How is packing for storage different from packing for a move?
While careful packing is important for any move, one that involves storage brings some unique challenges to protect against: temperature changes, humidity and potential pests to name a few. Because of these conditions, you’ll want to take a few extra precautions before placing items in storage.
Start with this packing guide to learn how to protect your belongings, and then keep reading for specifics on packing for storage.
Tips for packing for storage
- Avoid using tight plastic wrapping (plastic wrap, bags, etc.). It can trap moisture, causing mildew damage. Use moving blankets, paper padding and packing paper to wrap things instead.
- Start with clean and dry items. Give everything porous (leather, wood, fabric, upholstery) plenty of time to air dry before packing it.
- Know what not to store. Avoid storing anything that can be damaged by extreme temperatures or changes in humidity like photos, art, electronics and instruments. You’ll want to avoid storing any heirlooms, since they are one of a kind. Read through the Do Not Ship list for other items that can’t be stored.
Preparing common household items for storage
While many items won’t need extra protection, major items like mattresses, clothes and furniture will. Take a look at the steps below to learn how to get these items ready.
How to store a mattress
- Start with a clean mattress. Use upholstery cleaner and vacuum both sides well. Remember to let it dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step.
- Wrap it. While a mattress bag can be helpful for a move, it’s not ideal for storage. Instead, use moving blankets or paper padding to wrap the mattress fully. You can also buy large specialty boxes to cover them.
- Load carefully. For short-term storage, you can load the mattress on end, but it’s best to keep it flat long-term since the coils and inner workings can shift over time. Don’t load anything heavy on top of the mattress because it could sink or sag.
How to store clothes
- Make sure everything is clean and dry. Any stains or dirt could get set in overtime and become difficult to remove.
- Hang clothes in wardrobe boxes. You might be tempted to just place a plastic trash bag over clothing, but don’t! Bags can trap moisture, causing yellowing and damage, and can be easily snagged, causing clothing to rip or tear. Wardrobe boxes allow pieces to hang, letting air circulate around them.
- Add cedar balls to the box. They smell better than mothballs and are effective at keeping pests away.
How to store furniture
If the furniture is metal or plastic, you can follow the general packing tips above, since these types of items aren’t typically damaged by moisture. However, leather, wood, upholstery and fabric pieces are a different story. Once you clean and dry them:
- Use wood or leather polish. Apply a coat of polish to wood and leather items to provide a protective coating.
- Remove any parts. Remove the feet on a sofa or the mirror of a dresser.
- Wrap these parts separately. Make sure to keep fasteners and screws in a zip top bag attached to the item so you can easily reassemble them.
- Fully wrap the furniture. Use moving blankets or paper padding, taking extra care to ensure corners and decorative trims are covered well.
Things to know about loading
If you’re storing in U-Pack equipment, your belongings won’t be moved or accessed until delivery at the destination. But if you’re using a unit that you can access, you’ll want to load with that in mind. If you know you’ll want to retrieve some items, place them toward the front of the unit for easy retrieval. Also, make sure everything is labeled well (and place the labels so you can easily see them) so you don’t have to open boxes inside the storage unit to find what you need.
Place a tarp or plastic sheeting on the floor of the equipment (or storage unit), and if possible, use pallets to elevate furniture off the floor (increasing airflow). Don’t place heavy items on top of soft items like sofas or chairs, as they could be damaged by things left on the seats long term.
Once everything is loaded, place plastic sheeting over the entire load to prevent any dust from settling on the items. If you’re loading into a unit, you may want to place some sticky traps near the entrance to catch any pests.
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