How to Use Self Storage: Preparing Your Stuff for Storage

Box of badgers (closeup)photo © 2006 Janet McKnight | more info (via: Wylio)

This is Part 4 of our 5-Part series: How to Use Self Storage.

Now that we’ve helped you with choosing a storage facility, choosing the size of your storage unit and understanding the terms of your storage rental, hopefully you’re getting ready to move in to your storage unit.  You might be thinking “Oh, I don’t need any more tips!  I’ve moved before!  Just throw everything in the car and drive it over there!”  But, that’s really not the best course of action for moving into a storage unit.  Moving into a storage unit isn’t the same as moving into a new apartment because you’re not going to want to spend a lot of time rearranging things and you’re going to have a very limited amount of time and space.  Also, you’re probably not going to be spending a lot of time in your storage unit, so keeping track of everything that’s in there is also important.  After all, you don’t want to spend all day opening boxes and looking for that case that Aunt Karen gave you last Christmas when you actually stowed it under the sink in the bathroom.  Which brings us to our first tip:

1. Make a List

It might seem overwhelming to catalog every single thing that you plan on packing into your storage unit, but you will thank me later.  Heck, you will thank yourself later.  If you can make a detailed (I don’t mean, like individual socks but maybe like “Special Birthday Socks” if you have something like that and I won’t judge you if you do) list of everything, it will undoubtedly come in handy.  Just the process of making the list might help you realize that there are some things on your list that you don’t even need – either that you can toss or give away and not bother packing into your unit.  Beyond that, if you’re ever searching your house for something, like the aforementioned vase, you will be able to tell at a glance, without ever going to your unit, exactly what is in your storage unit and what isn’t.  Finally, unforeseen events happen.  Theft, fire, flood – and having a list and even better, photos, will help you and any insurance adjuster that may get involved in assessing the value of your belongings.Easter Wish Listphoto © 2010 Ian Muttoo | more info (via: Wylio)

2. Label All Your Boxes

We’ll go through the specifics of packing up your storage unit next week, but much like making a list, labeling all your boxes will make things a lot easier when it comes time to actually get something out of your storage unit, which is going to happen at some point. If you’re really on top of things you could even attach the relevant list that you’ve made to the outside of the box so you know exactly what’s inside.  If not (come on, nobody’s perfect) you can label the boxes more generally – but something like “Dishes, Glassware and Water Pipes” is more useful than “Kitchen Stuff”.

3. Make Sure Everything is CleanBansky street cleaner - Chalk Farm

If you’re storing clothes, go ahead and throw them in the wash first.  If you’re storing dishes, don’t load them into boxes with food still caked on them.  It might seem faster and more convenient now, but you will really regret it when you go to open that box of dishes and it’s become infested or you open up that suitcase and it reeks of months old laundry.
photo © 2007 Dan Brady | more info (via: Wylio)

4. Empty Things Out (So You Can Fill Them Up Later)

This tip will make more sense when you get around to packing your storage unit.  If you have a dresser that’s going into storage, it will probably be more useful for you empty it out and pack it full of small boxes and other items when you’re packing your unit.  This will make the most of your space.  Also, it should go without saying, but if you’re storing a refrigerator or freezer or anything like that (not sure what else is “like” that) be sure to empty them out and clean them (see #2) before you take them to your storage unit.

5. Make Sure Things Are Dry

This won’t be applicable to most things, but definitely definitely make sure that everything you put in your storage unit is dry because if you pack away anything that is even a little damp, when you pull it out again it will be musty and disgusting.  So run those jeans through the dryer one more time just to be safe.

6. Make Sure Things Stay Clean & Dry

Have old sheets to drape over furniture.  Buy mattress bags to keep dust and pests out of your mattress without running the risk of retaining moisture like plastic coverings could and will.  If you’re renting Jacksonville self storage, for instance, first of all I’m sorry and second of all, the crippling humidity is certainly something to be aware of, so many sure all of your belongings have breathing room.  Keep clothes and dishes in cardboard boxes that are easily stackable, labelable and won’t harbor condensation.  Go the extra mile and actually purchase good boxes, meant for packing.  It’s all well and good to get free empty Malibu boxes from Market Liquor on the corner, but when your college t-shirts fall out the bottom when you go to carry it from your living room to your free moving truck.

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