How Not to Pack a Self-Storage Unit

Packing a storage unit is like playing real-life Tetris. Making everything fit takes skills and experience. One wrong move and your precious china could come crashing down. If you’re looking for some helpful tips to make the most of your storage space, don’t follow these suggestions.

Don’t use boxes.

Forget about using boxes, bins, or shelves. Piling up your stuff will save you tons of time so you can go back to doing whatever it was you were doing.

Bad idea. We recommend finding boxes or bins—preferably all the same size—that fit on your shelves and are easy to stack. Boxes and bins don’t just make it easy to find things; they also protect your stuff from the elements.

Bonus: Using clear plastic bins allows you to easily see the contents of each. If you go for opaque bins or cardboard boxes, make a brief list of what’s in each one and tape it to the side. That way, even if the boxes are stacked, you can find what you’re looking for quickly.

Don’t organize anything.

Organizational systems are for chumps. Why not keep the kitchenware with the bathroom cleaning supplies? Pack your summer clothes with the ski gear? Put the garden gnomes with last year’s taxes? Who cares? Not you.

Strike two. Instead of throwing things in boxes willy-nilly, take the time to organize your stuff up front. This is especially crucial if you’re keeping household goods in storage while moving. Store all the kitchenware together and your clothes separated by season.

Papers and documents are especially important to organize before you stash them away. Taking the time to go through your stacks of papers can help you decide what can go and what you may need in the future (like your taxes).

Don’t clean beforehand.

Avoid cleaning any of your stuff before storing it. The more cobwebs the better, in our humble opinion. Don’t have time to clean your summer clothes before storing them for the winter? That’s okay. That B.O. smell will come out later, right?

Wrong. It won’t. Even if your stuff is boxed up and organized, if it’s not clean, it won’t store well. Dust and grime erode the paint and varnish on ceramics, excess moisture can destroy paperwork, and clothing stains are harder to get out the longer they set. Do your future self a favor and clean your stuff now.

Don’t pack your storage unit like you’ve never played Tetris before; do it the right way—with boxes, organization, and cleanliness! Whatever you’re looking to store, you’ll find a secure spot in Oregon or a dry place in Washington to protect your stuff. Not sure how much room you need? Take a look at our storage unit size guide.

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