Packing Information

From preparing children and pets for the move to protecting family heirlooms and plants, American Red Ball has the answers.

  1. What Not to Ship
  2. Moving Your Children, Pets and Plants
  3. Moving Special Items
  4. Professional Packing Techniques

1. What Not to Ship

For safety purposes, certain items will not be accepted for shipment by your mover. They include, but are not limited to:

Unsealed/Perishable Food

  • Opened containers
  • Frozen food
  • Items requiring refrigeration

Combustible Liquids

  • Alcoholic beverages (any single container over one gallon)
  • Alcohols
  • Fluid Cleaners (containing combustible material, like spot cleaners, etc.)
  • Antifreeze Compounds

Corrosive Liquids

  • Acids (muriatic, nitric, etc.)
  • Dyes
  • Battery with Acid
  • Disinfectants
  • Flame retardant compounds
  • Paint
  • Iron/steel rust preventing/removing compounds
  • Paint Remover


  • Ammunition
  • Black Powder
  • Dynamite, plastics, etc.
  • Blasting Caps
  • Explosive Auto Alarms
  • Fireworks
  • Fuse Lighters
  • Igniters
  • Primers
  • Propellants
  • Smokeless Powder
  • Signal Flares
  • Souvenir explosive instruments of war
  • Spear guns having charged heads
  • Toy propellants or smoke devices


  • Acetone
  • Ammonia
  • Adhesives (glues, cements, plastics)
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Cleaning Fluids
  • Compound 3 Weed Killers
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Leather Dressing or Bleach
  • Enamel
  • Oil Stains for Wood
  • Gasoline
  • Paint or Varnish Remover
  • Insecticides
  • Petroleum Products
  • Kerosene
  • Polishes/Shoe Polishes, liquid
  • Lacquer
  • Propane Tanks
  • Shellac
  • Propane or other Gas
  • Stain Removers
  • Turpentine
  • Lighter Fluids
  • Varnish
  • Wood Filler
  • Other regulated material termed combustible, corrosive, or flammable

Gases, Compressed

  • Engine Starting Fluids
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Gases Used in Welding
  • Aerosol Cans (containing a flammable gas, flammable liquid, toxic or corrosive substance)
  • Scuba Diving Tanks:

Only those containing not more than 25 pounds per square inch at 70 degrees Fahrenheit may be shipped. Written certification of purging serviced by dive shop or licensed individual -— a tag or label must be affixed to the tank certifying service was per-formed. Completely empty tank, remove the valve, and replace valve with plug designed for it.

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

(in decorative lamps)

Power Equipment

Completely drain fuel from engine power driven equipment (motorcycles, mopeds, lawn mowers, boats, snowmobiles, jet skis, etc.) Run until engine stalls.

  • Drain all oil and water.
  • Allow the fuel tank and lines to remain open for 24 hours prior to loading.
  • Disconnect nonspillable gel-type batteries and tape the ends to prevent short circuit (Only nonspillable gel-type batteries are authorized.) Batteries containing acid not acceptable.

2. Moving Your Children, Pets and Plants

From preparing children and pets for the move to protecting family heirlooms and plants, American Red Ball has the answers.

Of course, you know your children and pets best, but here are a few generic tips that might help you come up with ideas to reassure them about your move. The major change of a long distance move is often frightening for children and pets, so you’ll want to take special care.


Decide when you tell children they are moving based on their age. Small children who do not have a clear concept of time do not need to be told until shortly before a move, when they will notice the activity around them. Older children should be involved sooner so they can inform friends and adjust to the idea.

Turn fear of change into a sense of adventure. Ask children to label the boxes and let them help pack their own (non-fragile) toys.

Have each child pack a “moving package” with games they can play with as they travel to the new home.

Let them help come up with ideas for what will go into your “moving survival kit,” a box of essential items you will want to carry with you. For example: flashlight, toilet paper, paper towels, personal care items, coffee, wipes, coffee pot, etc. In other words, items you will need in your new home until the moving van arrives.

Encourage children to draw on the boxes that will hold their belongings and encourage them to write little notes on them for the driver.

Identify your current location and your new location on a map. Trace the route and, once you’re traveling, show the children where you are along the way.

Have a “going away” party the children can invite their friends to. Ask their friends to bring phone numbers, addresses and pictures with them to exchange. Play games and talk to them about ways they can stay in touch and remain friends.

If your children are old enough, encourage them to send e-mails or even maintain a website. (If they develop a website, caution them about what is acceptable to post and review the site regularly for safety purposes.)

If you have small children, we recommend that you obtain child care for them the day of the move for safety reasons and for your convenience. Heavy items will be carried around throughout the day and doors will be opened often. Also, you’ll be busy with paperwork and won’t be able to devote the attention to them that you normally would at a time when they will need more attention, rather than less.

Take pictures of your old home, friends, during the trip to the new home and the new home itself, etc. The entire family can then make a project out of assembling a scrapbook about the experience.


Your pets are a part of your family. They will probalby be frightened and confused, so you need to maintain as normal an environment as possible for them.

If possible, place pets in a kennel or with a friend the day of the move. If that’s not possible, put them in a small room clearly lableled “DO NOT OPEN  DOOR – PETS INSIDE.”  Make sure they have food and water and check on them regularly to reassure them.

Do not put pets outside, even if the area is fenced (unless it’s a kennel area that will not be entered), since there will be a great deal of activity and coming and going.

If you have not already placed identification tags on your pets and had microphips implanted, please do so now for their safety during and after the move.

Be sure your pets are up-to-date on their shots and that you have a copy of their records.

Ask your veterinarian for tips on moving your pet. Some pets actually need to be tranquilized. If your pet cannot travel with you, ask your veterinarian or your American Red Ball agent for the name of a professional pet moving service


Several things will impact whether plants will survive a move: the type of plant being moved, the distance of the move, and the health of the plant. Moving vans have no windows for light and plants will not have air or water during the move. Our advice is to sell plants, give them away, or dispose of them.

Many states have regulations about plant transportation into or out of the area (quarantine and pest-free certifications are examples), so contact the State Department of Agriculture at both origin and destination for details.Ask your American Red Ball agent for our gypsy moth brochure.

If you are still willing to risk moving your plants, and you are within transit and mileage limitations, here are some basic steps to take.

4 weeks before moving

Plants should be in plastic containers. If they are not, repot them to avoid breakage (using same size pot). Give plants time to adjust to the new location after the move, then repot back into their original containers.

3 weeks before moving

Purchase heavy duty moving cartons from your American Red Ball agent. Prune large plants so they will fit into the containers. Ask a nursery for recommendations on which plants to prune and the proper pruning method for each type of plant.

2 weeks before moving

Make sure plants are free of insects, parasites and molds. If necessary, use insecticides carefully and sparingly.

2 days before moving

Water plants normally; do not water excessively.

Moving day

Punch holes in the box for air. Pack the plants that day so they will have light and air as long as possible. Anchor plants securely in the box by packing paper tightly around the pot only. Load plants last and unload them first!!


Live plants cannot be accepted if the shipment will be placed in storage.

3. Moving Special Items

Special Items Require Special Handling

Yes, we can! American Red Ball is a full service household goods carrier and we can move just about anything, be it a car, piano, hot tub, pool table, etc.

We utilize professional techniques to protect and move your belongings. Your upholstered furniture will be shrink wrapped to protect it from dust, snags and mars, then it will be pad wrapped for additional protection. Leather furniture will be pad wrapped only, to prevent damage to the leather. We’ll use dollies, piano boards and other devices to move your larger items.

Mirror cartons can be customized to fit large pictures and mirrors.

Crates can be specially built to size if needed to protect items such as grandfather clocks, slate tops for pool tables, etc. Your American Red Ball agent can advise you about crates and what they would cost.

Third Party Service may be needed for non-moving services. While we have the skill to move items, we do not have specific knowledge of your household items and how they work or are assembled. Some will require special knowledge about electrical or water hook-ups, specific product knowledge, etc. Here are some examples of tasks that need to be completed before the mover arrives. If you are not comfortable performing these tasks, ask your American Red Ball agent for the name of a third party service provider or contract with a company in your area.

  • Disconnect appliances from power, gas and water;
  • Stabilize/lock down mechanical parts, such as the workings of a grandfather clock;
  • Have swing sets, weight sets, trampolines, and other items with moveable parts disassembled and ready to move.

4. Professional Packing Techniques

American Red Ball is a full service mover, so we can complete the packing for you. However, if you prefer to complete the packing yourself for organizational purposes or to save money. If you’ll be completing all or part of the packing, here are a few professional packing tips to assist you.

STEP 1: Have the right tools for the job on hand.

  • Use genuine moving boxes. They are of consistent size so they will not shift during transportation.and are heavier weight corrugated material to prevent crushing. These are available from your American Red Ball sales representative.
  • Use professional packing tape, rather than masking tape or other types of tape. It adheres best and provides the proper support to prevent the box from splitting open. Packing tape is available from your American Red Ball sales representative.
  • Have a supply of plain newsprint and newspaper. Newspaper you may save to use is free, but you want some plain newsprint for porcelain and other porous materials. Newsprint can transfer onto such materials and leave permanent stains. Plain newsprint is available from your American Red Ball sales representative.
  • Use bold permanent markers to identify the room and contents of the box, your last name and city and state of destination. TIP: Use different colors for each room for easy identification.
  • Ask your American Red Ball sales representative for free box stickers. You can apply messages to the boxes for the driver: fragile/glass, unload first, load last, etc.
  • Ask your American Red Ball agent for a PARTS BOX sticker. Apply it to a small box, along with a load last and unload first sticker. Place parts for items you disassemble like weight sets, swing sets, lawn furniture, etc. in individual plastic bags and write what the go to on the bag with permanent marker. Place the bag in the parts box. When the packers or driver arrive, they can add parts for the items they need to disassemble to the box. This way, all your parts will be together and easy to identify.
  • If your move includes multiple delivery points, clearly identify which boxes are to be delivered to which location.

STEP 2: Plan your packing.

  • Pack seasonal or rarely used items you know will not be needed before the move first.
  • Dispose of any hazardous, flammable items. Refer to our hazardous materials section.
  • If you have plants, we recommend you give them away or sell them. Most plants die from lack of air, light and water during a long distance move. If you plan to try to move them anyway, refer to our section on Children, Pets and Plants.
  • Make a list of what items will need to be packed the night before or morning of the move itself: sheets, a few towels, etc.
  • Plan your packing so that no box weighs more than 50 pounds, if at all possible.
  • Pack like items together – fragile items together, kitchen items together, etc.  Pack by weight – heavy items with heavy items and light items with light items.

STEP 3: Begin your packing


Wrap each book, then lay them flat, alternating the spine and open side from book to book. Use book cartons (1.5) since they are smaller to control the weight. Books are deceptively heavy.


Carefully wrap each piece in unprinted newsprint. You don’t want ink to transfer and permanently stain your stoneware, porcelain or china.

After wrapping each piece, put about three plates together and wrap them again. Place plates on their edge in the box. Nest 3-4 wrapped bowls at a time and wrap them again. Add newspaper cushioning between each set. Put larger pieces on the bottom of the box and build up to the lighter weight dishes. Cushion all sides with at least two inches of crumpled newspaper. Ask your American Red Ball agent about the advantage of dish pack cartons and special inserts designed for dishes and glasses.


Your American Red Ball agent has wardrobe cartons for clothing that reduce wrinkles and make moving clothing easier. You just remove clothing from the closet still on the hangers and hang them in the wardrobe box for transportation. Clothing in bureaus may be left in the drawers or packed in boxes. We recommend covering the drawer with unprinted newsprint if clothes are left inside.


Most collectors save the original boxes with formed padding, since they are often part of the value. If possible, pack your items in their original boxes. If not, wrap each item with paper, then with bubble wrap, then with more paper. At least the first layer should be unprinted newsprint. Cushion between pieces and cushion all sides of the box with at least two inches of paper.


Unplug at least 24 hours prior to packing. Secure or remove any movable parts, cords, etc. If possible, use the original box. If you don’t have the box, visit an electronics store and see if they have a suitable box. Failing that, use several layers of paper for each piece. Generously and tightly pad with paper between each item and allow at least two inches of crumpled paper cushion on all sides of the box. Use bubble wrap, foam sheets, comforters, blankets or towels to provide extra protection. You do not want them to shift. If you have bubble wrap or other special cushioning material, we recommend you use it. Identify the box with FRAGILE and THIS SIDE UP stickers on all sides. Securely seal top and bottom of the box. Wait at least 24 hours after delivery to plug in your electronics so they can reach room temperature.


Use dish packs with special dividers, available from your American Red Ball agent. Wrap each glass item with several layers of paper, then place in individual slots. Wrap the stems of stemware, stuff the goblet, then wrap the entire piece in multiple layers of crumpled paper.


Remove the shade, halo and light bulb  Wrap the halo and the lamp base separately in unprinted newsprint. Place in the box base side down and generously surround with newspaper. Wrap shades separately. They can then be nested and wrapped again before being placed in the box. As always, cushion all sides of the box with at least two inches of paper.


Use paper generously to wrap mirrors, pictures and glass, then pack in special mirror cartons. Always stand glass, pictures and mirrors on their edge.


You may use linens and pillows as cushioning for delicate items as long as they will not become torn or soiled in the process. Otherwise, line large boxes (since these items are lightweight)with clean paper and pack linens, comforters, blankets and pillows together.


Clean your shoes. Wrap each shoe separately. After wrapping each shoe, wrap each pair together and place in the original shoe box if you have it or cushion with crumpled paper between each set. Several pairs of shoes will fit into a moving carton.


Safety First: Any item with a sharp edge should be wrapped sufficiently to prevent it from poking through the box.

Silver: Nest together and wrap securely so they do not shift and scratch. Wrap in plastic to prevent tarnishing. Place in your silver chest, then wrap the chest itself.

Flatware: Nest together and wrap securely so they do not shift and scratch. Add a cushion of newspaper between each set.

Utensils: Wrap individually and cushion between so that the layers in the box are evenly distributed.


In the case of especially large or valuable items, like antiques, a slate pool table top, grandfather clock, etc. your American Red Ball agent can arrange to have special crates built to protect such items.