Storing items for periods of time can greatly reduce clutter and stress from your everyday life, but it’s important to store things correctly. Whether you are storing in your house or in a unit, it’s important to use the proper materials and techniques to keep your stored items safe and of good quality so that they’re ready to use when you need them again. Here are 15 ultimate storage tips everyone should know to maximize their storage experience.
Create a labeling system
This may seem too simple to be an “ultimate” storage tip, but it’s definitely a step that too many people skip all too often thinking that they will remember what is packed in which box or container. Label your boxes and containers as if you will not be the person unpacking them. Attach a notecard to each box to bullet point which items the box contains, that way when it comes time to find a specific item, you won’t have to search through each box to find it. You can also use a color code system to determine which types of items are stored in which boxes.
Consider the temperature
Typically when you’re packing things away for storage, those things will undergo a temperature change from season to season, especially if you are not storing them in a temperature-controlled environment. Many items will not have any problems, but delicate items, fabrics, waxes, books, and art may not fair temperature and humidity change as well. Be sure to seal your containers and wrap them to survive the conditions. When possible, keep the stored items in an area where you (or someone else) can regulate the conditions.
Dual purpose packing
Use items you are storing to help protect items you are storing. Use oven mitts to protect knives and clothing and towels to protect fragile items. Paper plates can be stacked in between regular plates to help protect them from breaking.
Wrap everything you can
Use industrial plastic wrapping to cover as many items in storage as you can. The plastic wrapping prevents dust and pests from damaging your items and can also help protect your items from moisture. Make sure that everything is completely dry before you wrap it to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Plan which items you will need next
As you are storing items, plan ahead to determine which items you will need to retrieve first and place those items within easy reach, or arrange your stored items so that there is a center “aisle” for easy access to all items.
Tape all screws and small parts to the items
Many times the best way to store large items such as beds, large furniture, and even some appliances is to take them apart to make them easier to move and store in a certain space. To avoid losing the screws and small parts necessary to put these items back together, tape the screws directly to the item or tape a bag containing the screws directly to the item. That way you won’t forget where you put the screws before and risk losing the specific size you need.
Do not use newspaper
Often people use newspaper as a way to insulate boxes and pack items to prevent breakage. Over time, the ink from newspapers can rub off onto your items creating unsightly black smudges. Instead, use plain packing paper or bubble wrap.
Buy a lock
If you are storing your items in a self-storage facility, consider investing in a sturdy lock to secure your unit. Most storage units offer basic levels of security, but you don’t want to take your chances with your items, especially in a place where people know things are kept for long periods of time with no one accessing them every day.
Utilize all available space
Storage space quickly fills up, so it’s important to perfect the real life Tetris game to maximize your space. Use boxes or containers that can be easily stacked and fit beside each other. Unusual shapes or many different shapes create a packing nightmare. Use dresser drawers and space under tables to place items as well.
Check on your items
We like to think that we can just store things away and not think about them until we need them again, but it’s a good idea to check on your items regularly to make sure everything is still safe and secure. Set yourself a reminder every month to check on your items to make sure the temperature/humidity is favorable, there are no holes in the boxes, and that nothing has fallen or gotten wet.
If you are storing your items in a unit, keep in mind that the storage unit company might have some safety measure and special services for climate control, but they are not responsible for damage or theft of your property. Purchase insurance, especially if you are storing valuable and important items, to help protect yourself.
Use vacuum-seal bags
Air takes up space, so sucking it out can save you some and keep your clothing and fabric safe. Storing seasonal clothing in vacuum-seal bags can even make them manageable enough to slip them under beds to store or fit more in tight spaces. Make sure clothes are completely clean and dry first.
Do not pack too heavy
Pay attention to the weight of the containers as you pack them. You may be able to fit your entire book collection in one box, but if can’t even lift it to store it on that shelf, it doesn’t do you any good. Opt for smaller containers that can be stacked or easily fit side-by-side without creating space between them.
Take photos before taking it apart
You may have thrown out assembly instructions or you may want to re-create a certain set up. Don’t rely on your memory to make sure you get it right after your items have been in storage for a while. Instead, take photos to remember where cords were plugged in, how things were stacked just the right way, and which item fit where.
Don’t be afraid to stack your items. We often forget about vertical space, but it is valuable when it comes to storage. Place the largest and heaviest items on the bottom and stack securely on top of them, making sure nothing feels wobbly in the process. When retrieving items, be sure to use proper stepladders to prevent an avalanche of items.
What are your favorite storage tips that have changed the way you store things? Share with us in the comments section below.
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