Here's what to know about current delivery options and how to best prepare to receive a large purchase.
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You've likely been home long enough now to start redecorating. Perhaps you're ready to purchase that outdoor furniture you've been eyeing or you want to replace a dishwasher that's no longer performing its best. Regardless of the reason behind the purchase, continuing COVID-19 health and safety measures will impact how you receive and prepare for these deliveries. Read on to understand what your delivery options are, how to prep for delivery, what to do if movers need to enter your home, and how to clean up after.

Two men delivering a white sofa
Credit: Resolution Productions/Getty Images

Before COVID-19, speed and cost were top delivery priorities, with assembly, installation, and removal rounding out large-item delivery considerations. Now, the pandemic has not only changed the available delivery options, but also preparation and cleanup efforts. National and local operating rules and restrictions are changing daily, and the types of delivery services available are largely based on your location. However, you can generally expect to see four common delivery options.

Package Delivery Options

Ground delivery

Traditional parcel delivery via ground services like USPS, FedEx, and UPS are still being used, especially by big box stores and internet retailers.

Contactless Delivery

Most in-home delivery options have been replaced with contact-free delivery. Delivery services are encouraged not to enter homes, and instead leave items on the property, ideally in a protected space like a covered porch, garage, or apartment lobby. Typically, this method delivers the item in its original packaging, though some contactless delivery services unbox and remove the packaging, allowing you to review the product. Someone will still need to be home to receive the delivery, but no signature is required (though personnel might be required to photograph the boxes outside your home as proof of delivery).

Threshold Delivery

This in-home drop-off option places the package just inside your door but no further. "For inside-the-door deliveries, the driver will call when they arrive," says Julie Cassetina, spokesperson for the popular e-retailer Wayfair. "We ask our customers to please leave the door propped open for ease of delivery." This limits their contact with high-touch surfaces and their proximity to you. If you live in an apartment building, consider asking if they will deliver directly to an upper-story unit or only the building's main door.

In-Home Delivery

Often identified with terms like white-glove, premium, or full-service, in-home delivery options can include assembly and placement of furniture, removal of packing materials, and hauling away of replaced items (common for appliances and mattresses). These delivery options are less common now due to the pandemic. Some brands, like Sleep Number, have continued to offer in-home services for select products, and as restrictions ease, in-home delivery options are slowly returning to some markets.

If health safety is a concern for your household, ask questions throughout the furniture purchase process, whether it's in-person, over the phone, through a help chat on the company's website, or via email. Since circumstances are quickly changing, information on a website might not always be up to date or reflect availability in your area. Even if you think you know what to expect, it's OK to ask questions the day of delivery; the company you're purchasing from, the dispatcher you confirm the delivery with, and/or the specialists making your delivery might have differing directives.

living room with green couch
Credit: Helen Norman

Preparing for a Large Furniture, Mattress, or Appliance Delivery

If someone in your home is feeling unwell, it is important to cancel and reschedule a threshold or in-home delivery, even at the last minute.

No preparation is necessary for ground delivery. With contactless delivery, identify the delivery area prior to arrival. Similarly, some preparation is needed for threshold delivery, mainly removing any obstacles, such as rugs, potted plants, or shoe racks from around your entry.

For in-home delivery, many services encourage hand-sanitizing prior to and following appointments, wearing masks, gloves, and booties while in the home, and maintaining social distancing. Confirm which measures the company will be taking, and be prepared to ask specialists to do those things if they are not. Reports are mixed about follow-through when it comes to these safety measures. Consider supplying disposable masks and hand sanitizer. To prepare your home, limit what the moving specialists might touch by getting things out of the way yourself. Find ways to prop open doors and clear a space for the specialists to assemble and place the furniture. Clean and sanitize the area where they will be working.

Receiving Threshold and In-Home Deliveries

Washing your hands prior to delivery and wearing a mask and gloves will help keep you and the delivery specialists safe. Consider keeping hand sanitizer close by so all can easily apply it, especially if you have to sign for the delivery.

During an in-home delivery, retain proper social distance. Avoid the temptation to assist and allow the workers to quickly do their job. "Our delivery teams are maintaining a distance of six feet when possible, "says Cassetina. "We ask that our customers support our efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy by maintaining this distance as well." You might also want to make note anything the personnel are required to touch during the service, so you can give it a thorough clean later.

What to Do After an In-Home Delivery

After receiving any type of delivery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends immediately washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. Although COVID-19 spreads primarily via airborne particles through person-to-person contact, consider also cleaning the rooms occupied by delivery specialists.

Following an in-home delivery, clean and sanitize anything touched during the process. For other delivery options, consider removing packaging to limit outside germs from entering your home. For contactless delivery, this can include unboxing the item where it was delivered, then disposing of the packaging and only bringing the item indoors. In all scenarios, avoid touching your face while you unbox, assemble, and place the furniture, and wash your hands when finished.

If you're wondering about cleaning your new purchase, don't expect a recommendation from retailers and delivery specialists. Instead, familiarize yourself with CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting. This resource, which defers to manufacturer guidelines, provides recommendations based on the product type: hard, non-porous items (like desks and appliances); soft goods (like mattresses and sofas); electronics; and items that can be laundered, like linens.

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