Sometimes, it doesn't matter much how you pack a storage unit. For example, if you just need to store a sofa or want to store a few boxes of items for a short period, you probably don't need help.
However, it pays to give some thought to packing a storage unit if you have a lot of different types of things to store and want to optimise your use of space.
It's also important to consider packing technique if you want to be able to find and retrieve certain items easily.
Check the rules
A storage provider's rules about what you may and may not store are largely a matter of common sense, but it's a good idea to check them before you go ahead.
Generally, flammable, perishable, hazardous and live items (animals and plants) may not be kept in self-storage units.
In South Africa, it's also not legal to run businesses from inside self-storage units. The units are ideal for storing merchandise, inventory, business supplies and so on – but not for people to inhabit or work from.
Pack large items first
The largest and bulkiest items should always go in first, right at the back. This way, you know there‘s nothing lurking behind them when you need to find something.
Solid, strong items – like sturdy furniture – can also form a base for stacking other items. However, cover in high-density plastic or a thick blanket to prevent scratching or other damage to surfaces.
Leave an aisle
When you organise the interior of the unit, leave a narrow gap down the middle, just wide enough to walk through. This ensures that you'll be able to access items near the back if needed.
If any furniture can be broken down or has removable legs, do this before packing these items into the storage unit. Keep any nuts and bolts in a Ziploc bag and stick it to the item of furniture in question.
Stack items that can handle it
Sturdy plastic boxes and plastic chairs are examples of items that can be stacked without risk of damage.
Stacking certain items allows you to use the headspace of your unit, right up to the ceiling if necessary. Just don’t stack anything that can be crushed or that could easily topple.
We don’t just mean write “kitchen stuff” on the side. Write or print out a detailed list of what is in the box and stick it to the side.
You’ll be grateful for this if you need to come and find something specific a few weeks or months down the line.
Keep frequently used items at the front
If there are some things you know you’ll be coming back for sooner than the rest, leave these items at the front of the unit for easy access. This will prevent you having to unpack the entire unit just to fetch certain items.
Fill spaces and gaps
Spaces under tables, inside cupboards or drawers and even inside a fridge or freezer can be utilised for storing smaller items or boxes. Just be sure to remember where you put them.
Keep an inventory list with a rough map
If you have quite a bit to store, keep a clipboard near the entrance to your unit with a full list of everything that's in there. If you have a large unit, also make a sketch of their approximate locations.
Also make a note if you stuck a smaller item in a hard to spot area (such as inside a cupboard), just in case you forget or someone else has to access your unit for you.
Storage with XtraSpace