How to Organize a Storage Unit
As a general rule, if you can’t afford to lose it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your storage unit. A majority of the time your belongings will be just fine and there’s nothing to worry about, but self storage always come with a risk – albeit a small one – that items will get damaged or lost.
Need a place to store your belongings? Consider renting a self-storage unit from a climate-controlled storage facility near you. These storage units provide a solution to those in need of temporary or long-term storage before, during and after a move. Just make sure to pack, plan and organize the storage unit, so that you don’t lose track of what you have.
After all, what good is a storage unit, if you can’t find anything you need? Hint: not very good at all. If you’re not sure how to organize a storage unit, we’re here to help.
Our simple organizing tricks and packing hacks will help you maximize the space inside your unit while also making your storage experience more efficient overall. Here are 7 must-try tips for organizing a storage unit like a pro.
How to organize a storage unit
Create a list of all inventory
When placing a lot of items in storage, it’s difficult (if not – impossible!) to remember all of them. While large furniture pieces, such as a bed or sofa, are easy to remember, smaller items (think: artwork, pictures, electronics and clothes) are oftentimes forgotten after months (or possibly years) in storage.
To keep everything straight, you’re going to need to create and maintain a list of all items stored inside the unit. As you begin the packing process, we recommend reporting each item in a spreadsheet.
Taking photos of stored items is also a great way to keep up with what’s in your storage unit. Be sure to save all photos and inventory descriptions in one place. It’s also a good idea to create some sort of map indicating where your belongings are located inside the unit.
Consider storing items inside clear bins instead of cardboard boxes
Don’t get us wrong: cardboard boxes are completely okay to use in a storage unit. They also tend to be less expensive than plastic bins. However, plastic bins make it much easier to keep track of what’s inside your storage unit. In our opinion, they are often worth the extra few bucks.
Unlike opaque cardboard boxes, clear plastic bins make it possible to see what’s inside a container without having to dig through it. This will make it easier and faster to locate what you need when you need it.
Disassemble furniture and store items upright
To maximize space and organize more efficiently, disassemble large furniture items prior to placing them in storage. This includes taking apart headboards, bed frames and mattresses as well as disassembling table legs – among other items.
We recommend storing individual items in a vertical position towards the back of a storage unit (except for mattresses, which should be stored lying flat). By storing furniture, such as headboards, upright and on the side, you’ll open up more floor space for other items.
Tip: if your dining table doesn’t come apart, try using it as extra shelving inside the storage unit for stacked boxes.
Store large, heavy items on the bottom towards the back
As you begin packing items inside the storage unit, start with large, heavy belongings such as furniture and heavy boxes. Place them towards the back of the storage unit on the bottom. Remember: unless you want to crush smaller and/or lighter boxes, heavy items should always be stored on the bottom of the storage unit. This creates a stable base for lighter items.
Place items you need more frequently towards the front
Chances are, there are some items you plan on using more frequently than others. For instance, that extra bed you no longer have room for likely won’t see the light of day for a while – whereas your baby’s pack ‘n play will. Other items that you’re sure to need more often include seasonal clothing such as heavy coats, boots, hats, flip flops and swimsuits.
While you won’t need these items every day, you will be making trips to the storage unit to retrieve them at least once a year. These types of belongings should be placed towards the front of your storage unit in well-labeled boxes or bins. Placing them in an easy-to-reach spot near the door will save you the trouble of having to dig through mountains of boxes every time you go to the storage unit.
Remember to go vertical
When packing and organizing your storage unit, remember to go vertical with your belongings. Boxes should be stacked high and furniture should be stored upright. If you happen to be storing bookcases or anything with shelving, take advantage of the extra storage space.
To make room for smaller boxes and belongings, consider adding wire shelving or hanging shelves to the storage unit as well. If the storage unit is particularly high, you may want to consider keeping a foldable ladder or step stool inside the unit with your belongings.
Label, label, label
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to label every box and bin inside a storage unit. You may think you’ll remember where you put those family photo albums – but trust us – you won’t. Especially if they’ve been sitting in storage for a long period of time. Label every box clearly with either a permanent marker or printed labels. Make sure the labeled part of the box is facing the front of the storage unit, so you’ll see it upon entering.
When renting a storage unit, don’t forget to also:
- Find out what you can and can’t store inside the unit.
- Rent the right size storage unit for your needs.
- Use quality packing supplies.
- Place small electronics and cords inside waterproof plastic baggies.
- Thoroughly clean the unit and your items prior to placing them inside.