22 Tips for Packing and Organizing Your Storage Unit

Mar 7, 2024 / Laura Bolt

Storage unit organization is actually both an art and a science.

Solid storage unit organization will help you know exactly where you put each item so that it will not be hard to retrieve later. That way, you don’t have to open every box just to find one item.

“If you have items that have been in a storage unit for a while, you can easily forget what is in them,” says Sabrina M. Quairoli of Sabrina’s Organizing & Admin Services.

More importantly, packing thoughtfully and organizing your things can make them last longer.

If you have offsite storage, taking the time to organize and properly pack your things will prevent your stacks of boxes from falling over and possibly hurting you or damaging your other possessions.

Here are 22 tips to help ensure storage unit organization success for your self storage rental.

Storage Unit Organization Tips

  1. Plan ahead: Make a general plan of how you will place the boxes and furniture inside your storage unit before you get started.
  2. Pallet the ground: Before putting the boxes in, arrange raised pallets according to your plan. Be sure to also clean the storage area thoroughly, as storage unit organization should start with a (clean) blank slate!
  3. Avoid mildew: Refrain from putting in wet items as these may invite mildew, mold, and other types of water damage.
  4. Make a list for logical storage unit organization: Quairoli recommends “writing down the content that is in each box on a spreadsheet like Evernote, OneNote, or Google Sheets. All you need is two columns, one with the ‘Box Number’ and one column for the ‘Content in Box’ items. When away from the storage unit, this file helps trigger your memory of what each box contains.” Then, you can easily share it with family members who are authorized to have access to the storage unit.

Is climate controlled storage for you? Read up on our guide to understanding climate controlled storage units.

  1. Use shelves for storage: If there are shelves available, make use of them! Store smaller items or things you would like to keep handy.
  2. Store smart: Store mirrors and frames standing on end, never flat.
  3. Maintain accessibility: When it comes to storage unit organization, don’t store stacks and stacks of boxes together. Make an aisle that will allow you to get to a box without having to move anything out of the way.
  4. Keep important things front and center: Place the boxes with the things that you’ll most frequently need at the front part of a storage unit.
  5. Dismantle furniture to save space: For instance, to store a table, you can remove the legs. Just be sure that all bolts and screws are kept in a labeled container and that you actually know how to put the piece of furniture back together again.
  6. Save space: Create more space in your storage unit by using the hollow areas of big furniture. For instance, you can put a light box or two inside a wardrobe. The same goes for refrigerators, washing machines, or stoves.
  7. Reduce potential issues: Place moisture absorbers in key areas.

Not sure which size storage unit is right for you? Check out our guide here.

Tips for Packing Boxes

woman adding label to box for ultimate storage unit organization

  1. Stay organized: Number and make labels for each box, and then attach the labels to all sides as well as the box top. Storage unit organization isn’t just about where things go. It’s also a good idea to write down the estimated replacement value for each, particularly if you want to insure your things. If there are breakables, place “fragile” stickers on all sides of the box.
  2. Use no more than two sizes of boxes: Stacking the boxes will be easier and more organized if there are only a couple sizes. Boxes should be sturdy enough that the bottom box can withstand the weight of all the other boxes being stacked on top of it.
  3. Reduce potential dust: As often as possible, put your items in boxes to prevent them from getting dusty.
  4. Try not to waste space: Fill up the entire box but not all with heavy materials, as that will make it too hard for you to carry. When packing, put in heavy items first and then fill it to capacity with lighter items. Packing up a box completely will avoid its tendency to collapse or tip over.
  1. Skip plastic bags: Putting items in sealed plastic bags may seem like a good idea but it can invite mildew.
  2. Avoid a watery mess: Freezers and refrigerators should be stored with the doors slightly open. Electrical appliances should be completely dry—defrost freezers and refrigerators, drain washing machines completely.
  3. Pad your breakables: Pack fragile items in bubble wrap or packing paper. Wrap mirrors and picture frames with bubble wrap.
  4. Use wardrobe boxes: When packing clothes, we recommend that you make use of clothes or wardrobe boxes whenever possible. Hanging the clothes inside a box will make sure they retain their shape.
  5. Make use of old towels or sheets: When wrapping your things, use cloth and not plastic.
  6. Proper preparation: When preparing metal tools and equipment for storage, you should drain these of fuel completely. A rub down with some oil will also help to prevent rust from forming.
  7. Seal boxes with packing tape: Sealing your boxes will help ward off dust.

Finally, no matter what you’re storing, Quairoli says that “if you pack up the rooms one at a time, most likely, the boxes will be in order by room, so you can have the most convenient layout.”

For more tips on accessible self storage, check out our blog.

Friendly reminder: your space is not suitable for the storage of valuables.

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