Self Storage Basic Tips

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Yard Sales and Storage

So you want to have a garage sale to get rid of some of your old things? The question is where to store and organize your items while you are getting ready. A self storage unit is your answer.
Your basement storage room may be so full that you have no idea what is in there, and no room to sort through it. Your garage may be full of tools, bicycles, kids’ toys, yard tools, and sporting equipment, not to mention your cars. An empty storage unit is the perfect place to sort and price all of your items.
The best way to keep things in order is to categorize things as you drop them off at the storage unit. Sort your items by categories you might see in a department store or secondhand store – kitchen, clothing, toys, appliances, linens, sporting goods, etc. It will save you lots of time as your sale approaches. Instead of having to scramble to sort things as the sale date nears, all you will need to do is go in and tag things. (You can even price things as you drop them off.) As you go through things in your storage room or people give you their hand-me-down clothes, you take them right to the storage unit.
If you are having a sale with friends or family, you can split the cost of the storage unit. That greatly increases the benefits of using a self-storage unit to store your items because it reduces the expense. As the date of your yard sale approaches, set up the racks and tables in your garage before you bring your things over from the storage unit. Have some idea of where you would like things to go. All you will need to do is load up your van or truck with your items and unload them onto the tables and racks in your garage. Everything will already be sorted and priced. Having the storage unit also will let you concentrate on preparing for the sale without distractions. Leave the kids, computers, and phones at home and spend time sorting and tagging without the common interruptions. If you have an annual sale, you can bring items to your storage unit year-round. If you keep it well-organized, setting up for your sale should be simple.

Spring Cleaning and Storage

That time of year has arrived when the days get longer, and it becomes easier to do something about the carpet stains, dust and stale air that have built up during the last few weeks and, perhaps, months. Finally, you can throw open all of the windows and let in the fresh air without freezing. Now, get ready to revitalize your home with a good spring cleaning. Whether you conduct a full-house cleaning once a year or once a month, you may want to consider renting a self storage unit to get things out of the way during the process. In addition, cleaning and organizing easily can turn into redecorating. Self storage facilities are great places to store items for the long-term that do not fit into your updated home design scheme but that you are not ready to toss, sell or donate.
Spring cleaning tips:
  • To keep track of what you have already accomplished, clean from the top down, dusting and washing ceiling fans, light fixtures and corners first. Then wipe and wash walls, windows, counters, furniture and floors.A similar philosophy works with windows. Try cleaning the inside from left to right and the outside from the top down. This will make it easier to tell which side has streaks, if either.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries, test the smoke detectors and give them a good wipe down.
  • Clear counters and shelves and wash them thoroughly. Wash knick-knacks and dust books. If you have accumulated stacks of papers or bills, now is a good time to file the important documents in your self storage unit. Recycle junk mail, outdated magazines and used envelopes. Shred old bills and other papers that contain personal information.
  • Pull out appliances and wash the sides and floor. Clean normally hidden spills and wipe the walls.
  • Remove lawn furniture from your basement, garage or self storage unit. Clean it. A good spraying with the hose will usually do the trick. Replace the furniture with snow blowers, snow shovels and winter toys like sleds and snowboards. These bulky items can get in the way when stored at home. As these seasonal items don’t need to be removed often, you may find that when you tuck them away in a self storage unit you have taken a very practical step toward keeping your home free of clutter.
  • Trim bushes, aerate the lawn, lay down fresh mulch, and maybe even plant a few flowers. Garden tools can be bundled together and placed in trash barrels in your self storage unit when they are not needed.
  • If you plan to paint or thoroughly shampoo the carpets, consider moving your furniture into a self storage unit. Many companies will rent units for as little as a day. Mobile storage companies will even bring a storage unit to your house and remove it when you are done with it.
  • When cleaning mattresses and other furniture, consider laying down a tarp and leaving the bedding and upholstery outside on the driveway for a few hours. Some strong sunlight and ultraviolet radiation can help eradicate microscopic creatures that are trying to take up residence there. A thorough steam cleaning may leave your furniture feeling and smelling fresh, also.
  • Sort through seasonal clothes. Wash or dry clean them, and sew on buttons or stitch up minor tears. A wardrobe box with a hanging rod will help keep clothes looking good and can easily be placed into your storage unit. Remember to look critically at your garments. Get rid of overly worn garments and things you never wear.
  • As you clean the nooks and crannies, you may find leaky faucets, broken door handles or cracked tiles. Take time to make these repairs now to prevent them from becoming more serious or costly problems later. Get seldom used tools out of the way when you are done with the repairs by placing them in your self storage unit.
  • Remember the small stuff. Sweep the corners where you vacuum does not reach, wash down air vents, clean the dirt from the tracks in your windows and patio doors, and wipe crown molding and window frames.
  • Don’t forget the outside of the house. Use a power sprayer to remove grime, empty wasps’ nests and spider webs from exterior walls and windows. Spray down the garage floor while you are at it to rid the space of fluid leaks and road salt or sand that can easily be tracked inside and stain your carpet.
Spring cleaning may be a lot of work, but the payoff is a brighter, safer home that can give you a new perspective and prepare you to meet life’s other challenges.

Home Appliance Storage

It can be difficult to make space in your home or garage for unused appliances. But because new appliances are expensive, many people prefer to hold on to old ones for hand-me-downs, vacation homes, or back-ups. A self storage rental can be a convenient, affordable solution — short-term or long-term. However, if you don’t properly prepare your appliances for remote storage, you may return to find useless, moldy boxes. Below is some useful advice for secure appliance storage.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding appliance storage, remember that your self storage facility manager may be a great source of information and guidance.
Run a final cycle Consider running an empty clothes washer and dishwasher through a complete wash cycle using either a cup of bleach or white vinegar instead of detergent prior to placing in self storage.
Drain liquid Empty any water from hoses, holding tanks, plastic tubing and other internal components. This will help prevent freezing and mildew.
Clean the interior Scrub and dry the interior completely — especially in refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. Food and sugar remnants can attract bugs, even in interior storage units. In refrigerators, clean and dry the defrost pan — you’ll find it underneath or behind the refrigerator. In water-using appliances, wipe the rubber cushion seal around the perimeter of the door. Mildew tends to collect in this area.
Prop open the door
Find a way to keep the appliance’s door ajar for the duration of the storage rental. This will help deter mildew.
Avoid unwanted odors
Place an open box of baking soda in stored appliances.
Conserve space
Although some storage and moving companies advise against stowing items inside your appliances, careful preparation will offer additional storage space. A clean, dry, open appliance is a good spot to store lighter items, including fragile things. Do not jam-pack your appliance with heavy items, like books.
Cover and protect Use a breathable material such as a tarp or sheet to shield your appliance from dirt, dust or accidental scratches.
Remove glass and protect finish If your appliance has glass shelves or fragile parts, remove them and transport them separately. Appliances with finishes that can scratch or dent should be wrapped in blankets or bubble wrap. Refrigerators should be transported upright. Secure with tape Use a strong tape to hold the appliance door closed. Even though the tape should only stay in place during the move, you may want to choose a type that won’t leave residue (such as blue painters tape). Once in storage, remove the tape and prop the appliance’s door open to prevent mildew. Choose a suitable storage unit If you are storing your appliances in a region that experiences high temperatures, low temperatures, wide temperature swings, or high humidity, you may want to consider a climate controlled storage unit. Because climate control temps are kept constant, the mechanical/electronic parts of your appliances are better protected from rust and fissures. Load last If you’re moving more household items into your self storage unit, put the large appliances on the truck last. This way, they will be the first to come off the truck. Refrigerators should be transported upright. Unload first By placing appliances in the back of your storage unit, you’ll have easier access to smaller items that you retrieve more frequently. Turn the power off The large majority of storage facilities will not offer electricity outlets in your storage unit. But if yours does have power, do not use it. Leave your appliance off for the duration of the rental. Protect fragile parts If you store appliance parts separately (glass panels, shelves, etc.) remember to mark them as fragile and avoid stacking or leaning heavy items on them.

Wedding Dress Storage

The wedding is over. Perhaps you wore your grandmother’s elegant silk gown with the flowing train and the delicately embroidered veil that matched, or maybe you and your girlfriends spent weeks searching for the perfect wedding dress that you felt best reflected your personality. Now, you need to store this treasure so that the years do not steal any of its beauty. You may want to leave the possibility open for your little girl to one day carry on the family tradition and walk down the aisle in that very wedding gown. To best maintain its timeless grandeur, follow a few important steps:
  • Check the gown’s label for care instructions. Some must be dry cleaned while others can be “wet-cleaned,” which means cleaned with water, a process that can be handled by a professional. Often polyester dresses can be hand washed, but test a small, hidden area to be sure. Labels may provide special instructions that specify the type of cleaning solvent that the dress requires. Check with your bridal shop for an experienced dry cleaner that carries the type of supplies and equipment your dress needs.
  • Have the gown cleaned as soon as possible to prevent stains from setting. Check out the dry-cleaner and make sure the individual who will handle your dress has solid experience cleaning wedding gowns. Not all gowns require the same type of treatment. Some chemicals work great on silk but will damage sequins. Look for a cleaner that uses virgin solvent, rather than recycled. A gown cleaned in impure solvent will smell likes it has been dry cleaned, and it shouldn’t.
  • Avoid storing the gown in a plastic dry cleaning bag or a plastic garment bag for very long, even if the wedding boutique sent the dress home with you in such a bag. Plastic may emit fumes that could yellow or otherwise damage your gown. In addition, if moisture gets trapped in the bag, the dress could mildew.
  • Decide whether you want to have the gown professionally boxed or hung or if you are going to handle it yourself. The following professional procedures should help you protect this heirloom.
  • If you choose to have the gown boxed by a company that specializes in preserving wedding gowns, they will likely use an acid-free wedding box, preferably not simply one with an acid-free coating as it will not provide as much protection in the long run. They should pad the bodice and folds with acid-free tissue. Fabrics like rayon or polyester should use buffered tissue while natural material like silk should use un-buffered tissue. If you have the gown boxed, do not get it sealed. A dress that has been folded will need to be taken out and rearranged every year or so to prevent folds from creasing and permanently damaging the dress. An added benefit of storing your dress in an unsealed container is that you may take it out, try it on and enjoy it occasionally.
  • Choosing to have a wedding dress preservation company professionally hang the gown will help prevent wrinkles and will require less care in the future. Since it will not be folded, creases will not develop; therefore, the dress will not have to be removed from its packaging every couple of years to be rearranged. The dress should be placed in a cloth bag that contains no dye and hung on a thickly padded hanger. Dresses with narrow straps or none at all should be reinforced to prevent breakage. The bodice may be filled with acid-free tissue to help it retain its shape.
  • Check the dress at least once a year for problems. A spilled drink may be invisible when it dries, but over time it can oxidize and turn the area where it spilled brown. Have such spots cleaned right away. They can become harder to remove once they have been there awhile. Normally, they will show up in the first year after the wedding.
  • When removing the gown from storage, even for a little while, wear plain white cotton gloves to prevent sweat or dirt from leaving residue on the dress. This could lead to stains later. In addition, perspiration might cause the cloth to become brittle.
  • After the wedding dress has been cleaned and preserved, keep it in a location where the temperature is cool and the air is dry. Minimize light. Ultraviolet radiation can hurt textiles over a long period of time. A dehumidifier may help, or you may want to lease a self storage unit with climate control features that allow you to keep the temperature low and the air dry to better protect all your stored clothing, most especially this one-of-a-kind symbol of your family’s beginning that when preserved, may bring happiness to generations.

Holiday Decorations

The presents are unwrapped, the boxes are emptied of their contents, and tissue paper is strewn about the room. Time to clean up from all the holiday merriment; but don’t be too hasty to throw out the tissue paper and empty boxes – recycle them. This article will give you some “ah ha” ideas for storing holiday decorations, and self storage is a convenient place to holiday items when the season is over.
Ornaments
  • Run used gift wrap and tissue paper through a paper shredder and use the fluffy strips as filler.
  • Keep fragile ornaments at the top of a box.
  • Egg cartons are perfect for tiny ornaments.
  • Have a partitioned cardboard wine box? Use it to store tissue-wrapped ornaments. Several ornaments can be stacked on top of each other in each slot.
  • Reuse a shirt box or shoebox to store ornament hangers. Fill it with hooks, rolls of small ribbon, cording, scissors, twist ties and craft wire – everything you’d need to replace the inevitable lost hanger.
  • Store food-based decorations (like the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments your kids bring home from school) in sandwich bags to protect them from humidity, and then place the bags in an empty cookie tin to keep rodents out.
Garland
  • Store bulky garlands in large plastic storage boxes. You can push a lot into a big box, since there’s nothing to break, and the garlands can be fluffed out.
  • Mark the center of a long swag with a colored twist tie before you remove it so you won’t have to measure it again next year.
  • Label segments of garland with a pen and masking tape as you take it down so you’ll always know which piece to hang in the entryway and which is just the right size for the mantel.
Lights
  • Instead of coiling your lights in a bundle that somehow turns into a big tangled ball, wrap them around empty wrapping paper tubes and tape the ends of the string to the tube.
  • Put extra bulbs and fuses in a sandwich bag and place inside the tube.

Decluttering: Storage or Keep?

As you look around your house, you realize that you have accumulated more than will fit into the square footage available in your home. It may be that you cannot abide junk and regularly rid your home of worn out items and things no one wants anymore. Still, you see that too many things are cluttering your home and hiding its style and pizzazz. You decide to rent a self storage unit. It will allow you to rotate your treasures in and out of your house at the whim of your inner design guru.  Now comes the hard part. What should stay and what should be tucked away in your self storage unit?

Keepers
  • Hold onto clothes that are in season and that you wear regularly.
  • Keep at home practical items in regular use like silverware, towels, bedding and soap dishes.
  • Retain often used furniture.
  • Keep photos and wall hangings that add a spark to the décor.
  • Hold onto board games and enough toys to fill your child’s toy box.
  • Keep enough of your college student’s personal objects to make them feel at home when they visit.
  • File current bills and private documents like social security cards and bank account information at home.
  • Show off collectors’ items in a display cabinet.
  • Make room for sporting gear that someone in the house uses every few days (basketballs, yoga mats, bikes and more).
  • Carve a niche for that emergency household tool kit.
Storage-bound
  • Store out-of-season clothing and footwear.
  • Box up extra items that clutter your cupboards like excess towels, the good silver used only on holidays, extra blankets needed only in winter and toothbrush holders that have been replaced by a fresh design.
  • Store the rocker that only grandma sits in when she visits every six months or the footstool that no one uses but everyone trips over.
  • Store photos and wall hangings that make the room look too busy or just don’t fit your current design scheme.
  • Pack away extra toys that you have no room for. Rotate them in and out every few weeks so that your child can enjoy all of them. Involve your child in the decisions.
  • Put away your college student’s bags, balls and other belongings that spill out of his closets into other rooms or that make his room uncomfortable for guests.
  • Stash tax documents and other papers that may be needed but are seldom reviewed.
  • Store collectors’ items that take up too much room and don’t look good on display. If you have several collections or many items, you may want to rotate them.
  • Pack up out-of-season sporting gear.
  • Bundle garden tools together in the off season and stick them in a garbage bin in your self storage unit.
  • Ultimately, use your discretion to decide what stays and what goes. Label your stored goods well. If you are keeping them, you should rotate what you can into daily use every so often.
  • Mark your calendar to visit your unit periodically to take inventory of your items and see if anything can be eliminated or used elsewhere.

Packing Your Storage Unit

To get the most out of your storage space, here are some best practices for loading and packing your storage space.
  • Pack tallest to shortest: The tallest and bulkiest items like furniture should be closest to the walls. Shorter items in front will give you a better view of what's inside your unit. 
  • Stack boxes: Organize like type boxes so you can stack them.
  • Heavy items: When stacking items, keep the heavy items on the bottom for the stack
  • Plan For Temperature Changes: Some items should either be double wrapped or well insulated or not stored at all.
  • When storing dishes or fine china, put a thin layer of foam, paper or cloth between plates and bowls to prevent chipping during transport. 

Storage Insurance

It is often assumed that self storage facilities will automatically provide insurance for the items being placed into storage. This is not generally the case. Few self storage facilities will offer full or comprehensive item insurance within their standard storage rental fees. Some may offer basic coverage as part of the package based on the size of storage unit rented, but this may not be enough for your needs. Although some self storage facilities won’t insist that you have insurance coverage, others will and it makes sense to put adequate coverage in place. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of well-being just because the facility you’ve chosen has implemented good security measures or has a smoking ban on site for example. Your items are technically out of your hands in self storage and, although the facility may be doing everything it can to avoid theft, they can do little against accidents and damage caused by fires, floods, storms and other natural disasters. It is recommended that you check your insurance options carefully before signing your storage rental agreement and placing your items into self storage. In fact, your first step should be to contact your homeowner/renter insurance agent to see if the items placed in the self storage facility will be covered by your current policy. It may be that you are fully covered for items stored away from home or you may be able to pay an additional premium to get such coverage. This option could be cheaper than taking out a separate insurance policy. If you do provide your own insurance coverage, be aware that the self storage facility you choose may ask to see proof of your policy before renting you space.
Should you purchase insurance? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Are my items already covered under my current insurance policy? This would include vehicles and boats as well as household items.
  • Does the self storage facility offer any type of coverage?
  • If an accident occurs and the facility is at fault, will your items be covered?
  • If a natural disaster occurs, will your items be covered?
  • Has the self storage facility had many claims made by other renters?
  • Will the policy need to be updated each time an item is added or removed from storage? Be sure to keep a detailed list of what is in your self storage unit and its value.
  • Are the items being stored of high monetary or sentimental value? If so, it may be worth the extra cost to rent a climate controlled storage unit.

Choosing A Storage Facility or Unit

If moving, do you want to pack and store items yourself or hire someone to do it for you? If you value ease and saving time over saving money, you may want to hire professional movers who will come and pack up your belongings, move your items to their company-run storage site and then pack them up again and move them to your new destination. Make sure that you do your homework before hiring a mover. You’ll want to know that the company you hire is a reputable one before you entrust them with your valuables. Another thing to consider is that if you pack and store the items yourself you will have to pay for insurance, which can be costly. When hiring someone to do the work for you, insurance is often included in the cost of their services.
Do you need more time to pack, or want closer proximity to stored items? You also may opt to rent a mobile storage unit. The mobile storage company will bring the storage unit to your house where you can pack it at your own pace. Then, they will move it to your new destination where you can unpack at your own pace. Some companies also offer to help with the packing for an added fee.
Are the items you wish to store sensitive to cold, heat, moisture or dust? If you are storing valuable items such as documents, furs, electronics, computer equipment, stereos or television sets you may want to opt for a climate-controlled unit. Many storage facilities also offer dust-free storage for your sensitive electronics.


Use our Storage Space Calculator to find out how much storage space you need.
Will want to switch out the storage contents seasonally? Often you will want to store your summer wardrobe or seasonal household items such as swimming pool equipment or patio furniture during the winter months. During the summer you may want to store your family’s skis, snowmobile, snow blower and shovels. Space may vary for these items and perhaps even the need for climate or dust control. Make sure that you consider all your possible needs before renting your unit.
Do you need 24 hour tenant access? Be aware that not all facilities will allow you access to the unit during any given time of the day or night. Rules vary from one facility to the next. While some units are accessible 24 hours a day, other facilities have limited hours of operation that limit access to your belongings. Check the rules before signing a contract if round-the-clock access is important to you.
Do you need to store large items such as cars, campers or other motorized vehicles? Self storage can be a great option for storing vehicles. If needed, you can rent a climate-controlled unit to help preserve these items. You will want to be sure that you rent from a company with an established reputation. Safety is another factor to consider. You will rest easier knowing that your valuables are properly secured.
Is the storage facility you chose secure? Compare the safety and security features of facilities before renting. Ask if there are security cameras on the premises. Is the facility equipped with motion lights or otherwise well lit? Some storage facilities offer security alarms and security fences. Still other locations have an onsite manager living on the premises who will keep an eye on whose coming and going. They will alert the police of any suspicious activity.

Why Use Self Storage?

Reduce Clutter Renting a self storage unit can be a great way to reduce clutter and free up needed space at the home or office. A storage unit is a smart place to keep a few boxes, old appliances, memorabilia, heirlooms and old toys.
Security Often self storage units offer more security than homes. Self storage facilities provide security features not normally found on homes. In addition to a lock, facilities are often protected by a security fence, surveillance cameras, a gated entry, limited entry after hours, exterior lighting and possibly security guards or onsite management. You may choose to purchase an in-home security system for your home. While this may protect the items stored in your home, will it protect items left in your yard? What about that backyard storage shed? Self storage units give you the benefits of both extra storage space and added security.
Insurance When renting a unit you may be required or at least offered insurance. Insurance will replace your valuables if they are stolen or damaged while in storage. Self storage insurance may be cheaper than homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

Safety Some items pose potential hazards at home and need to be placed in a secure area to ensure the safety of your family. You may be handy around the house and enjoy renovation projects, but between jobs a self storage unit can keep those power tools, ladders, saws and drills away from curious children and, thereby, reduce the risk of possible accidents around the house.
Space Homes often do not have the storage space to hold large items. For instance, if you have ski boats, canoes or vintage cars, you may not have room for them in your garage or driveway. A self storage unit could give you a place to store such items that provides protection from the weather and some added security. If your garage has slowly filled with things like your exercise equipment and camping supplies and you want to reclaim it for your car, a self storage unit may be a perfect solution.

Self Storage Basics Overview

Finding a storage unit can be an overwhelming task, especially if you aren't familiar with all of the options and features available. It's best to assess all of your storage needs before you even search for a local storage facility. Consider how long you might need the storage unit. Many facilities offer discounts for long-term storage, but some may also have specials for temporary rentals. Estimate how much space you will require. Save money by only renting the space you need. Feel free to use the self storage calculator to help you. Many facilities will store larger items including cars, camper and other motorized vehicles. How often will you need to access the unit? Some facilities are accessible 24/7 and may even have drive-up access. Hours of operations range from facility to facility and should be taken into consideration depending on your needs.
Are any of the items you plan to store sensitive to temperature or humidity? If so, you will most likely need a climate-controlled storage unit. Typically the following items need to be stored indoors with some type of climate-control: leathers, furs, clothing, paintings, film, photographs, furniture, antiques, musical instruments, wine, paper, software, DVDs, CDs and electronics. All storage facilities should have secure units, but if you require additional security for your possessions ask the facility if they have any of the following: fencing, surveillance cameras, motion lights, alarms, guards or a police presence. You may also want to consider mobile storage for your items. If you decide to use mobile storage, a unit will be brought to you and removed after you have packed it. The unit will be stored at the facility or can be shipped to another location. The cost and features of mobile storage are comparable to self-storage but if you require regular access to your belongings, it may not be the best option for your needs. Check out more detailed storage tips on the left hand side of this page. There's a storage solution for every situation. And alwalys mark your calendar to visit your unit periodically to take inventory of your items and see if anything can be eliminated or utilized elsewhere.

Store Items on Pallets

Keeping your items off the floor is almost essential, especially in a traditional storage unit or garage. A box stored on top of a pallet is less likely to produce mold and/or mildew, this is because the box will have better air circulation.

Locking Your Storage Unit

  • Always locks your unit with you leave
  • Label your keys for your lock
  • Don't keep both keys in the same location
Always secure your storage unit or garage with a good lock.  Use a traditional pad lock or for more security, a full shield pad lock for secure your storage unit.  We do have several styles of pad locks for sale at our main office. Contact us for more details.


Utilizing Space

No matter what belongings you are storing you need to make sure you are utilizing all of the space that you are renting. Whether you are storing a vehicle with personal belongings or stacking personal boxes and totes make sure that you are getting your monies worth out of the provided area.
  • Bust out your Tetris skills! Even a small storage unit can hold a great deal. Make sure you are utilizing the space wisely by stacking things all the way to the ceiling.
  • Use empty waste cans and bins to contain loose items like garden supplies or tools. 
  • Allow for a clear path down the center of your storage unit. Place items along the walls but be sure to leave an inch of space between the wall and boxes for proper air circulation. 
  • When possible, use heavy duty storage totes for storing items. You will lessen the chance of dirt, dust and grime getting into your items.
  • Rethink and re-purpose things you're planning to store. Pack smaller items inside empty appliances in your storage unit - just be sure to leave the appliance door wedged open for circulation.