Do you have boxes lying around the house with nowhere to put them? Are you considering a storage solution to make more room?
Self-storage, both short-term and long-term, can be an ideal option to keep your things safe during a relocation or to make more space in your house.
But before stuffing your storage unit to the brim, you'll want to figure out what type of storage solution you’ll need, which items you'll be able to store, and how to keep those items safe while they’re tucked away in a storage unit.
Here are a few things you don’t want to deal with when using a storage facility.
- Having to sift through your boxes and spending time moving them around to find what you’re looking for when you’re in a hurry.
- Finding insects in your stuff or discovering that rodents have gotten into your belongings.
- Spotting mold or mildew on the bottom of your boxes or furniture.
- Learning that your storage unit was responsible for a fire.
Here are our 10 tips on storing things in a storage unit to help you have a better experience and ensure your valuables stay safe.
1. Choosing the Best Storage Service
Let's start at square one. First, we need to find a suitable storage unit to place your things in.
Here are a few things to consider when looking for a storage unit:
- Location – how far do I want to drive to get to my storage unit? Is it in a safe area?
- Temperature Control – Am I storing something perishable that requires a temperature-controlled storage unit?
- Storage Size – How much space do I need, and do the locations near me have the sizes I need available?
- Storage Service – Do I need an entire storage unit? Additionally, do I have a truck I can use to take my stuff, or should I consider a full-service storage solution?
- Price – Have you checked to see the different prices in your area? Here's a quick write-up on finding cheap storage near you
If you’re looking for storage in downtown San Diego, we've already put together a list that should make this task easier.
2. Clean Your Items Before Storing Them
Give your belongings (especially upholstered ones) a thorough cleaning before storing them. Old furniture, garments, and kitchen items can bring vermin, mildew, and other foreign objects into a storage unit.
You may think of it as “not a big deal” at first, but overlooking this can cause significant problems over time. Sanitizing your belongings before storing them can make a huge difference in what they’ll look like when it’s time to pick them back up.
3. Use Good Packing Techniques and Standard Box Sizes
Packing is an essential step in any storage process. By failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail. You can prepare by gathering the packaging goods you need for success and to ensure that your preparation is as effortless as possible. Cushioning materials, such as bubble wrap and newspapers, are critical for keeping fragile items in good condition during transportation and storage. Use packing tape (rather than duct or painter's tape), Styrofoam peanuts, and cartons.
Using standard box sizes makes it easier to load and unload the boxes from your storage unit. In addition, you don't want to waste space because of a few oddly shaped containers.
4. Take Inventory of Your Items
Take a complete inventory of any items you wish to store before stacking them in those boxes. This will help you keep track of nearly everything once the packing and prepping process starts. Pulling the boxes out of your storage unit to find a particular item is no fun especially if you’re in a hurry.
Take inventory of everything you're storing using an excel spreadsheet or jot them down on a piece of paper and have them taped to the side of the box.
Juujbox Pro-Tip: Take a picture of the items you're about to put in your box to visualize what you've put away and where.
5. Detach and Dismantle Everything
When packing and storing objects, an excellent general rule is dismantling anything that can be taken apart. For example, bookshelves, workstations, and chairs with removable legs, headboards, and other detachable goods should be disassembled before storing.
This will prevent damage and make it much easier to fit these things into smaller storage places.
6. Wrap Fragile Objects
How do you pack and store fragile items? Before placing them in packing boxes, they should be wrapped in bubble wrap, paper, or both. This will help avoid unsightly cracks, chipping, and other damage. It’ll also help prevent your hands from being cut when you reach into a box that might have broken glass in it.
Be generous with the wrap when it comes to very fragile items. Double or triple wrap them if you need to. Smaller fragile items can also be packed among garments or other delicate belongings for further cushioning.
7. Label and Categorize your Boxes
In addition to inventorying your stuff before packing, take the time to mark your boxes after you're done putting your things into boxes using labels or a Sharpie.
Pack your boxes in categories like “living room,” “winter clothing,” and “kitchenware” to make your life easier when you’re looking for something down the road.
Pro-Tip: For the larger boxes, put the labels or marking on the upper sides so you can see them when they’re stacked.
8. Go Up a Size
Unless you’re using a full-service storage solution like Juujbox, you'll want to consider moving up a size in storage units than you probably think you'll need. The idea of paying less and having the storage unit match the dimensions of your goods might be appealing, but you'll run into issues once you're inside your unit. Leaving space to get in and out of the storage unit and a bit of room to rearrange boxes is crucial. Otherwise, you're dragging out each box to get to the one with the item you're looking for. And, of course, it's always the box furthest in the back.
Also, never stack more than four boxes on top of each other. Most storage units are about 8 feet high, and trying to stack more than four boxes increases the likelihood of collapsing. It can also disrupt your entire storage unit organization plan.
Finally, no more than two furniture pieces should be stacked on one another. If you do this, you may ruin your furniture or hurt yourself. In addition, overcrowding your belongings might potentially make them dangerous throughout the unpacking process. Keeping this in mind, it's always a good idea to go one size up.
9. Avoid Perishables
This goes without saying, but please don't put perishables in storage. You might think the packaging looks strong, but mice are relentless creatures. Storing anything that can spoil will produce terrible smells, and food scraps and plants can quickly draw insects and critters.
Imagine yourself going into your storage unit to grab an item. Instead, you've spent the last 3 hours trying to figure out what went wrong and how to clean the mess up.
10. Store Based on Accessibility, Stack Based on Fragility
Stack goods according to fragility and heaviness to prevent them from shattering and boxes from smashing one another. Begin with heavier, more robust goods and packages at the bottom and work your way up as your belongings become lighter and much more fragile.
This brings us to the second concept: store according to accessibility. When putting stuff into your storage container, keep the goods you anticipate you'll need more often to be as quickly accessible as possible.
Don’t want to use a storage unit?
Services like Juujbox help you avoid needing a storage unit altogether. Our goal is to make life easier for folks who don't like driving to and from a storage unit, having to borrow a friend's truck, or just don't need to pay for a whole storage unit worth of stuff.