to “double bag” cheap bags, so you’ll end up using more.

Choose extra-large outdoor bags.

Trash bags designed for outdoor use (grass clippings, leaves, and branches) are much thicker and tougher than indoor ones.

They also come in multiple sizes, so opt for the largest ones you can find.

Use bags with built-in ties

With regular bags, you’ll need to leave between 6 and 8 inches of space at the top to tie off with.

However, you can load bags with built-in ties all the way to the top.

In other words –

  • Nearly all of the interior space is usable
  • You’ll need less of them
  • The items packed inside are less likely to spill out during your move

If you’ve packed them to the gills, consider applying the extra tape, twine, rubber bands, or plastic zip ties to ensure they stay closed.

Pack smartly

To recap – trash bags should be reserved for bulky, soft, relatively light, and non-breakable items.

You should always pack in heavy, rigid, sharp, and breakable household goods corrugated boxes or plastic totes.

Remember, garbage bags only provide protection against dirt, grime, and moisture, not from breakage like cartons do.

Fold, pack, repeat…

It’s tempting to toss t-shirts, pants, and sweaters into trash bags haphazardly.

But here’s the problem –

Unfolded items take up way more space than neatly folded ones.

By folding first, you’ll use fewer bags and save money.

Likewise, if your trash bags are handled correctly during your move, you’ll spend less time refolding everything when you’re unpacking at your new home or apartment.

Pack hanging clothes in bags

Packing hanging clothes in trash bags isn’t a good idea on long-distance moves.

But on local moves, you’ll save tons of money on wardrobe boxes, and your clothes should arrive in good condition.

When using standard trash bags –

  • Cut a 3 or 4-inch opening in the bottom
  • Drape the open end over a bundle of hanging clothes so that the hanger hooks are protruding from the hole
  • Bind the hangers together with twine, tape, or zip ties
  • Tape or staple the bottom of the bag closed

If you’re using bags with ties –

  • Lower a handful of hanging clothes into the bag
  • Fasten the ties around the base of the hanger hooks

It’s best not to pack too many hanging clothes in each bag.

Did You Know?

Some movers offer free loaner or inexpensive rental wardrobes on local moves, so ask before stocking up on bags.

Squeeze the air out

Astronauts use vacuum-packed bags to utilize limited space efficiently.

But don’t worry, you won’t need to consult NASA or buy expensive vacuum bags before your next move.

However, squeezing as much air as possible from your bags after packing them will make them as small as possible.

Bag electronics

When moving cross-country or into storage, wrapping electronics in plastic bags is wise before packing them in boxes.

This extra step will protect them from dust and moisture.

Once they’re bagged, wrap each piece in white packing paper (newsprint) or a thick brown paper moving pad.

Just remember not to seal the bags too tightly.

Leaving the bag slightly open will allow the items inside to breathe.

Don’t mix indoor and outdoor items.

Outdoor items are more prone to mold, mildew, and insect infestation than things kept indoors.

Using space efficiently is important, but filling up the last half of an outdoor bag with clothes, pillows, and bedding isn’t a good idea.

Instead, use an extra bag to ensure that everything remains fresh, clean, and bug-free.

Use bags to move plants

Many movers won’t move plants, but some will if you’re moving locally.

Either way, they probably won’t guarantee that they’ll arrive alive and in one piece.

You can wrap trash bags around large potted plants to ensure water and soil don’t spill out into the moving truck.

To make sure bags stay in place, secure them to the pot with tape or twine, or gently wrap the ends around the base of the small tree or plant.

Line the bottom and sides of a medium carton with a large plastic trash bag for smaller houseplants and set the plants inside snugly.

If they’re in breakable ceramic pots, stuff rags or packing paper between them to prevent them from breaking as the moving van bumps up and down.

This also works well when moving plants in your car’s trunk or the bed of your pickup truck.


Chances are you won’t have that many trash bags on your move.

That said, clear labeling is still important.

Since you can’t write directly on bags with markers, it’s best to use colored stickers or adhesive tabs that you can write on.

On each label, write what’s inside and which room it came from.

What you can pack in bags

Garbage bags are suitable packing material for a variety of in and outdoor items.

It’s usually OK to pack the following Indoor items in trash bags-

  • Pillows and sofa cushions
  • Bedding and comforters
  • Throw rugs
  • Stuffed animals and plush toys
  • Sweaters, socks, t-shirts, and winter coats

Outdoor items –

  • Patio furniture cushions
  • Tarps
  • Rags
  • Doormats

What you can’t pack in trash bags

Garbage bags definitely come in handy when packing for a move.

Just keep in mind that you should always pack the following household goods in boxes –

  • Sharp items like knives, silverware, and tools
  • Heavy items like books and canned goods
  • Breakables like dishes, lamps, vases, electronics, and small appliances
  • Important documents like birth certificates, medical records, and passports
  • Hazardous materials
  • Liquids

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What size do trash bags come in?

Most trash bags come in small (up to about 10 gallons), medium (up to about 30 gallons), and large/extra-large (over 30 gallons).

Are trash bags biodegradable?

Some trash bags are biodegradable or compostable, which means when discarded, they’ll break down more quickly than ones that aren’t.

Does everything have to be in a box for movers?

Movers will generally pad large items like furniture and appliances that won’t fit into boxes. You should always pack relatively small loose items like lamps, dishes, pictures, clothes, and electronics in boxes before a move.

Can you move a dresser with clothes in it?

Many moving companies allow customers to keep light, non-breakable items like clothes and pillows in dresser drawers during a move.

Do movers work in the rain?

Moderate rain, yes, torrential thunderstorms and hurricanes, no. It’s usually up to the discretion of the driver or crew chief and often depends on the storm’s severity and the likelihood of damage and personal injury.

Not what you were looking for?

Check out other categories that can help you find the information you need!

See All
Hide All