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Packing & Storage Tips

Getting organized for your move can seem like a massive undertaking. We have prepared a list of practical packing tips to help you make the most of your self-storage experience. These tips should save you time, energy, and money:  

How To Make the Most of Your Packing Space

A well-packed storage unit can look like a miracle to those who’ve never done it themselves. But you don’t have to be a Tetris veteran to make the most of your packing space. Here is a simple formula you can follow as you pack:

  1. Create a center aisle in the unit. In practice, this means packing the back and sides of the unit first, saving the center for maintaining easy walking access through your unit.
  2. Begin with the largest items. Couches, mattresses, armchairs, etc. should be the first items you put into a storage unit. The only exception to this rule is when you need something large to be easily accessible. In that case, save it for the end, designating sufficient space for that larger item toward the front of the storage unit.
    1. Mattresses should lean flat against a wall, not laid on the floor.(mattress covers are highly suggested to keep dust off of your bedding)
      1. Fragile item tip: If you have a thin, fragile item (like a painting or mirror), consider resting it between two standing mattresses. This adds a lot of protection for your fragile piece. Tape a piece of paper to the outward facing mattress to alert movers that you have fragile items in between your mattress to prevent breakage or falling when the mattress is removed.
    2. If you have multiple couches or similar size chairs, consider stacking one couch or chair upside down over one that is right-side up. This saves you a lot of floor space.
  3. Heavy items go next. At this point, fill in the empty floor space along the back and sides. By putting heavy boxes and bins in early, you alleviate the risk of heavy items crushing the smaller ones. Heavy boxes also stack well on sturdy desks and dressers.
  4. Small items fill in the remaining gaps. Small and lightweight items should stack easily atop heavier boxes and some furniture. As mentioned before, begin stacking as far back in the unit as you can, stacking back to front so that you leave as much space at the front of your storage unit as possible.

Additional Storage Unit Organization Tips:

  • When labeling boxes, use colored labels or tape to quickly identify the contents based on the color you choose for each label (kitchen, living room, books, appliances, etc.) This easy organization tip will save time when moving boxes into your home or office.
  • Don't forget about utilizing the space in your drawers and appliances by stowing away your linens and other lighter weight objects to maximize space and save money on packing supplies.
  • Items that you need to access frequently should be placed in the front of the unit.
  • Make sure that all boxes and plastic totes are filled to capacity to minimize caving in due to stacking.
  • Purchase high quality moving boxes and packing materials. The sturdier the box, the longer it will last.
  • To ward off pests, you can add bay leaves (found at your local grocery store in the spice aisle) inside boxes to discourage insects and other pests from invading your goods. The smell of the bay leaves acts as a repellent and works wonders.  (Hint -- this is a great tip for your kitchen and bathroom cabinets too)
  • Use stackable plastic totes on the bottom row to prevent moisture and to provide a strong foundation for items stored above.
  • Wardrobe boxes are great for storing hanging clothes and provide maximum protection.

Packing Best Practices

What You’ll Need

Set yourself up for success by bringing the right tools for efficient packing.

  • Use boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, moving blankets, bedding, towels or furniture covers to protect from scratches, dents, or dings.
  • Use moving pads or non-porous types of materials to keep items up off the floor to prevent moisture damage as concrete floors can sweat during the temperature changes in Texas.
  • Fragile or breakable items should be packed tightly wrapped in plastic or bubble wrap. Use heavily reinforced boxes to absorb shock during a move and fill gaps with peanuts or paper filler. Make sure to label boxes as fragile.
  • Use vacuum sealed bags for all your clothing, bedding, pillows, and window treatments to reduce space and protect from unwanted pests and moisture.
  • Seal all boxes tightly with packing tape.

How to Move and Store Furniture

  • Disassemble furniture and wrap pieces in plastic or shrink wrap. Keep all the small pieces together by placing all the bolts and screws into a clearly marked zippered baggie or plastic bag. Tape the bag to the furniture to avoid losing the small hardware.
  • Clean and wax wooden furniture, removing table legs and shelves from bookcases, to preserve the integrity of the wood while in storage.
  • Remove all lampshades and wrap them up for maximum protection. Store them separate from the lamps to ensure they do not get damaged in a box by themselves.
  • Use furniture covers for upholstered items such as mattresses, living room furniture, and chairs. We recommend not using plastic as it will allow moisture to build up between the upholstery and the plastic sheeting and attract unwanted pests and could damage your furniture from sweating.

How to Safely Store Appliances and Electronics

  • Thoroughly defrost all appliances such as refrigerators and freezers for at least 24 hours to alleviate any moisture that would create an environment for mildew.
  • Leave fridge and freezer doors open slightly for ventilation while in storage.  
  • All washing machines should be sanitized and fully drained including hoses.  Wrap hoses tightly and place inside the machine.
  • Electronics such as computer equipment, televisions, stereo equipment and speakers are optimally stored in their original boxes when possible. If you don’t have the originals, look for boxes that are as close to the size of the device as possible to minimize damage. Fill in any gaps in the boxes with packing materials.
  • Don’t store electronics directly on the floor to protect against moisture damage.
  • A little oil rubbed onto metal appliances will aid in preventing rust before storing items.
  • When storing lawn equipment make sure that all fuel and oil have been fully drained and caps replaced. Clearly identify on the lawn equipment that it has been drained of fuel and oil with a piece of paper or tape and a permanent marker that reminds you the equipment has been drained.  In the event you forget you drained it for storing you are less likely to sustain damage to engines and motors due to dry starting equipment later on if you notated it on the equipment from the beginning.

Storing Mementos and Family Heirlooms

  • Photographs require careful packing to ensure you do not lose the integrity of the photo due to heat and moisture. Using normal paper, dividers, or school supplies to store your important documents can cause damage. You can find special acid-free scrapbooks, tissue paper, sleeves, boxes, tubes, and dividers online or at your local craft store. Having a digital file stored off-site also is an extra measure to ensure that your memories will last a lifetime.
  • Check out this helpful guide for Storing Family Papers and Photographs from the National Archive.  
  • Keep in mind that moisture, heat, and humidity are the most harmful factors in preserving family papers and heirlooms. Climate-controlled units that have humidity protection equipment are the best environment for photos, documentation, and electronics, particularly in the Texas heat and humidity.
  • Pack all books flat in the box to prevent damage to the binding or the spine.
  • Use sealed plastic bags to prevent moisture from damaging important keepsakes such as childhood toys and mementos.

Use Proper Safety Precautions

  • Lock your storage unit with a quality lock.
  • Only give trusted individuals access to the keys of your storage unit.
  • Never give out your gate access code to anyone but trusted friends and family with direct access to your unit.
  • Ask for help when moving excessively heavy items. You can hurt yourself or the items you’re trying to move when you try to do it alone.
  • If you see something strange or suspicious, say something. Our office managers are available after hours to help in case of emergency.

Prohibited Items for Self Storage

  • Living creatures and living organisms
  • Dead animals and carcasses
  • Oil, gasoline, grease, and chemicals
  • Explosives, ammunition, and fireworks
  • Anything caustic or corrosive
  • Toxic waste and hazardous materials
  • Asbestos or any products containing asbestos
  • Lawn clippings, mulch, brush, etc.
  • Construction project debris
  • Tires, motor oil, batteries
  • Narcotics or controlled substances
  • Any weapons that are prohibited by state law
  • Stolen goods or property
  • Any additional items which are prohibited for self-storage under state, local and/or federal law