How to Break Down a Cardboard Box

S. A. Holt

How many times a year do you think you bring boxes into your home? With the increase in Internet buying, many people are receiving packages delivered directly to their doors weekly with each purchase in a cardboard box. Of course, a few of them are handy.

They make good storage containers for Christmas decorations and old clothing, but what do you do with the rest of them? Perhaps you cram them into the trash can or dumpster, hoping that they'll fit and you won't need the room they're displacing later in the week when the garbage starts to pile up. What about a month down the road when you need a box to package your niece's birthday present? The answer to this dilemma of boxes either stored or thrown away is to flatten the cardboard boxes, save the ones you might need later and efficiently dispose of the rest with a minimum of fuss.


Box cutters dull quickly. Many are now available with extra blades included in the package. This is a convenient way to make sure that you always have a sharp box cutter blade. For reassembling boxes, you'll need a roll of packing tape. Packing tape is available at your local variety or home repair store and usually comes with a handy dispenser. Knocked down cardboard boxes can be useful tools. They can be used to drag heavy objects. They can also be used as working surfaces for craft projects, under cars to catch oil drips, or as raw materials for school projects. Having a few handy can be an inexpensive and fast fix for those unexpected household challenges.


Box cutters use a razor blade that can either be retracted or is permanently affixed to the tip of the handle. Always purchase a cutter with a retractable blade and only deploy the blade when you are about to use it. After using the box cutter, retract the blade and keep the cutter in a safe place away from children. Never use wrapping tape to secure boxes. Strapping tape is made with strengthening threads designed to hold a box securely.

  1. Make sure that the top of the cardboard box is open and that the flaps on all four sides move freely up and down.

  2. Turn the box upside down and use a box cutter to slit the packing tape along the center bottom of the box. The bottom of most cardboard boxes is formed the same way as the top, in four pieces, with the longer two side flaps held in place with packing tape.

  3. Run the box cutter under the two flaps on each end of the cardboard box, freeing the tape at the edges.

  4. Pull all four flaps straight up.

  5. Lift the box until the top four flaps, which are now on the bottom, are free of the floor.

  6. Twist the box until it collapses on itself. The box will now be flat, but quite a bit longer than it was originally. This will make it easier to store. It will also make it easier to dispose of.