How to Organize a Storage Unit: Complete Guide

Storage units are perfect for storing a wide variety of items, from household goods to antiques, collections, and more. They’re safe, clean and secure, and can be accessed easily and quickly. But here’s the thing; if not organized correctly, your storage unit won’t store nearly as much as it can. (If you don’t stack things, for example.) To help you safely fit as much as you can, we put together this list on how to organize your storage unit. If you want to maximize the space in your storage unit, read on!

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

how to organize a storage unit

How to Organize a Storage Unit: No Plastic Bags

Stacking things will help you maximize the space in your storage unit, as we’ll see below. The problem with using large plastic bags, however, is this; they don’t stack. They flop around, fall over and make a mess, yes, but they definitely don’t stack. If you put all your things in plastic bags, you’ll not only need more storage space, but it will always be a mess. If your things are already bagged, leave them bagged but put the bags in boxes. It’s simple, easy, and much better for maximizing space in your storage unit.

How to Organize a Storage Unit: Use Bins

There’s nothing worse than something in your storage unit and not being able to find it. Using clear, plastic storage bins (the larger, the better), you can easily see what’s inside. This can cut your search time down significantly (as well as reduce your frustration).

Organize a Storage Unit: Use Shelving Racks

If you’re going to be storing many things in boxes or containers, plastic shelving racks are a godsend. They’re cheap, easy to set up, and make it much easier to grab a specific bin or box you need. (Together with clear, plastic bins, they can make storing your stuff much less frustrating.)

Organize a Storage Unit: Mattresses Go First

Mattresses take up all sorts of space. The best way to use the minimum is to place them inside your storage unit first. Standing upright, vertically, against the back or sidewall works best. Then you can place big furniture like dressers in front of them. One suggestion; put your mattresses into mattress boxes or bags. If you don’t have these, place some cardboard on the floor before you set them down. Both will protect your mattress from moisture, bugs, etc.

Use Similar Sized Boxes if At All Possible

One huge problem many people make when thinking about how to organize a storage unit is they use dozens of differently sized boxes. The problem; boxes of different sizes don’t stack as well as boxes of similar sizes. When you stack them, they can become unstable, or the things inside can get crushed. That’s why it’s vital you get and stack boxes that are the same size. The most common boxes include:

  • Book boxes. 1,5 cubic feet (That’s the amount of space they take up. So 10 book boxes would use 15 cubic feet of space.)
  • Medium boxes. 3 cubic feet
  • Large boxes. 5 cubic feet
  • Dish Pak boxes. 6 cubic feet
  • Wardrobe boxes. 15 cubic feet (Wardrobe sizes may vary.)
How to Organize a Storage Unit

Stack, Stack, Stack!

As we mentioned above, one reason to use like-size boxes when you’re thinking about how to organize a storage unit is that you can stack them more easily. That’s good because stacking is the #1 way to fit more stuff safely into your storage unit. You should carefully stack as many other items as you can, also. For example:

  • Stack chairs by flipping one on top of the other (in reverse). (Then store a small box between the legs.)
  • Stack light furniture on heavier furniture. (Place cardboard between them to reduce scratches and gouges.)
  • Always stack lighter objects as you go up. Heavy on the bottom, then light, lighter, lightest, etc.
  • Never stack heavy items on top of light items or high up. They can fall and injure you or someone you love.

Mostly, Pretend You’re Playing Tetris

Tetris is one of the world’s most beloved games. Plus, putting shapes together is exactly how to organize a storage unit. Storing things in a storage unit isn’t rocket science but does require some planning. By “planning,” we mean that you shouldn’t just toss everything in and call it a day. Instead, take each piece of furniture or box and fit it in like you’re building a giant, 3D jigsaw puzzle or Tetris game. It won’t be perfect, trust us, but it will help you maximize your space. (It can also make the entire process more enjoyable.)

We hope these tips have been helpful. If you have more questions, though, you can chat with us online anytime. You can also talk to an on-site manager when you’re here (they’re really nice, we promise). until then, best of luck maximizing your iStorage storage unit!

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This post was originally published on 12/17/2018. It was updated on 4/7/2021.