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Prepare Properly So Your Items Come Out of Storage in Good Shape

Several months or years down the road, you don't want to open your storage unit and find that your items have become moldy, dusty, or otherwise damaged. Preservation starts with good preparation. If you want your items to emerge from storage in good condition, it's important that you take the time to properly prepare and pack them prior to storage. Here are five quick tips that will help.
Tip #1: Clean Everything First
Even in the cleanest storage facilities, crumbs, oily residues, and other food remnants may attract bugs. Also, dirty items tend to develop nasty odors over time. To keep your items pest-free and smelling fresh, clean them thoroughly before packing them up for storage. 
Wipe your refrigerator and other appliances out with bleach to kill any bacteria and mold spores. Launder your clothing and linens, and wipe down wooden furniture with a good polish. For best results, do your cleaning a few days before putting items in storage so they have time to dry completely.
Tip #2: Let Your Things Breathe
As long as you're confident that they are completely dry, it's okay to pack up clothes and linens in airtight plastic bags. However, there are many items that really need to breathe in order to prevent mold growth and rot.
  • Leather furniture should be covered with a cotton sheet rather than with plastic.
  • Leather boots and clothing should be stored in breathable containers or packed in cotton bags.
  • Wooden items should be packed in cardboard boxes or covered in breathable materials.
Your instinct may be to go for an airtight container, but especially when you're renting a climate-controlled unit, you're usually better off with one that breathes a little so any moisture can escape.
Tip #3: Avoid Sprays and Scents
Never spray your furniture with perfume or spritz scented oils on your clothing before putting these items into storage. The oils in these sprays can set into the fabric and leave stains. Some air fresheners and perfumes are alcohol-based and may break down the fabric when allowed to sit on it month after month.
Tip #4: Fill Every Box
When you're packing boxes, try not to leave any extra space. A box with an empty space is prone to being crushed when something is placed on top of it, which means your items may get crushed, too. Wrap fragile items in plastic wrap, and if you have space left in a box, stuff it with a few towels or some balled-up newspaper. 
Try to pack the heaviest items at the bottom of the box and the lightest ones towards the top of the box. This helps keep the lighter items from getting crushed under the weight of the heavier items. Even if a heavy item does not seem to be compacting a lighter item, it may do so slowly over a longer storage period.
Tip #5: Don't Store It on the Floor
Renting from a reputable self-storage facility with indoor access will minimize the risk of flooding and water damage to your items. However, there is always a risk of plumbing malfunctions. Someone renting a neighboring unit may also spill a liquid, which could seep under the walls and permeate your storage unit.
To protect your items from water damage, don't stack them directly on the floor. Instead, place them all on wooden pallets or on shelving. You can purchase inexpensive plastic shelving units at most big box stores. Many warehouses and hardware stores give slightly damaged pallets away for free or sell them cheaply.
With the right preparatory steps, your items will be ready to withstand the rigors of storage. When you pull them back out in a few months or years, they'll be in perfect shape and ready to serve you again.