How to Package Your Items to Prevent Damage in a Storage Unit

If you are planning on storing your items in a storage unit try to keep them packaged to prevent damage. Your items will be protected in the right packaging materials keeping them safe from breakage. Using the correct boxes and packing tape is just one way to prevent damage

Whether you’re moving to a new place or just need to make space in your current home, a storage unit can offer some great benefits! But the same time, if you’re not careful, your items could end up damaged. Luckily, there are several things that you can do to package your items in a way that will keep them in good condition.

If you’re preparing to move some of your belongings into storage, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you details about how to package your items to prevent damage during storage. We will also discuss some best practices on how to load your storage unit for ease of use.

Wrap and Protect Your Furniture

Furniture is one of the main items that people place in storage units, so it’s important to know how to protect it. You want to prepare it in a way that prevents: 

  • Scratches
  • Cracks
  • Moisture uptake

All of the above can destroy furniture, especially if it’s made of wood or cloth. You also want to load it into the storage unit in an orderly fashion, which we will discuss later on in this article.

Wrapping your furniture will help you avoid undesirable scratches, cracks, or moisture damage as you put it inside a storage unit.

Cover the Floor

Be sure to place a protective layer of plastic or rubber on the floor of your storage unit before placing furniture inside. Although many storage units are perfectly safe and weather-proof, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Placing a protective layer on the floor can help prevent your furniture from sitting in a puddle of water if it happens to seep in through the floor or the sides of the unit.

Use Blankets and Furniture Pads

Cover your furniture with heavy blankets or furniture pads. You may think that since your items will be sitting still (i.e. not bouncing around in the back of a moving van while it drives down the road), that they won’t get scratched, but that is rarely the case. Use furniture pads and blankets to wrap your furniture as much as possible. You can even use packing tape, wrapped all the way around the blanket, to keep it in place.

You can cover your furniture with regular blankets and furniture pads for extra protection from scratches.

*Note: Cloth furniture should be covered with a white sheet rather than a dark blanket to avoid dark ink absorbing into the fabric.

Clean and Seal

If you have some wood pieces that are really important to you, consider cleaning them with a furniture polish and covering them in a wax sealant prior to wrapping them up. This will help protect the surface and also prevent moisture from getting into the wood. With leather couches or cloth pieces, use a leather or fabric protectant spray for the same reason. Be sure to let them dry for 24-48 hours after cleaning before wrapping them.

Disassemble Larger Items

Larger items, such as bed frames, may need to be disassembled in order to save room in your unit. If you dissemble something and wrap each individual piece, be sure to store them vertically in the storage unit so you can save on floor space. You may also want to place the hardware for each piece in a plastic bag and label it to save yourself some trouble when you go to reassemble everything.

Clean and Pack Appliances with Care

Large appliances will need to be thoroughly cleaned prior to placing them in storage. In the case of kitchen appliances, if you don’t deep-clean them, you could attract rodents and other pests into your storage unit, which can cause a ton of other problems. Although it might take a little longer, it’s best to just put in the work now for better results later.

Defrost and Deep-Clean

Refrigerators and freezers must be completely defrosted prior to being placed in storage. We recommend defrosting them outside in your garage or driveway if possible, to avoid water running all over your floor. Once thawed out, clean them completely with an all-purpose cleaner or a bleach and water solution to be sure that there is no food left on any of the surfaces.

You should always defrost and deep-clean your fridge, freezer, oven, or dishwasher prior to packing and storing them.

Ovens and dishwashers must also be deep-cleaned. Many ovens come with a specific cleaner that is made for the interior and exterior, so use that if you still have it. If not, an all-purpose cleaner or bleach and water solution will do the trick.

Drain the Water

Appliances that have water lines such as dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators with ice dispensers, must also have water lines that are completely dry before placing them in storage. Leaving water in the hoses of such appliances can result in: 

  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Other irreparable damage. 

If you live in a cold region of the country, the water can freeze inside the lines and cause damage that way, as well.

Leave the Doors Open

If possible, when you place appliances in your storage unit, leave the doors slightly ajar. This is highly recommended especially for kitchen appliances. It will allow proper ventilation and help prevent foul odors, condensation and mildew.

Pack Up Electronics the Right Way

The key to packing electronics is to avoid wrapping them in plastic. Although you may think that bubble wrap or plastic will help protect them, you might be doing more harm than good. Plastic can actually trap moisture inside the electronics, which can do some major damage over time.

Don’t Use Plastic

Instead of using plastic, you should choose packing materials such as: 

  • Cloth
  • Styrofoam
  • Packing peanuts 

These will adequately protect your electronics. If possible, pack your electronics back into their original packing materials and boxes. If you no longer have those items, pack them in their own box with their own cables so you can easily reassemble them when you’re ready.

Clean Your Electronics

Before packing your electronics, be sure to wipe them down to remove dust and dirt. The last thing you want is for the dust to settle into the mechanical parts of your electronics! You may also consider using compressed air to remove dust from: 

  • Keyboards
  • USB ports
  • Auxiliary ports 
  • Other items with dust-attracting crevices
You should thoroughly clean your electronic devices before wrapping them or packing into original boxes.

Off the Floor and Away from the Door

When you put them in your storage unit, never store electronics on the floor where they could be damaged by water seeping in. Instead, place them on a shelving unit or on top of furniture to keep them off the floor. You should also store them in the back of your unit to protect them from heat, cold and other elements near the door.

Be Mindful of All Fragile Items

There are tons of items that could potentially fall into the “fragile” category. Each type of item needs special care to ensure safety and prevent damage while in storage. Be sure to read this section carefully if you have a lot of fragile items to pack and store.

In general, when you pack delicate items, you want to use smaller boxes. This will help keep the weight of the box down so you can move it around easily and to prevent it from breaking or tearing during transit. If possible, use wooden crates or even plastic tubs to pack fragile items, as they will hold up to the weight better than cardboard.


When packing dishes, be sure to put a layer of padding or wrapping in between each one. It can be tempting to just stack plates on top of one another, but doing this causes a much greater risk or breakage. Instead you can use things like: 

  • Bubble wrap
  • Cloth wraps
  • Packing paper
  • Other soft materials
You should use layers of soft material between glasses, cups, and other fragile pieces of cutlery to store them safely.

Glasses and cups require padding in between, as well. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is never glass-on-glass or ceramic-on-ceramic. Additionally, be sure to pack cups with the rims facing down. This will add more stability and allow them to take a little more pressure.

Mirrors and Wall Hangings

We recommend the purchase of specialized boxes for these items. It can be really difficult to pack them in a way that prevents damage, but the specialized boxes and materials make it much easier. If you opt to use regular pads and wrapping materials, be sure to wrap them several times and secure the pads by wrapping tape all the way around the outside.

The glass portion of these items should be marked with an “x” in masking tape. This adds strength and stability to the glass and helps prevent shattering. Adding crumpled packing paper or bubble wrap in between the glass and the padding that its wrapped in will also help.


Figurines and other collectibles should be packed individually in small boxes whenever possible. Just like your electronics, it is best to pack them in their original box. If that’s not possible, try to find small boxes to pack each item and then place them in the larger box.

Figurines and other fragile collectibles should be wrapped individually and packed in proper-sized boxes.

If you don’t have individual boxes, be sure to wrap each item individually with packing paper or bubble wrap. Line the bottom of the box with pads or bubble wrap before loading it with your items. Be sure to fill empty spaces inside the box with additional packing paper to keep them items from moving around.

Protect Your Clothing from Damage

It is really tempting to just throw all of your clothing into cardboard boxes, seal them up and call it done. However, this is one of the worst things you can do for your clothes, especially if they will be in storage for a prolonged amount of time. Your best bet is to use wardrobe boxes that allow you to hang your clothing up.

Hanging your clothing in boxes while in storage will allow proper ventilation in between the layers of clothes. It will also help prevent mold and mildew from accumulating in your clothes. For added protection, place mothballs or other insect repellent products inside the unit and/or the boxes, as well.

Place Items Methodically in the Storage Unit

Despite how much time and energy you spend protecting your items prior to storing them, it won’t do much good if you don’t load them into the storage unit in a logical way. There are a variety of things you can do inside the storage unit to maximize your efforts to prevent damage. Here are a few key ideas.

Install Shelves

This might seem like a lot of work for a storage unit, but it’s an awesome way to protect your items from damage. 

Shelves may be a good addition to your storage unit if you’ll be storing items like: 

  • Dishes
  • Electronics
  • Other fragile items 

Also, if you install some strong shelving units along one wall, you can place the heavy boxes on the shelves, rather than on top of one another.

Many people underestimate how much damage can be done by stacking boxes on top of one another. You can certainly try to put the heaviest on the bottom and the lightest on top, but it’s not the ideal way to store things. The shelves will help you avoid this entirely and let each box have its own space.

Line the Walls First

It happens to everyone – you get everything into your storage unit, close and lock the door, and inevitably need something a week later. You go back to the unit to try to find it and you have no space to walk in between your items. Nor do you have any idea where that particular item is!

This scenario is all too common.

To avoid it, line the walls of your unit first. This means placing boxes, furniture and appliances along the walls, leaving the middle space open for you to walk. Label all of the boxes clearly and face those labels towards the middle of the unit or the walkway. This allows space to move around once the unit is full, so you can find that one thing that you didn’t think you would need.

Store Large Items Vertically

The key to the game of storage is to utilize your space to its fullest capacity. This includes really large items or long items. If possible, store them vertically against the wall to use the vertical space in the storage unit and leave free space on the floor.

For example, kayaks, bicycles and other such items can stand on their end and be secured to the wall. You can stand your coffee table up on its end. You can disassemble large pieces of furniture and store the individual pieces vertically.

When placing items in a vertical position, be sure to secure them to the walls will rope or tie-downs. The last thing you want is for them to fall over and get damaged, or to damage other items in the unit.

Use Moisture Absorbers

Most storage units claim to be “weather-proof” and “climate-controlled” and other fancy things. However, we recommend taking some of your own precautions as well. This includes protecting your items from taking on moisture as a result of humidity, condensation or leaks.

Moisture absorbers are a great way to keep your items fresh and mildew-free while in storage. You can place them throughout the unit for the duration of the time that you use it. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and brands and most are available at major discount stores, home and garden retailers and other stores.

Avoid Storing Food

This may seem like a no-brainer, but we’re going to say it anyway. Don’t store food in your unit. It rarely turns out the way you want it to!

Most people do this unintentionally. Perhaps you were loading up the items from your kitchen and threw all the contents of your pantry into one big box. After that, you placed it in storage and then it took you longer than expected to find a new place to live.

Rodents and other pests will eventually find their way to your storage unit because they can smell things like: 

  • Food
  • Spices
  • Condiments

They can wreak havoc on many items in your storage unit, including: 

  • Boxes
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Anything else they can find their way into. 

In most cases, it’s better to just discard all of your pantry items and purchase new ones when you get to your new place. If that’s not an option, take them with you to your temporary new spot, rather than sticking them in storage.


Putting items in a storage unit can be a necessary action for a bunch of different reasons. The key to a positive experience with a storage unit is to be prepared and not to take any shortcuts. Taking the time to prepare your items for storage can save you a world of headaches down the road.

Be sure to prepare each category of items as described here and use the appropriate packing materials for each. Once you have prepared your items, load your unit in a way that contributes to your damage prevention efforts. It might take a little more work on the front end, but you’ll be thankful when it’s all said and done!

Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

read this next

Self storage facilities can be used for much more than just extra storage space. Businesses utilize them to store their excess inventory, or as an alternative room for their office. They are also useful for the consumer who may own too much “stuff”. Here’s how to find cheap self storage units and keep your costs down.
Properly storing furniture in a storage unit may seem like a simple task, but there are many things to consider. By taking the right steps to prepare and then store the pieces correctly, you can help ensure that they stay safe in storage.
Storing your kayak in the garage is definitely a great way to save space and protect it from the elements, but there are some things you should consider. In this short guide I’ll share with you our top tips for storing your kayak in the garage.
Whether you’re looking for a home storage bench or you store your out of season items in it, this piece of furniture can be used for many purposes. Not only is it an excellent place to put things that are out of the way but it also looks great as a patio storage bench or to sit on when putting on shoes or boots. Here are some of the benefits of purchasing and using a storage bench for your home or yard.
Many people don’t realize just how important it is to maintain the quality of your mattress while in storage. In fact, Mattress Firm offers some tips and tricks to help keep your mattress in tip top shape! Allow us to walk you through storing your mattress properly.
Storage pods are gaining popularity as an affordable home storage solution. But how can you be sure they’re the right choice for your needs? Here’s a comparison of self-storage vs. pods that will help you find the perfect solution for your situation.
Packing your kitchen when moving is definitely not a pleasant task to complete. However, these tips and recommendations will help you safely pack your kitchen stuff while keeping things organized.
If you have a car to store in your storage unit you should make the most of your space by storing the car in a smart way. Here are some easy tips on how to load a vehicle into your storage unit to get the most use out of your space.
If you own an RV or rent an RV, you’ll want to know the best tips and tricks for covering the RV. What type of material should be used? Where should the fabric be placed? And what tools are needed?
A storage unit is a great device for anyone looking to store valuable things. As long as it is built to last, and that it gives you the necessary space to keep your valuables, then it is more than worth your money. Here we will be going over 9 reasons why You need outdoor storage unit, so that you can be sure that you are making the right decision.
Keeping your lawnmower safe and protected in the garage can be a daunting task. You want to make sure that it’s both safe and ready for mowing season. This article provides tips on how to store your lawnmower properly in the garage so it’s easily accessible and out of the way.
Whether you’re trying to clear out a whole room or add a little more space to fill with stuff, there are plenty of ways you can use cubes for storage at home. Cubes can also provide a number of other functions that will make your life easier. Here are 9 places to use storage cubes in your home.
Storing your snowmobile in the garage is one of the best ways to protect it from damage. This requires a bit of planning though, as you’ll need to make room for your machine and insure it will be safe and secure otherwise. Below are some simple steps to help you prepare.
Whether you live in a small apartment or have a tiny space tucked under the stairs, there are ways to maximize your room for storage. By making smart choices about what you keep in your bedroom, you can reduce clutter while still being able to find your stuff. Here are 16 tips for making the most of your small bedroom’s limited storage space.
Hoses, rakes, shovels and other yard tools often present a storage problem in the garage. Fortunately, there are several storage options that allow you to make the most of your space and keep your garden tools accessible
Keeping camping gear in the garage is the best way to keep it out of sight and avoid potential damage or loss. It also helps keep your camper clean and smelling nice. Storing camping gear should be a simple, but there are still many things you should know. We are here to help
Storage facilities are everywhere. You can find them close to home and away, and in different price ranges. It’s important to find a storage facility that makes sense for your budget and your needs before you jump at the first deal you find. Storage facilities range from small units with a 24 hour front desk to huge warehouses with on-site managers and security patrols. Here’s how you can find the perfect storage unit on a budget.
It’s important to keep moisture out of your storage unit, especially if valuables are inside. Moisture can damage a wide variety of items stored in a unit and can cause mold to grow on walls and floors. Here are some ways you can keep moisture out of your unit.