When you’re moving or taking any other long trip away from your home but can’t carry all the things you own with you, and long term storage is a good way to ensure that everything stays secure and in good condition till whenever you’re ready to take them out, dust them off and put them to use again. If done correctly, you’ll find your items none the worse for wear and ready to go as if you only put them down yesterday, although this, of course, depends on exactly what kinds of goods they are.
Doing long term storage correctly is not quite that straightforward though. You cannot simply pack all the things you want to store and push them into space. If you do that, you will likely find your items in terrible condition when you want to retrieve them. It is important to keep the distinction between short term and long-term storage in mind when you’re storing items for the long haul. If left without proper protection, your items might survive well enough over a short period of time, but as that period begins to extends to many months and years, the wear and tear will increase dramatically and may result in permanent damage. To help you avoid that, here are a few tips on preparing your items for long term storage:
Decide What to Store and Where
You probably do not need to store everything you think you need to. Before simply unloading everything in a self-storage unit, draw up a list of all the items and think carefully about what the odds are that you will still want or need the item after a long period of time. Use criteria such as the current condition of the item, how difficult it would be to replace, and the sentimental value it might hold for you. Once you have selected the items to keep, you will need to choose how to store them and for most people, a self-storage unit would be the right answer, if not the complete one. You will still need to consider the size of the unit and whether you’ll need climate control. The overall security and condition of the storage facility is also crucial, especially for longer periods.
Clean and Dry
Putting your items into storage while they are dirty is a bad idea. Depending on what kind of item it is and what kind of dirt is on it, you might find that the dirt has become a permanent stain or has become ingrained in the item. In some cases, such as food particles in an improperly cleaned fridge or cooker, it might even attract pests. Be sure to wipe surfaces with the appropriate type of cleaner and take other steps such as applying disinfectant to appliances and using a vacuum machine to clean out furniture. You also need to ensure that all the items you are putting into storage are completely dry. If they are not, metal surfaces will likely begin to rust after a while. Mildew and mold will also begin to grow on your items.
Wrap and Box
The exact material you will need to use in wrapping your items will differ from item to item and you must be very careful to be sure that you are using the right kind. Delicate items such as vases, pieces of art, sensitive electronics, or similar items should be enclosed in soft packing paper that will help them resist any shocks from being jostled while being put into or brought out of storage. You don’t want to keep your items for a decade in good condition only to have them fall to pieces because you bumped them against something while carrying them out afterward. Other items can be kept in plastic wrapping, with clothes and other fabrics in special vacuum-sealed bags. Furniture with upholstery can be covered with cotton sheets. White ones are best so that while the material allows moisture to escape, the color will prevent any bleeding onto the furniture.
You must also choose the boxes right. Instead of just getting used boxes from your neighborhood store, spend the bit of money it’ll cost to buy packing boxes. They are more rigid for stacking and because they are new, you can be sure there’s nothing in them, whether visible like pests or invisible like an odor. Remember that your items are going to be in a closed space for a long time so even odors can permeate other items over the years.
Arrange and Stack Properly
Even if you’ve chosen the right size of the storage unit for your needs, it can be impossible or at least very difficult to get all your items to fit properly unless you arrange them well. Also, arranging your things well is also important to keep anything from falling off and damaging itself or something else over time. Ideally, you’d get professional help with this so that they can use their expertise and experience to map out the best way to get your things in and arrange them securely so everything will stay where it’s supposed to and you can easily reach any individual item you want to without going through the hassle of packing everything out, later.
A few general rules though:
- Place lighter items at the top of a box while the heavier ones go in the bottom. Also, place heavier boxes at the bottoms and lighter ones on top.
- Make sure that all the boxes are full to capacity to avoid them caving in when stacked. Boxes that are cannot be filled up completely should, as much as possible, go on top of a stack.
- Pad the interior of the boxes using bubble wrap, old clothes, or even crumpled paper to give the items in them more cushioning, especially when those items are fragile in nature.
- Seal all boxes properly to prevent the entry of moisture and dust. Items in plastic wrap should be sealed too whenever possible.
- Put boxes with similar contents and items of similar types together. This will make it easier to get the items you need rather than going through multiple locations in the storage unit or several boxes.
Label and Map
Every box should be labeled. The labeling can be general like “books” or where necessary, be more comprehensive as to the contents of the box. That would make it much easier to find what you need without needing to open each box. You can also draw a map of the storage unit, highlighting where different key items are. It does not have to be anything fancy. A rough diagram will do as long as it’s clear enough that you’ll understand it quickly when you’re reading it a few years down the line.