Tips to Keeping Your Storage Unit Smelling Fresh

Keeping the smell fresh in your unit comes down to a few things and maintaining a clean unit. This will not only aid as a deterrent for pests, but can be one less thing on your mind. Here are a few quick tips from our team

If you’ve ever rented a storage unit, you might have noticed that over time, your belongings have developed an odor. This is a widespread problem that can be remedied. Regardless of the length of time that you’ll be utilizing a storage unit, it’s important to store belongings carefully to avoid musty smells.

It’s easy for storage units to begin to smell funky due to the lack of airflow. This unpleasant stench can also seep into your belongings, leaving traces long after the items have been removed. Below are several tips to keep your storage unit smelling fresh so that you can be reassured your items will remain odor-free.

Invest in a Climate-Controlled Storage Unit

One of the main causes of mold, and its resulting odor, is the abundance of moisture in the air. Combat this by investing in a climate-controlled storage unit. Many storage companies offer these units for a slightly higher price. Units can then be temperature-controlled to your liking.

A climate controlled unit control panel.
Climate-controlled storage units are well-ventilated and minimize the risks of damage or mold growth.

Climate-controlled storage works by adding airflow to the unit — whether that be hot or cold — to reduce the possibility of mold growth. This is also a good way to protect important items in your unit that may be damaged from specific temperatures.

Be prepared to pay more when it comes to a climate-controlled storage unit. According to Move.org, the average climate-controlled storage unit costs between $75 and $225 per month.

Pre-clean Your Storage Unit

It may seem annoying to have to clean your storage unit before moving in your belongings, but it could save you from dealing with foul odors later on. Prepping your space with odor-absorbing materials from the get-go can really make a difference.

A person disinfecting.
You should store your items in a rental storage unit only after thoroughly cleaning it using a specialized cleaner or vinegar.

You can use a store-bought cleaner, but vinegar is highly recommended for eliminating odors. We suggests using a mixture of vinegar, water, and lemon juice to sterilize the area while providing a fresh scent.

Using this mixture, wipe down the walls of the unit. Mopping the floors with vinegar is also a good idea. That way, any mold or mildew that could be left over from the previous tenant will not have the opportunity to continue to grow.

Consider a Dehumidifier

Climate-controlled storage units can be too pricy for many customers. Another cheaper option is to purchase a dehumidifier for your unit. These handy devices work to remove moisture and humidity from the air, which can cause mildew and mold to grow, resulting in unpleasant odors. 

However, you will need a unit with electrical access to use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers can only be used when the temperature is above 70 degrees, as there is not enough moisture in the air to be removed at lower temperatures. This can be problematic if you live in an area that tends to get very cold.

If you do live in a warmer area, a dehumidifier is an affordable option to control moisture in the air. Those sold on Amazon typically range between $150 and $200.

Use Odor-Absorbing Materials

Baking soda isn’t only good for your fridge! Placing several open containers of baking soda around your storage unit can help to absorb any odors from mildew or mold. You can also use other household items such as vinegar and cat litter. 

While household items are typically fool-proof, you can also purchase special odor-absorbing bags to place around your unit. This pack of twelve from Amazon sells for $12.99.

Purchase Air Fresheners

If absorbing the odor doesn’t work, you can always cover it using an air freshener. Or, you can pair an air freshener with an odor-absorbing material to both eliminate and cover any moldy smells. An easy and affordable way to do this is by purchasing car air fresheners that you can hang in your storage unit. Their small size means they fit perfectly anywhere you put them!

A car air freshener.
One easy and affordable way to do this is by purchasing car air fresheners that you can hang.

You may want to hang several air fresheners if you have a larger storage unit and replace them when you notice the scent begins to dwindle. Hanging air fresheners can be purchased pretty much everywhere; these candle-scented ones from Amazon cost $10.

Store Your Clothes Properly

Once you’ve prepped your storage unit as best as possible, you’ll want to make sure your belongings don’t begin to smell musty either. Clothing can absorb odors that are hard to get rid of, even if you wash them. To avoid smells entering your clothing, follow these simple steps:

  • Wash clothes
  • Store in airtight containers
  • Use a dryer sheet or baking soda to absorb odors

Wash Clothes Before Storing

Though it may seem like a no-brainer, washing your clothes before storing them ensures that there is no remaining dirt that can cause problems later on. Start fresh; completely wash and dry your items before heading to the storage unit.

Store Clothing in Airtight Containers

This may seem counterintuitive since airflow is imperative in reducing mildew. However, keeping your clothes in an airtight container will stop any odor in the rest of the storage unit from entering the fabric. Use large, plastic bins as a way to keep your clothes organized and secure.

A person storing clothes in airtight storage bags,
You should always store your clean clothes in airtight storage bags to protect them from unpleasant odors.

Eliminate Possible Odors

Lastly, take a precautionary step and add a scented dryer sheet or packet of baking soda to your clothing bins. This will ensure that all odor is absorbed and your clothes stay smelling fresh and clean!

Store Blankets and Other Fabric Items Carefully

Large fabric items, such as blankets and big jackets, should be stored the same way as clothing. These items are also susceptible to foul odors and should be kept in an airtight container. Just like your clothes, be absolutely sure that large fabric items are completely dry before storing. Any little bit of moisture can be the beginning of mildew growth!

Wrap Upholstered Furniture

Fabric furniture can be difficult to store in a way that doesn’t allow opportunities for mildew growth. However, ensuring your upholstered items retain a clean scent isn’t as complicated as it may seem! Although you can’t put a couch in an airtight bin, the process for storing your furniture is pretty much the same as clothing and blankets.

A woman cover her furniture with a plastic wrap.
To protect your upholstered furniture from unpleasant odor, you should cover them with plastic wrap before storing.

Cover all of your furniture in tight plastic wrap to create an airtight seal. You can also add dryer sheets or baking soda underneath the plastic wrap just to be safe. 

Plastic wrap for furniture can be purchased online or anywhere that sells moving supplies. Amazon sells an 18” roll for $15.

Air Your Unit Out When You Can

Even with all of the above precautions, you may discover that your storage unit ends up with a moldy smell to it. Don’t worry, this happens! There isn’t a one size fits all solution for eliminating odors, and not everything will necessarily work. Therefore, it’s important to air out your storage unit when you can!

Obviously, you don’t want to leave your storage unit open to the public, but if you have a few hours to spare, set up a chair outside the unit and allow some outside airflow to enter. This may seem annoying, but it can really help your unit maintain a fresh smell, even if you’ve been using it for quite a long time.

Final Thoughts

Moldy and mildewy smells are incredibly common in storage units, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with them! This article covers several tips to eliminate odors as best as possible by tackling the source, covering them up, and storing items properly. While every storage unit is different, we hope that this article serves as a guide to achieving freshness!

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