When it comes to storage, some of us are in it for the long haul. Months, or even years, may pass before some of the stuff you store sees the outside world again.
If this is the timetable you’re working with, you want to come prepared. After all, long-term storage is a big-time investment (literally). To help you do it right, our team here at Stor-It has put together this comprehensive guide. Learn how to store with success below, and store your stuff at one of our Idaho self-storage facilities today!
1. Assess Your Stuff
The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. The journey that is long-term storage starts with your stuff. A thorough assessment of everything you need to store (and, if possible, things you anticipate storing in the future) is instrumental in determining your storage needs.
Get started by making a list of the things you want to store. From there, you can use our Space Estimator tool to see how much square footage you’ll need to store it all. Along the way, you may find that you can sell, donate, or simply throw away some of the items you were planning on storing. Most importantly, you will take stock of items that may require special considerations, such as cushioning or temperature and humidity control. All of this is invaluable knowledge to have before you move your things into storage.
2. Choose Your Storage Space
Once your belongings are assembled, it’s time to figure where they will stay over the long term. Before all else, you should pick a location. While some can find the space for long-term storage on their own properties, most will have to turn to self storage. Even if you do have ample space in your home, self storage is an excellent avenue for long-term storage. Here’s why:
- Extra Space. No matter where you live, self storage can save space. Moving your stuff elsewhere is a great way to open up possibilities on your property.
- Affordable Rates. Today’s top self-storage providers offer affordable prices, flexible financing, and non-limiting contracts on their storage units. Some even offer special deals on long-term storage units.
- Peace of Mind. Above all, a storage unit is a place where your belongings will be taken care of. Putting your stuff in long-term storage gives you peace of mind with the knowledge that your stuff will be there whenever you want to access it.
Ready to find the right unit? If you’ve made a comprehensive list of the items you need to store and checked out our Space Estimator, you should have a pretty good idea of the unit size you’ll need. Just in case you need more information, we’ve put together a Size Guide to take out a lot of the guesswork. A good rule of thumb is to choose a unit with some extra space, just in case you add more things into it over the long term.
3. Consider a Climate-Controlled Unit
In general, most long-term storage units fall into one of two categories: climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled. Most fall into the latter category, which means they don’t have any internal heating or humidity controls. Like outdoor utility sheds, these units each consist of four walls, a roof, and a door. They’re great for most items, but you may want climate control for some of your belongings — especially in regions where temperature and humidity fluctuate wildly or reach extremes.
Think of climate-controlled storage units as rooms in a modern house. They have powered systems that keep temperature and humidity at specific levels. Some of them don’t even share a wall with the outside world. Here’s a short list of items that should be stored in climate-controlled units — especially in the long-term.
- Consumer electronics
- Media storage equipment
- Medical supplies
- Collectibles and antiques
- Important paperwork
- Leather furniture
4. Pack Your Items for a Long Stay in Storage
Packing your items will help keep them in great shape — no matter how long they’re in your storage unit. Here are a few packing tips to follow when preparing your items and your unit:
- Invest in sturdy packing boxes. For long-term storage, flimsy cardboard won’t cut it. You want heavy-duty cardboard rated for decades of durability. You might even want to upgrade to plastic bins. Just make sure that your plastic bins have a small opening or two to encourage air flow, as plastic can trap water. Also, make sure they’re all the same size, so you can maximize space and stackability.
- Avoid plastic bags. You may be tempted to wrap certain items in plastic bags. Resist! As we mentioned above, plastic can trap water — and with no room for air, plastic wrapping on any item can lead to water touching things it shouldn’t.
- Label your boxes and make a map of your unit. After a few months (or years), you may forget where you’ve put things. Save yourself guesswork and labor by labeling your boxes and making a small map to place at the front of your unit. (Remember to write legibly!)
- Clean appliances before storage. Scrub down your appliances with a specialized cleaning solution (often a small amount of bleach and/or baking soda). This will help remove residue that can lead to mold or mildew. When you place your appliances in storage, leave their doors slightly ajar to encourage airflow.
- Cover your storage unit’s floor with a canvas tarp or sheet. Putting a plastic sheet or canvas tarp below your large items and stacks of boxes will keep them from touching any dampness on the floor. These sheets will also help promote airflow in your unit.
- Vacuum, wipe down, and/or polish any furniture items. Removing dust and dirt from your furniture items will help discourage mold and/or mildew. After cleaning any wooden items, add a layer of a polish to seal the wood and further slow any advances of mold.
- Cover furniture with white cotton sheets. Create a dust barrier between your furniture and other items by covering them with a clean sheet. Go for 100% cotton material, as it is gentle. You also want to make sure that your sheet is white, as colored sheets may bleed on your furniture over time.
5. Explore Storage Unit Insurance
If you’re willing to invest in a storage unit for several years — or even decades — you may also want to invest in storage unit insurance for your belongings. Most storage unit insurance policies require annual, bi-annual, or monthly payments at relatively low rates. Most policies can cover your items up to several hundred thousand dollars. You can purchase them through many homeowners or renters insurance providers, or they can be purchased as a standalone policy.
Here at Stor-It, we are proud to offer affordable and comprehensive long-term storage unit insurance policies through the StorSmart Insurance Program. Visit the link to learn more and enroll in minutes.
Learn More and Store Your Stuff Long-Term With Stor-It
Want more long-term storage tips? Have questions on how to pack for long-term storage? Our team at Stor-It is here to help. Visit our Storage Tips and Blog pages for in-depth information on all things storage and contact us directly to have your questions answered.
Ready to reserve your own long-term storage unit? You’re in the right place. As Idaho’s oldest and largest self-storage provider, we are proud to offer an extensive array of long-term storage solutions in the Treasure Valley and beyond. Whether you’re in search of climate-controlled or non-climate controlled storage, a 5’ x 5’ or a 10’ x 30’ unit, you’ll find exactly what you need at one of our 16 locations. To help you prep for long-term storage, we also carry high-quality packing and moving supplies for sale at each of our locations. Follow the links above to learn more, and store with us today!