If you are planning to use a self storage unit to store some of your possessions, plan ahead to properly protect your belongings from moisture, dust, pests, temperature extremes, and the pitfalls of poor packing. This compilation of self storage tips will help you learn how to safely store your stuff.
Tip 1: Don’t Store Irreplaceable Heirlooms in Your Unit
This is probably the most important of the 10 storage tips, as certain personal items are irreplaceable. Mementos of special value, like your wedding dress, photos and memory albums, an heirloom piece of furniture or art, or other items of special value, should not be stored in a storage unit, especially not one without climate control.
Think of a storage unit as extra attic space or a garage– if you wouldn’t store an item in YOUR garage, don’t store it in self-storage unit. Variable temperatures and humidity, along with an occasional pest, can damage clothing, wood, and paper products, so be sure to keep your most important valuables at home in a safe place.
Storage Tip 2: Don’t Store Items That Will Attract Pests
Food or containers that recently held food can draw critters into seemingly tight storage spaces in search of the source of the odor.
For example, those old Christmas cookie tins can keep the scent of cookies unless they are thoroughly cleaned. Anything that smells like food can attract unwanted pests to your storage unit, where they will chew, soil, and possibly ruin your belongings.
Storage Tip 3: Don’t Store Dangerous, Toxic, or Flammable Items in Your Unit
Be sure not to store dangerous or flammable items. You should never store anything that uses an aerosol or a similar propellant because the heat and cold will frequently cause those items to explode. Likewise, don’t store any toxic materials, or flammables, like lighter fluid. Be sure to empty the gas tank of any equipment you are storing in a unit. That will also prevent any gas fumes from leaking out and permeating your belongings. Note: the rental agreement forbids the storage of any toxic or flammable materials in the units.
Storage Tip 4: Pack with Strong Plastic Containers
You need sturdy and reliable storage containers to hold your stuff. Plastic totes are popular, first and foremost because they are waterproof and more rodent resistant than cardboard boxes. You can write on many of them, and so label what they hold. This is one of the wisest packing tips for people who are going to be putting items away for a long time, especially for any items that might not fare well with moisture or dust.
Storage Tip 5: Use Same Size Boxes
Although plastic containers will do a better job of protecting your belongings than cardboard, especially over the long haul, if you do use cardboard boxes, it’s a good idea to use all same size boxes, as these will stack much better, and you’re less likely to have boxes tumbling over, which could damage fragile items.
Also, it’s best to lay a sheet of plastic on the storage unit floor on which to stack cardboard boxes. The plastic will help prevent the boxes from absorbing moisture through the bottom, thus keeping the contents of the box drier.
Storage Tip 6: Stack Your Boxes Carefully
Regardless of what type of boxes you use, stack them carefully. Put heavier, more stable boxes on the bottom, and lighter-weight boxes that contain fragile items on or near the top. That way the heavier stuff won’t be crushing the fragile stuff.
Storage Tip 7: Think Accessibility When Putting Items in Your Unit
Whether you plan on using your storage unit for 2 months or 2 years, it is useful to plan ahead and think about what items you might need access to in the near-term, and which items you aren’t likely to need until after you move out of storage. And then store your items in your unit so that you can easily reach the things you’re likely to need. This will protect your goods in that you won’t have to haul boxes in and out of your unit into bad weather while trying to find something buried way in the back of your unit.
Storage Tip 8: Pick the Right Sized Unit
This tip is closely related to tip 7. If you will need to regularly access a lot of your belongings over a longer time period, it’s best to choose a unit that is a bit larger than you think you might need. That will allow you to create an aisle down the center of your boxes so that you can easily access more of your belongings, without moving boxes around. The more shuffling you do, the more likely that some of your stuff could be damaged.
Storage Tip 9: Consider Getting Tenant Insurance
“Stuff” happens. Even with the best of planning and packing. You know what I mean–strong winds take off a roof during a torrential downpour, or a thief manages to cut your lock and make off with some higher-priced valuables. These things, even though rare, do happen. For a few dollars a month, you can protect your goods and provide peace of mind. If you are storing your entire household during a move, we strongly suggest getting tenant insurance. You pay a little, but protect a lot. Give us a call and we can give you your options.
Storage Tip 10: Use Plastic to Protect Mattresses and Upholstery
If you are storing any sort of cloth-covered furniture or mattresses in a storage unit, consider wrapping it in plastic to seal out dust, moisture, and odors. You can get special mattress plastic wraps, or use painter’s plastic sheets and duct tape to cover furniture.
There you have it, ten storage tips for safely caching your stuff in a storage unit.
If you live in the Shelton, Olympia, Allyn, or Union areas of Washington state and need a storage unit, please check out Freedom Self Storage for your storage needs.