Pack and Organize Your Self Storage Unit Like a Pro

Packing a self-storage unit isn’t rocket science, but it’s best to do it with a plan in mind. You can haphazardly pack your boxes without identifying their contents and place them at random in your unit. Of course, you will pay the price when you can’t find your “crazy cat lady” Halloween costume or your creepy horse head Christmas ornament. There are a few tips and tricks, however, that will help you make it more convenient to locate your stored items. 

Believe me, when you need something that you stored 3 years ago, you will not remember where you put it. When time is of the essence, the last thing you want to do is pull everything out of your self-storage unit and start unpacking boxes. This is not only inconvenient but frustrating. A little bit of effort devoted to organizing your self-storage unit now will alleviate a lot of headaches in the long run.

I know you’re anxious to get started, but hold on a minute. Before you begin packing the unit,  you need to find a convenient, dependable, secure storage facility. Read Choosing the Right Self-Storage Facility, to steer you in the right direction. Then, you can move ahead.

As soon as you’ve rented the right-size unit in the right location, you’re ready to go. We’ve compiled a few tips to get you started with your packing and organizing.

First, Pack…

  • List, Label, and Mark:  Before you start indiscriminately throwing items into boxes, number the boxes, and make a list. Then you can easily assign items to the 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 so that you can place them conveniently toward the front of the unit.
  • 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. If it’s convenient, you can store large quilts and blankets in your dryer.
  • 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, boots, and handbags at 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.

Then, Organize…

  • 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. This works for lamps, large vases, and small 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 that air fryer 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.

There you have it! At first glance, these tasks seem like a lot of time and trouble, but the effort is definitely worth it. When it’s that time of year for wearing costumes or decorating the house, you’ll have no trouble locating your prized possessions.