What is the best way to organize storage

Organizing storage can be fun - seriously!  Try to keep in mind how good it will feel to put things out of the way, knowing they are still easy to access because they are organized just the way you need them.  The starting point in organizing storage is deciding what you really want to save. You’ve heard this phrase many times, but it still rings true: if you haven’t used something in the last 6 months to a year, give it away to someone who will! This process can actually be liberating. Storage space is not easy to come by; you either have to pay for it or set aside space in your home.

The size and location of your storage space is important to how you will organize your belongings. Some storage spaces are an odd shape, such as under the stairway or in an outdoor shed. Some spaces are more exposed to the elements such as excessive heat, cold or damp conditions. Ideally you want to protect the items you are storing so you can use them in the future.

Protecting your belongings from the elements

If your storage space is located in an area that is exposed to extreme cold or hot temperatures or moisture, you should avoid storing valuable items such as documents, photos, VHS video tapes, or candles. Consider storing these items indoors in a closet. If you are storing items in spaces that can be damp, valuables should be placed in air tight containers to reduce the risk of mold forming.  Traditional cardboard boxes will mold in damp conditions eventually, which poses a health hazard and can damage your goods. Also consider whether your storage space has the potential to flood, either from pipes leaking nearby or weather. If there is a risk of water entering your space, protect your goods with waterproof containers or bags.

Types of containers

There are many types of storage containers available on the market, in a variety of sizes and materials. Try PVC-free containers for items that need to be protected from moisture, as they are healthier for people and the environment. Cardboard boxes are inexpensive and sufficient for items stored in dry places. For added protection, you can place paper goods such as books in a tied plastic or waterproof bag first before placing them in a cardboard box. Clear, see-through storage bins or boxes are nice for storage in that you can easily see what’ inside. It is best to label the outside of each storage container with its contents. Labeling takes time, but over the long run you will save time when searching for things in storage.

As you are selecting and packing your storage containers, keep in mind the size of your storage space. If it is an odd size, you will need to fit your items inside creatively. You also need to keep in mind the quantity of goods you will need to store, and whether they will fit nicely in the space. Consider which items MUSt fit, and which have alternative homes elsewhere in case you don’t have room.

How to place items in a storage space

Place items and labeled boxes/bins (hint!) that you will need frequent access to close to the front of your storage space. Items you only use once a year (such as holiday decorations) can be placed towards the back as they are not often needed. If your storage space has a window where light can come through, consider moving any clear containers with documents or pictures away from the light to reduce the potential for fading.

Also, it is wise to move valuable items away from windows to deter thieves. Items should be stacked neatly to make the most efficient use of the storage space (i.e., more will fit if neatly organized).

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