Decluttering: Store or Keep?

As you look around your house, you realize that you have accumulated more than will fit into the square footage available in your home. It may be that you cannot abide junk and regularly rid your home of worn out items and things no one wants anymore. Still, you see that too many things are cluttering your home and hiding its style and pizzazz. You decide to rent a self storage unit. It will allow you to rotate your treasures in and out of your house at the whim of your inner design guru.  Now comes the hard part. What should stay and what should be tucked away in your self storage unit?


  • Hold onto clothes that are in season and that you wear regularly.

  • Keep at home practical items in regular use like silverware, towels, bedding and soap dishes.

  • Retain often used furniture.

  • Keep photos and wall hangings that add a spark to the décor.

  • Hold onto board games and enough toys to fill your child’s toy box.

  • Keep enough of your college student’s personal objects to make them feel at home when they visit.

  • File current bills and private documents like social security cards and bank account information at home.

  • Show off collectors’ items in a display cabinet.

  • Make room for sporting gear that someone in the house uses every few days (basketballs, yoga mats, bikes and more).

  • Carve a niche for that emergency household tool kit.


  • Store out-of-season clothing and footwear.

  • Box up extra items that clutter your cupboards like excess towels, the good silver used only on holidays, extra blankets needed only in winter and toothbrush holders that have been replaced by a fresh design.

  • Store the rocker that only grandma sits in when she visits every six months or the footstool that no one uses but everyone trips over.

  • Store photos and wall hangings that make the room look too busy or just don’t fit your current design scheme.

  • Pack away extra toys that you have no room for. Rotate them in and out every few weeks so that your child can enjoy all of them. Involve your child in the decisions.

  • Put away your college student’s bags, balls and other belongings that spill out of his closets into other rooms or that make his room uncomfortable for guests.

  • Stash tax documents and other papers that may be needed but are seldom reviewed.

  • Store collectors’ items that take up too much room and don’t look good on display. If you have several collections or many items, you may want to rotate them.

  • Pack up out-of-season sporting gear.

  • Bundle garden tools together in the off season and stick them in a garbage bin in your self storage unit.

  • Ultimately, use your discretion to decide what stays and what goes. Label your stored goods well. If you are keeping them, you should rotate what you can into daily use every so often.

Holiday Decorations

The presents are unwrapped, the boxes are emptied of their contents, and tissue paper is strewn about the room. Time to clean up from all the holiday merriment; but don’t be too hasty to throw out the tissue paper and empty boxes – recycle them. This article will give you some “ah ha” ideas for storing holiday decorations, and self storage is a convenient place to holiday items when the season is over.


  • Run used gift wrap and tissue paper through a paper shredder and use the fluffy strips as filler.

  • Keep fragile ornaments at the top of a box.

  • Egg cartons are perfect for tiny ornaments.

  • Have a partitioned cardboard wine box? Use it to store tissue-wrapped ornaments. Several ornaments can be stacked on top of each other in each slot.

  • Reuse a shirt box or shoebox to store ornament hangers. Fill it with hooks, rolls of small ribbon, cording, scissors, twist ties and craft wire – everything you’d need to replace the inevitable lost hanger.

  • Store food-based decorations (like the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments your kids bring home from school) in sandwich bags to protect them from humidity, and then place the bags in an empty cookie tin to keep rodents out.


  • Store bulky garlands in large plastic storage boxes. You can push a lot into a big box, since there’s nothing to break, and the garlands can be fluffed out.

  • Mark the center of a long swag with a colored twist tie before you remove it so you won’t have to measure it again next year.

  • Label segments of garland with a pen and masking tape as you take it down so you’ll always know which piece to hang in the entryway and which is just the right size for the mantel.


  • Instead of coiling your lights in a bundle that somehow turns into a big tangled ball, wrap them around empty wrapping paper tubes and tape the ends of the string to the tube.

  • Put extra bulbs and fuses in a sandwich bag and place inside the tube.

Wedding Dress Storage

The wedding is over. Perhaps you wore your grandmother’s elegant silk gown with the flowing train and the delicately embroidered veil that matched, or maybe you and your girlfriends spent weeks searching for the perfect wedding dress that you felt best reflected your personality. Now, you need to store this treasure so that the years do not steal any of its beauty. You may want to leave the possibility open for your little girl to one day carry on the family tradition and walk down the aisle in that very wedding gown. To best maintain its timeless grandeur, follow a few important steps:

  • Check the gown’s label for care instructions. Some must be dry cleaned while others can be “wet-cleaned,” which means cleaned with water, a process that can be handled by a professional. Often polyester dresses can be hand washed, but test a small, hidden area to be sure. Labels may provide special instructions that specify the type of cleaning solvent that the dress requires. Check with your bridal shop for an experienced dry cleaner that carries the type of supplies and equipment your dress needs.

  • Have the gown cleaned as soon as possible to prevent stains from setting. Check out the dry-cleaner and make sure the individual who will handle your dress has solid experience cleaning wedding gowns. Not all gowns require the same type of treatment. Some chemicals work great on silk but will damage sequins. Look for a cleaner that uses virgin solvent, rather than recycled. A gown cleaned in impure solvent will smell likes it has been dry cleaned, and it shouldn’t.

  • Avoid storing the gown in a plastic dry cleaning bag or a plastic garment bag for very long, even if the wedding boutique sent the dress home with you in such a bag. Plastic may emit fumes that could yellow or otherwise damage your gown. In addition, if moisture gets trapped in the bag, the dress could mildew.

  • Decide whether you want to have the gown professionally boxed or hung or if you are going to handle it yourself. The following professional procedures should help you protect this heirloom.

  • If you choose to have the gown boxed by a company that specializes in preserving wedding gowns, they will likely use an acid-free wedding box, preferably not simply one with an acid-free coating as it will not provide as much protection in the long run. They should pad the bodice and folds with acid-free tissue. Fabrics like rayon or polyester should use buffered tissue while natural material like silk should use un-buffered tissue. If you have the gown boxed, do not get it sealed. A dress that has been folded will need to be taken out and rearranged every year or so to prevent folds from creasing and permanently damaging the dress. An added benefit of storing your dress in an unsealed container is that you may take it out, try it on and enjoy it occasionally.

  • Choosing to have a wedding dress preservation company professionally hang the gown will help prevent wrinkles and will require less care in the future. Since it will not be folded, creases will not develop; therefore, the dress will not have to be removed from its packaging every couple of years to be rearranged. The dress should be placed in a cloth bag that contains no dye and hung on a thickly padded hanger. Dresses with narrow straps or none at all should be reinforced to prevent breakage. The bodice may be filled with acid-free tissue to help it retain its shape.

  • Check the dress at least once a year for problems. A spilled drink may be invisible when it dries, but over time it can oxidize and turn the area where it spilled brown. Have such spots cleaned right away. They can become harder to remove once they have been there awhile. Normally, they will show up in the first year after the wedding.

  • When removing the gown from storage, even for a little while, wear plain white cotton gloves to prevent sweat or dirt from leaving residue on the dress. This could lead to stains later. In addition, perspiration might cause the cloth to become brittle.

  • After the wedding dress has been cleaned and preserved, keep it in a location where the temperature is cool and the air is dry. Minimize light. Ultraviolet radiation can hurt textiles over a long period of time. A dehumidifier may help, or you may want to lease a self storage unit with climate control features that allow you to keep the temperature low and the air dry to better protect all your stored clothing, most especially this one-of-a-kind symbol of your family’s beginning that when preserved, may bring happiness to generations.

Home Appliance Storage

It can be difficult to make space in your home or garage for unused appliances. But because new appliances are expensive, many people prefer to hold on to old ones for hand-me-downs, vacation homes, or back-ups. A self storage rental can be a convenient, affordable solution — short-term or long-term. However, if you don’t properly prepare your appliances for remote storage, you may return to find useless, moldy boxes. Below is some useful advice for secure appliance storage.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding appliance storage, remember that your self storage facility manager may be a great source of information and guidance.

Run a final cycle

Consider running an empty clothes washer and dishwasher through a complete wash cycle using either a cup of bleach or white vinegar instead of detergent prior to placing in self storage.

Drain liquid

Empty any water from hoses, holding tanks, plastic tubing and other internal components. This will help prevent freezing and mildew.

Clean the interior

Scrub and dry the interior completely — especially in refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. Food and sugar remnants can attract bugs, even in interior storage units. In refrigerators, clean and dry the defrost pan — you’ll find it underneath or behind the refrigerator. In water-using appliances, wipe the rubber cushion seal around the perimeter of the door. Mildew tends to collect in this area.

Treat for insects

Insects that infest food are found almost everywhere. To prevent an infestation, be sure to spray your clean appliance for bugs.

Clean the exterior

Any motor-driven appliance will have an intake area (lint filter, tube or grid). be sure to clean this vent. A vacuum may do the trick, but if the opening is greasy, you might use an old toothbrush.

Remove glass and protect finish

If your appliance has glass shelves or fragile parts, remove them and transport them separately. Appliances with finishes that can scratch or dent should be wrapped in blankets or bubble wrap. Refrigerators should be transported upright.

Secure with tape

Use a strong tape to hold the appliance door closed. Even though the tape should only stay in place during the move, you may want to choose a type that won’t leave residue (such as blue painters tape). Once in storage, remove the tape and prop the appliance’s door open to prevent mildew.

Choose a suitable storage unit

If you are storing your appliances in a region that experiences high temperatures, low temperatures, wide temperature swings, or high humidity, you may want to consider a climate controlled storage unit. Because climate control temps are kept constant, the mechanical/electronic parts of your appliances are better protected from rust and fissures.

Load last

If you’re moving more household items into your self storage unit, put the large appliances on the truck last. This way, they will be the first to come off the truck. Refrigerators should be transported upright.

Unload first

By placing appliances in the back of your storage unit, you’ll have easier access to smaller items that you retrieve more frequently.

Turn the power off

The large majority of storage facilities will not offer electricity outlets in your storage unit. But if yours does have power, do not use it. Leave your appliance off for the duration of the rental.

Protect fragile parts

If you store appliance parts separately (glass panels, shelves, etc.) remember to mark them as fragile and avoid stacking or leaning heavy items on them.

Prop open the door

Find a way to keep the appliance’s door ajar for the duration of the storage rental. This will help deter mildew.

Avoid unwanted odors

Place an open box of baking soda in stored appliances.

Conserve space

Although some storage and moving companies advise against stowing items inside your appliances, careful preparation will offer additional storage space. A clean, dry, open appliance is a good spot to store lighter items, including fragile things. Do not jam-pack your appliance with heavy items, like books.

Cover and protect

Use a breathable material such as a tarp or sheet to shield your appliance from dirt, dust or accidental scratches.

Spring Cleaning and Storage

That time of year has arrived when the days get longer, and it becomes easier to do something about the carpet stains, dust and stale air that have built up during the last few weeks and, perhaps, months. Finally, you can throw open all of the windows and let in the fresh air without freezing. Now, get ready to revitalize your home with a good spring cleaning.

Whether you conduct a full-house cleaning once a year or once a month, you may want to consider renting a self storage unit to get things out of the way during the process. In addition, cleaning and organizing easily can turn into redecorating. Self storage facilities are great places to store items for the long-term that do not fit into your updated home design scheme but that you are not ready to toss, sell or donate.

Spring cleaning tips:

  • To keep track of what you have already accomplished, clean from the top down, dusting and washing ceiling fans, light fixtures and corners first. Then wipe and wash walls, windows, counters, furniture and floors.A similar philosophy works with windows. Try cleaning the inside from left to right and the outside from the top down. This will make it easier to tell which side has streaks, if either.

  • Replace smoke detector batteries, test the smoke detectors and give them a good wipe down.

  • Clear counters and shelves and wash them thoroughly. Wash knick-knacks and dust books. If you have accumulated stacks of papers or bills, now is a good time to file the important documents in your self storage unit. Recycle junk mail, outdated magazines and used envelopes. Shred old bills and other papers that contain personal information.

  • Pull out appliances and wash the sides and floor. Clean normally hidden spills and wipe the walls.

  • If you plan to paint or thoroughly shampoo the carpets, consider moving your furniture into a self storage unit. Many companies will rent units for as little as a day. Mobile storage companies will even bring a storage unit to your house and remove it when you are done with it.

  • When cleaning mattresses and other furniture, consider laying down a tarp and leaving the bedding and upholstery outside on the driveway for a few hours. Some strong sunlight and ultraviolet radiation can help eradicate microscopic creatures that are trying to take up residence there. A thorough steam cleaning may leave your furniture feeling and smelling fresh, also.

  • Sort through seasonal clothes. Wash or dry clean them, and sew on buttons or stitch up minor tears. A wardrobe box with a hanging rod will help keep clothes looking good and can easily be placed into your storage unit. Remember to look critically at your garments. Get rid of overly worn garments and things you never wear.

  • As you clean the nooks and crannies, you may find leaky faucets, broken door handles or cracked tiles. Take time to make these repairs now to prevent them from becoming more serious or costly problems later. Get seldom used tools out of the way when you are done with the repairs by placing them in your self storage unit.

  • Remember the small stuff. Sweep the corners where you vacuum does not reach, wash down air vents, clean the dirt from the tracks in your windows and patio doors, and wipe crown molding and window frames.

  • Don’t forget the outside of the house. Use a power sprayer to remove grime, empty wasps’ nests and spider webs from exterior walls and windows. Spray down the garage floor while you are at it to rid the space of fluid leaks and road salt or sand that can easily be tracked inside and stain your carpet.

  • Remove lawn furniture from your basement, garage or self storage unit. Clean it. A good spraying with the hose will usually do the trick. Replace the furniture with snow blowers, snow shovels and winter toys like sleds and snowboards. These bulky items can get in the way when stored at home. As these seasonal items don’t need to be removed often, you may find that when you tuck them away in a self storage unit you have taken a very practical step toward keeping your home free of clutter.

  • Trim bushes, aerate the lawn, lay down fresh mulch, and maybe even plant a few flowers. Garden tools can be bundled together and placed in trash barrels in your self storage unit when they are not needed.

Spring cleaning may be a lot of work, but the payoff is a brighter, safer home that can give you a new perspective and prepare you to meet life’s other challenges.

Yard Sales and Storage

So you want to have a garage sale to get rid of some of your old things? The question is where to store and organize your items while you are getting ready. A self storage unit is your answer.

Your basement storage room may be so full that you have no idea what is in there, and no room to sort through it. Your garage may be full of tools, bicycles, kids’ toys, yard tools, and sporting equipment, not to mention your cars. An empty storage unit is the perfect place to sort and price all of your items.

The best way to keep things in order is to categorize things as you drop them off at the storage unit. Sort your items by categories you might see in a department store or secondhand store – kitchen, clothing, toys, appliances, linens, sporting goods, etc. It will save you lots of time as your sale approaches. Instead of having to scramble to sort things as the sale date nears, all you will need to do is go in and tag things. (You can even price things as you drop them off.) As you go through things in your storage room or people give you their hand-me-down clothes, you take them right to the storage unit.

If you are having a sale with friends or family, you can split the cost of the storage unit. That greatly increases the benefits of using a self-storage unit to store your items because it reduces the expense.

As the date of your yard sale approaches, set up the racks and tables in your garage before you bring your things over from the storage unit. Have some idea of where you would like things to go. All you will need to do is load up your van or truck with your items and unload them onto the tables and racks in your garage. Everything will already be sorted and priced.

Having the storage unit also will let you concentrate on preparing for the sale without distractions. Leave the kids, computers, and phones at home and spend time sorting and tagging without the common interruptions.

If you have an annual sale, you can bring items to your storage unit year-round. If you keep it well-organized, setting up for your sale should be simple.