Skip to main content

What To Do With Cardboard Moving Boxes

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Wondering what to do with cardboard boxes after you’ve moved in and your items are neatly tucked away in your new home? Here’s our guide for reusing, repurposing or recycling your moving boxes.

Close up of a woman in a white t-shirt and shorts holding a cardboard box

Maybe you’re already settled into your new home. Or perhaps you’re facing an upcoming move and want to plan for every stage of the process, including the aftermath. Either way, good on you.

There’s probably one question that’s plaguing you. A question that plagues everyone worldwide who has relocated: what to do with the cardboard boxes. Stack them forever in your pantry, at the expense of the rice and beans? Or toss them in a bin and then spend the next hour shoving them down, hoping that they’ll fit?

You want your new home all cleaned up in time to kick back and relax this summer. This year, you can do just that with easy tips on cleaning up after your move. Get ready to enjoy Victoria Day parades, summertime barbecues, and Canada Day festivities in your new home free of cardboard box clutter.

Sound good? Of course it does. Here’s what you’ll need to do with those pesky cardboard boxes and slay that mess today.

Store Sturdy, Reusable Cardboard Boxes Intelligently

An assortment of open cardboard boxes on the floor

The first step when wondering what to do with cardboard boxes is to assess whether or not they have any life left. Many of them do. In that case, it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in your efforts to declutter. Here’s how to save boxes that still have life in them.

Break Your Cardboard Boxes Down

It’s also important when wondering what to do with cardboard boxes not to go willy-nilly in your desire to take care of them. Boxes are terrible trip hazards, and can compromise safety. To combat this, stack them carefully at one side of a room and process them one by one. Before you get started, you should also set out a workstation consisting of:

  • A box cutter or sharp knife
  • A trash can
  • Some acetone and cotton balls

Now pull one box toward you at a time, slitting it down the center flaps on bottom and opening them up so you can flatten the box.

Remove Excess Tape from Boxes

Packing tape on top of a blue and yellow background

Once the box is flat, time to address the tape.

Nothing is more annoying than extra tape hanging off your boxes. It’s too old to stick anymore, but not too old to catch on things or rip the nap off your clothing. Luckily, most of the tape is easy to pull off, but you’ll often find stubborn patches. You can choose to leave them, or you can use a few simple tricks you can use to remove it, the best one being to dab at clinging tape with acetone and cotton balls until it lifts and you can tear it away.

Store Cardboard Boxes Upright

It’s easy to throw boxes in a horizontal pile, but then what? They take up at least a square metre, if not more. Is that really the best use of your garage, closet or back deck all summer?

Answer: No. Instead, find somewhere to store your boxes upright. Some ideas include:

  • Behind shelving in the garage
  • In sheds (but only if they’re climate controlled)
  • At the side of a large closet
  • Up in the attic (where you may have space to lie them flat)

Pro tip: Keep the spiders away with essential oil sprays, citrus peels or some cedar chips.

Get Rid of Old Cardboard Boxes the Smart Way

A pile of empty cardboard boxes

The other main thing you can do with cardboard boxes is to recycle them. Sometimes they’re just not solid enough for another move, in which case it’s important to dispose of them properly.

Note: You should never burn them in your fireplace, even in small amounts as tinder, because a lot of cardboard is augmented with chemicals.

Prepare Boxes for Recycling

A recycling bin against a white building filled with cardboard

If you’re going to recycle boxes, you must again remove the tape from them. The tape is made of plastic and adhesives, which can ruin paper pulp and make the entire batch of recycled pulp unsuitable for future products. For that reason, it’s even more important when recycling to remove every last bit of tape – no matter how annoying it is.

For further instructions about how to prepare paper products for recycling, check this out. It’s a handy guide that applies for almost anywhere. (For Toronto-specific recycling instructions, find out more here.)

Recycle a Few at a Time

The easiest way to recycle is to put as much cardboard as you can into your bin each week. It may take you a few visits from the recycling truck before you get rid of all that cardboard, so if you’re looking for a quicker solution, just find a local drop-off depot.

Use Cardboard Boxes for Art Projects

Wondering what to do with cardboard boxes that you no longer need, but seem to have a little life left? Sometimes the cardboard itself is still nice and sturdy, even though the joints no longer hold together. In that case, why not keep it for the kids? Cardboard is great for puppet shows, homemade easels and toy shields for your own little Knights of the Realm.

In this case, remove the tape, cut the box at the seams into flat pieces, cut them again to the desired size for projects, and store them in an art cabinet or closet.

Use Old Cardboard Boxes for Storage

Cardboard boxes filled with old books

Some boxes aren’t strong enough to stand up to the rigours of a move, but can still help protect your items in storage. If you need a place to keep extra items for a few months, and will only transport them in town later, an ailing box is just the ticket – and can save you money on purchasing new ones.

Just make sure you get a storage unit that is climate controlled and moisture-free, otherwise your box may degrade, jeopardizing the items within. If you’re planning on renting a storage unit, do your research and choose one just big enough for your needs. That way, you avoid paying more than you need to while your items are in their home-away-from-home.

Et voilà! You’ve now read the only guide you’ll ever need to on what to do with cardboard boxes, so don’t hesitate to refer back again and again.

Questions? Feel free to get in touch with Bluebird Storage today!

Need help? Our support team is available 24/7 at 1-844-855-NEST