The Cheapest Way to Ship Liquids and Beverages

Learn the cheapest way to ship liquids and packaged beverages, and which carrier to use
ship liquids and beverages with USPS to save the most money
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In case you spent this summer living underneath a rock, you’ve likely noticed that the American beverage market is booming. Between La Croix, White Claw, and the scores of new water brands popping up daily, packaged beverages are everywhere. As a result, eCommerce retailers are hopping in on the action and starting to sell tons of liquids and beverages online. If you’re one of those retailers, or if you’re just trying to learn about the best ways to ship liquid, this guide has got you covered. Let’s crack open the can and see what’s inside!

The US Postal Service is the Cheapest Carrier Option to Ship Liquids

If you’re looking to ship water or other liquids, USPS is the best choice. From a broad view, USPS offers the best mix of affordable rates and quick delivery times. More specifically, USPS offers specially-discounted mail classes such as the dimension-based Priority Mail Cubic. This “secret” mail class is like any other Priority Mail Service, with delivery times between 1 and 3 business days. However, it is priced based on dimensions and not weight. Therefore, you can load your packages up with as much packaged liquids as you can fit, and the cost of shipping won’t change! Priority Mail Cubic alone makes USPS the perfect carrier for shipping small, heavy packages like boxes containing liquids.

Pro Tip: No matter what you’re shipping, it’s good to know what each carrier’s strengths are. Generally speaking, UPS is the best choice for shipping large, heavy items, and FedEx specializes in overnight delivery.

Make Sure Your Liquids Don’t Contain Hazardous Material or Alcohol

Sending liquids with USPS such as canned beverages shouldn’t cause you any problems, since they are perfectly legal to ship. However, you should always double-check that your liquids don’t contain any hazardous or flammable materials. There are special protocols in place that USPS makes you follow if your shipment contains hazardous materials, such as only shipping via ground transportation. That means you’ll only be able to ship your liquids Parcel Select Ground (with shipping software), or Retail Ground (at the Post Office).

Also, USPS completely prohibits the shipment of alcohol. So, you won’t be able to use USPS if your shipment contains any trace of alcohol. In that case, you’ll need to use UPS or FedEx if you wish to ship alcohol. Sorry, all you White Claw lovers!

The Rules for Shipping Liquids with USPS

If you’re shipping liquids in individual containers that are greater than 4 oz each, USPS requires you to triple-pack these containers. This means you need to first pad around your containers with a cushiony kind of packing material. Bubble wrap would be a great place to start. Next, place your containers inside a sealed, leak-proof container. This “inner” container must lined with sufficient absorbent materials such as rags and towels. Lastly, place this inner leak-proof container inside new, rigid corrugated packaging. One of the free USPS boxes you can get at the Post Office or online should do just fine for this third layer.

Pro Tip: USPS also recently proposed a rule change that will require shippers to mark the outer container of a package to show that the package contains liquids. Whether or not this rule change takes effect, we think it never hurts to alert letter carriers of the nature of your package’s contents. This way they’ll know how to properly handle your package, which can help prevent any potential breakage or leakage. Knowledge is power, as they say!

Use Online Shipping Software to Save the Most Money

Once you’ve decided to ship with USPS, you’ve already put yourself on the right track. However, there’s a way to save even more money when shipping liquids, and that’s to use online shipping software to buy your postage online. The best shipping software out there is free, and gives you access to special discounts like USPS Commercial Pricing. In fact, these discounts can end up saving you up to 89% off of what you’d pay at the Post Office! You’ll also get to print your labels at home and skip the lines at the Post Office, which, in our opinion, is priceless.

Do You Need Insurance?

Lastly, you may want to determine if you need to purchase additional shipping insurance. All USPS Priority Mail services come with $100 of built in insurance when you buy postage online through shipping software (including Priority Mail Cubic). However, if the total value of your beverages in your package is more than $100, you’ll want to add some additional coverage in case anything happens during transit. Shipping insurance is usually only a couple of extra dollars, and it’s always worth the extra peace of mind!

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  1. Camille

    This is the best explained answer to shipping through the USPS I have ever read! Thanks so much for taking the time to spell it all out. I am starting a new business which requires me ship liquids. I could never get a straight answer on line until now.

    • Rockwell Sands

      That’s awesome, Camille! Thanks for kind words, and best of luck with your new business!

      • Victoria

        Thank you for all the helpful information. My cousin relocated to another state, and unfortunately they don’t have certain things we do here. So I will be able to bless her and take away some of the missing home emotions


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