How to pack items for storage

In a difficult economy, many families are finding that moving in with relatives to be the best way to stay on their feet. Moving into someone else's home means finding ways to store items. There are many self-storage options, but knowing how to pack for storage can be a trick.

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Boxes versus bins

Knowing how long items will be stored helps in determining how to pack for storage. This also helps to decide where to store items, whether finding on-site storage options or whether to rent a self-storage facility.

If packing for a year or so, boxes work well, and they can be free when picked up from a local store. This is also a great green moving idea, since boxes can be either repurposed or recycled, after they are reused for storage. Stopping at a grocery store after a weekly shipment can be best. Checking with a produce manager at a grocery store brings the benefit of knowing when the most boxes will be available and the manager may be willing to set sturdy boxes aside.

If packing for very long-term, such as more than a year, plastic bins are really the only option.

Long-term storage brings exposure to elements; even in climate-controlled self-storage, it's good to be cautious. Plastic bins are available in many sizes from retailers like Target and Walmart. Translucent bins are best, to show contents at a glance. Plastic bins can also be a good green moving idea, as they are easily reused after unpacking. Stackable bins offer the most-flexible, post-storage options.

Retain value

When packing items for storage, it's important to consider their value. Items with higher value tend to be heirlooms or electronic items like TVs and accessories, as well as sound systems. Water or moisture can render these items useless.

To keep boxed items drier, desiccants are the best option. Desiccants, like DampRid or Dri-Z-Air, can be found at home stores and hardware stores, like Home Depot. A rechargeable option is a DRI-BOX.

Keeping moisture out of valuable items will help prevent corrosion and mildew. It will keep stamps and envelopes from becoming gummy or stuck to themselves and photographs from being ruined.

Packing fragile items and heirlooms appropriately can help retain value by protecting them during transportation and storage. See the attached video for how to pack dishes for a move.

Back to front

Packing less-likely-to-be-used items in the back of a closet or storage facility and keeping items such as school supplies or seasonal clothing in the front is more efficient. Packing back to front in this way helps ensure that items will actually be used when needed, instead of repurchased or ignored.

Donate or sell

At the end of the day, most household items are just «stuff». Though it can be difficult to detach oneself from an item's source, whether it was a gift or made specially, it is important when packing for storage to first cull as many items as possible.

Packing, moving, storage and unpacking can be fairly costly and time-consuming. Being realistic about what items can be left behind, donated or sold can mean the difference between strained relationships and breaking the budget.

Select moving supplies

Most home stores, and certainly moving companies, offer moving supplies. Home Depot has an entire line of moving supplies, including hand trucks, boxes and stretch film.

Self-storage companies, like Jack Rabbit, also offer moving supplies.

More green moving ideas

When packing items for long-term storage, renting green moving boxes isn't really an option. If using cardboard is acceptable, but snagging free grocery boxes doesn't work, purchasing used cardboard boxes can be a perfect solution.

Items like bio-degradable packing peanuts and newspaper or plain packing paper, which can be recycled or reused are also a decent option.

When using a self-move or hired moving company, boxes are usually free. Unused or lightly-used boxes can be returned for re-use. has a moving calculator to help avoid over-purchasing and wasting many supplies.

Enjoy this article? Receive email alerts when new articles are available by clicking on «Subscribe», above. Follow Sarah DeLaney's Green Living Journey blog or, on Facebook, «like» Green Living Journey for updates and Green Living info.

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