Ultimate Guide to Clearing Out A Storage Unit

clearing out a storage unit

Clearing out a storage unit can be a frustratingly time-consuming project, especially if you are storing large and bulky items. It can also cause headaches when it’s filled to the brim with loads of boxes, bags and other belongings taking up most of the space.

Whether you haven’t visited your storage unit in a long time, inherited one from a relative or it’s time to remove everything, it’s important to know what it takes for effectively cleaning out a storage unit. Fortunately for you, we have loads of experience and in this guide, we share some valuable advice.

What To Do When Clearing Out A Storage Unit

A self storage unit often contains some of your most intimate and expensive possessions but many people only use it to keep extra “overflow” items. From furniture, toys, books and documents to sporting equipment and gardening tools, there are various ways you can go about cleaning out a self storage unit. It all starts with putting a plan in place consisting of a few simple steps that will help.

Make Time For Decluttering

Clearing out a storage unit is not a quick process so you need to set aside some time. At the very least, a good clear out and cleaning can take a few hours if not more. To ensure you have enough time, we recommend giving yourself a full day to get stuck in and try to avoid doing it whenever you feel the urge. This will help keep you motivated throughout the process as there will be fewer distractions.

Get Help If Needed

Don’t be shy to ask for help as clearing out a storage unit can be too much for one person. To minimise feeling overwhelmed, prepare yourself properly for what’s in store. As mentioned earlier, pick a time to do the cleanout first and then come back with moving boxes, supplies, rubbish bags, labels, and other sorting tools.

In some cases, it might be good to have more than one person to help. This not only applies to carrying boxes but also emotional support especially when cleaning out a loved one’s storage unit. Having people with you can also help to deal with sentimental clutter as it can be an overwhelming process.

Create An Inventory List For Clearing Out A Storage Unit

The first thing you need to do is make a detailed list of everything inside the storage unit. This applies to your own unit, whether you inherited a storage space or haven’t been there in months.

Write down what you see and count the number of boxes. Jot down how many you might need to sort through everything which will give a good indication of how much time the clean-out will take. If it’s a lot of stuff, you may want to consider asking friends for help or hiring a removals company.

If possible, create an open space inside the unit or outside if space is limited. The best solution is to clear out a small area or like a free corner to become a processing area. If there is no room inside, set up a temporary pop-up canopy and process items outside instead.

Top Tips For Clearing Out A Storage Unit:

Open as many boxes as you can and make note of the contents even if it’s labelled as you may have moved things around since packing everything in the first place. Double-check what’s inside and make a new label or update the old one and mark boxes as “fragile” if you see something valuable or breakable.

When cleaning out a storage unit, you may only clear out and pick up any mess during normal business hours. At the same time, you need to make sure that your stuff is not blocking anyone else from accessing theirs.

Divide Belongings Into Categories

Whether you’re clearing out a storage unit on your own or with someone else, it will be extremely useful to designate specific boxes or areas for certain items. One smart way of doing this is using the Four-Pile System:

  • Keep pile is for everything you are keeping and bringing back home
  • Donate pile is anything useful that you don’t want to keep in storage or take home
  • Sell pile is for items you can put on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree, for example
  • Throw away pile is for everything you can’t sell or donate

Be Methodical And Get The Job Done

When clearing out a storage unit the best advice we can give you is to through everything in a systematic manner. There’s no right or wrong here as this can be whatever you want. Perhaps you prefer to start from the back moving forward, side to side or doing all the small items first.

Whatever you prefer, a methodical approach is recommended as it will leave you with much less mess when sorting everything you’ve just moved around. If you take your time and following a measured approach, you’d be surprised how much time you could save.

Don’t Stray From The Plan

The biggest challenge when clearing out a storage unit is not getting the job done within the scheduled time frame. If you’ve followed all the steps and still struggling, you may want to enlist the help of a professional organiser. Someone who does it for a living will be able to keep you on task and help avoid getting distracted.

If you are clearing out a storage unit relating to an estate or inheritance, professional organisers are particularly helpful. The main reason is that they won’t have any emotional attachment to the items in your storage unit. This means they can help you make more rational decisions when it comes to tossing, selling, donating or keeping an item.

Plan For Transport Or Removals

Another important consideration is transportation as the last thing you want is to find that your belongings don’t fit in your car. This is something you need to plan for early on in the process so ask a friend if they have a bigger vehicle, rent a van or hire a professional junk removals company. They are experts who can help speed up the process if you don’t have the ability or time to deal with clearing out a storage unit.

Cleaning Your Storage Unit

If you are removing everything and no longer need a self storage unit, make sure you leave it clean and tidy. Of course, the storage facility will clean it once you leave but you have an obligation to leave it the way it was when you took it on. So, that means empty all of the contents and sweep the unit properly. 

Storage Units Near Me

Decluttering and packing can be time-consuming and it’s easy to get lost in the process. Before you know it, you are spending hours upon hours doing all the wrong things. To ensure you do the right thing when clearing out a storage unit, follow this guide. And, if you need additional advice or tips, give us a call. Our friendly and experienced staff members are happy to help where they can.

If you are looking for storage units near you, we have facilities in BristolStroudGloucester and Stonehouse. We also offer FREE storage insurance up to £3000 where you can use our provider or your own. Whether you are clearing out a storage unit or want to rent one, here’s our easy-to-use Price And Size Guide.

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Mark Dangerfield

About Mark Dangerfield

Mark started his career in precision engineering before establishing Space Centre Self Storage in 1995 with his father Paul. The company started in Stroud with just a handful of storage units and has now expanded to include three branches and over 800 individual units in Gloucestershire & North Bristol. Mark's great grandfather started a Stroud based removal company J H Dangerfield & Son in 1900, and the family have been in the industry ever since. With storage facilities in Gloucester, Stroud and Bristol, Mark has a wealth of experience and is passionate about providing local affordable, quality self storage