You organized, you purged unwanted items, you packed carefully, you loaded the truck, you rented a storage unit. Now you are standing at the open door staring at all that empty space, and you’re wondering how, exactly, you should go about packing all your things into it.  It’s a common conundrum. What is the best way to store your things to make sure they stay intact, undamaged, and accessible? Here are a few tips to remember when you start unloading your precious items.CUSTOM - scratch head_portrait

Leave yourself an aisle. At some point, you are going to want access to something in your storage unit. You’ll find it will lessen your headache if you have an aisle so that you can access the items in the very back if you need to.  Safety tip: Don’t line your aisle with large heavy items in stacks taller than yourself.  You do not want to end up buried alive in knick knacks because you destabilized a stack of boxes trying to locate the crock pot. 

Get it off the ground. Lining the floor of your storage unit with plywood or pallets will help ensure that your items will remain dry in the unfortunate event of a water leak, or a flood. This will be less of a problem if you have a unit on the second floor, of course

Bins beat boxes any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Plastic totes and storage bins offer better protection from liquids, and insects. They are more structurally sound than cardboard boxes, and they also happen to stack perfectly right on top of each other. This means that your odds of creating an untrustworthy leaning tower of nostalgia drop significantly. As a bonus, you can write on them like just cardboard, and they come with nifty handles, which makes loading and unloading a whole lot easier on you.  Just make sure you stack the heavier bins on the bottom, the lighter on the top.

Big stuff goes on the bottom, and in the back. Furniture…appliances…that spare cruise ship anchor. These are all items that should be shunted to the back of the unit.   Any furniture that disassembles, should be disassembled. Couches should be tipped up on end to save space (and your cushions). If you are storing large items, they can sometimes double as smaller storage units. After you put them in the unit, your refrigerator or dresser can be filled with small items or boxes.

Cover paintings, photos, and mirrors with blankets, not plastic. It’s tempting to want to cover these items with plastic sheeting to protect them from environmental forces, but plastic will retain moisture, potentially causing damage to fragile paper or canvas. Cover with loose blankets to guard against breakage and scratches, but also to let the items breathe.  Also, be sure to store them on end, not lying flat, as lying flat increases the odds of broken glass or ripped canvas.

Oil things that might rust.  Bicycles, tools, machinery.  These are all valuable items susceptible to rusting. Be sure to give items like these a thin coat of machine oil before putting them in storage. It will prevent rust and keep them in good working order while they sit idle.

If you use it a lot, keep it up front.  Do you go skiing several times during the winter? You might want to keep your skis and gear right by the door so you can just grab and go.

Storage No-no’s. There are several things to remember NOT to do when packing a storage unit. Do not store food, or any substance considered toxic or flammable. Food can rot, stink, and draw creatures and insects. Things other tenants probably don’t want near their stuff. If you are storing machinery, engines, or vehicles, you need to be sure all liquids are properly drained prior to storing these items. Leaks happen, and a storage facility filled with your precious items is not where you want to encounter a chemical spill.

When in doubt, ask the storage manager.  If you have any doubts or questions about packing your unit, do not hesitate to ask the person working at the storage facility. After all, they are the storage professionals, and they can probably give you several tips and ideas to make your unloading and packing much easier.