Most of us start packing as the first thing we do to prepare for a move. It is the one thing in a sea of unfamiliar activities that we know how to do. Many of us, however, do not realize that our homes are full of common items, like hairspray and bottled bleach, that are not safe to transport. Find out what your mover will and will not haul before you start packing. This will not only save you from having to unpack and remove these prohibited items, but it will give you time to find another way to get them to your new home, if possible.
Ask your salesperson for a list of prohibited items. These are generally called household hazardous materials, and include things like flammables, aerosols, corrosives and poisons. More simply put: gasoline, hairspray, lye/pool acid and bug spray. Some movers also will not haul liquids of any type, while others ask for the cartons containing them to be marked with an 'arrows up' symbol to prevent spillage. Every moving company has different rules regarding what they will carry, but most all of them will not cover damage caused by items that were Packed by Owner.
There is more likely to be damage caused by leakage of cleaning fluids -- like bleach -- than there is any violent explosion or fire. The problem lies in the fact that that leaking fluid is going to drip its way to the floor and spread out -- even in the short time span of a local move. Aerosols can explode in the summer heat as can propane BBQ tanks. Gasoline from lawnmowers and pesticide vapors expand in the heat and can permeate everything in the truck.
Some of the worst damage I have seen was caused by a fire extinguisher. The driver loaded it for the customer without giving it much thought because it was, after all, a fire extinguisher. Somehow the pin vibrated out or it shifted in the load and it emptied itself: everywhere. Because moving trucks are loaded so tightly, any compressed gas or foam has less free space to travel in so they can cover the length of the truck in no time, and then settle on and permeate everything they touch.
All of these things are better and safer being hauled in leak-proof plastic bins in your car.
Other items to consider before you move are live plants. If you plan to move your houseplants, ask your salesperson first, as some movers will move them, some will with size restrictions and some will not move them at all. Those that do agree to move them will generally not provide insurance coverage on them. Plants themselves are fragile enough, especially in the summer heat, but it is often the pots that case the most problems. Many leak or are weakened by the combination of water and sun and can break in transit. Some large, indoor tree-size pots can easily weigh in excess of 500 pounds, because the pot is like a 55 gallon drum of wet dirt. Plants can also carry bugs that tend to migrate once they are placed inside a moving vehicle, spreading out onto your furniture and your mover's pads.
I do not move larger plants or trees for all of those reasons, especially the bugs. If I hauled plants for one customer and got bugs in my moving pads or truck, everyone that I moved after them would be at risk of being infested with someone else's ants, aphids or whatever. I will, when pressured, haul small houseplants in a plastic trash bag tied off at the top inside a moving carton. This prevents leakage, breakage, bug migration and the box makes the plant more manageable to load and secure.
If possible, you may do better (and cheaper) with having a friend with a pickup truck, landscaper or the delivery service from the nursery where you bought your plants/trees, pick up and deliver them for you.