How to Clean Out and Declutter a Storage Unit

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clean out declutter storage unit

How often have you needed to access something in your storage unit only to find it underneath boxes of stuff you don’t even use? How many hours do you spend taking things out just to grab your sports equipment and reload the unit? Unwanted items can build up, often without us even realizing it. Then, when it comes time to clean out your storage unit, the thought of decluttering seems like a never-ending nightmare. However, rather than putting it off indefinitely, you can declutter your storage unit so it stays nice and clean for years. To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on cleaning out a storage unit and decluttering it along the way.

Benefits of Cleaning Out Your Storage Unit

Some of the most notable benefits of cleaning out and decluttering your storage unit include the following:

Increased Space — Free up space for more important or valuable items.

Improved Organization — Make it easier to find items, reducing the time spent searching.

Cost Savings — Potentially downsize to a smaller, less expensive unit or eliminate the need for a storage unit.

Reduced Stress — A tidy and organized space can lead to a clearer mind and less anxiety.

Enhanced Safety — Reduces the risk of accidents from tripping over clutter or items falling.

Better Maintenance — Make it easier to notice and address maintenance issues like mold, pests, or water damage.

Rediscovery of Items — Find forgotten items that may be of value or use.

Environmental Benefits — Opportunity to recycle or donate items instead of sitting unused.

Financial Gains — Sell unwanted items for extra cash.

Peace of Mind — Knowing exactly what you have and where it is can provide a sense of control and satisfaction.

How to Prepare for a Storage Unit Cleanout

Before you start aimlessly getting rid of storage unit items, it’s important to take a few steps to prepare. First, see if you can enlist friends or family members to assist you. You can ask for help moving items outside the unit, decluttering, or with the cleaning process if you’re doing them on separate days. This can make the process much easier, as you’ll have more hands to clear away clutter and clean.

Next, try to take an inventory of your storage space. Use a pen and paper or the notes app on your smartphone to write down any large items you see without opening boxes. Count all the different boxes. If things aren’t too crowded, open a few to get a sense of what’s inside. If boxes are already labeled, take a picture and add items to the inventory list later.

A rough inventory will help you determine what you’ll need to declutter and organize. It will also give you a good estimate of how long it will take and whether you need to call a junk removal service or rent a dumpster.

How to Clean Out Your Storage Unit

Although it may be tempting to immediately think about hiring a storage unit cleanout service, it is possible to take care of your unit on your own and even make some money in the process. To help, we’ve put together a few tips for you to tackle the task of cleaning and decluttering.

Take All of Your Items Out of the Storage Unit

If you’re confident that you will finish in one day, remove everything and tackle the cleaning first. Taking things out will make it easier to clean and assess your upcoming organization strategy, but it can also be a bit overwhelming for those with big units. Alternatively, you can work on decluttering and organizing by sorting items section by section. However, at the end of the decluttering, you’ll still want to get everything out of the unit so it can be thoroughly cleaned, dusted, and prepped. Afterward, you’ll be able to organize your self-storage unit for frequent access, so you’ll never have to dig through piles of junk to find what you need.

Sort All of Your Items Into Categories

Once everything is out, or you have the items from a certain area set aside, it’s time to assess which items you plan to keep and which items you want to part with. You can do this by using the four-box declutter method, which requires you choosing one category for each item: keep, store, sell, or toss.

The items you plan to keep may be something you want to bring back to your house and use. It’s a good idea to keep a box or storage bin handy so you can easily transport them home.

The items you plan to store will need to be returned to your storage unit once you’ve finished cleaning it. For now, these can go in a box or bin in no particular order, as you’ll want to wait until you’ve gone through everything before finding a new organization plan for the items in your unit.

The toss pile is essentially junk that can’t be fixed, sold, or kept. You can dispose of these items directly into a dumpster or work with local junk removal companies for larger items.

Organize Your Keep and Store Piles

Everything you want to keep should be placed in your car so you can take it home. Once you arrive, find a place for them in your home. If you realize that, maybe, they don’t exactly fit as you imagined, you can bring them back to storage or consider getting rid of them.

The main focus will be organizing your store piles. Since you’ll likely be donating, selling, or tossing a good amount of your belongings, your individual box organization will need to change to help maximize storage efficiency. Ideally, you’ll want to wait until you’ve gone through everything to determine the best way to reorganize your boxes.

Try to Make Some Money On Unwanted Items in Your Storage Unit

The sell pile is anything that you can potentially make a little money from. There are several ways you can sell your stuff; the key is finding something that’s convenient and works for you. Some of the most popular ways to sell items today include the following:

Host a garage sale

Post things on Facebook Marketplace

Make an ad on Craigslist

Post items on Offerup

Make an eBay listing

Any of these options is a great way to sell unwanted belongings; just make sure you’re safe about online meetups. Always choose a public area and only accept cash offers to avoid falling victim to scammers.

Donate Anything Leftover

If you can’t get rid of unwanted items by selling them, consider taking them to your nearest donation site. Selling your items is a great way to make some extra cash, but it might not be worth the effort. Depending on how much stuff you have and its perceived value, sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace can be more effort than they’re financially worth. If you don’t mind keeping things somewhere while they wait to be sold, that’s okay. But, if space is limited, bag things up and donate them.

Go Through Sentimental Items On Your Own

Enlisting help is a great way to expedite the process, but your friends might not know what has sentimental value and what doesn’t. Sort items on your own so you won’t get upset or angry with friends or family members who toss away an unsuspectingly important item.

Sweep Out the Entire Unit

Once you’ve had time to sort through everything and have removed any lingering junk from the storage facilities, it’s time to clean. You don’t need to disinfect walls or do anything too crazy. Instead, grab a broom and get to work. Use your broom to sweep high corners and knock down any dust or spider webs, then sweep from the back to front. If there are any spills or stickiness, you can also mop.

Put Everything Back In

And that’s it. After you’ve cleaned out your unit, you can put everything back in. You’ll probably have significantly less stuff now, or at least more organized stuff. Try to arrange your new layout for easy access so you don’t have to repeat this process for years.

To help you along the selling process, rent out a self-storage unit from The Lock Up Self Storage. Our temperature-controlled self-storage units can help you keep things on the market without having to donate them or throw them away. We offer a variety of self-storage units in varying sizes to meet your needs and flexible leasing that can adapt to your inventory. All of our units are climate-controlled and offer stable humidity levels to ensure that all of your things stay in great condition. Our facilities are also protected with top-of-the-line security features like perimeter alarms, gated access codes, and 24/7 CCTV. To learn more about our self-storage units at The Lock Up, give us a call today at 1-866-327-LOCK or stop by one of our locations for a tour of the facility.