The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes

Learn about the best ways to save money on clothing shipments by using the right packaging and reducing your postage costs
the cheapest way to ship clothes
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So, you’re an online seller on eBay or Depop looking to save money on shipping clothes. Or, maybe you’re relocating and are figuring out ways to get your clothes and garments sent to your new space. Whatever the reason, shipping clothes isn’t as easy as folding up a hoodie and slapping a label on it…and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll probably pay way more to ship than you initially anticipated. Lucky for you, Shipping School has got you covered. This guide is all about the cheapest way to ship clothes, so that when it’s time for you to send them, you don’t lose your shirt when you—well, lose your shirt. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

USPS is the Cheapest Carrier for Shipping Clothes

Far away, the cheapest shipping carrier for sending clothes is the US Postal Service. USPS offers the best rates for smaller, lightweight packages, which is exactly the category that most clothing shipments fall into. Generally speaking, clothing shipments are anywhere from under 1 pound (lb), to a few pounds if you’re sending a lot of garments at once. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, USPS will always offer the cheapest rates, and a wide variety of services that meet your needs for smaller, lightweight shipments.  UPS, on the other hand, offers the best rates for larger, heavier packages, while FedEx specializes in business deliveries and niche shipments.

Why USPS and not UPS?

You may try plugging in your shipment info in some UPS rate calculators, and it might appear cheaper than USPS at first glance. However, before you buy any labels, be aware that UPS imposes all kinds of surcharges on top of your postage cost a lot of times. UPS charges weird surcharges for all sorts of reasons, such as for delivering to a residential address, or if you hand them your package on a Saturday. USPS, on the other hand, doesn’t charge you anything at all on top of your postage costs (unless you pay for inaccurate postage or use the incorrect box; in that case, you’ll get hit with charges from the USPS Automated Package Verification System).

First Class Package is the Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes

Of all the services USPS offers, First Class Package Service offers the cheapest rates for clothing shipments. This is the cheapest shipping service that USPS offers, with rates starting at just under $4 per package depending on where you buy your postage online. First Class Package is also a fast air-based service, with delivery typically taking place anywhere between 1-3 business days. Due to all of this, most clothing shipments that shippers hand off to USPS go via First Class Package service.

Note that you’ll need to provide your own packaging for First Class Package shipments, since USPS doesn’t provide free packaging options for this service like they do for Priority Mail shipments. We’ll get to the packaging part in a bit, though!

If Your Shipment is Over 1 Pound, Use Priority Mail or Parcel Select Ground

Sometimes clothing shipments will end up weighing more than 1 pound, like if you’re sending multiple clothing items in one package. When this is the case, the next-best option after First Class Package is weight-based Priority Mail. If your clothing is tinyy enough, you also may be able to fit it into the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope, which only runs $7.75, no matter where you’re shipping to in the United States.

Another alternative to First Class Package and Priority Mail is Parcel Select Ground service (or “Retail Ground” at the Post Office). USPS drastically lowered the price of Ground service as a part of their 2022 rate changes, and as a result, we’re seeing a lot of shippers make the switch to ground service. Parcel Select Ground is becoming more and more popular with shippers looking to save money, who ultimately decide to trade off slower delivery for cheaper rates with ground service. In fact, Parcel Select Ground rates now beat Priority Mail prices about 50% of the time!

If shipping speed doesn’t matter so much to you, you can save way more money on some clothing shipments with Parcel Select/Retail Ground postage now than you will if you ship with Priority Mail.

Use Poly Mailers Instead of Boxes to Save the Most Money on Postage Costs

If you’re shipping with First Class Package, every ounce goes towards getting the cheapest possible rate for your shipment. Since that’s the case, we always suggest using poly mailers to ship your clothes instead of a rigid cardboard box. Poly mailers are lightweight alternatives to corrugated cardboard packaging options, and in some cases, those couple of ounces that you can keep off can be the difference between more than a dollar in savings. When you’re shipping a ton of packages, every little bit of savings adds up!

Clothing also isn’t fragile by any means, and doesn’t require protection like some other items do inside of rigid cardboard boxes with additional packing material. That’s just another reason to stuff your clothes inside poly mailers when it’s time to ship! If you’re on the hunt for poly mailers, you can pick some up on the ULINE website, or on Amazon.

Get the Deepest Discounts on USPS Labels with Online Shipping Software

As is the case with shipping literally anything else, you should never go to the Post Office to ship your packages! Instead, use shipping software to buy discounted postage online.

When you buy labels with online shipping software, you don’t ; you also get access to special levels discounts that can save you tons of money. Shipping carriers like USPS (and others) typically reserve these discounts for huge commercial shippers sending more than 50,000 packages per year. However, the best shipping software companies hook their customers up with these discounts for free.

For USPS shippers, this level of discounts is called Commercial Pricing, which features much more deeply-discounted rates than the Retail Pricing tier which you’d pay at the Post Office. In some cases, Commercial Pricing discounts can save you up to 68% off of what you’d pay to ship clothes with First Class Package Service at your local Post Office!

Pro Tip: There are a ton of different shipping software companies out there. Depending on what you’re looking for and what your business needs, some options may be better than others. If you’re looking for a place to start, a great way to do research is by checking out our Reviews page.

Frequently Asked Questions: Shipping Clothes and How to Save Money on Clothing Shipments

Below are three of the questions we hear most frequently about shipping clothes, and how to save the most money doing it.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Clothes?

The cost of shipping clothes depends on a variety of factors. The three factors that affect shipping costs are: how big your package is, how much it weighs, and how far it needs to travel. Generally speaking, the smaller and lighter your package is, the less it will cost to ship it. For First Class Package Service, rates start at under $4 per package; for weight-based Priority Mail, rates start a little over $7 per package, give or take. Since costs can vary so wildly, the best way to get an accurate quote for your particular shipment is to plug all of your information into this real-time Rates calculator and see what USPS services pop up for you.

What is the Best Service for Sending Clothes?

For packages under 1 lb, the best service for sending clothes is First Class Package. This is the cheapest shipping service that USPS offers. Rates start at just under $4 per package, and delivery takes 1-3 business days to anywhere in the United States. For packages over 1 pound, Priority Mail is the next-best option. Rates start at a couple of extra dollars more than First Class Package, but you also get built-in USPS insurance. Delivery for Priority Mail packages also takes 1-3 business days. That said, if you’re okay with longer delivery times, you can often save more money now by shipping your clothes via Parcel Select Ground service, since USPS lowered rates for ground service drastically in 2022.

Can I Save Money on Shipping Clothes?

You can save money on shipping clothes by buying discounted postage through online shipping software. On top of allowing you to print your own postage at home, shipping software companies allow you to access special levels of discounts that USPS and other carriers typically only reserve for huge commercial shippers. For USPS, this level of discounts is known as Commercial Pricing, and can end up saving you up to 68% off of what you’d pay to ship the same package at the Post Office with USPS First Class Package Service.

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