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How to Pack a Storage Unit

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

3rd Jan 2023 (Last updated on 12th Oct 2023) 4 minute read

Packing your storage unit correctly helps to organise your belongings and utilise the space wisely.

Preparing and packing your personal belongings effectively is also essential to keep them safe, secure and free from damage. This includes using the correct packing materials and choosing the right size storage unit.

In this guide, we share the best tips to help you pack a self-storage unit.

  1. 1. Declutter Items
  2. 2. Choose the Correct Unit Size
  3. 3. Choose the Right Unit Type
  4. 4. Create an Inventory
  5. 5. Use the Correct Packing Supplies
  6. 6. Categorising and Labelling
  7. 7. Ensure Furniture is Protected
  8. 8. Dismantle Items
  9. 9. Utilise All Space
  10. 10. Create a Walkway to Access Items
  11. 11. Pack Vertically
  12. 12. Place Items Used Most at Front
  13. 13. Keep Personal Data Separate
  14. Find a Self-storage Unit

1. Declutter Items

Before packing, you should declutter your personal belongings so you’re not storing things you’ll never use again. Placing items in storage after decluttering ensures you are not paying for a larger unit than you need.

2. Choose the Correct Unit Size

If your unit is too small, you run the risk of damaging items that don’t comfortably fit. If your unit is too large, you run the risk of paying for space you won’t use.

Self-storage facilities offer everything from 10 sq. ft lockers to 500+ sq. ft units. For reference, most people choose one unit between 11 - 50 sq. ft in size on average.

To find the right unit size you’ll need, read our guide on storage unit sizes.

3. Choose the Right Unit Type

You can choose from outdoor, indoor or climate-controlled storage units.

Outdoor units are more suited for larger items like cars, boats or bikes. Indoor units are the most common, ideal for documents or household items.

If you are storing paintings, woodwork or antiques, temperature-controlled storage will be more suited. These units are designed to protect your belongings from extreme or fluctuating temperatures.

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4. Create an Inventory

An inventory will allow you to keep track of the items you have stored and the ones left to pack. It will also help you remain organised when you fill the unit and when you return to retrieve your items.

5. Use the Correct Packing Supplies

Good quality packing supplies are a great way to ensure your items are protected whilst in storage. Many items can be stored in cardboard boxes, but you’ll want to invest in airtight containers for any antique items. Your storage provider may offer packing materials, but they will be an additional storage cost.

Regardless of how well-built and maintained the storage units are, changes in temperatures in these containers can potentially cause damage to any items not properly packed. Below are some of the essential items when packing your belongings for self-storage:

  • Plastic containers
  • Cardboard boxes (various sizes)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Packing tape
  • “Fragile” tape
  • Dust covers and blankets
  • Clothing bags and suit covers
  • Labels and marker pens

6. Categorising and Labelling

An inventory list will work best with corresponding labels on boxes and items packed in the unit. Labelling items is another way to minimise losing items and also helps you get to what you need quickly.

List the box's contents and the location within the unit to help you easily access your items.

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7. Ensure Furniture is Protected

When filling your storage unit, put down a protective layer on the ground before placing your furniture. This could be pallets, tarp or cardboard, ensuring the item is raised and protected from the cold and potentially dirty floor.

It’s also recommended to cover your furniture with dust sheets, or old bed sheets and covers. Avoid using plastic coverings as these can trap moisture and potentially cause damp and mould issues.

8. Dismantle Items

Bulky items can take up more room than they need in storage units. Household items like bed frames can be dismantled to create more space. This also helps when transporting these items. It’s worth noting that some removal and storage companies offer this as an additional service too.

9. Utilise All Space

Make the most of your vertical storage space by using shelving units. Make sure you place lighter boxes on top of heavier boxes to avoid damage. Having heavy items in boxes on the bottom also means you won’t have to lift bulky items to access them.

You can stack similar-sized boxes on top of each other to create extra storage space. Vacuum-sealed bags are also ideal for storing seasonal clothing.

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10. Create a Walkway to Access Items

You should leave some floor space ideally down the middle of the unit. This gives you easy access to all items instead of moving heavy items when you need something.

11. Pack Vertically

Items like sofas or mattresses are best placed vertically in the unit to create more floor space. Standing bulky items on the outer areas of the unit means you can fit more items in your storage unit.

12. Place Items Used Most at Front

Storing the items you use the least towards the back of the unit means your most commonly used belongings will be easily accessible. This helps to save time when you need quick access to your items.

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13. Keep Personal Data Separate

Sensitive items like personal data and documents should be kept in a single box and not mixed with other items. Categorise your documents into different areas so you can easily find your documents.

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Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 storage providers so you can compare quotes. We also work with verified removal companies to help with your moving and packing. Save up to 70% on the cost of your storage and removals.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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