• Staff Writer

How to Pack and Organize a Storage Unit

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

People are sometimes in a hurry when packing a storage unit. This results in their belongings getting stuffed into their unit haphazardly.

Before we provide some tips about packing and organizing a storage space, let’s start with a photo of how not to pack a storage unit.

How not to pack a storage unit
How not to pack a storage unit

Admittedly, this image is on the "extremely haphazard" end of the spectrum. However, the general "pile up" style of storage unit packing is more common than you may think.

If you do have some time and you’re able to make a few small up-front investments, you will be able to store more items in a given size unit. You will be able to more quickly and easily get at specific items that you want to remove from the unit.

The items suggested for purchase below may cost a little up front, but they will make access and storage easier for whatever size storage unit you rent—whether it’s a 5x10, a 10x10 or larger.

1. Buy one or more shelving units

Shelves in Storage Unit
Plastic Ventilated Shelving

Shelving will let you make more efficient use of vertical space.

Plastic ventilated storage shelving like this one from Home Depot is easy to assemble, lightweight and easy to move around.

For heavier items, you can use steel shelving. Steel shelving takes a little more time to assemble.

2. Store a step stool

If you do use shelving or if a person taller than you stacked some items high up on move-in, a step stool will let you more easily reach things.

3. Document what’s where

Unless you have a photographic memory, you may forget exactly where you placed certain items. Write up an inventory list and create a simple map that shows where items are located.

Storage Unit Map

4. Label boxes on the top and on the side

When packing boxes, labeling them only on the top is the natural inclination for most people. However, if boxes are also labeled on the sides, what each box contains will be visible when boxes are stacked.

5. Substitute plastic storage totes for some of your of boxes

Plastic bins are stronger than boxes and they stack better than boxes. Translucent or clear plastic also has the benefit of allowing you to see what’s inside.

6. Use holiday themed storage containers

Green and red holiday bins make decorations even easier to find. We’ve also found halloween-themed bins in the past, but those are harder to come by.

7. Hang clothing from a portable rack

If you are storing clothing items such as dresses, jackets and dress pants, you can avoid permanent crease lines by hanging these up on a portable garment rack.

8. Have an Allen wrench set and screwdrivers on hand during move-in

Some pieces of furniture such as pedestal tables can be easily disassembled. Taking furniture apart will save space. Make sure to put any hardware in plastic bags and tape the bags to one of the pieces.

9. Place pictures and paintings near the opening

Standing up your pictures and paintings on the sides, near the unit’s opening will make sure that nothing gets stacked up on them. With this approach, you can even get away without having to wrap each item individually.


Everyone has their own style of packing a storage space, but hopefully some of these ideas will help save you time and money.

Learn about our moving supplies and read our 10 Moving Tips.

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