How to Organize a Storage Unit For Easy Access

Feb 9, 2024 / Laura Bolt

At Public Storage, we know that deciding to get organized with a storage unit can be the first step to a less cluttered home. However, once you decide on offsite storage, there’s still the matter of organizing and maximizing your unit to get the most bang for your buck.

Check out our expert tips and learn how to organize your storage unit in no time.

Choosing Your Storage Unit

The first step is choosing the right storage unit for your needs. At Public Storage, we offer indoor storage units, outdoor storage units, and climate controlled storage units.

Julie Brooks of Peaceful Place Organizing says that “if you need to get into your unit often and the items don’t need to be climate controlled, choose an exterior unit that can be quickly accessed. And make sure it is large enough to maneuver inside to access items you may need more than once per year.”

If you just need to store a few items, a 5×5 storage unit or 5×10 storage unit should be enough space, while homeowners looking to store larger items may want to size up to a 10×10 storage unit or 10×20 storage unit.

Be sure to check out our handy size guide to choose the right unit for your needs.

We have more information on choosing the right size storage unit on our blog.

Using Vertical Space a Storage Unit

man using a checklist to organize storage unit

Before you move your items in, installing some freestanding shelving can help you utilize your space.

Brooks recommends using “3′ x 2′ plastic shelves sold at national hardware chains. They are easy to assemble, hold a lot of weight, and allow you to use the vertical space in your unit without making precarious, inaccessible stacks of boxes.”

Cary Prince of Cary Prince Organizing agrees, noting that “If you add two 5’ x 2′ shelving units with 5 shelves each, you will double your storage space — and everything will be much more accessible, too!”

When using a storage unit, sturdy plastic boxes or containers are the way to go.

“Cardboard boxes in non-climate controlled units aren’t a great choice,” says Brooks. “Mildew loves paper and fabric! See through boxes and labels are also important for finding those items you don’t use often.”

Because items in your storage unit are likely things you don’t often need on hand, taking the time to create an itemized list can help you stay on top of what you have stored.

Be sure to make a copy to keep at home so you don’t spend hours looking for something that was in your unit the whole time!

Arranging items in a storage unit

A few more tips on how to arrange your items includes:

  • Break down/disassemble furniture for more space.
  • Keep items you’ll need access to more frequently towards the front.
  • Use different colored boxes to denote item categories (i.e., holiday decor and beach supplies).
  • Arrange items to the side and create a center runway to walk through.
  • Don’t pack your items too tightly-allow a little breathing room.
  • Keep heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top (if you’re using boxes, make sure the lids are properly attached so they don’t sink in).
  • If you have a large storage unit, create a map of where you’ve stored like items to locate them more quickly.

Before you move in, don’t forget to check out our pre-move tips on our blog.

Keeping Your Storage Unit Clutter-Free

man holding public storage unit box getting ready to move in

Prince has three top tips keeping your storage unit organized:

  1. Maximize your vertical space by using shelving & hooks wherever possible.
  2. Zone your storage space so you know what’s where.
  3. Label boxes on two sides (long + short sides) so no matter how it’s put on the shelf, you know what’s inside that box!

It’s important to be intentional about what you put in your storage unit.

It may be easy to think “out of sight, out of mind,” when it comes to putting items in a storage unit, but items that you really don’t need or don’t fit your life can just collect dust and take up valuable space.

Just as you go through your home for a periodic cleanse of items to sell, donate, or toss, do the same for your storage unit to keep it organized and up to date.

We’ve got more tips on decluttering right this way.

To cut down on clutter, Brooks recommends abiding by the 1-in-1 out rule.

“If your unit is fairly full and you add more items, you are going to need to remove some stuff so that the items in your unit are still accessible.”

Visiting your storage unit at least once a season to rearrange and reorder items you may need on hand again can also keep your unit up to date and easy to deal with.

Now that you know how to pack and maintain your storage unit, visit us today to book your perfect storage unit.

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