Storage units are a common, cost-effective way to house some of your extra belongings or transition between living situations. Before you load those boxes and drop them off, though, learn how to secure your storage unit so your personal items stay safe.

Organize Your Belongings Before Storing

When you’re looking for a facility, you should not only consider the size and price of the unit, but also the security of the premises. The most secure are surrounded by fencing, include surveillance and regulated access, and have an on-site office. Research the facility’s restrictions to ensure all your belongings can be stored there. Most don’t allow flammable items but some have additional restrictions.

Before you start packing your possessions, determine what you need to keep, what you can sell in a yard sale, what you can donate and what shouldn’t be stored. Be extra wary of storing your most valuable items. Depending on what you decide to store, you may be able to downsize the unit.

Clean the belongings, such as furniture, textiles and appliances, that you plan to move to the storage unit — this helps get rid of bugs and mold that could cause issues. Double and triple check for edible items that might tempt critters into your storage unit. Consider using a bleach or baking soda mixture to clean your appliances to help combat bad odors. Drain the hoses and internal structures of appliances like washers and refrigerators, as well as the hoses of all your gas-powered machinery, such as lawn mowers, snowblowers and grills.

To protect your furniture, use protection spray, leather conditioner, wax and oil as appropriate and take apart items that can be easily disassembled. This allows for faster and safer packing (but be sure to attach a baggie with the little parts to each furniture item for quick reassembly!).

No matter how secure your storage unit appears, look for alternate locations for expensive items like jewelry, art or heirlooms. Using a storage unit involves some risk of damage or theft — you’d do well to keep these items in your home or with someone you trust.

While packing your possessions, group items together based on use, size, fragility and location. Keep an inventory of what is in each box so that you have a record of everything in your unit and where it is packed. This can not only help you find things easily but can also help if something happens to your belongings.

Check with your insurance agent to see if you renters or homeowners insurance covers your possessions in storage. If it doesn’t, inquire about adding protection to your plan while you’re using the unit.

Secure Your Items

Make sure the items in your storage unit remain secure by packing for maximum protection. Don’t scrimp on packing materials — use bubble wrap, newspaper and packing peanuts to protect fragile items. Invest in sturdy boxes and totes, as well as packing tape to completely seal each box. Purchasing cedar balls to pack with textiles can help ward off odors.

Fill your boxes completely so that they don’t buckle when things are stacked on top of them.

Before you move anything into the unit, cover the floor with plastic, especially if you don’t have a climate-controlled unit. You should also consider using pallets and cinder blocks, or even a layer of cardboard, to keep your things off the floor. This helps protect your belongings from flooding, moisture seeping in and animals.

Ask for help moving things into your unit. This will protect your body and prevent your belongings from getting damaged.

Loosely cover your furniture in light-colored sheets, blankets, drop cloths or light plastic to protect the pieces from dust and moisture. Avoid covering things in cloth with vibrant or dark colors that might discolor your furniture, wrapping things in thick plastic covers that will seal in moisture, and using plastic on leather or wood.  

Load larger items closer to the walls but leave a small space between items and walls for ventilation. This allows for easy access and ensures you won’t have to climb behind furniture to get to anything. Load fragile items carefully, higher up and in areas that won’t be disturbed — you don’t want your box of dishes to take a tumble as you try to pull out the box of extra sheets!

Store mattresses flat with an even disbursement of weight on top. Do not put boxes on top of your couch, as it could cause sagging. Leave the doors of appliances slightly ajar to keep them from getting musty.

Put anything you might need to access near the front, but also leave a pathway down the middle of your unit for easy access to all your belongings.

 

Once you’ve found a new home for you and all your possessions, call your local Farm Bureau agent to ensure you have coverage to protect your home, family and future.