Winter Cleaning?

We’ve all participated in the well-known tradition of spring cleaning once the weather starts to get warm, but what about winter cleaning? The holidays are, in fact, just as good of a time to declutter your home. Think about it: you’re already digging into the depths of your home storage to retrieve your decorations, you’re cleaning your home in preparation for family to come over, and the gifts you receive are, in a sense, adding to the clutter you’ve amassed over the years. Why not take a weekend, or even a day, to clean out your home and start the new year off with less stuff and more space?

There are lots of options for what to do with all of those things you’ve been holding onto but really have no use for anymore. Here are some suggestions of what to do with those old electric candles that have burned out or sweaters that never get worn:

  • Toss them: Sometimes, no matter how attached you may be to those half-burned out lights that you’ve had since you moved in, you just have to let them go. Chances are, if you haven’t used something in the last two years, you won’t use it in the next two, or ten.
  • Donation: A great way to get into the holiday spirit is by donating clothes or items that you no longer have use for, but would greatly benefit someone else. Find a Salvation Army or Goodwill near you, and start digging through your closet.
  • Alternate storage: Sometimes there are items that you really can’t get rid of, but simply don’t have room for. Renting a storage unit is a great way to open up some space in your home without having to part with your favorite things.   

Storing a Refrigerator

Whether you’re buying a new refrigerator and want to hold onto the old one, or are moving and need to store your current refrigerator temporarily, it is important to store it correctly. Not taking the proper steps before storage can cause issues down the road when you want to use your refrigerator again. These five steps will ensure that whether it be two months or two years from now, your refrigerator can be taken out of storage and will be ready to go.

  1. Clean thoroughly: The last thing you want is for uninvited guests to make a home in your refrigerator while it’s in storage. Rodents or insects can be attracted to the smallest amount of food, and can cause damage to your appliance. Use warm, mild soapy water to clean the outside of your refrigerator, and plain warm water or a gentle non-toxic soap to clean the inside.
  2. Keep the appliance upright: Turning a fridge on its side can prove to be detrimental to the appliance. Storing or moving a refrigerator on its side can displace the oils and gases that make the machine run, rendering it useless. Keeping the fridge upright during all phases of moving and storage is important for maintaining its working condition.
  3. Keep it dry: If any moisture creeps into your fridge during the moving process, you’ll have mold and mildew to clean when you want to use it again. This can in part be prevented by fully drying the inside, and then removing the doors on the fridge and freezer compartments, following the instructions in the user manual. The hardware can then be stored in the refrigerator in plastic bags.
  4. Prop the doors open before storage: If removing the doors is out of the question, propping the doors open before storage will allow moisture to escape, also preventing against mildew. An object can be wedged between the door and the compartment frame, such as a ball of tape or a small wooden board.
  5. Store indoors to prevent weathering: Heat from the sun can cause severe damage to your refrigerator’s handles and seals, as well as the plastic on the inside. Additionally, moisture from any rain or snow can cause parts of the fridge to rot. Storing it indoors is your safest bet, and a great place to do that is in a rental storage unit.  

Moving in the Rain

Moving day can be stressful enough as it is, but adding unfavorable weather on top of everything else can make the process more grueling than necessary. Sometimes there is no other option than to move into your new home while it is raining, and so it is important to be prepared to make the experience as easy on yourself as possible. There are a few simple tips that can make the day go according to your plan.

  1. Garbage bags: When cardboard boxes aren’t enough to keep your books or electronics dry, opt for big plastic garbage bags to transport them. For the sake of organization, the items in the bags can then be placed into boxes for easier stacking and transporting.
  2. Gather items in one place indoors: Before venturing out into the weather, gather all of your boxes into one space, such as the garage. This will minimize the distance that needs to be spent traveling through the house while your clothes and shoes are wet. This also allows you to back the moving truck as close to your house or apartment as possible.
  3. Use mats: Using cardboard or plastic tarps is a great way to prevent slipping or keep floors dry. Make sure to tape down any plastic mats in the home to prevent them from moving. Cardboard can be placed between the truck and the home to decrease the chances of falling.
  4. Use an assembly line: By having certain people in the truck, other trekking between the truck and the home, and some inside the home, this will minimize the amount of dirt and water brought into the new home during the unpacking process. Additionally, it will be more time efficient and will allow more time for settling in.
  5. Dry as you go: Drying items off as they are brought into the home eliminates a greater mess to clean up later on and brings less water into the living space, while decreasing the potential damage to your belongings from the excess moisture.
  6. Plastic wrap: Wrapping large items such as furniture in plastic shrink wrap will help protect them from the elements and keep them dry during the move. Since moving blankets are not waterproof, this step can prove to be crucial.

Benefits of Climate Controlled Storage

When deciding to rent a storage unit, how do you know if paying the extra money for a climate controlled unit is worth it? These units stay at a consistent temperature, and some even offer humidity control. When it comes to storing valuables such as antiques or documents, the peace of mind knowing that your items are safe can be worth the investment. Here are a few of the benefits you can obtain from renting a climate controlled unit:

  1. Protection from extreme temperature: In some climates, temperatures can fluctuate from over 90 degrees in the summer to below zero degrees in the winter. Living in such a climate can cause damage to stored items such as instruments, wood furniture, books and magazines, electronics, important documents, or antiques, among other things. Climate controlled units will stay above zero and below 90 all year round, ensuring the the outside temperature does not harm your belongings.    
  2. Protection from dust and debris: The chance of any accidental flooding, leakages from adjoining units, or dirt being tracked in is greatly decreased with one of these units. Since they are sealed to keep the temperature (and/or humidity) consistent, they also seal out other unwanted materials. This includes insects or rodents that may want to make a home in the items you’ve stored.
  3. Better air quality: The constant circulation inside climate controlled units ensures that fresh air is in your unit at all times. This way you don’t need to open your unit to get fresh air inside. When storing sensitive documents or electronics, air quality should be taken into consideration.
  4. Peace of mind: While you do pay more, it is a small price to pay knowing that fluctuations in outdoor temperature will not damage your belongings. However, if the items that you are storing are not of great value and will only be stored for a short period of time, traditional storage is often adequate.

General Storage Tips

Moving and storage often go hand in hand. Chances are that if you’re moving, you’re also placing some items into storage. Storage units may seem to be similar across the board, but this is far from the truth. Just as important as packing your storage unit correctly is picking the right storage unit facility for your storage needs. Before you decide to rent a unit, check out the following tips:

  1. Consider the location of the facility. If you’re going to be visiting frequently, consider renting nearby. Stor-It has locations in both Neenah and Appleton, meaning that you can rent where it’s most convenient to you.
  2. Ask about climate controlled units if this is something that pertains to you. If you’re storing delicate items that could be damaged by changes in temperature or humidity, a climate controlled unit where temperature and humidity are restricted may be a good fit.
  3. Using boxes of a uniform size can make packing your storage unit easier, especially if you plan to stack your boxes towards the ceiling.
  4. If you’re storing a refrigerator or freezer, leave the door ajar to prevent mold from growing inside.
  5. Organize the unit so that there are small walkways between furniture and boxes, allowing you to walk around and retrieve different items as necessary.
  6. Try to fill boxes to the top, especially if you’re stacking them. Boxes that are only half filled are more likely to cave in or collapse.

Rental Storage Unit Tips

There are plenty of good reasons to rent a storage unit, and there are also many ways to make your renting experience as positive as possible. The following are a few tips to help keep your items safe and in their current condition:

  1. Label everything: While you know exactly where everything is when you move into the storage unit, that may not be the case a year down the road when you’re digging for your old camera you thought you’d never have another use for. Label boxes clearly and in a way that most makes sense to you, to ensure efficiency down the line when looking for something.
  2. Keep items off the floor: As ridiculous as it may sound, keeping your items off the floor could prove to be crucial. Particularly in climates where it snows, there’s no way to guarantee that melting snow won’t leak under the unit door, or that spills won’t come from next-door units and soil your items.
  3. Use the space wisely: Even a 10x10ft storage unit can house a lot of stuff, if packed correctly. This may mean packing all the way up to the ceiling, in some cases. Using plywood between layers of boxes can help stabilize and protect the boxes as you stack upward.
  4. Use plastic wrap: Especially if there are items you plan to store for extended periods of time, wrapping them in plastic can protect against insects of dust that could cause damage or tarnishing.

Organizing a new home after you move

Moving into a new home means getting a new chance at being organized. The first step towards organization is correctly labeling all boxes to begin with. This prevents things from ending up in the wrong spots once you unpack at your new place. Perhaps consider labeling some boxes with phrases such as “open first” to signify which boxes contain essential items.

A great strategy for unpacking is to organize the living spaces first, and then concentrate on smaller spaces and items. A perfect place to start is the living room. Getting the big furniture in place and having a room free of moving clutter can be a good way to relax at the end of a long day of work. Planning where you’ll put the furniture ahead of time can expedite the process of setting up the room, as well.

Next, move onto the kitchen. Before starting to unpack, it can be helpful to decide which areas will be designated areas for baking or coffee, for example. Remembering that you can often adjust cabinet shelves is important, as well. Oftentimes people think that their shelves won’t fit the items that they want them to, and simply forget that they can move the shelves up or down to the appropriate heights. When unpacking, prioritize which items get unpacked first. The coffee mugs that you use every morning should be taken out of their boxes, but the holiday serving platter that you use once a year can likely wait.

The bathroom and bedroom are good spots to move to next. For the bathroom, this can be a good chance to get rid of toiletries that you no longer use or have expired. In the bedroom, don’t neglect the available floor space that you have for storage. Low bookshelves can be great for storage, for example, and bins with seasonal clothes can be kept under the bed.

So you’re an empty nester. What now?

The kids have moved out, and now you have an abundance of free time (and peace and quiet) that you’re not quite sure what to do with. The first few months can be particularly restless and somewhat lonely, considering the large transition you’ve gone through. Keeping busy is a great way to ease this transition and maybe even help you discover new passions or hobbies. Here’s a list of ideas of things to get you started:

  • Travel: There’s no better time to take that trip you’ve always wanted to go on than when your kids move out. Between the planning, packing, and the trip itself, traveling can be very exciting and allows you to get out and see the world.  
  • Go back to school: Why not? Education is always a worthy investment, and there’s no reason not to expand your knowledge if that’s something that has always interested you, but you’ve simply never had time for. Take that philosophy or botany class; the world is yours!
  • Invest in your health: The great thing about getting in shape is that there are so many ways to do it. You could get a gym membership, pick up a new hobby such as biking or running, or start off small by taking regular walks and enjoying nature.  
  • Expand your space: If your kids are okay with you converting their old rooms into an alternate space, this is a great project that allows you to create that exercise room or art studio that you’ve always wanted. What to do with all of the items that were previously kept in the room? Instead of throwing everything out or giving it away, renting a storage unit is a perfect way to hold onto those sentimental items while still converting the room into a more useful space.

Cleaning Out the Garage

If you’re like most of us, your car is a pretty large investment that you can’t do without. Why leave it outdoors, where it can suffer damage from UV exposure, bird droppings, and inclement weather? Storing it in a garage will keep it a lot cleaner, safer, and could help prolong its life.

It’s estimated that only 30 percent of us store our cars in the garage. Why? We have too much stuff taking up the space where our cars could go. These garage storage ideas will help you get rid of anything you don’t need.

  • Set aside enough time to get the job done. You will likely need at least a full day, or even a full weekend or two.
  • Make the project a family project, maybe even inviting a few friends or neighbors to come over and pitch in. This will make it go a lot faster.  
  • Go through absolutely everything, including boxes you might not have unpacked when you moved in, or haven’t looked through in years—you never know what you have hiding in your garage until you look.

Sort all items into three piles: keep, donate or sell, and toss. Items that will likely need to be tossed include anything that is broken and cannot be repaired, outgrown toys, or anything you haven’t used in two or more years. For items that you cannot dispose of but simply don’t have room for anymore, a great option is renting a storage unit. You can rent a variety of sizes, depending on your storage needs. Here are a few examples:

  • 10×10 – The size of a small bedroom
  • 10×15 – The size of an average sized living room
  • 10 x 20 – The size of a single stall garage  

StorIt has multiple locations, in Neenah and Appleton, meaning that you can rent a storage unit close to you for a reasonable price. There’s no time like the present to check “clean out the garage” off of your to-do list, and StorIt is here to help. If you have further questions, or want to rent a storage unit in Appleton or Neenah, give us a call at (920) 734-1265.

How To Pack Your Storage Unit

You have just rented your self storage unit and have the keys in hand. Now the fun begins. technically there’s no right or wrong way. If you are super organized you can build free standing shelving and spend an entire weekend organizing your new storage space. If you are in an extreme hurry you can rent a slightly larger unit, dump everything in and call it good enough.

 

If you aren’t trying to break the bank on a storage unit, you’ll want to pack as efficiently as possible in order to minimize your out of pocket cost. Here are some tips and tricks that will make packing your storage unit go a bit easier.

 

Figure Out How Much Space You Need

There is not a magic calculator that will tell you exactly how many square feet you need with a money back guarantee if your stuff does not fit. Moving into a bigger unit a few days later or renting a second storage unit does occasionally occur to our tenants. Most times you are better than you think in determining how much space you need. At the end of the day it all comes down to how good you are at packing a storage unit.

 

Some of our most common storage unit sizes are as follows:

  • 10×10 – The size of a small bedroom
  • 10×15 – The size of an average sized living room
  • 10 x 20 – The size of a single stall garage

 

Using the above comparisons as a guide usually is all someone needs to dial in the size of their storage unit.

 

Much Of The Work Occurs Before You Show Up At Your Storage Unit

Preparation is the key! Get the right sized plastic totes or cardboard boxes for your items. When we see old tattered boxes stacked in a storage unit, they are usually leaning or sometimes fall against the door making it a real chore to get your door open. Make sure anything you need to easily find later is labeled properly, and that the label faces out so you can see it.

 

Anything that can be easily disassembled should be in order to save space in your storage unit. Put larger items that you don’t plan on needing access to at the back of the storage unit. If you have a sofa and a loveseat, you can usually put the sofa down first. Then flip the loveseat over and place it on top of the sofa. If it is level and stable you have can now stack some lighter items on top of the furniture instead of wasting that storage space. If there are items you need to get to in your storage unit on a regular basis, put these items in the unit last.

 

We provide pallets to use free of charge at Stor It, and strongly recommend the use of pallets. In our Northern climate concrete floors can “sweat” when extreme temperature and humidity events occur such as the changing of the seasons. Anything that is touching the floor such as plastic bins is usually no problem. If your furniture has plastic feet you should be ok as well. We do not recommend placing a mattress or cardboard boxes directly on the concrete, pallets should be used for these items. When in doubt, grab a few more pallets.

 

If you store a front load washing machine or a refrigerator, make sure the inside is dry. Also consider propping the door open on these items to prevent mold and mildew. Covers for mattresses and furniture are not a bad idea as well.

 

Other tips that may help you organize your storage unit:

  • If you think you will need to get something at the back of your storage unit, leave an aisle through the unit so that you can get to your belongings later. Crawling over the top of your belongings is not an enjoyable field trip.
  • Place heavier items on the ground and stack lighter items on top.
  • Utilize hollow space. If you load an entertainment center into your unit, load it with clothing or lighter items. Take your time and use every bit of space you’ve got.
  • Don’t skimp on boxes and bins. If you don’t have enough of these you will poorly utilize the space in your storage unit.