You may have decided or been forced to downsize your home. Or you may have been caught in transition between two cities. Either way, you may be on the lookout for temporary storage for some of your things.
Renting a self-storage unit can be a good way to solve your immediate problems or difficulties when it comes to insufficient place to store your things. And while cost-effective and easily accessible storage facilities should be readily available no matter which town or city you move to in the country, you can’t just toss your items randomly inside a storage unit and expect things to be just fine.
Learn how to pack items for storage so that your valuable belongings stay perfectly protected until you get to need them again.
Follow these 15 tips for packing things for storage so that you can safeguard them well from the elements and the passage of time.
1. Decide which items to put into storage
The idea of storing specific household items for a certain amount of time suggests that you don’t need those things right now but you do intend to do so in the foreseeable future. And, of course, you just don’t have the space to keep them in the home.
- Pack for storage only the things you really plan to use again. The more items you prepare to stow away, the more money you’ll need to pay due to the bigger storage unit.
- Inspect closely each of your things before you start packing them for storage. You shouldn’t keep an item if it’s not valuable, sentimental, or useful in any way.
2. Create an inventory list
Depending on your needs, by now you should have decided what items to pack for long-term or short-term storage.
- Create a detailed list of all the belongings you plan to store simply because it’s easy to forget what you have in your storage space amidst a stressful and chaotic house move.
- Make a few copies of the master contents list and keep them in various safe places. Keep an electronic copy of the inventory list online for quick reference.
- Use the detailed inventory list in case your possessions got damaged by a natural disaster. If that ever happened, the contents list would help you file an insurance claim.
3. Get proper storage containers
To be able to pack for storage, you’re going to need the right types of packing boxes to keep your things protected for the duration of the storage period.
Consider purchasing brand-new cardboard boxes that are strong enough to keep your things safer for longer. Get sturdy boxes of similar sizes – they will be easier to stack up so that the vertical storage space gets utilized as well.
- Inspect carefully all cardboard containers for any signs of damage, especially if you plan to use second-hand boxes. All storage boxes must be completely dry and sturdy, with zero signs of infestation.
- Use, whenever possible, strong plastic bins to store your things. They are more expensive than standard cardboard boxes but can last for many years and provide a much better level of protection for your belongings.
- Do NOT pack your items in plastic bags. Plastic tends to trap moisture and humidity and can cause mold and mildew to grow with time.
4. NEVER pack hazardous items for storage
Before you start packing your items for storage, you should know that there are public storage restrictions to what you can move in storage and what you can’t.
- Remember that you’re not allowed to store any items that are dangerous in nature. Also, you can’t store perishable items because they can cause all sorts of problems.
- Check the list of forbidden items before you start packing stuff for storage. In general, you should NOT pack: food items of any sort, plants, flammable, corrosive or explosive items, scented goods, and wet items.
- Do NOT pack for storage items that are really expensive or have high sentimental value for you. Keep such high-value articles with you, in your home.
5. Prepare items for storage
Before you can start the actual packing process, you’ll need to prepare your items for storage in the best possible way.
- Clean thoroughly all items you plan to put in a storage unit to avoid the potential buildup of a musty scent. Wipe all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaning spray or disinfectant wipes – especially important for home appliances and furniture pieces. Vacuum well all soft furniture.
- Make sure each and every item is 100% dry before you pack it up. Packing things that are not completely dry can lead to the growth of mildew, which can easily affect the rest of the items in storage as well.
- Treat all furniture upholstery and other leather items with a leather conditioner before you pack and store them away.
- Consider disassembling large furniture such as beds, dressers, and tables to be able to pack and protect better their individual parts.
6. Pack CLOTHES for storage
Read on to learn the best way to pack clothes for storage simply because clothes and fabrics are one of the most common items placed in storage, especially when it comes to seasonal pieces of clothing.
- Keep in mind that the best way to store clothes is to hang them inside wardrobe boxes or hanging garment bags. This way, they will stay wrinkle-free, dust-free, and won’t get damaged by mold (thanks to the good air ventilation).
- Use vacuum-sealed bags to pack and store your more voluminous pieces of clothing such as thick winter jackets and coats. Besides offering good overall protection, vacuum bags will also shrink the volume of your clothes, bedding, and draperies – exactly what you’ll need when packing items for storage.
7. Pack FURNITURE for storage
Here are a few pieces of advice on how to pack furniture for storage:
- Clean all furniture surfaces with a suitable furniture cleaner.
- Consider disassembling large furniture to be able to protect better their separate sections. Keeps small fastening elements (screws, bolts, nuts, washers) in sealable plastic bags, then tape those bags to the corresponding furniture piece.
- Protect furniture legs by wrapping them in bubble wrap, foam sheets, or furniture covers. Use cut-outs of thick cardboard to protect any extra-fragile areas of your furniture.
- Wrap your furniture pieces in thick blankets to keep them protected against dust and scratches.
- Use the space in or around your stored pieces of furniture. Pack smaller items in drawers, dressers, and wardrobes to maximize the available storage space.
8. Pack MATTRESSES for storage
If you have decided to place a bed in storage, you may also wish to store a mattress together with the large furniture piece. And that’s exactly why you’re going to need to know how to pack a mattress for storage:
- Inspect the mattress closely and make sure it is 100% dry before you pack it for storage. Also, examine it carefully for any worrisome signs of infestation. If possible, consider placing it in direct sunlight for several hours.
- Get a mattress storage bag from a good furniture store. Those storage bags are made of thick polyethylene and are sold in various sizes, so purchase a mattress protector that is suitable for the mattress you intend to put into storage.
- Insert the mattress slowly into the specialized plastic protector, then tape the open end of the mattress bag with tape. Ensure that no part of the mattress remains exposed. The durable plastic bag will protect your mattress from dust, moisture, and dirt while it’s being kept in the storage unit.
- Do NOT place your mattress on its ends or sides inside the storage unit for fear of inflicting structural damage – mattresses are not strong enough to bear their own weight for too long.
9. Pack APPLIANCES for storage
If you wish to put into storage some of your household appliances, then it’s a good idea to know how to pack your appliances for storage so that no damage occurs to them.
- Defrost your refrigerator or freezer completely to avoid any type of water damage. Make sure they are dry before packing them up to avoid mildew growth.
- Use baking soda to wipe down the inside of all your appliances before you move them into storage. That will help remove any residual bad odors.
- Drain completely the water from your washing machine and dishwasher before packing them up.
- Secure all hoses and electric cables to avoid accidents. You can store removed hoses inside the appliances but ensure those hoses have no water inside them.
- Leave the doors of your household appliances slightly ajar to enable proper ventilation, which in turn will prevent condensation and mildew growth.
- Wrap all appliances in thick furniture blankets for extra protection.
10. Pack ELECTRONICS for storage
Even though packing electronics for storage is pretty straightforward, here are a few important tips to keep in mind.
- Pack sensitive electronic equipment first in soft and clean packing paper, then use bubble wrap to secure the bundle. If possible, use anti-static bubble wrap for added safety.
- Pack all electronic devices in their original boxes for maximum protection. If you don’t keep them, find strong boxes that are as close in size to the original packaging as possible.
- Fill all empty spaces in the boxes with crumpled packing paper or packing peanuts to immobilize the electronic devices.
- Seal well all boxes that contain electronics so that no dust or moisture can get inside the containers.
- Keep really expensive electronic devices with you, do not leave them inside a storage unit or a storage area.
11. Pack TOOLS for storage
Packing tools for storage can be a bit tricky so read on to learn what you should do to keep things safe from beginning to end.
- Pack small hand tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, etc.) into a high-quality toolbox for the best protection possible. If you don’t have a toolbox, then use small or medium boxes that are quite strong.
- Wrap bubble wrap around sharp-edged tools, including knives, then use pieces of string or packing tape to keep the protective material in place.
- Clean well, then bundle the garden tools with long handles you intend to store. Wrap those bundles in protective blankets.
- Pack electric power tools in their original boxes or use ones of similar size. Remove any detachable parts, then take out the batteries before boxing them.
- Drain all the gas from gas-operated power tools before packing them for storage.
12. Pack BOOKS for storage
Books are other common household items to be stored during a transition period such as moving between two homes. Here’s how to pack books for storage:
- Ensure the books you intend to store are completely dry. If you have any doubts that some copies may not be 100% dry, then leave them in a sunny room for a few days or switch on a humidifier to get the job done.
- Wrap valuable books or books with leather covers in soft packing paper first for extra protection.
- Arrange your books flat into the boxes to prevent possible damage to their spines.
- Use small cardboard boxes because books are rather heavy and can easily make a container too heavy to be handled safely.
- Tape all book-filled boxes well to make sure no dust or moisture can get inside.
13. Pack FRAGILE ITEMS for storage
Packing fragile items for moving is never easy – one wrong move and you may find some of your breakables in pieces. The first thing on your mind will probably be kitchen dishes (china) and glasses, but there are also a number of other delicate items inside a home that require special attention when packing.
So, how to pack fragile items for storage?
- Pack each fragile item individually in packing paper first, then in bubble wrap. By far, this is the best way to approach the packing process.
- Use extra sheets of bubble wrap for parts that are super delicate – for example, the stems of wine or champagne glasses. Remember that the bubbly material still remains unrivaled when it comes to protecting easily breakable things.
- Line the bottom of each box with enough padding that will serve as a shock absorber – crumpled paper, bubble wrap, and soft fabrics can all do the job well.
- Fill in any gaps with crumpled paper or other fillers.
- Mark all boxes that contain highly-breakable items as FRAGILE.
14. Pack ARTWORK for storage
You may need to put into temporary storage some of your framed artwork pieces as well – pictures, photos, and paintings. It’s best to treat your artwork items as fragile because that’s exactly what they are – a broken frame can be replaced but a ruined canvas could mean plenty of headaches for you.
How to pack artwork for storage? Follow these fundamental packing tips:
- Wrap your pieces of artwork individually, first in soft packing paper and then in large sheets of bubble wrap.
- Make a big X with the packing tape along the glass area of your framed pictures, photos, or paintings. This will keep the glass pieces from scattering inside the package and damaging your artwork in case of accidental breakage of the glass.
- Use special picture boxes to provide the best possible protection for your valuable framed artwork pieces. If you don’t have such picture boxes, use cardboard boxes of similar sizes.
- Use cardboard corners, whenever possible, to protect the weakest and sharpest parts of the frames.
15. Label each box properly
It’s very important that you label each and every box when you pack your things for storage. Labeling properly your storage boxes will save you valuable time as you won’t have to open random boxes inside the storage area to find the item or items you’re looking for.
The best way to do this is to use a black marker pen to write the contents of each box on at least two of its sides. You can choose to use a red marker, for example, to mark down any additional crucial information (FRAGILE, THIS SIDE UP) to make it stand out.
BONUS STORAGE PACKING ADVICE: Pack the storage unit the right way
After spending so much time and effort into packing your things for storage, it’s also important to know how to pack the storage unit properly. There are a few fundamental rules to follow and your belongings should be fine:
- Leave some space between the stored items and the walls to let air circulate freely for good ventilation and prevention of possible mold growth.
- Do NOT forget to leave a passage through the middle of the unit for easier access to your things when you get to need any of them.
- Stack cardboard boxes of identical or similar sizes one on top of the other… but make sure the heaviest cardboard container is on the very bottom.
- Positional all cardboard boxes in such a way so that their labels are perfectly visible from the walkway.
- Pack all items that you may come to need soon close to the front door of the storage unit.