Our top self-storage tips and tricks will save you time and money.

self storage tips and tricks

If you’re planning to rent a self-storage unit, our self-storage tips and tricks may help you make the right choices and save you time and money.


Choosing a self-storage facility

When choosing a self-storage facility, it’s a good idea to ask specific questions.


We recommend this list of five revealing questions as a starting point.


Also, consider what you need in terms of accessibility and flexibility.


For example,

  • if you’ll need to retrieve items regularly, will you have to sit in heavy traffic for hours to get there?
  • can you drive up to the unit so it’s easy to offload heavy items (or will someone assist you)?
  • if you suddenly need more or less space, can you change to a different size unit?

How to pack a self-storage unit

It’s worth taking some time to plan how best to pack a self-storage unit.


This makes it easier to access specific items later. It can also help you pack the most into the available space and protect sensitive or fragile items from damage.


Mapping out your unit

We recommend creating a rough map of your unit.


When planning out your use of the space, follow these basic guidelines:

  • leave a narrow access path between stored items so you can easily add or retrieve items later
  • place the largest, heaviest items at the bottom (although make sure they can handle the weight of items placed on top of them)
  • place items it’s likely you’ll want to access frequently at the front of the unit
  • label all boxes with a list of contents and mark them on the map.

You may be able to optimise the space by using the insides of cupboards and drawers to store items. In this case, label the furniture with what you’ve packed inside it.


Fitting the most into your unit

It’s important to strike a balance between packing the most you can into the available space and keeping items undamaged and easy to access.


One expert tip: inexpensive plastic shelving can make organising a storage unit much easier.


Pre-assembled shelving or racks are useful especially in medium to large units. They let you fit more in (by adding vertical storage levels) and keep everything ordered and accessible.


For more expert tips, see our full article, From the Experts: How to Pack a Storage Unit.


How to save on self-storage costs

The best way to save on self-storage costs is to make sure you rent the correct size unit.


Renting a larger storage unit “just in case” is unnecessary. If it turns out that you need more space, most storage providers – including XtraSpace – will let you upgrade to a larger unit.


It also pays to:

  • pack your unit to maximise the available space
  • donate items you really don’t need and won’t use again, instead of storing them
  • check for special offers on storage space near you.

See our article on how to save money on self-storage for more useful tips.


Preparing items for storage

Especially for long-term storage, it’s best to prepare certain items to minimise the risk of damage.


In any storage environment, the two most common causes of damage to items include:

  • loss of shape, denting, scratching or breakage due to poor packing
  • mould, which can corrode and permanently damage surfaces.

Careful packing, and making sure that everything you pack is clean and completely dry, are the chief protections.


General tips for preparing items

In addition, follow these general self-storage tips and tricks:

  • to protect furniture, use blankets or protective fabric covers instead of heavy plastic, which can cause condensation and lead to damp marks and mould
  • if possible, store dresses, smart pants, work shirts and other sensitive clothing on a hanging rail, instead of in boxes (you can also buy specialised boxes with built-in rods for this purpose); this encourages air circulation and minimises damage due to crushing and creasing
  • store mattresses flat or, if they must be on their sides, rotate them regularly; it’s also a good idea to use protective mattress bags
  • leave the doors of washing machines and fridges ajar to help prevent mould growth
  • protect fragile items with bubble wrap, tissue paper or aerothene and then box them
  • opt for sturdy, stackable boxes where possible to protect contents
  • store monitors and flat-screen TVs in their original boxes (or in boxes designed for flat-screens)
  • when storing carpets and rugs, roll them rather than folding.

Self-storage with XtraSpace

XtraSpace offers clean, secure self-storage units in a range of different sizes, at branches in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.


At select branches, we also offer:

  • warehousing
  • vehicle storage
  • business centres
  • flexi-offices and meeting rooms
  • courier services
  • packing materials (all branches).

Contact us for more information about self-storage or find a branch near you.


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