The average American spends 12 weeks each year looking for lost items. And the average person spends $95.78 to replace what they have lost. When it comes to finding lost items in storage, using storage unit organization best practices can help.
How-To Guide: Storage Unit Organization
Having a plan and packing your items logically can make a huge difference when you need to find something in your storage unit. Putting in a little time and effort now will save you a lot of time, money and frustration later.
This article provides a simple how-to guide so you never have to worry about digging through your storage unit to find what you need.
1. Choose the Best-Sized Unit
It's better to have too much space than not enough. Before you start packing, visualize the items you need to store and find a unit that has a little more space than you think you need. Often you will add more boxes to the unit in later years.
You may want to consider placing plastic or wood pallets on the ground to protect your furniture and boxes from potential spills.
2. Create a Plan
Creating a plan is the most important step in storage unit organization.
Think about which items you will need on a frequent basis, and which items you won't touch for years. This will save a lot of time later moving around boxes to get what you need.
Frequently used items may include Christmas decorations, seasonal clothing, legal documents, etc.
Usually, appliances and furniture can go in the back and along the sides because you won't need them in a hurry.
Place the heaviest boxes on the bottom levels. This helps ensure that the boxes don't cave in or tumble over. Make sure that none of the boxes are too heavy for the boxes below them.
Check with the person who sold your couch or love-seat to see if you can stack it on its side. Sometimes you can safely, and this will save space in the long run.
You don't want to stack boxes on top of a couch because they will wear out the springs, and the boxes could fall over.
Using mattress and furniture covers can help prevent dust accumulation. Poke a few holes to allow the furniture to breathe.
You can stack certain boxes inside a fridge, a freezer, cupboards or furniture to save space.
If you can, leave space for an aisle down the center of the unit for access to frequently used items.
Draw out a plan before you move the boxes. Measure each box. Then do the math to calculate how many boxes will fit in the unit and how high they can be stacked.
3. Make a List
Start by making a list of all the items you'd like to put in storage. Keep the list somewhere you can easily find it.
It's a good idea to type out the list and email it to yourself. The subject line should say something like "Storage Unit Organization."
Next, assign each item on the list to a particular box. Group like items into categories, and name each box according to the contents of the group. Number each box in addition to giving them a title.
For example, if you have baseball bats, balls, and gloves, group all those items together into the same box and label it "1 - Baseball."
On the list, you'll want to include the replacement value of each item. This estimate is used in case you want to insure your valuables.
4. Label Everything
Create two identical labels for each box. Then attach the labels to the side and top of each box.
Make sure you label the boxes using large printing that you can read from a distance.
Double check that all boxes are appropriately labeled before you move anything.
If anything is breakable, put stickers on those boxes that say "fragile."
5. Fill the Boxes
Try to keep everything in boxes and seal them with packing tape so they don't accumulate dust.
Don't use a lot of different sizes for boxes. Only use 2 sizes at most. This will make the boxes easier to stack and will conserve space. And you won't have to feel like you're playing Tetris.
Make sure all of the boxes are filled to the top. This will prevent the boxes from leaning or falling over.
Don't put too many heavy items in one box. You want each box to be light enough to carry. Place heavy items in the box first, and then add lighter items.
Use new, sturdy boxes to avoid having the bottom of the box break. New boxes are more durable and will prevent your items from falling through and breaking.
Don't place items in a Ziploc bag because that promotes mold growth. It's better to use an open plastic grocery sack inside the box for air circulation.
Use smaller boxes for books and place them flat rather than on their sides. This prevents damage to the spine.
Fridges and freezers need to have the door open just a bit. Make sure that all electrical appliances are dry before moving them. Water can make the surfaces slippery so you're more likely to drop them while moving them.
Wrap breakables in bubble wrap or paper made for packing. This includes mirrors, picture frames, and glass or ceramic items.
6. Move the Boxes
Once all the boxes are ready to go, start moving them according to your plan. If you deviate from it, write that down in your notes to avoid confusion later.
When you load the truck, load items you'll store at the front of the storage unit (frequently used items) first. Load items you want at the back of the storage unit last. That will save you time when you move.
Don't stack boxes higher than your head. Reaching up for boxes is dangerous for you and for the box contents, as you're more likely to drop them.
Using a brick pattern when stacking can come in handy. If you stagger the boxes like a brick wall, you may be able to remove and replace boxes without moving the boxes directly above them.
7. Draw a Floor Plan
Once you've moved everything into the storage unit, draw a diagram of where all the boxes are and label the diagram with the box numbers and titles.
You might tape this drawing to the wall of the storage unit. You may also want to take a picture of the diagram on your phone and email it to yourself.
If you move anything around, revise the drawing so you don't forget where you put things.
As you have read, storage unit organization can be painless and helpful.
If you're looking for a storage unit to rent, search our self-storage database to find a unit near you. If you need a climate-controlled storage unit, search our database here.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below.