How to Make the Most of Your Storage Unit

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Storage units hold some of our most prized possessions. In order to keep the items you store in their best condition, plan and organize all the stuff ahead of time. Use the space effectively and efficiently with the following strategies and tips, and treat your storage items with a little extra care to keep them preserved over time.

Plastic Wrap

A plastic-wrapped chair surrounded by moving boxes.

Get yourself a roll of large plastic wrap—typically called stretch wrap—from your local moving, packing, or hardware store. Wrapping your items in this plastic takes a little extra time while packing it up, but is well worth the effort. It protects pictures, frames, and art from damage while moving and storing and can preserve furniture such as couches and chairs from scuffs or tears. Use it to wrap breakables such as knick-knacks and jewelry boxes before packing them into larger boxes for storage. It can also be used to bundle things together to fit them in tight spaces, such as silverware, towels, or office supplies.

Regular Visits

Make regular visits to check on your storage space, especially if you aren’t going by there every so often to remove or add things to the space. Check to make sure that everything is clean and in good condition. While there shouldn’t be any water leaks, insects, pests, or other problems, make sure to stop by and inspect your space regularly. Also dust, sweep, polish, and wipe down anything that isn’t boxed so that it doesn’t become worn and aged by dust in the air and temperature changes.

Label Boxes

A stack of cardboard moving boxes.

Choose boxes that are around the same size and shape to store your items in. This will make stacking them much easier and not a giant puzzle piece. After color coding the labels or tags, be sure to label the boxes with a more specific list of a few items in the box so that they’re easier to sort through. If you label five boxes as “bedroom” without more specifics, in just a few months it will be very difficult to recall what you put inside any of those boxes. Try to keep like items together so you can use generic names such as “office supplies” or “Christmas ornaments.” It’s all about organization so you can find items easily in the future.

Color Coordinate

Before labeling boxes, arrange what you’re packing into categories so the boxes can be color coded. One color can represent a room, for example, such as the dining room if you’re storing items after moving from a large house to a smaller one. If you have a large family, boxes can also be color coded to decipher which boxes belong to whom. Otherwise, use labels like "books," "baby clothes," or "childhood toys" if you have several boxes of a certain type of item. Each specific label or room will have a specific color. That way, when you’re moving your storage items into a new home or simply trying to keep things organized, you can tell more quickly what types of items are in each box.

Invest in a Lock

A close-up of a lock on a blue storage unit.

Regular padlocks are available at any hardware store, and can be relatively cheap. Many of these locks, however, whether combination or keyed, can be cut with a strong tool. Prevent break-ins by spending a little extra money on heavy-duty locks for your storage space. Protect the items inside with the locks that the storage providers suggest. Most storage spaces sell these locks right in the storage rental office, but can otherwise be found online and in hardware stores.