Packing & Organizing A Self-Storage Unit

What should you pack in a self-storage unit?

Before you start packing your items, there are two important considerations that you should make:

  1. How much space do you have in your storage unit?
  2. Is your storage unit climate controlled? 

If you already have a storage unit, look up the measurements of the unit. If you’re still looking for one, evaluate the number of items you want to store and the size of these items. You’ll want to know exactly how much can fit in your unit before you start packing.

Go through your house and make a list of all the items you would ideally like to remove to your storage unit. Measure the bigger items like furniture and appliances, as well as the size of the boxes that you plan to keep smaller items in. Once you know about how much space your items will need, you’ll be able to determine if a storage unit is big enough.

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Knowing whether a storage unit is climate-controlled is important when deciding what to store. If it is, your items will be protected from extreme temperatures and humidity. This will help keep items like clothing mildew free and items like electronics in prime condition. Climate-controlled units will be the perfect choice for you if you plan to store items like:

  • Fabric/clothing
  • Artwork
  • Important documents 
  • Paper and books
  • Electronics
  • Vinyl records
  • Instruments
  • Wooden furniture

If your storage unit isn’t climate-controlled, certain items may be at risk of damage.

Now that you know what type of storage unit you need, the next step is to decide what items will make your packing list.

When you start packing for self-storage, it can be tempting to either pack all the items that you rarely use or to be hesitant to pack anything just in case you’ll need it soon. There is a happy medium in between these two extremes. These tips are designed to help you decide what to take and what to leave:

1. Don’t waste self-storage space on items that you’ll never use again.

Skip packing the participation medals from elementary school that hold no meaning; store the coin collection that your grandpa passed down to you. Skip the mason jars that you’ve been meaning to do something with for a few years; store the Christmas decorations that you use every year. If the items don’t mean anything to you now, they probably won’t mean anything next year when you’re sorting through your storage unit. To learn more about what you can do with the items that you’re ready to part with (and how to effectively pack the items you do want to keep), check out our recent blog post for great packing tips!

2. You can’t store any items that are dangerous, perishable, or living.

Furniture, decorations, moving boxes, files, clothing, and even vehicles (depending on the facility) are common items that are found in storage units; however, toxic, dangerous, or living things should never be left in the unit. Keep food (and similar bug/rodent attracting items), flammable materials, hazardous materials, plants, animals, and humans out of storage units. If you’re unsure whether it will be safe to store something, contact the facility and they will be able to help you.

3. Make sure your facility allows your items to be stored.

Some items should never be stored in any facility, but your facility may have a list of additional items that are not allowed. Check the facility’s list of forbidden items before you start packing.

4. Don’t be afraid to store items that you will need to access soon!

It can be concerning to leave your winter clothing in self-storage when you watch other boxes being piled up around the clothing. You don’t want to have to dig through your storage unit in a few months when the wind starts gusting again just to find one jacket—but you also don’t want to clutter your closet with items that you aren’t wearing. You may be concerned about storing certain items in self-storage because of accessibility issues. That is why creating a plan to organize your storage unit is key. 

How to organize your self-storage unit

Self-storage units are designed to make your space more organized and less cluttered. But in order to take advantage of this peace of mind, you should follow guidelines for properly packing and organizing a self-storage unit.

1. Label your boxes.

You open your storage unit and are immediately confronted by a wall of brown cardboard boxes. Each is indistinguishable from the next, so how will you ever find the one cookbook you need for next weeks potluck? To avoid predicaments like this, label each of your boxes clearly and visibly. If you’re storing many similar items, make sure each label is descriptive and unique. Rather than labelling every box ‘books,’ label some ‘cookbooks’ and others ‘dictionaries and thesauruses.’

2. Map out your storage unit.

It will be tough to remember exactly where you left specific items, so save yourself the trouble by mapping out the unit. Map out the unit before you arrive at the storage facility. Start by grabbing out a sheet of paper and listing the items that you want to store. Keeping the unit’s size in mind, find the best way for everything to fit and be accessible. Prioritize keeping the items that you use more frequently at the front of the unit. The items that won’t need to be accessed for a long time are safe to keep at the back of the unit. Having a map will give you a strategy that can help you save time when moving your items into storage—and help you avoid those frustrating moments of rooting through the whole unit looking for one item.

3. Maximize your storage space.

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Make the most out of your unit by avoiding wasted space. The two best ways to maximize a storage unit’s space is by taking advantage of the height of the unit and the unused space in your items. Most storage boxes are designed to be stacked, so put the heaviest at the bottom and start stacking. You can also install shelving in your unit (yes, most facilities allow you to!) to take advantage of the height. If you’re storing items like dressers and wardrobes, take advantage of the drawer space that these items have. Rather than wasting money and space on storage boxes, store smaller items inside bigger, hollow items.

Ready to start packing and organizing a self-storage unit? Visit Wright Self-Storage and Removal to learn about your moving and storage options.