Is storing household or other items in cardboard boxes or plastic containers better? There is no simple answer to this question because so much depends on what you want to store, where you store it, and for how long. In general, there are three main criteria for making this decision: cost vs. value, sturdiness, and protection, and how easy they are to use, fill, stack, and store.

Cardboard vs. Plastic Cost Comparison

There is no question that a single cardboard box costs less than a plastic bin. A bin could cost around $5-$10 depending on the size, and a comparable box would only cost $1-$2.50 each.

Boxes frequently come in multi-packs or sellers require a minimum purchase to ship, however. If you do not need multiple units, plastic may win out.

Also, plastic containers would last quite a bit longer than their cardboard counterparts. This increases the overall value even at a higher price point.

How Well Do Boxes or Bins Protect What’s Inside?

Any container could hold any item, but its safety may be in question. Cardboard is best for uniform items that cannot crush. Because the paper material can crush, tear, or shred itself, it offers reduced protection for items like glassware, important papers, or collectibles. If you wish to store these things in a box, use plenty of packing materials like bubble wrap or peanuts and fill the boxes as evenly as possible.

Cardboard also suffers from changeable temperatures, moisture, and bugs. Any item stored in these boxes must have a water-proof cover to prevent damage or mildew growth. They are better for indoor, climate controlled storage.

Some plastic bins are relatively flexible while others are quite rigid. A major benefit is that they will stay mostly unchanged over time and will not rot, collapse, or get ripped up under ordinary circumstances. Irregularly-shaped items like statuary, antique dolls, or craft projects do not have to take up the entire space inside the bin to stay safe.

Easy to Use? Easy to Store?

Cardboard boxes stack easily when they are filled all the way to the top and carefully taped. Care must be taken to put the heavier, sturdier ones on the bottom of the pile and those holding breakable items on top. With plastic bins, this is not as important. They are manufactured to fit base to lid safely, and their rigid construction minimizes the chance of collapse or catastrophe due to uneven piles.

When you have a lot of items to store in a closet, basement, attic, or storage facility, you want the best possible case to keep your items safe. When it comes down to cardboard boxes vs. plastic containers, there is no clear winner. Assess each storage project separately and use the right option for the job.

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