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Packing & Storage Tips

Self-storage units do not have to be a space you visit once or twice a year to dig something out of a stack of boxes. They can be highly organized, easily accessible spaces that free up necessary space in your home or office.

Organize and Pack Your Items with a Plan in Mind

It will take time and concentration to organize and efficiently pack your items. However, the up-front effort will be well worth it when you are able to easily unload and organize your items at the storage unit. Here are a few tips for packing:

Start by identifying items you will pack in boxes and stack.

Prioritize boxed items you want to access most often (they will go closer to the front of the unit).

Group by fragility or weight – store heavier, sturdier items on the bottom of stacked items and fragile items on top.

Consider awkwardly sized items that will not stack well, including how often you will need to use them, and how heavy they are.

Choose the Right Size Unit

Nobody wants to pay for storage they do not need. A little extra space makes moving around within the unit much easier. Also, it gives you room to add those unplanned items that always seem to pop up.

Our facility manager can help determine the proper size unit for your storage needs or refer to our Unit Sizes page.

Invest in Supplies

Use boxes, not plastic bags. Boxes are sturdier and stack well, taking up less space. Most moving companies require goods to be packed in boxes for transport. Also, sealed plastic bags can trap humidity which can cause damaging mildew.

Invest in good quality boxes and packing materials. Boxes should be sturdy enough to hold up for years under the weight of the stack. You may be tempted to get free boxes from supermarkets and liquor stores; however, the mismatched shapes and sizes will impede your ability to organize effectively. You can buy standard-sized boxes and specialty boxes for items such as TVs, multimedia, clothes, and pictures.

For wrapping breakables, paper will do, but bubble wrap can be used repeatedly, is cleaner, and because it is transparent, makes finding contents easier.

Most people need more tape than they thought they would. Your facility manager can help you estimate how much tape you need for the number of boxes you will be packing.

For your convenience, packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap and tape are available for purchase at the storage facility.

Packing in Boxes

Box up everything you can. In a storage facility, anything not in boxes can get dusty.

Fill boxes to capacity. The contents in half-empty boxes can shift during transport or lifting. Corners and sides can collapse if there is nothing to support them. Foam peanuts are handy for filling in the gaps in boxes.

Distribute the weight in packed boxes evenly. Make sure they are not too heavy for you and others who may be lifting them.

Wrap all fragile items and breakables such as dishes, glasses, and home décor items separately. Pack these items tightly into strong or reinforced boxes, filling any gaps with paper or filler. Mark “Fragile” on any boxes containing breakable items.

Clearly label all boxes on more than one side so you can easily identify the contents.

Pack books flat to avoid damaging their spines.

Packing Other Items

To store clothes, think about investing in a wardrobe box with a built-in hanging rod. These are available for purchase at most storage and moving facilities.

Large appliances must be prepared correctly for proper storage:

  • Defrost refrigerators and freezers thoroughly to avoid water damage and mildew growth. Tie down the appliance doors during transport but leave them slightly ajar once in storage.
  • Drain washing machines and tie down hoses and cords before storing them.
  • Wipe down the inside of appliances with baking soda before you store them to keep them dry.
  • Enclose the exposed back area of the appliances to prevent vermin.

Store mirrors and pictures in boxes and mark them as “Fragile.”

Place loose photographs between pieces of clean cardboard and consider taping them together to avoid curling.

Separate lamp bases and lampshades and wrap them for protection or purchase a lamp box.

When storing upholstered products such as mattresses and sofas, consider investing in covers, bags, or sheeting for additional protection. Storage and moving facilities often sell large heavy-duty bags for this purpose.

Vacuum-sealed bags work well for draperies, bedding, and clothing.

Pack electrical equipment such as TVs, stereos, and computers in their original boxes whenever possible. If using other boxes, choose ones that are as close in size to the original as possible, and fill all gaps with paper.

Disassemble furniture such as bed frames and tables before you store them:

  • Wrap and cover the separate sections, clearly mark them, and keep them together.
  • Keep assembly components such as screws and bolts together in a plastic bag, mark them clearly, and tape the bag to the appropriate piece of furniture. Use tape that is safe for use on furniture or tape the bag to an inconspicuous place on the piece.
  • Cover chair/sofa legs in cloth. Plastic wrap does not breathe; therefore, if condensation occurs, it may cause damage to the legs.

Spray your wood furniture with quality furniture polish before storing it to give it some added protection.

Treat leather items with a leather conditioner before you store them.

Wipe down metal objects and tools with a little oil before storing them to prevent rust formation which can occur when tools are not used frequently.

When storing a vacuum cleaner, clean out the bag or canister first; otherwise, bacteria, mold and vermin can accumulate.

As you go, keep an inventory of every item you have packed. Ideally, include an estimate of the replacement value of each item you store and consider taking pictures of valuable items. These steps will help you make accurate insurance claims in case of unforeseen damage or loss.

Other Helpful Suggestions

Keep a fold-up step stool in your space for accessing hard-to-reach areas.

Place frequently used items near the entrance for easy access. This holds true for file boxes and other business items too.

When arranging items, leave an aisle space for easy access to your items. You can either leave aisles between your stack of boxes and furniture or line up all your furniture and boxes against the outside walls of the unit in a “U” shape, leaving the inside of the U as open space.

Break down furniture into smaller pieces, if possible. Take the legs off tables, disassemble bed frames, and lean them against the wall.

Cover furniture with sheets or tarps to protect against scratches, dust, and other damage.

Whenever possible, avoid standing sofas or love seats up on their sides to prevent structural damage.

Stack chairs seat to seat.

Tie tools and long-handled items such as rakes, snow shovels and brooms in bundles. Put them inside garbage cans to keep them neat.

Avoid storing mirrors and framed artwork flat as they can collapse under their own weight.

When stacking boxes and containers, ensure you can clearly see the labels you put on them. Always place the heaviest boxes on the bottom to avoid damage. Stack boxes and similar sized items together to save space.

Use all the space in and around your stored furniture as places to store more items. Fill anything that is hollow with items to maximize your available space.

Fill bookcase shelves with small boxes and other miscellaneous items.

You may think all this planning, preparing, and setting up your self-storage unit seems like a big project. However, you will find the time and effort are worth it when you discover the peace of mind that comes with knowing your belongings are accessible and protected.

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can assist you with all of your storage needs.