How to Pack and Organize a Storage Unit

If you’ve rented a storage unit, there’s a good reason for it. Maybe you’re in the process of moving house or renovating your home and need a safe place to store your belongings for the time being.

Perhaps you’re going to a different state or country for a few years and need a suitable storage option for your things in the meantime.

Then again, you may need extra storage space simply because your current home cannot accommodate all your stuff.

Whatever the reason, if you’re willing to pay for a storage unit, then the items you intend to put in it most certainly have high practical, monetary, or sentimental value and you don’t want to lose them.

To make sure your stored belongings will remain in excellent condition, you need to pack them as safely and efficiently as possible.

How to pack items for storage

Here are some practical packing tips to consider when packing for storage:

  • Separate your items by category (such as old books, kids’ stuff, keepsakes, and items you may need to access soon), and try to pack them together.
  • Make a detailed inventory of all the items you’re going to put into storage to keep better track of your belongings. Your inventory will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim due to a natural disaster or some other accident at your storage facility.
  • Use proper packing materials: clean and sturdy cardboard boxes, plastic containers, quality wrapping and cushioning materials, sealing tape and labels, and furniture blankets. Avoid packing your items in plastic bags, which increase the risk of mold developing.
  • Make sure the items you pack for storage are clean and dry.
  • Place heavy items at the bottom of a box and put lighter ones on top of them to avoid damage.
  • Pack heavy items in smaller boxes.
  • Provide sufficient padding to ensure the safety of your belongings. Use plenty of packing paper, bubble wrap, foam sheets, packing peanuts, towels or rags to wrap each individual piece and provide cushioning between the articles in one box. Be extra careful when packing fragile or delicate items.
  • Fill the cartons tightly, as half-full boxes tend to collapse when stacked.
  • Seal the boxes tightly to provide sufficient protection against dust, dirt, and pests.
  • Consider packing in plastic containers, which will prevent moisture from affecting your possessions.
  • Label every single box to indicate its specific contents. Use a permanent waterproof marker to write important notes (such as “FRAGILE”) or handling instructions (like “THIS SIDE UP”) directly on the boxes.
  • When packing furniture for storage, make sure you remove all detachable parts and protect small protruding elements with bubble wrap or rags. Keep all detached pieces together and put small parts (such as bolts and hinges) in sealable plastic bags that you can tape to the corresponding furniture. Cover your furniture with sheets and blankets and apply furniture spray (as well as leather conditioner, when applicable) for better protection.
  • Pack electronic devices in their original boxes (or ones of similar sizes, if you didn’t keep the original boxes).
  • Any appliances you put into storage should be thoroughly cleaned and completely dry. Freezers and refrigerators must be emptied and defrosted first. Attached cables and hoses should be tied down and secured. It’s a good idea to leave the doors of your household appliances slightly ajar when they are in storage to prevent condensation and ward off bad odors.
  • Wrap dishes and other breakables individually and use lots of crumpled paper to provide extra cushioning between the items. Cups and glasses should always be placed with their rims downward.
  • Hang clothes in wardrobe boxes for maximum protection against dust and dampness. Garments can also be kept folded inside drawers to save storage space. Either way, use insect repellent products when storing clothes for prolonged periods of time.
  • Pack books flat to prevent damage to the spines, and make every effort to protect your reads from moisture.
  • Wrap mirrors and paintings in paper and keep them stored upright in special mirror boxes.
  • Store pillows, blankets, and other lightweight, non-fragile items inside wardrobes, washers, and dryers, as well as between furniture legs or in any other hollow spaces.

How to organize a storage unit

Once you have safely packed your items, you need to organize your storage unit in a systematic and practical manner. Your goal is to optimize the available space and have easy access to your belongings in case you need any of them while they’re in storage.

  1. Install shelves, making sure you leave a passage through the middle of the storage unit for easier access to your items.
  2. Place your largest items closest to the walls and arrange smaller ones in front, so that you have a clear view of your unit. Store large furniture pieces vertically and stack chairs to save space.
  3. Make sure you don’t put anything on top of fragile items.
  4. Keep some distance between your items and the walls to ensure free air circulation, and consider using a moisture absorber to avoid mold and mildew.
  5. Place the things you might need frequent access to in the front of your storage unit.

To avoid headaches and troubles down the road, make sure you store your cherished possessions in a secure, well-kept, and climate-controlled storage facility.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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