Storage Wars

By Shara Koplowitz

Storage Wars

Americans have a hard time letting go of their stuff. 

A convenient way of dealing with excess stuff is to rent a storage unit and forget about it

Storing items while staging and selling a home makes sense, and there are other legitimate reasons for renting a storage unit, but for the most part, families are spending thousands of dollars year after year to avoid the inevitable task of making difficult decisions.



Instead of paying to house empty pill bottles, old textbooks and unused school supplies, a little decluttering and organizing can cut your storage size and expense in half... if not eliminate your need for extra storage all together.


How To Get The Most Out Of Your Storage Unit



You can avoid most damage that occurs over time by cleaning and packing items with the proper materials before you store them. 


- Photos, Yearbooks, awards, certificates, etc. all deteriorate over time. Using polypropylene bags and archival folders and boxes you can prevent photos and documents from sticking together, warping and fading.

- Art and Framed Photography also fade and warp over time.  By cleaning and wrapping artwork in polypropylene, bubble and stretch wrap, and using protective corners, you can both preserve and protect your art against dust, fading and damage

- Clothing, linens, pillows and drapery often collects mildew which causes that awful musty smell that you can never get rid of. Protect these items by: dry-cleaning, wrapping in acid free tissue paper, using breathable cotton covers and storing in plastic bins with cedar blocks.

-Leather & wood furniture can dry out, warp,crack and actually start to rot over time. Using a leather conditioner, wood polish and breathable cotton covers, items will be protected from dust and moisture and remain in good condition over time.

 - Appliances should be rinsed with bleach to prevent mold and mildew growth. Propping open appliance doors so air can circulate will help keep odors at a minimum.

- Mattresses should go into mattress bags or old mattress covers.

- Electronics should be packed in original packaging when possible or wrap them in anti-static foam with additional filler material and seal the box or container completely to prevent moisture damage.  Remove CDs, DVDs, ink jet cartridges and detach wires and other accessories and bundle together.


Packing a self storage can be quite an undertaking , but a little planning can put your mind at ease.


 - When filling your storage unit, think about how often you will access certain items. Arrange frequently accessed items near the front.

- Leave a walk way. When you are packing your unit, be sure to leave a small path through the middle of the unit. This way, if you need to retrieve something later you won’t have to unpack your entire unit to access it. 

- Pack tallest to shortest. The tallest and bulkiest items like furniture and mattresses should be closest to the walls. Starting with the tallest items in the back and the shorter items in front, closest to the aisle.  This will give you a clear view of what’s inside your unit at first glance and help you use the space in the most efficient manner

- Disassemble Furniture Items.  Look for ways to reduce the size of bedframes, couches, tables and chairs by removing legs, etc.

- Fill In the Gaps Creatively.  Be creative with how you use the space. For example, if you are storing a dresser, use the drawers as storage for smaller fragile items.

- Make a Map Of Where Everything Is/Create An Inventory List.  Finding the one item you need can feel like a bit of a treasure hunt if you're not organized. Make your future visits easier by creating an inventory list and making a map of exactly where all your items are located. Tack the list to the door so your next visit is easy in, easy out.

- Group Boxes by Weight/Fragility: A box of family china is going to weigh a lot, but will not serve as a good foundation for stacking other boxes. A box of books, on the other hand, always makes a great foundation piece.

- Packing Things Tightly maximizes your storage unit space and prevents dust, settling and wear and tear .

- Keep Dangerous Items Out:  Avoid storing things that are flammable or potentially explosive. Anything that can degrade over time or produce a toxic smell should be kept out. Even used tires or paints should be stored elsewhere.

- Label, Label, Label.  The more information you provide on a box's label, the less hunting and unpacking that will be needed down the road.



Is it time to tackle your storage unit?





Author: Shara Koplowitz

Date Published: May 31, 2017