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:
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.
Box up everything that you can. Anything left unboxed in a self-storage facility can get dusty.
Fill boxes to capacity. The contents in half-empty boxes can shift during transport or lifting. Corners and sides can collapse if there's nothing to support them. Foam peanuts are handy for filling in the gaps in boxes.
Distribute the weight in packed boxes evenly. Make sure they are not too heavy for you and others who may be lifting them.
Wrap all fragile items and breakables such as dishes, glasses, ornaments, etc. separately. Pack these items tightly into strong or reinforced boxes, filling any gaps with paper or filler. Mark "Fragile" on any boxes containing breakable items.
Clearly label all boxes on more than one side so you can easily identify the contents.
Pack books flat to avoid damaging their spines.
If you plan to store clothes, think about investing in a wardrobe box with a built-in hanging rod. These are available for purchase at most storage and moving facilities.
Wrap mirrors and pictures in protective covering such as bubble wrap and mark them as "Fragile." Cardboard corners can be purchased to protect the sharpest, weakest areas of frames.
If storing photographs, consider a climate controlled unit where temperature fluctuations will not damage your photos. If you do store loose photographs, place them between pieces of clean cardboard and consider taping them together to avoid curling.
Separate lamp bases and lampshades and wrap them for protection.
Storage and moving facilities often sell large heavy-duty bags for this purpose.
Vacuum-sealed bags work really well for draperies, bedding, and clothing.
Electrical equipment such as TVs, stereos, and computers should be packed in their original boxes whenever possible. If using other boxes, choose ones that are as close in size to the original as possible, and fill all gaps with paper. Make sure you secure the player arm of a record player and turntable.
Disassemble furniture such as beds and tables before you store them. Wrap and cover the separate sections, clearly mark them and keep them together. Keep assembly components such as screws and bolts together in a plastic bag, mark them clearly, and tape the bag to the appropriate piece of furniture. (Use tape that is safe for use on furniture, or tape the bag to an inconspicuous place on the piece.) Cover chair legs with bubble wrap or rags for extra protection.
Spray your wood furniture with a good quality furniture polish before storing it to give it some added protection.
Treat leather items with a leather conditioner before you store them.
Wipe down metal objects and tools with a little oil before storing them to avoid rust formation that can occur when the tools are not used regularly.
When storing a vacuum cleaner, clean out the bag or canister first; bacteria, mold and vermin can accumulate otherwise.
When storing an oven as well as a refrigerator, enclose the exposed back area of the appliances to prevent vermin.
Consider having awkward or heavy pieces such as exercise equipment packed professionally. Talk to your storage facility manager or local pack-and-ship store about options.
As you go, keep an inventory of every item you've packed. Ideally, include an estimate of the replacement value of each item you store. Consider taking pictures of valuable items. These steps will help you make accurate insurance claims in case of unforeseen damage or loss.