The moment you drive away from your newly filled storage unit, a million thoughts race through your mind: Did you pack everything carefully to avoid breakage? Are you going to return to a rat infestation? Will your antiques and fine art survive, or did you just flush thousands of dollars down the toilet? These thoughts are enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat.
Instead of inviting a bona fide panic attack, take a deep breath, maybe crack open a cold brewski, and follow these must-have storage unit tips and tricks. With a little planning, you can ensure that when you walk away from your loaded storage unit you won’t have anything to worry about except what you’re going to do with all that extra space at home.
To Keep Out Pests
Besides just being creepy, insects, spiders, moths, and rodents can wreak havoc on your stuff. They chew it up, leave their droppings all over it, and cause some serious stink if they die in it. Unless you’re looking for new friends, here’s how to keep pests out of your storage unit:
- Baits and traps are useful, but for some extra protection, place some dryer sheets in the corners of your unit as well as in the boxes (you will need to replace them once per month for maximum results). Not only will the odor dissuade pests, but your stuff will smell like a crisp, spring morning!
- Tape canvas drop cloths to the floors and walls before loading your storage unit. Canvas, as opposed to plastic, is resilient and absorbent, and provides an extra layer through which pests will have to burrow to get to your priceless action figure collection.
- If you’re storing your vacuum, make sure the vacuum bag is completely empty, because there’s nothing that attracts pests faster than particles of old food. Can you blame them?
To Eliminate Moisture
Few things will destroy your fine goods faster than humidity. When it comes to antiques, furniture, and artwork, moisture–and the mold that often develops as a result–is not your friend. To keep humidity at bay, follow these tips:
- Unless you have a climate-controlled unit, avoid cardboard boxes for long-term storage as this material is more susceptible to humidity (or if you do use cardboard, keep it off the concrete floor which may seep moisture). The best storage containers are plastic boxes with air-tight lids.
- To absorb the moisture from the air, place some charcoal in a saucepan. Yes, this really works.
- Allow some ventilation throughout the storage unit by putting your items on wooden pallets and leaving a small space between the walls and your stuff.
- If you store appliances that use water (like a washing machine), wipe the insides of them with baking soda to remove any traces of H20.
To Prevent Dirt Buildup
A little dust probably won’t ruin your belongings, but why give yourself more work when you eventually unload your storage unit? Follow these tips for a clean unit–and a clean conscience:
- Use mattress bags or furniture covers for anything with fabric. Or you can use two fitted sheets around a mattress or box spring.
- Before storing your wooden furniture, give it a good coating of furniture polish to repel dust and dirt.
- Lubricate your metal items, like tools and bicycles, with oil before storing to prevent them from rusting.
To Avoid Damage
If you pack and load your self storage unit without much thought, you may as well add ‘regret’ to the top of your to-do list. To avoid being surprised by a roomful of broken items, follow these tricks:
- Use bubble wrap for any breakables. Not only is it reusable, but you can see through it should you need to find something in a jiffy.
- Make sure to fill up each box to prevent internal shifting and thus breaking. Get your Tetris on and pack each one like a pro (crumpled newspaper makes a great box filler if you need it).
- Clearly label the boxes that include fragile items, and place them in the unit last so that there is nothing heavy on top or in front of them.
- Don’t store electronics in a room that gets below freezing. These subzero temperatures can wipe out your hard drive and ruin your TV. If you must, at least give them a few blankets to keep them warm.
- Place mattresses flat, otherwise your good friend Gravity is going to drive all the padding to one side.
To Maximize Space
For some reason, storage facility owners like to charge you more money for a bigger unit. Go figure! But since there’s nothing you can do about the rates, you need to make the most of the space you are given. Here’s how:
- If you are storing small or awkward-sized items, use a shelving unit to maximize space. If you don’t have any spare bookshelves handy, the DIY Network has some great tutorials on how to build your own.
- Fill every nook and cranny. If you have a dresser, put stuff in the drawers. Place your brooms, shovels, and rakes in an unused garbage can. Hollow space is nobody’s friend.
- Stack according to weight and size: heavy items on the bottom and smaller boxes on top.
- Vacuum seal clothing or bedding before placing it in the unit.
- Disassemble beds and tables (place screws in a sandwich bag and tape it to the furniture) and store sofas upright.
To Allow Easy Access
It doesn’t matter how amazing you are at packing and stacking if you can’t actually get to any of your belongings when you need them. That’s why you need to:
- Make an aisle, because you definitely don’t want to have to play Spider-Man just to reach a box at the back.
- Label every box with the key items that can be found within. It’s much easier than having to open them one by one.
- Place furniture sliders under the heavy items as you unload them. That way, if you need to push things around, it’s super easy.
- Take an inventory of everything you load into your storage unit. Not only will this help you remember whether your totally rockin’ vinyl collection is in the storage unit or your attic, but an itemized list is extremely handy should anything get damaged and you need to file an insurance claim.
Implementing these tips and tricks might take a little bit more time upfront, but completing them will decrease your chance of having a complete melt-down the next time you open your storage unit and an avalanche of boxes rains down on you.
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