Written by Lisa Kirchhoff
For many, a household move often also means placing some items in storage. Below is our second installment on tips for storing your household items. For information on choosing a storage facility and safeguarding your items, see Storage Tips 101.
So you’ve chosen your storage facility, signed the lease agreement, and are ready to start packing. Whether long-term or short-term, nearby or far away, keep these tips in mind as you pack, prepare and unload:
- Along with clearly marking each box with a contents list, be sure to keep a detailed written list of what will be going in the storage unit. Also record an estimated value for each item. File away a master list with a copy of your rental agreement and insurance papers.
- Use masking tape to create an “X” on glass mirrors and tabletops; this adds strength and can prevent shattering. Adding flat cardboard pieces on both sides add even more protection.
- Clean fabric chairs, sofas, and mattresses before placing in storage to prevent mold growth. Take care to remove any stains as well as possible, as they often deepen in color over time.
- If possible, disassemble tables and beds before loading them onto the truck. This will help you maximize space in the truck and the storage unit, and doing so ahead of time will save time during unloading.
- Flat screen televisions are best stored in their original boxes if available. If not, a box made specifically for flat screen TVs is ideal. It’s important to keep your LCD or plasma TV upright as the internal elements in the screen can become damaged if it’s placed flat, tilted or set on its side.
Preparing the storage unit and your items
- Before you begin bringing items into the unit, place wooden pallets or plastic sheeting on concrete floors to keep moisture at bay. Check with your local grocery store or home good stores for free pallets; for plastic, visit your home improvement store to pick up a roll of vapor barrier sheeting that’s typically used in construction.
- If you anticipate your items will be stored long-term (more than three months), invest in quality fabric furniture covers for sofas, fabric chairs and appliances. Moving blankets secured with oversized rubber bands or cinch straps are also an excellent choice. For shorter term storage, plastic furniture covers work well for light coverage, but the plastic will trap heat and moisture, so they’re not best for using a longer length of time.
- When storing washers, refrigerators, and other appliances, be sure all water is cleared from any attached hoses or internal mechanisms. Water can freeze in cold temperatures and cause mildew during the warmer months. To keep parts together, store any hoses or other attachments inside the appliance.
- Before storing lawn mowers, motorcycles, snow blowers, and other gas-powered items, drain all oil and gas first.
- Spray and clean wood furniture with a furniture cleaning spray to add protection to the surface. Metal objects will benefit from a light wipe down of oil to prevent tarnishing and rusting.
- Purchase an inexpensive step stool or ladder to keep in the unit to make stacking and unstacking taller items easy and safe.
- Unload appliances first into the unit so they are in the back, freeing space up front for items you may need to access.
- Place items so an easy-to-access path remains through the unit.
- Prop freezer and refrigerator doors slightly ajar to prevent the growth of mold and odors. Place an opened box of baking soda inside to further prevent odors.
- For long-term storage, remove any plastic wrap that’s been used to seal doors and drawers closed during the move. Plastic prohibits air flow and can trap moisture and heat, causing warping or mold.
- Box up or cover everything you can with moving blankets or sheeting to prevent dust and dirt from collecting.
- Be creative to maximize space in the unit: fill dresser drawers with clothes, suitcases with towels and linens, and bookshelves with small boxes. Use the open space at the bottom or wardrobe boxes to store shoes and other accessories.
- As with flat-screen TVs, do not place framed art and mirrors flat; prop upright to prevent crushing.
- Although tempting, do not place items on sofas; long-term weight will stress the joints and can cause the frame and cushions to sag.
- Before stacking boxes or other items on dressers or tables, cover with a lightweight moving blanket for protection against nicks, scratches and color transfer.
- Once all items are unloaded, take photos and a video of your storage area. They will come in handy if you need a quick visual of what’s in the unit when you can’t be there. It also makes an ideal record for insurance purposes if you incur damage and need to file a claim.