Are you a first-time self-storage renter? A long-time self-storage tenant? Maybe you’re just a self-storage researcher looking to take the first step towards organizing your life and freeing up your space. If you fall into any of these categories, this guide can help you get the most out of your current or upcoming storage arrangement. Below, our storage experts cover the top do’s and don’ts of self-storage.
Do Get a Unit Close to Your Property
In the world of self-storage, convenience is key. A good storage unit is one that doesn’t feel like a chore to visit. In terms of convenience, one of the biggest factors to consider is location — namely, proximity to your property. If you have to drive 45 minutes across town just to go to your storage unit, then you will be far less likely to use it. And when you do use it, you’ll find that its inconvenient location is a huge sink on your time and energy. Don’t let this happen. Find a storage unit close to your home or your business to ensure both ease of access and routine use.
Don’t Use Your Storage Unit to Store Flammable Items
There are certain places where flammable items should be stored when not in use. Your storage unit is not one of those places. We repeat: don’t store flammable items in your storage unit. Even if you have a climate-controlled unit, a power outage or other emergency could cause temperatures to spike and flammable objects to ignite. If you don’t have a climate-controlled unit, you’re playing with fire — literally! Keep flammables out of your storage unit to preserve your belongings and the property around them.
Do Label Your Boxes
There is nothing worse than spending hours and hours digging through your storage unit, ruining your perfectly stacked boxes and perfectly aligned rows of stuff, all in search of one small thing in a random box that you just can’t seem to find. Sound familiar? Hopefully not. To prevent this scenario from ever happening, label your boxes. Label all four sides, label the top, and if you are up for it maybe even label the bottom. The key is to make your labels visible and legible. It’s also important to detail the contents of each box with a few descriptive words. “Kitchen” or “Kid’s Stuff” isn’t going to cut it. Want to optimize your organization even more? Number your boxes, and employ the power of technology to find things efficiently. Make a detailed list on your computer of exactly what items go into which numbered boxes. When you need to find a specific item, open the document and search for the item by pressing “control F” or “command F” and entering the item’s name. In seconds, you’ll have the box number in front of you.
Don’t Keep Plants, Food, or Other Perishables in Your Storage Unit
A storage unit is not a pantry, and it’s definitely not a refrigerator. Thus, it is not a good place to store perishables. Food, plants, or other organic matter in a storage unit will eventually spoil. This will lead to an awful smell at best, and hazardous mold at worst. Both things can irrevocably ruin other belongings in your unit. While it’s best to follow this rule for all perishables, exceptions can be made for some canned goods and dry goods. However, if you’re going to store these items, check with your storage facility first. If you get the O.K. to store them, make sure they’re properly sealed and placed away from any ledges or sharp objects so they won’t break open.
Do Stack Smartly
Proper stacking inside your storage unit can save you a lot of space and hassle. To stack smartly, start by buying boxes of uniform sizes. This will ensure that all of your stacks sit flush and that no space is wasted. Next, place the big, bulky boxes towards the bottom of your stacks and the light smaller boxes at the top. Don’t stack too high. If every single stack of boxes in your unit is nearly touching the ceiling, it might be high time to get a larger unit.
Don’t Climb on Top of Things to Grab Other Things
In a storage unit, climbing can often be a recipe for disaster — both for your body and for your boxes. If you do need to reach for items above your head, get a sturdy step ladder for your unit and store it right next to the unit’s door. This will help keep your climbing be as stable as possible. As far as over-the-head lifting goes, here are some simple rules to follow. One, bring a second person to help. Two, don’t ever try to pull something from the middle of a stack; always move things that are on top of the box you are trying to open. Three, keep heavier stuff close to the ground and lighter up top. If everything you’re storing is heavy, don’t stack it.
Do Keep Your Most Frequently-Used Things Towards the Front of Your Unit
This tip might be a no-brainer to some of you seasoned storage vets out there, but for those who have never rented a storage unit, it could be a revelation. Keep the things that you use most frequently towards the front of your unit. You want your trips to your storage unit to be quick, pop-in-and-out errands. To do that, you need your items to be accessible. In many cases, this may require at least one rearranging trip per year. For instance, if it’s winter and your whole family is a bunch of ski bunnies, keep all of your skiing gear right at the front so you can grab it quickly. Then when summer rolls around, push your snow gear to the back to make room for your beach gear and other summer stuff.
Don’t Wrap Your Possessions in Plastic
You may have seen movers wrapping items in plastic before loading them onto their moving truck. You may have even considered doing the same for your stuff in storage. After all, plastic wrap preserves — right? In the short term it does, but in the long term it can spell major trouble for whatever it’s wrapped around. Movers wrap things in plastic to keep it together as they carry it and drive it to your final destination. They’re only ever keeping it in plastic for a couple of hours or a couple of days. If you wrap your valuables in plastic for a couple of months or a couple of years, you’re going to run into mold issues. Plastic keeps condensation inside of it and condensation leads to mold. Moral of the story: no plastic, no mold.
Do Purchase Storage Unit Insurance
If you can afford a storage unit, you can afford storage insurance. For a small monthly, annual, or semi-annual fee, you can cover your items with financial compensation in the event of an accident. Accidents typically covered by storage unit insurance include fire, theft, earthquake, and flooding. Storage unit insurance is offered by a number of insurance providers nationwide. It’s also offered by several storage facilities. Check your facility to see if they offer any plans to fit your budget.
Don’t Store Your Most Valuable Items in Your Storage Unit
Even with perfect self-storage protocol, accidents can still happen. While storage unit insurance can save you from financial issues in the event of an accident, even the best insurance policy can’t replace your most valuable items — many of which are one-of-a-kind or extra-sentimental. To save yourself potential heartache, we recommend storing your most valuable items at home or in a bank vault.
Do Make Walkways to Access the Back of your Unit
If you made it this far in our guide, you know that accessibility is important in any storage unit. You’ve learned to label your boxes, and you’ve learned to stack your most-used stuff near the front of your unit. However, to maximize accessibility and get as much “front” as possible in your unit, there is one more tip you should follow. Make a walkway (or two) to the back of your unit so you can access as many items as possible. Walkways may cost you a bit of space, but they will repay the favor by saving you headaches and hassle. They’ll improve accessibility, organization, and even airflow in your unit. For this last benefit — airflow — we also recommend stacking items at least one inch away from the walls. This will not only improve circulation, but it will also keep your items further away from outdoor weather that may seep through the walls.
Store With The Best: Store With Our Team at Stor-It
With our guide reaching its end, we have one final recommendation. Do invest in a reputable storage provider that will give you a great unit and excellent service from start to finish. If you are living in the Southern Idaho area, there is no better place to store than right here at Stor-It. We are Idaho’s first and largest self-storage providers, proudly operating over 14 locations with more soon to come. Explore our website to learn more about why we’re the state’s top storage choice in terms of convenience, amenities, affordability, and overall service, and store with us today!