Whether your storage is in a basement, an attic, a garage or a storage unit don’t fill it with things you don’t really want or need. While we’re not going to tackle cleaning out your storage here (a topic for another day), ask yourself these questions before packing things away.
1) Do you need it? This sounds like a simple enough question, but how each of us answers this is highly individual. If you are making an effort to cut back on clutter, try to get real about what “need” means. Defining what is important to you is the first step to efficient storage.
2) Does it work? Don’t let your storage space become the place where broken things go to die! Stop telling yourself, “I’ll fix it one of these days”. If you don’t care enough about the item in question to get it fixed right away, it’s probably not worth keeping.
3) Is it clean? Storing clothing and other textile items without having them cleaned first can spell trouble. Moths and other critters are attracted to the dirt on textiles. And body oils will cause fabric to break down over time. Your best defense is to put only clean items into storage. Tools and outdoor equipment, including patio furniture, should also be cleaned before storing to avoid deterioration.
4) Is it yours? It’s amazing how much stuff we can accumulate from others. If you are storing the item in question for a relative or child, consider setting a limit and giving the item back rather than continuing to let it take up valuable storage space.
5) Are you saving it for family? When you save things for family like children or grandchildren, making decisions about what to keep can be a challenge. Often a small amount of carefully chosen and properly stored items can be far more meaningful (and welcome) than an attic’s worth of stuff. Tuck a note about where each piece came from or why it is important to help pass along the stories to the next generation.
6) Will it create a problem if stored? Perishables like food, pet food, plants and potting soils shouldn’t be put into storage as they can create problems by attracting bugs, mice and other pests. Ammunition, chemicals, fertilizers, fireworks and fuels also shouldn’t be stored as they will deteriorate, become unstable and create a fire hazard.
7) Is it irreplaceable? One-of-a-kind items, collectables, jewelry, family photos, and documents like birth certificates and passports should be kept in a safety deposit box or a safe in your home. While storage companies take every precaution to keep things safe and secure break-ins and violent weather can still impact these facilities.