How to Pack a Storage Unit: Tips for First Timers

Bargain Storage
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Knowing how to pack a storage unit can make all the difference in the world when it comes to maximizing your space and finding items when you need them. 

No matter why you’re investing in a storage unit, it can be a bit overwhelming to get everything crammed inside a unit. Even more difficult is the process of getting just a few specific items out, unless you put the necessary time and energy in up front to be organized and smart about how you use the space.

Thankfully, there are a few rules of thumb and plenty of tips to put you on the right path when it comes to deciding how to pack a storage unit the right way. These will not only help you access items down the line and maximize your space, but it will also make them last longer — protecting them from dust and mold.

Invent an Inventory

Creating an inventory for your storage unit is essential. The last thing you want to be doing is tearing apart your house and digging through the attic because you could swear you had the right tool for the job somewhere, only to have your partner inform you that it got packed up in your storage unit.

Even if nobody is helping you pack — eliminating the possibility of them slipping your favorite comic books into deep storage — don’t be so sure your memory is going to be able to recall every single item boxed up and put away.

With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to quickly and accurately make an inventory of items. 

There are a number of apps that can help you keep track of everything. Sortly is touted as “the ultimate organizer app” and allows you to take a visual inventory of all your belongings, tagging and filing each one away. The premium version of the app even allows you to create QR labels for your boxes.

Another option is SmartStop, which has a remote-inventory-system feature, so you can find and track your valuables in storage.

Or, you can do it the “old fashioned way” and just pull up an Excel sheet or Google Sheets and mark each box with a number and make a list regarding what goes into each numbered box.

Don’t Play the Russian Doll Game

You don’t need boxes inside of boxes inside of boxes. In fact, life will be much easier if you stick to just two sizes of boxes for most of your belongings, avoiding plastic bags entirely.

You’ll want one size of box that is big enough for your oddly shaped items — such as that wok you never use but aren’t ready to get rid of. The other size should be smaller to prevent you from putting too many heavy items in them and possibly busting out the bottom when you are carrying them.

The major exception to the two-box rule comes when you’re going to be storing clothing or cloth items. In such cases, to protect the clothes from mildew and ensure they retain their shape, you’ll want to use wardrobe boxes. These are tall boxes, each with a hanging rod, that allow you to safely store all your clothing.

And, don’t forget that all of your boxes should be sturdy enough that they can be at the bottom of the pile and withstand the weight of everything stacked on top of them.

Pack Your Boxes Right

You will want to pack everything in boxes — besides big pieces of furniture. Doing this allows you to maximize your space with uniformity. Imagine how easy Tetris would be if there were only two shapes of blocks.

You will also want to pack the boxes tightly. Empty space in these boxes is not only wasted space in your storage unit, but it also opens up the possibility of items shifting and breaking inside the boxes. To prevent anything from breaking, properly pad fragile items with bubble wrap or other cushioning materials.

Label Your Boxes

As you’re packing your boxes and creating your inventory, make sure you’re also labeling your boxes properly. No matter what system you end up using, from QR codes to Sharpie numbers, make sure that you label all sides of the boxes the same — don’t forget to label the top, as well.

The reason you mark all sides of your boxes is because you don’t necessarily know how they’ll be oriented in your storage unit, but you’ll want to be able to know what box is in front of you at a glance.

Seal Your Boxes

As obvious as it might sound, far too many people don’t seal their boxes when they put them into a storage unit. By sealing your boxes, you’ll be able to better protect items from dust — it’s worth the extra effort.

Map the Space in Your Storage Unit

Creating a map of your storage unit is going to save you a lot of time and energy down the line. A map is going to give you a good idea of where all your boxes end up so you can quickly locate and access the ones you need when it comes time to unpack certain items.

The most basic map will be built around a center aisle that runs from the entrance of your storage unit, to the back row of furniture or boxes. To be clear, this is not a waste of space. This is using your space wisely, so you don’t end up having to clamber over boxes and furniture — potentially breaking items in the process.

Along these lines, you’ll also want to put the heaviest items at the bottom and the farthest back, while keeping items that you’ll likely need sooner front and center.

Putting Down Pallets

Using your map as a guideline, arrange raised pallets as a base inside your storage unit. These will prevent ants, silverfish, and rats from setting up shop in your boxes. Of course, before you put the pallets down, clean the space out and ensure there are no leaks or any other sources of moisture that could lead to mildew or mold developing in the unit.

At this point, it’s not a bad idea to also place mothballs, moisture absorbents, and even rat bait in certain locations.

Keeping it Dry

One mistake many first-time storage unit renters make is packing away a freezer or refrigerator without completely defrosting it and drying it out. Any household items that have water in their system should be completely drained, dried, and stored with their doors slightly open.

How to Pack a Storage Unit: Tips for First Timers

Though it really can be intimidating to move some of your belongings into a unit, knowing how to pack a storage unit the right way is a good first step. Depending on the size of your unit and how many boxes you need to move, you can knock it all out — inventory, packing, moving, storing — in a weekend. The key is not to get too stressed about it. 

Have questions about making a storage unit work for you? Contact the team at Bargain Storage today.

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