How to Prepare Your Things for Long-Term Storage

There are a lot of situations in which you may find yourself needing long-term storage. Maybe you’ve decided to spend a year traveling Europe or are preparing for deployment; maybe your mom is moving to a nursing home and has an entire house worth of possessions to find a place for, or maybe you’re just a sentimental packrat who never has enough room.

We understand that life is full of many unexpected turns and, whatever the reason, many people end up needing to invest in a long-term storage space. If you’re preparing your valuables for an extended trip to a storage unit, be sure to keep these tips in mind to preserve the quality of your materials and leave them with peace of mind in knowing that they’re safe and sound!

How to Prepare Your Things for Long-Term Storage

Pack Carefully

Stowing your items for a short amount of time doesn’t require quite as much forethought and planning as long-term storage will. The longer your things sit untouched, the more important it is to make sure they’re packed away properly to avoid damage and deterioration over time.

Clothing

When it comes to packing your clothes the most important factor is climate control. Even just sitting in your closet, clothing breaks down over time. You’ve probably pulled your favorite tank top out of the closet one summer to find little moth-eaten holes have appeared in it—now imagine if you didn’t touch it for months or years.

Moisture and humidity build up and result in mold and degradation in environments with uncontrolled temperature. This is why you should find a quality storage facility that offers climate-controlled spaces—like Highland Van & Storage—as well as pack your clothes in vacuum-sealed bags. You should also attempt to hang as much of your clothing as possible, as folding can result in tearing over long, idle periods.

Furniture

If you’re looking into long-term storage, chances are you’re going to be using some of that space for furniture. The best policy for furniture packing is to disassemble whatever you can. This helps avoid breakage for larger pieces and will give you more room to optimize your limited space. Store any nuts, screws and other small hardware in small, labeled plastic bags—you don’t want to be playing trial and error with nuts and bolts when it comes time to put your couch back together.

Use oil to polish or spray down wooden surfaces to prevent them from drying out and be sure to cover all of your furniture with packing paper to keep it from getting scraped or dinged during transport. Also remember to carefully pack breakables, wrapping them in multiple layers of bubble wrap or other protective materials. Don’t forget to stick a “fragile” label on the box too.

Use Quality Packing Materials

Don’t cut corners when it comes to packing resources. Buy new boxes for your belongings to ensure they’re sturdy and durable for the long haul. Newer, stronger boxes will offer better long-lasting protection than older, deteriorated ones with little life left in them.

Avoid using bags for any of your things, as they are far more susceptible to trapping the mold and decay-inducing moisture and humidity we mentioned before. Boxes are also easier to stack and organize within a space.

Try to stick with only one or two sizes for your boxes so they’re easier to stack and organize—think of it like a game of Tetris. Make sure you’re paying attention to how you stack them too. Pile carefully; avoid stacking boxes so high they topple over, or carelessly organizing them so that they fall and damage the items inside and whatever else may get taken down with them.

Don’t casually toss items into whichever box has room; pack them tight, wrap your items individually, and fill any gaps with paper or other packing fillers. You’ll probably also want to invest in a thick tarp or even pallets to lay on the ground, in order to prevent your boxes from being exposed to excess moisture and dirt that settles on the floor.

Stay Organized

Putting considerable time and effort into organizing your storage unit as you pack and prepare it will save you a ton of headache and hassle when you go back in a year or two to unload.

Keep track

Rule number one is to label everything—go crazy with the sharpie or buy a label-maker! Knowing what’s in each box or which box belongs to which room will save you so much time and provide easy access to your most important possessions.

Keep a list of everything in your storage unit—a master copy for yourself and a second one to keep in the unit itself. A lot happens in a year or even just a couple months, so don’t expect to remember everything you stuck in storage when you were getting ready for your round-the-world adventure! If you’re very ambitious or a little obsessive, you might want to think about making a list for each box of what’s inside—and what should be there when you come back to it.

Space out consciously

Knowing what’s in each box and which ones are fragile will prove very helpful in spacing out your boxes and larger possessions. You can mark off a section for all the living room boxes, or the key essentials you’ll need as soon as you come back to retrieve your valuables—like your car keys or toothpaste. Place your things purposefully to optimize floor space and prevent damage that could result from boxes or furniture leaning and pushing against each other. Consider using shelves as well, for smaller items or lighter boxes.

Measure out your storage space and the dimensions of some of your larger items before your load them in, so you can determine the most ideal way to organize. Create a floorplan or general layout once you take inventory of what you need to accommodate, and how much room you have to do it.

Determining your best options for long-term storage and packing is easy if you do your research and work with a company you can trust. Give us a call today at 604-581-2300 to learn all of the information you need from our moving and packing experts.