Best Tips and Hacks for How to Organize a Storage Unit

Across America, when people need to store their stuff, they choose a self-storage center to do it. Self-storage centers offer storage units similar to a garage, even down to the garage-type doors. They also offer different sizes and types, like temperature-controlled and drive-up storage units. Whatever size or type of unit you need, one thing can make your self-storage experience much better; knowing how to organize a storage unit.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Learning how to organize a storage unit makes everything easier and more convenient. For example, you can find things faster, store more stuff, and have more space to move around. Knowing an organized storage unit will make your life easier, you probably have questions about how to do it. If so, read on! We’ve got the best tips and hacks for how to organize a storage unit below! After reading them all, you’ll be ready to organize your storage unit like a pro!

How to organize a storage unit

Tip: Stack Stuff from Floor to Ceiling

Here’s the thing; storage units have a limited amount of floor space, especially the smaller units. However, most are 8 to 9 feet tall, meaning you’ve got lots of vertical space! Using that space means stacking things on top of each other. It also means stacking heavy stuff on the bottom and lighter stuff as you go higher. The more you stack, the more you’ll fit in your storage unit. Speaking of stacking…

How to organize a storage unit

Tip: Use Similarly-Sized Containers

If easy stacking is the key to an organized storage unit, same-size containers are the way to do it best. Whether cardboard moving boxes or clear plastic bins, if they’re equally sized, stacking will be much easier (and safer). 

Hack: Use Clear Plastic Bins

Plan to regularly take things out of storage, like clothes, tools, supplies, or toys? If so, clear plastic bins will make finding them easy and fast. You can clearly see what’s in a clear plastic bin. (A cardboard box? Not so much.) And, as we mentioned earlier, clear plastic bins stack easily and safely. 

Should you pack everything in clear plastic bins? Not really, no. If there are things you won’t need while stored, save some money and put them in regular moving boxes instead.

How to organize a storage unit

Hack: Use Shelving Units 

Stacking boxes and bins are all good and well, but shelves are the best for a truly organized storage unit. Getting something you need is much easier when you don’t have to stack and unstack bins or boxes every time. Plus, you can use all your vertical space with shelving units in place. They’re more stable and safer, too, so the risk of something falling on you is significantly reduced.

Tip: Rent a Storage Unit Bigger Than You Need

OK, let’s look at two situations: 

Situation 1- You store your stuff and forget about it until it’s time to move everything back out again.

Situation 2- You plan to regularly go into your storage unit to get stuff, use stuff, and maybe even do some work.

For situation 1, we’d recommend renting a storage unit just big enough to hold everything. Then, you can fill it to the front, shut the door, and walk away. When your new home is ready, or you’re back from overseas, your stuff will be waiting.

However, for situation 2, it’s best to rent a storage unit bigger than what you need. That way, you can store everything and have room to move around with ease. The extra room also makes staying organized a breeze. Plus, you can set up a table and chair and take care of business if needed. (We see craftspeople and folks who resell stuff do this all the time.)

Tip: Put Big Items You Won’t Need in the Back

Sure, you might want to get clothes and tools out of your storage unit from time to time. (And maybe a lot of other stuff.) However, it’s highly unlikely you’ll take your fridge, washer, or dryer out of storage to use it for a day. Your ride-on mower? Nope. The dining room hutch? Uh-uh. Those things, and anything else big and bulky, should be put into the back of your storage unit. There they’ll be out of your way completely. More importantly, you won’t need to move them around to get to something you need. (Your back will thank you.)

Hack: Store Mattresses On their Sides

This tip, admittedly, might be slightly controversial. You’ll find some recommending you store mattresses and box springs flat. That way, their inner coils, and support won’t get warped. But here’s the thing; you would need to store your mattress and box spring for ages before that would happen. (Like, for years.) Plus, laying mattresses and boxsprings flat uses a huge amount of your available storage space. Unless you’re truly worried about your mattress and box spring, storing them on their side is best. 

Mini Tip: Whatever you decide, storing your mattress and boxsprings in plastic covers is best. That will keep them clean and keep out insects and other pests.

Hack: Consider Folding Tables

Earlier, we discussed using shelving units to organize your storage unit well. Another, possibly cheaper, organization method would be to use folding tables. Folding tables are cheap and durable. You can stack stuff on top of them and underneath them. That way, your stacks aren’t nearly as tall, making access to certain things easier. You could also stack things on each side of a long folding table but leave some room in the middle. If you need to work on a project, sort through stuff, or whatever, you’ll have table space to do it.

Brought to you by Northwest Self Storage 

Congratulations, you should now be a storage unit organization professional! Seriously, though, we hope that the tips and hacks today have been informative and will prove useful. If you have questions about renting a storage unit from Northwest, you can chat with us online anytime. 

Better still, visit the Northwest self-storage center in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho nearest you. The onsite manager will help you choose the perfect storage unit for your particular needs. 

Before we go, one last bit of advice; if you want to know how much a storage unit costs, click here. You’ll be instantly transported to our article “How much does a storage unit cost?” It’s very informative!

This post was originally published on 12/16/2019. It was updated on 08/29/2022.

1 thought on “Best Tips and Hacks for How to Organize a Storage Unit”

  1. The house will be remodeled starting this April, and since I plan to stay at my friend’s place while the project is ongoing, I need to rent a storage unit for all of our furniture and other belongings to prevent them from getting stolen or damaged. I found your tip helpful when you told us to use containers with similar sizes to make it easier to stack and organize them inside the storage unit. I’ll be sure to consider following what you said once I find a storage unit facility to contact soon.


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