What should or should not be stored in a self storage unit?
Self-storage is an excellent option for storing overflow of many different types of materials from your home or business. Arkansas Storage frequently gets questions about what is acceptable to store so we've compiled a list to provide more information on what works for storage.
Combustible, Flammable, Hazardous or Toxic Materials
Considered “inherently dangerous,” these include gasoline, compressed gas, propane tanks, kerosene, lamp and motor oil, acid, grease, corrosives, fertilizer, paint, cleaners, chemicals, narcotics, or hazardous, toxic or biological waste. Asbestos or products containing asbestos are not allowed. You also cannot store fireworks, explosives, weapons or ammunition.
Tires & Vehicles
Storing vehicles is generally acceptable, as long as they are registered, insured and in operational condition. Most facilities will not let you store more than four tires in your self-storage unit because of the cost to dispose of them.
Medical/Pharmaceutical Supplies & Equipment
If you are a sales representative, you may find a self-storage unit a convenient place to manage medical supplies and pharmaceutical samples. It is a useful way to keep your products organized and easily accessible without cluttering up your office or filling your car trunk. While most supplies are acceptable, radioactive equipment – or anything that contains radioactive materials – cannot legally be stored.
If you work in construction, it can be convenient to stop by the storage unit on the way to the site and pick up the equipment you need. However, please check with the self-storage facility before planning to store any construction equipment. Some equipment – for example, equipment used to locate underground water – is prohibited.
Perishable Food and Animal Products
Canned foods can be stored in storage units, but perishable food products such as cereals, produce or meats are not allowed. These may spoil or attract pests.
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items
Any animals or plants – alive or dead – cannot be stored. Nor can any stolen items. People are not allowed to plug in or use refrigerators, freezers, generators, space heaters or live in storage units.
If you have any question about the items you wish to store, consult the manager of the self-storage facility before you pack and arrive at the site.
Security options for storage
When selecting a self storage facility you'll want to understand what kind of security is in place to keep your items secure. Since security measures vary according to facility policy, cost, and even geographic location we've put together a list of some things to keep in mind when looking for self storage.
Self storage tips for business owners
At Arkansas Storge, we find that most of our business owners make use of self storage not just for long-term, but also for short-term solutions. Take advantage of our tips to make the best use of your storage space.
Choose the right size self storage unit
Estimating how much space you will need for your storage items can be easy if you know what you want to store. Here are some simple guidelines to assess your self storage needs.
There are several basic sizes of storage units. Below is a quick-reference guide to help you plan what size unit you will need for your personal or business storage:
Storage of Personal Items
- 5' x 5' (25 sq. ft.) – Will hold a chest of drawers, a small mattress set, boxes and small items. Useful for garden tools, or seasonal decorative items.
- 5' x 10' (50 sq. ft.) – Will hold furnishings of a mid-size bedroom, including a queen-size bed, dresser, TV, and a few storage boxes.
- 10' x 10' (100 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of an entire family room or two full bedrooms.
- 10' x 15' (150 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of up to three bedrooms in this unit. Recommended for larger items such as pianos, couches, tables, or large-screen TVs.
- 10' x 20' (200 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of a five-bedroom house, including a refrigerator, washer/dryer, dining room table, chairs and large boxes.
- 10' x 30' (300 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of a 5- to 7-bedroom house, including large items such as a couch, bed, fridge, and entertainment center.
Storage of Business Items
- 5' x 5' (25 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of a large office closet filled with files, books, office chairs, and a few storage boxes.
- 5' x 10' (50 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of one office room, including desks, bookcases, filing cabinets and large storage boxes. Ideal for storing equipment and tools.
- 10' x 10' (100 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of an entire office, including desks, chairs, computers and a few storage boxes.
- 10' x 15' (150 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of three office rooms could fit in this size unit, including several desks, computers and boxes.
- 10' x 20' (200 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of five office rooms (desks, computers, bookcases and file cabinets) in this size, or a five-year supply of business and tax files.
- 10' x 30' (300 sq. ft.) – Will hold the contents of five office rooms – many desks, several large boxes, seasonal storage, a few sets of large storage shelves and/or a few pallets of inventory, depending on how high you stack them.
It is always a good idea to visit potential storage units to get a visual sense of the space you will be working with.
Insuring your stored items
Whether you are planning to store business or personal belongings it's important to insure them since items in self storage aren't generally covered by other policies such as homeowner or rental insurance.
Vehicle self storage
Any type of vehicle can be stored in self storage to free up space in your garage. We've compiled some considerations and common requirements for storing your vehicle at a self storage facility.
- Wheeled vehicles must be in drivable condition, (i.e. must be driven onto the lot)
- Most vehicles must be registered and insured, and you must provide proof of each
- Tires must be inflated
- Customers are prohibited from occupying vehicles while in storage.
Packing efficiently for self storage
Self-storage units don’t have to be a space you visit once or twice a year to dig something out of a stack of boxes. They can be highly organized, easily accessible spaces that free up necessary space in your home or office. To get the most out of them, though, it is best to plan ahead before you start loading up the truck. Here are steps to help you plan:
Step 1: Plan What You Will Store
- Start by identifying items that will be packed in boxes and stacked.
- Prioritize boxed items you will want to access most frequently (they’ll go closer to the front of the unit).
- Group by fragility or weight – heavier, sturdier items should be stored on the bottom of stacked items, fragile items on top.
- Consider awkwardly-sized items that won’t stack well, including how often you will need to use them, and how heavy they are.
Step 2: Choose the Right Size Unit
Nobody wants to pay for storage they don’t need. But a little extra space makes moving around within the unit much easier. It also gives you room to add those unplanned items that always seem to pop up. Storage facility managers can be quite helpful in determining how much space you will need.
Step 3: Organize and Pack Your Items with a Plan in Mind
Organizing and efficiently packing your items will take time and concentration. However, the up-front effort will be well worth it when you’re able to easily unload and organize your items at the storage unit. Here are some tips for packing: Invest in Supplies
- Use boxes, not plastic bags. Boxes are sturdier and stack well, taking up less space. Many moving companies require that goods be packed in boxes for transport. Also, sealed plastic bags can trap humidity which can cause damaging mildew.
- Invest in good quality, sturdy boxes and packing materials. Boxes should be sturdy enough to hold up for years under the weight of the stack. You may be tempted to get boxes for free from supermarkets and liquor stores; however, the mismatched shapes and sizes will impede your ability to organize most effectively. You can buy standard-sized boxes and specialty boxes for items such as TVs, videotapes and pictures.
- For wrapping breakables, paper will do, but bubble wrap can be used repeatedly, is cleaner, and because it is transparent, makes identifying contents easier.
- Most people end up needing more tape than they thought they would when packing. Your self-storage manager can help you estimate how much tape you’ll need for the number of boxes you’ll be packing. Some places sell tape that is pre-labeled.
For your convenience, packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap and tape are available for purchase at the storage facility.
Hints for packing and storing
- Use furniture drawers to hold delicate items. Wrap them in bubble wrap or newspaper.
- When packing toys or smaller objects, remember to fill boxes completely, stuffing open areas with plain newspaper to prevent collapsing when stacked.
- Be careful not to store anything combustible (such as paint and chemicals) or perishable (such as food that is not permanently sealed).
- When storing lawn and garden equipment, drain any fluids prior to storage in order to avoid corrosive damage.
- Use trash cans to store shovels, hoes and rakes.
- Always use high quality locks on your unit. Arkansas Storage Centers sells locks on-site; ask the Store Manager for details.
- When storing delicate heirlooms, use specially constructed boxes, such as wardrobe boxes, and utilize dehumidifiers to prevent mildew build up.
- Store furniture carefully on boards or pallets.
- Cover mattresses and store them flat on level surfaces.
- Store small items like pots and pans in large appliances, such as stoves or refrigerators.
- Break down items (such as table legs) and store large furniture (like tabletops and sofas) on end to save space.
- Use protective covers and treat wood surfaces before storing.
- When storing business files, label all boxes and construct aisles so files are easily seen and accessible.
- Clean furniture, boxes and the storage unit of all food and perishables.
Choosing boxes and packing materials
Once the decision to move things into storage is made, the next step is to decide how to pack them correctly. The first step is finding boxes. Many of us have made the mistake of going to local liquor stores or grocery stores, only to find that they break down boxes almost as soon as they receive them. If they do save boxes, they typically are a variety of different sizes, somewhat damaged, or contaminated with bugs or food residue.
Buying boxes may seem at first to be a luxury expense, but the purchase is certainly worth the investment if it safely preserves your belongings. Here are several reasons for purchasing boxes:
Reasons for Purchasing Boxes:
- The total number of needed boxes can be purchased in one trip, rather than hunting from store to store and relying on what’s available
- The sizes of boxes are standard and predictable (Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large), rather than working with whatever sizes are available
- Boxes are often grooved so that the flaps can be bent to accommodate different sizes
- Although most boxes are standard in dimension and intended for general use, there are unique boxes specifically designed for a purpose, such as telescoping boxes for large mirrors or pictures, and wardrobe boxes with built-in hanging rods
- Using boxes of the same size and shape makes stacking easy
- Durability and cleanliness are guaranteed
- Sturdy, quality boxes provide extra protection for fragile items and won’t collapse as easily under other boxes
- Moving companies typically require quality, well-sealed boxes and may repack them at an extra charge if they are flimsy or dirty
- Whereas discarded boxes are intended for temporary use, purchased boxes can be used and reused over the long term; one way to reuse them is to cut the tops off boxes and stack on them on their sides to create shelving in the storage unit
- When boxes are no longer needed, they can be broken down in neat stacks and donated or given away
The expense of purchasing boxes can be mitigated with smart choices when it comes to packing materials and methods. Here are some steps to save money and avoid headaches:
Tips for Choosing & Using Packing Materials:
- When choosing box sizes, keep in mind not just what they can store, but how easy they will be to transport; choose smaller boxes for books and heavy items, and larger boxes for linens and clothing
- Avoid using newsprint to wrap items – the ink can transfer and stain; consider using clean, plain wrapping/butcher paper, quality paper towels or thin foam sheets for inexpensive items, and felt or bubble wrap for valued breakables
- Estimate how much tape you’ll need to secure both the bottoms and tops of boxes (they may be turned upside down or topple during the move) and then buy double that amount of tape (it goes fast)
- Dish pack and glass pack kits are boxes that come with cardboard dividers and foam pockets for easy packing; plastic, fabric-lined dish storage containers can be purchased at house wares retailers
- Fill boxes full, but not too full – boxes with loose contents can wobble and shift, and boxes that are too full can crush contents when being moved; use packing peanuts, clothing or towels to fill in spaces
- Rolls of shrink wrap can be purchased to wrap cabinets, appliances, dressers and desks to keep drawers and doors shut; remove shrink wrap after relocation
- Mattress covers and sofa covers can be purchased for the move; sealed plastic covers should not be left on for long-term storage as moisture can promote the growth of mold and mildew – a canvas tarp or sheet is recommended for a storage period lasting more than a week.
Storage facilities and packing supply stores offer a variety of packing supplies, boxes, locks, covers and other handy items. Your self-storage facility manager can be a great resource for creative ways to use these materials to solve packing and moving problems.