It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never realize just how much stuff you own until you have to pack it up and store it. Dealing with your stuff may seem like a daunting task when it comes time to move to a new home or transfer some of your household items to a storage unit, but it can be just as difficult to figure out how to store things on a regular basis. Still, it’s entirely doable if you learn a few tricks on how to safely store different types of items. Here are a few tips to store your household possessions like a pro.
Know the Lifespan of Your Food Items
The lifespans of different food items vary widely by type, ranging from about two days for some fruits and vegetables stored in the refrigerator to three years for spices and ground herbs stored in a cool, dark cabinet. Be realistic about how long you’ll need to store your food, and if you’re going to be gone for a long time, don’t store anything that’s likely to grow mold or lose its freshness quickly. Here are a few general rules of thumb for food storage:
- Dairy: Hard cheese can last 3-4 weeks, soft cheese lasts 5-10 days, yogurt lasts 7-10 days, and milk lasts a week when refrigerated.
- Bread: Fresh bread from the bakery only lasts 2-3 days, but pre-sliced bread can last 7-10 days, and bread stored in the freezer can last up to 6 months.
- Meat: Beef and chicken only last a couple days in the refrigerator, but they can last up to a year in the freezer if tightly stored in a plastic bag.
- Fresh herbs: Chives and thyme can both last a couple weeks, but rosemary, cilantro, and sage only last about 5 days.
Don’t Leave Extra Space in Boxes with Electronics
It’s fine to store items like your TV or desktop computer in a cardboard box, as long as you keep that box upright and fill in any extra space with foam packing peanuts. Don’t stack boxes of electronics, as the additional weight can cause items to break. Make sure to label these boxes as fragile and draw an arrow indicating which side needs to stay up.
Use Boxes with Multiple Compartments for Small Items
Rather than just throwing your makeup, jewelry, or other accessories into large bags or boxes, sort them into smaller boxes with multiple compartments. Pieces of jewelry can easily become scratched or tangled when they’re all jumbled together, so wrap each individual item in tissue paper and place it in a box lined with soft fabric. Use another box with compartments to divide your makeup by type.
Keep Your Clothes in a Climate-Controlled Space
Humid spaces can cause your clothes to mildew, so if you have to store your garments for an extended period of time, you may want to rent a climate-controlled storage unit. The temperature should stay between 66-70 degrees Fahrenheit, or slightly cooler for fur garments. It’s okay to place your clothes in cardboard boxes or garment bags, but the boxes or bags should not be airtight.
Disassemble Furniture As Much As Possible
Attempting to store something like an L-shaped couch or a bulky desk can be a pain, but if you can disassemble your furniture, you’ll save space, make it easier to move, and reduce the chances of something breaking. Be sure to put any screws or bolts from your furniture in labelled, carefully sealed baggies so that you can easily reconstruct it when you get it out of storage (you may also want to hold onto any assembly instructions for your furniture).
Pad Individual Ceramic Dishes
It’s no surprise that ceramic dishes need a little extra care. You can stack plates and bowls, but be sure you place a fitted piece of felt or fleece in between each item. Avoid stacking china cups and saucers as they can be particularly breakable; instead, wrap each of these items individually in acid-free paper and place them only one layer deep in small, padded boxes.
If you’re wondering how to store other household items that weren’t covered above, check out Next Door Self Storage’s new infographic. You can learn more about how to store everything described above while also getting advice for storing items like vinyl records, medication, alcohol, and facial creams.