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Self Storage Tips: Everything You Need to Know

By Matt Wallace

3 May, 20245 mins read

Packing your life into boxes can be one of the most stressful parts of moving home. From carefully wrapping fragile items to making sure everything will fit in the van, the process of sorting out a storage container can make moving even more draining than it already is. 

At Pay Less For Storage, we know just how stressful storing your possessions can be — but it doesn’t have to be that way! With more than 20 years in the business, we know a thing or two about how to best pack and store your belongings. 

It’s not just about making sure everything is safe and secure, it’s about utilising the space in the best possible way and ensuring your most important items are easy to find should you need them. 

In this post, we’ll be giving you a roundup of storage unit tips and tricks, curated by our very own experts, to help make sure that storing your items goes as smoothly as possible. 

Storage Unit Tips

There’s a subtle art to packing a storage unit, done right and you’ll be able to make the most of your storage space while keeping your belongings secure and well organised, in the most efficient way possible.

Whether you’re storing items for the short term or the long haul, understanding how to pack for self storage and utilise your container is key. From finding the right storage to making an inventory, our carefully curated storage unit tips will guide you through the process, from start to finish. 

Find the Best Storage Space For You

With so many self storage options to choose from, finding the perfect storage provider can be difficult. Then, once you’ve chosen a company you’ll often need to choose the size of your unit — it’s enough to make your head spin! 

While it’s easy to feel defeated by the sheer number of options, there are some basic factors you need to consider when looking for self storage, including: 

  • Location: If you live in Land’s End, you probably won’t want to store your belongings in John o’Groats. Instead, try finding a storage solution that’s a reasonable distance from where you’ll be based. 
  • Space: Do you need to store a few boxes or the contents of your entire home? If you need a lot of space, then you can’t get much bigger than a shipping container. 
  • Accessibility: While Pay Less For Storage offers 24-hour access to units that you can drive right up to, many self storage centres are only open during certain hours, with units inside large buildings with multiple floors and corridors.
  • Budget: There are probably a thousand things you’d rather spend your money on than storage, and if budget is an important factor, you may need to compromise in other areas. Alternatively, you can store your possessions with a Pay Less For Storage without compromising on security or service.

    Pro Tip: Big national chains often charge a premium just for being a well-known brand.

The key to finding the perfect storage unit for your needs is deciding which of these factors are most important to you. 


Once you’ve found (and booked) your storage container, consider insuring stored items should anything happen to them. While you probably won’t need to worry about things like theft, if your belongings are damaged by unexpected events such as floods, fires, tornadoes, or meteor strikes, you’ll be glad to have the cover. 

Many storage providers will offer their own insurance products to cover your possessions. While this is great for convenience, buying insurance directly from the storage centre can be expensive.

Third-party insurance providers, on the other hand, offer very competitive rates and can cover everything from sprinkler leaks to lightning strikes. If, for example, you’re putting your best suit or wedding dress in storage, insurance can even cover damage caused by moths and other pests. 

Prepare Your Packing Materials

With the admin of finding a storage and insurance provider out of the way, it’s almost time to start packing. But before you do, make sure you’ve got all the materials you need to keep your belongings safe, from the tiniest trinkets to your bulkiest furniture.

Here’s a list of what you’ll need: 

  • Sturdy Boxes: Opt for boxes in various sizes that are strong enough to hold your items without buckling.
  • Tape: Invest in quality tape to keep your boxes tightly secured.
  • Bubble Wrap and Packing Peanuts: These are perfect for wrapping fragile items and filling gaps in boxes.
  • Permanent Markers: Use markers to label boxes with contents and handling instructions.
  • Furniture Covers: Even bed sheets will go a long way to protect furniture from dust and scratches.
  • Mattress Bags: These are essential for keeping your mattresses clean and dry.

With the right tools at your side, you can pack your belongings in a way that maximises space, minimises the risk of damage and makes unpacking a breeze. 

Pro Tip: It’s always worth buying a few more pens, boxes and rolls of tape. There’s nothing worse than running out of tape on your last box! 

Wash and Dry Items

Giving your items a good wash before storing them is more than just a cleanliness tip; it’s a preservation strategy. Clean items are less likely to develop mould, mildew, or attract pests, ensuring they come out of storage in the same condition they went in. 

This is particularly important for clothing, upholstery and any fabrics that can harbour moisture and odours. Thoroughly cleaning and drying everything might seem like an extra step now, but it will help keep your stored items in pristine condition.

Pro Tip: Moisture is your enemy! Make sure everything is bone dry before moving it into storage. If you have any doubts then consider getting moisture absorbers and storing them alongside your belongings.

Pack Efficiently

Packing is a daunting task and it can be very easy to get distracted by any one of the million things you have to do when moving. To stay focused, start by working through each room one at a time and sort your belongings into ‘keep’, ‘donate’ and ‘storage’ piles (more on this in a moment). For the items you’ll be putting in storage, categorise them based on size, fragility and frequency of use — this will save you time later on. 

Next, wrap delicate items individually and be sure to fill boxes to their capacity as this will prevent items from being jostled inside the box. Books and heavier items should go in small boxes, while lighter items can fill larger boxes. If you do mix heavy and light items, be sure to put the heavy stuff at the bottom. 


Moving home is the perfect time to embrace your inner Marie Kondo and reassess what’s worth keeping. Decluttering frees up more space in both your storage unit and your life — plus, you can do it while you pack! As you work through each room, separate items into ‘keep’, ‘donate’ and storage piles — and be honest with yourself! 

Do you need to keep that jacket you haven’t worn in 12 months? Taking the time to declutter can significantly reduce the volume of things you need to store while simultaneously simplifying your life.

Protect Fragile Items

It isn’t until you move home that you realise just how many fragile items you have. Glasses, mugs, plates, mirrors, jewellery, framed photos, TVs, musical instruments, vases… the list goes on. 

To make sure everything makes it in and out of storage in one piece, you need to make sure you pack your most precious belongings appropriately. We recommend wrapping each fragile item individually in bubble wrap and securing it with tape.

You can even double-box items that are especially delicate or valuable to give them an extra layer of protection. To do this, simply place a small box within a larger one and fill it with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or even shredded newspaper. When packing these items into boxes, make sure they’re snug (but not too tight), and label the box as “fragile”. This attention to detail will keep your most cherished items safe and sound.

Label Boxes

When you fill a box, label it with its contents and the room it belongs to, as this will help streamline the unpacking process. This simple step makes a world of difference, not just when you’re unpacking but also if you need to find something while your things are still in storage. 

Use a marker that’s bold and readable from a distance and consider adding handling instructions like “fragile” or “this way up”. Labelling each box thoroughly ensures that you, and anyone helping you, can quickly identify where things belong, reducing the time and hassle involved in both moving your belongings and accessing them later.

Dismantle Furniture

It might go without saying, but it’s a good idea to take large bulky pieces of furniture (beds, tables, sofas etc.) apart before storing them. This not only makes it easier to transport the furniture, but it also helps to maximise the storage space. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep all the screws and fittings in labelled bags and attach them to the pieces of furniture they belong to. 

Make an Inventory

One of the smartest moves you can make before loading up your storage unit is creating a detailed inventory list. 

This not only keeps you organised, ensuring you know exactly what’s in storage and where to find it, but it also serves as a vital record for insurance purposes. If something does happen to the contents of your storage unit, this will be the first thing insurers ask for. 

For extra organisation, you could even sketch a layout of your unit, marking where each item or box is placed. It might sound like a hassle, but a visual guide can be a huge help when storing a lot of items over a long period of time. 

Pro Tip: Keep a waterproof copy of your inventory inside the storage unit so that you can always find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. 

Strategically Pack Your Storage Unit 

Knowing how to store things in a storage unit starts with a plan that maximises space while ensuring easy access to your belongings. 

Start by placing large and heavy items at the back of the unit and be sure to leave a clear path for easy access. If you’ve got a lot of boxes to stack, then make sure you put the heaviest ones at the bottom — these will act as a sturdy base for the lighter ones on top. 

Pro Tip: If there’s anything you might need before emptying your storage unit, be sure to put it near the unit’s entrance, where it will be easy to get to. 

Use Shelving Units

Adding shelves to your storage container is a great way to maximise its vertical space. It also means you don’t need to worry about your boxes toppling over or collapsing in on themselves.

On top of that, shelves make it easier to organise your belongings and access the contents of your boxes without needing to unstack them. If you already have a shelving unit in your home, you might be able to use it in your storage, provided the shelves are strong enough to take the weight.

Cover Chairs

Covering chairs before storing them is an essential step to protect against dust, dirt and accidental scratches. Use furniture covers or even old sheets to wrap each chair and secure it with tape. These covers help maintain the integrity of the upholstery and prevent any moisture from causing unnecessary damage.

It’s a small step that will go a long way in keeping your chairs in mint condition, ready and waiting for when you take them out of storage. 

Get a Strong Lock

And finally, no storage unit is complete without a strong, sturdy and waterproof padlock. Be sure to opt for a high-quality lock that’s resistant to tampering, cutting and drilling. You might even want to invest in a lock with added security features, such as shrouded shackles, which protect against bolt cutters.

Choosing a lock that’s waterproof is another thing to consider, particularly with the UK’s unpredictable weather. Waterproof padlocks have protected lock mechanisms to safeguard them from rust and corrosion — which is especially important if you’re using an outdoor storage container.   

This added durability will keep the lock functioning smoothly over time, providing consistent security for your storage unit against theft and the elements. 

Pro Tip: At Pay Less For Storage, we provide our customers with a free heavy-duty padlock that’s protected by a steel lock box. 

And that’s all there is to it! Equipped with the top tips for self storage, you can now rest easy knowing that you’ll be packing and storing like a pro. From the moment you find a storage provider, to putting a lock on your unit, you now know the best way to store items in a storage unit. 

Remember, a little planning and the right approach can make all the difference in keeping your belongings well-organised and in pristine condition.

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

Matt is a Director of Pay Less for Storage. He blogs tips for storage customers and helps them navigate self storage.

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