Packing and Storage Tips

With these helpful storage tips and some planning ahead, you can keep from having to turn your storage unit upside down when you need to find an item. Also, you can learn how to pack things carefully so that your belongings stay in top notch condition.

Plan how you will arrange your belongings in the storage unit.

A good plan will help you utilize your space efficiently and find items easily.

  • Use pallets, 2 by 4’s, or plywood to keep your belongings off the floor. This will keep you from being unpleasantly surprised if melting snow seeps under the door and makes the floor wet.
  • Create an aisle in the center of your unit.
  • Leave walkways between rows of boxes.
  • Store frequently used items at the front of the unit and those Christmas decorations you only need once a year at the back.
  • Store valuable items at the back of the storage unit where a curious passerby will not notice them.
  • Choose boxes that are the same size so they stack evenly. Place heavy boxes on the bottom.
  • Fill boxes even full as much as possible so that boxes do not sag or collapse over time. Filler padding in the top of boxes can help prevent this problem.
  • Place plywood across the top of a row of boxes to stabilize the boxes and create even pressure across them.
  • Buy freestanding shelves for optimal organization.
  • Purchase Rubbermaid totes. They have tight fitting lids and stack nicely. Moisture will not be able to penetrate them.
  • Store shovels, rakes, and hoes in a large trash can.
  • Disassemble large items to maximize space. Tables and bed frames can be taken apart. Place all hardware in a bag and mark what piece of furniture it came from.
  • Group similar items together.
  • Store mattresses, box springs, mirrors, and paintings on end. Use two or three 2 by 4’s a foot long to elevate them off the floor.
  • Store couches on end when possible and stack chairs seat to seat.
  • Use the drawers of appliances for storing small items.

Prepare your items for storage.

You may pack your belongings on a pleasant, sunny day. But humidity, rain, and cold will come. Are you prepared? Also, your items need to be ready to sit unused for a length of time.

  • Protect your items by covering them with moving pads, light sheets, or blankets. Since plastic can retain moisture, it is best not to use it for packing.
  • Clean and dry appliances before storing them. Prop the refrigerator door open to prevent mold from growing inside.
  • Drain gasoline and oil from small engines.
  • Clean debris from all equipment.
  • Rub a small amount of machine oil on metal tools, machinery, and bicycles to prevent rusting.
  • Place clothing and draperies on hangers so they retain their original shape. Store them in wardrobe boxes.
  • Pack books flat to protect their spines.
  • Place photographs securely between two pieces of cardboard to keep the edges from curling.
  • Use unprinted paper or bubble wrap to cushion breakable items. Tape the wrapping so that your fragile item remains securely inside. Printed newspaper may leave smudges on your possessions.
  • When stacking furniture, use padding between the furniture pieces to prevent scratching.
  • Consider renting a heat controlled storage unit if you have items that are sensitive to extreme temperatures.
  • Pack boxes so that they are not too heavy to lift. Books are especially heavy if too many are in a box.
  • Keep all food items out of storage to eliminate unwanted guests!

Label everything.

Even though you may know where everything is the first day you place items in your storage unit, label everything anyway! Six months later it will not be as easy to remember where things are.

  • Label boxes on all six sides.
  • Keep a list by the door that says where things are. What is in the front, on the right side, on the left side, and in the back of the storage shed?
  • Use index cards and a number system. After packing a box, number it. Place the same number on an index card and write a list of the contents in the corresponding box. When you need something from storage, flip through your index cards to find the number of the box containing your needed item. If you packed the numbered boxes in order, finding your treasure should be a cinch!
  • Wrap and label each pieces of the furniture you took apart.
  • Label cords belonging to computers, stereos, etc. using small colored stickers. Place a sticker on the cord and a sticker the same color on the electronic where the cord is inserted. This will save you the hassle of fishing through cords when it is time to resurrect one of your old electronics or sell it on eBay!
  • Store electronics in the original boxes when possible.

Be proactive.

  • Check the storage unit once a month to make sure all is well.
  • Pay attention to detail when accessing your unit. If you see anything that could cause problems or arouses suspicion, call the manager.
  • Purchase insurance. If your belongings are worth storing, they are worth insuring. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may not cover your belongings while they are in storage.
  • Do not share your password, gate code, or any personal information with someone who is not listed as having access.
  • Do not store any toxins or flammable products such as oil, gasoline, or paint.