How To Organize a Storage Unit

Staying organized is an important part of moving and storage. A cluttered and messy storage unit could even attract unwanted pests. If you know how to organize a storage unit, you will be able to access your belonging without stress or hassle. This step is often overlooked. Then, that day comes when you need an item all the way in the back and underneath piles of boxes. Well, that’s if you even remember where you put it in the first place. Avoid that scenario by following these instructions on how to organize your storage unit.

READY TO RENT? If you need a storage unit and you are ready to tackle these tips right away, you can rent a unit online now. Contact us for more information.

Pick One Box Size and Stick With It

One mistake people make when they organize a storage unit is using several box sizes. Big boxes, small boxes, tiny boxes, you name it. The problem with all these different size boxes is simple; they don’t stack very well. That’s not good because stacking is vital if you want to organize your storage unit well. In short, try to pick one size box and stick with it. Or, at the very least, choose 3 or 4 standard size moving boxes and use only those. That way, stacking, and organizing your storage unit will be much simpler.

Label Your Boxes

When it comes to organizing your storage unit, labels are your friends. Using labels means knowing where things are and how to access them quickly. The best way to do that in a storage unit is to label every box. Some people use a sharpie marking pen and write on the box; others use labels. The point is to make it easy to know what’s in any box with a glance.

How To Organize a Storage Unit

Keep a Master Inventory List

As you’re packing and organizing, create a master contents list of what’s inside each box. This is a separate list of each box and the contents of that box. You don’t have to list every item in your boxes, a general overview should suffice. However, we suggest including items that are extra important to you so you can find them quickly. For example, in one of your clothing boxes, you could list “the red sweater from grandma.” Your master inventory list could look something like this:

Box LabelContents
Holiday SeasonWrapping paper, Christmas tree, ornaments, and string lights.
Winter Clothing Jackets, long johns, boots, scarves, and beanies.
Summer ClothingBathing suits, sandals, shorts, dresses, and tank tops.
Sewing Sewing machine, string and yarn, needles, and thimbles.
Kitchenware Cooking utensils, glasses, plates, pots, and pans.
Kid’s StuffToys, board games, baseball gloves, and action figures.

How To Organize a Storage Unit

Create a Layout for Your Storage Unit

To truly organize a storage unit and make it easy to find things quickly, you need a plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should help you visualize what your storage unit will look like.Here’s how to create a layout for your storage unit:

  • On a sheet of paper, draw a rectangular space to represent your storage unit.
  • Next, draw in where your items will go. Don’t get too technical; a general idea works just fine!
  • Put large items (like furniture) against a wall so you don’t have to maneuver around them to reach boxes.
  • Leave space in the middle of the unit for a walkway. That way, you can comfortably get to each of your items.
  • Plan to store boxes that you’ll need to access frequently toward the front.

You can change things around as much as you like. (It’s much easier on paper!) When you have everything organized on paper, you’re ready to organize in your storage unit!

Use Shelves and Stack, Stack, Stack

Shelving makes organizing your storage unit so much easier! Accessing, for example, a specific box or item is easy when it’s on a shelf. That’s because you won’t have to move a dozen different items or boxes to get to it. Just grab it and go! Here are our favorite shelving units:

Shelving makes organizing your storage unit so much easier! Accessing, for example, a specific box or item is easy when it’s on a shelf. That’s because you won’t have to move a dozen different items or boxes to get to it. Just grab it and go! Here are a couple of our favorite, affordable shelving units from Amazon:

If you don’t want to purchase shelves for whatever reason, your best bet is to stack. Stack boxes on top of boxes, or boxes on top of furniture. Remember how we said to purchase similar size boxes? That’s because, when your boxes are all alike, stacking them is much easier!

When In Doubt, Opt for a Bigger Storage Unit

Here’s the thing; organizing a storage unit that’s stuffed full is practically impossible. There’s too little space to move around, let alone get to things effortlessly. That’s why, if you’re in doubt, going up to the next size storage unit is a good choice. That way, you will have plenty of room to organize things precisely the way you like them. Even better, when you need something, getting it will be fast and easy!

Now You Know How to Organize a Storage Unit

Moving can be a really stressful event for many people, nothing is going to change that. However, if you follow these simple steps on how to organize a storage unit you can greatly reduce your frustration and moving day will go by more smoothly. Remember to create your plan and stick to it. Get and stay organized. And, if you need help or assistance at any time throughout the process, contact us anytime! We’re always happy to help.

More storage unit tips and tricks on the Moove In Blog:

We originally published this post on 9/24/2013. We updated it on 8/23/2021.

8 thoughts on “How To Organize a Storage Unit”

  1. My wife and I have downsized considerably and we have 2 storage units pretty much packed to capacity. I am pretty sure we are out of room. We have another 20 foot u haul truck that is completely packed. We would love to find some help organizing because we have alot of brand new items that aren’t even unboxed. Eventually we would like to sell alot of this stuff antiques and furniture as well. It is just a tall order for me to do alone. My wife has had three back surgeries and for the most part is physically unable to help. Is there a company or companies that I could research to find help. I see things like on hoarders (no my wife isnt a hoarder) we just have had to store 2 very large homes worth of stuff on there. Please need help it is very overwhelming and my. Back is starting to give out.

  2. Keith – Thank you for your comment! You have some great questions about organizing your items in your self storage unit. We can help you with the name of a local company that may be able to assist you with organizing your self storage unit. They can help by assessing what size unit (or units) you would need to hold all the items you currently have in storage, along with the items you need to add to your units. Please feel free to contact me directly at 717-767-4466 or I am looking forward to helping you, Keith!
    – Suzy Conner, CSSM Property Manager

  3. I always knew my Tetris skills would come in handy. We’re moving to another place that’s smaller and we need more room. We just want to make sure we’re doing it right so we don’t have to deal with fishing out the box at the bottom of the pile.

  4. I’m a very disorganized person, so it seems like a good idea for me to look up information about how I should organize a storage unit. I’ve just moved from my old house to a small apartment in the city, so I don’t have enough room in my apartment to store everything. I don’t want there to be chaos in my storage unit, so I need to find a way to be more organized with my storage unit once I start renting one. I have a lot of stuff, so I know that I’ll need to rent a really large unit. It seems like a really good idea to keep an organization chart handy. A chart will help me know where all of my things are without looking into each box when I need to grab something out of storage.

  5. It’s funny how many people ignore the importance of creating a plan. It only takes a few minutes, but it keeps your storage unit organized for years. If you know what boxes you need and where you’re going to put them beforehand, your move will go much faster. And you won’t waste time when you go to retrieve items.

  6. Oh, people, people. Just get rid of a bunch of the stuff. You will find you don’t even remember it anymore. Have you used it in the last year, does it truly bring you joy, does it fit you? (clothing) All this stuff is easily replaceable for little money (as you will discover when you sell most of this. Relax, don’t let your stuff own you.

    I have managed three of my relatives’ estates and believe me, LESS IS MORE. That being said, we are selling our huge house, getting a 15×10 storage unit and traveling the world in pursuit of experiences, not stuff. Think of the peace you experience when you rent a condo for a vacation. No worries. Just keep it minimal.

  7. Any suggestions on keeping things in the unit? I’ve heard place mattresses flat so they don’t warp and use pallets under furniture in case things get damp or wet. Any suggestions along those lines? I’m moving with my parents as I sold my house and am not finding a replacement soon enough, so purging and into storage for furniture.

  8. I found it helpful when you said that you can ensure that you will have a walkway when you leave space in the middle of the storage unit. This is something that I will share with my supervisor at work who was tasked to find a storage unit where furniture pieces could be kept starting next month. She mentioned that this is in preparation for moving to a new office location later this year.

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