When you desperately need a heavy sweater or that heirloom platter, the last thing you want to do is pull everything out of your storage unit and start unpacking boxes. This is not only a huge waste of time, but frustrating and inconvenient. A little bit of time and effort devoted to planning and organizing will alleviate a lot of headaches in the long run.
Before you start packing the unit, you need to find one. Look for a convenient, dependable, secure storage facility. Check out our last article, Choosing the Right Self-Storage Facility, to steer you in the right direction.
Now, that you’ve rented the right-size unit in the right location, you’re ready to store. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you get started with packing and organization.
- List, Label, and Mark: Before you start randomly throwing items into boxes, make a list and assign items to their appropriate box. Attach labels so that you know the contents of the boxes. It’s a good idea to jot down the replacement value of each item. If you ever have to file an insurance claim, you’ll be glad you spent the extra time. Take a minute to place a special mark on boxes that you may need to access frequently and be sure to number each box
- Identify Items that are Marked for Easy Access: Items that you will use frequently, or even yearly, should be packed last. Give extra thought to items that you may need sooner rather than later.
- Seasonal clothing
- Camping or seasonal sports supplies
- Holiday decorations, costumes, or bakeware
- Childrens’ toys
- Important documents
- Fill Your Boxes: Don’t leave boxes partially empty. Fill up the entire box, placing a few heavy items on the bottom and filling to capacity with lighter items.
- Be Cautious with Large Appliances: Store freezers and refrigerators with doors open and drain washing machines to avoid mold and mildew.
- Use Wardrobe Boxes: If you have enough space, store your seasonal clothing in wardrobe boxes. Placing them on hangars will retain their shape and keep them in good condition. You can store shoes and boots in the bottom of the boxes.
- Store Tools and Equipment with Care: Completely drain fuel from these items, and rub them with oil to prevent rust and corrosion.
- Plan an Organized Layout: Create a general plan of how you’re going to organize furniture and boxes in your unit. Put some thought into how you’ll place these items. Ideally, furniture and large appliances should be against a wall opposite the boxes. Leave space in the middle of the unit for easy access. Boxes that you’ll need to access frequently should be stored last.
- Cover the Floor: Before storing your boxes, place pallets on the floor. This will prevent pests and insects from gathering under your boxes.
- Place Small Boxes/Items on Shelves: Shelves are a great option for smaller boxes and items that you may not be packing like lamps and small electrical appliances. If you place the shelves toward the front of your unit, you can easily grab things that you may need regularly.
- Create a Master Content Inventory: As mentioned in #1 “List, Label and Mark.” You need a Master List that shows the box number, the identity of each item in the box, and the replacement value. This sounds troublesome, but you’ll be so glad you have this list when you’re looking for a specific item or if you ever need to make an insurance claim.
- Map Your Unit: Make a map of your stored boxes and items, place it on a clipboard, and hang it in a visible location in your unit. There’s no need to get too technical, a hand drawn sketch will work. This will make it easy to find the items that are “buried” in the back.
At first glance, these tasks seem like a lot of time and trouble, but the effort is definitely worth it. When the day arrives that you’re looking for that heavy sweater or fancy platter, you’ll find your item with ease.