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Whether you’re moving down the street, to a different state or even internationally, you’ll likely have to pack your treasured belongings in cardboard boxes. When it comes to those seemingly mundane brown boxes, not all are created equally. Boxes come in different varieties—small, medium, large, wardrobe to name a few—so it’s important to understand the purpose of each box before starting your adventures in packing.

Standard boxes

Small boxes. The smallest standard boxes available, typically 1.5 cubic feet, are designed to store and transport lightweight objects like books, DVDs, kitchen utensils and gadgets, dishes, breakables, lamps and lampshades. Keep the weight of these boxes under 50 lbs. to prevent them from bursting open.

Medium boxes. These boxes are about 3.0 cubic feet and are ideal for heavier, small objects. Fill these boxes with heavier books, small kitchen appliances, lamp bases, cookware and more. Keep contents under 65 lbs.

Large boxes. These boxes are 6.0 cubic feet and can hold up to 70 lbs. Although they can hold a larger amount of volume and weight, avoid overstuffing them because these boxes can be difficult to move when too heavy. This variety of cardboard boxes are ideal for large, lightweight items such as pillows, comforters, blankets, stuffed animals, toys and couch cushions.

Specialty boxes

Wardrobe boxes. There are two types of wardrobe boxes: hanging and lay down. Hanging wardrobes come in a variety of sizes and are ideal for clothing or other items that can’t be packed flat (like chandeliers). Lay down wardrobe boxes are made for items that are best transported when folded, like t-shirts and pants. Be sure not to over pack these boxes, as they are not intended for a heavy load.

Dishpacks. These specialty boxes are designed for delicate dishware, drinking glasses or bottles of liquor or wine. Always check the weight limits and don’t exceed it. When packing breakables, always err on the side of caution.

Mattress carton. Some people opt for cardboard mattress cartons when moving to protect their expensive bedding. Mattress boxes are great for protecting the mattress from punctures during moving or storage, but as an alternative, many moving companies or packing providers supply plastic mattress bags. These are easier to maneuver and provide excellent protection against dirt and dust, but may not protect against punctures.

Mirror carton. Mirror boxes are special boxes that are expandable to fit oversized mirrors, glass tabletops or other fragile, similarly shaped items. For extra protection, always bubble wrap mirrors before packing them.

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