Your Self Storage Unit Needs a Thorough Spring Cleaning

If it’s been awhile since you’ve paid attention during a visit to your storage unit, you may be unpleasantly surprised to find that your home isn’t the only area that needs a thorough spring cleaning. 

You’ve been in and out of your unit for years retrieving your belongings, moving things around, and haphazardly damaging boxes and containers. When you made the decision to use storage, the relief at getting the overflow out of your house doubtless overshadowed any thoughts of being neat and orderly.  It’s easy to store your stuff, and forget about it…”out of sight, out of mind.” Well, those things may be out of sight, but they’re still there, right where you left them.

Now that you’ve finally made up your mind to get this job done, I have a few tips to help you keep it from becoming the formidable task that it really is.  

Tips to Get the Most Out of Cleaning Your Storage Unit

Set a Deadline:  Pick a date, and stick to it. This is kind of like making an appointment with yourself that you must keep. If you’re in the habit of not keeping appointments, I can’t help you.

Invite Friends:  When other people have committed to help, you’ll be that much more likely to be committed yourself. Unless you don’t care if your friends stop speaking to you.

Remove Everything:  Take everything out of your unit so that you can sweep and clean before re-organizing your space. Chances are that everything will be dusty and may need to be re-positioned. It’s a good idea to refold stored textiles and linens to prevent creases from forming. Maybe you can coerce your mother into doing the folding.

Start by Opening Boxes:  People generally lose track of the items they’ve stored.  If you haven’t opened some of the boxes in ten years, you may be pleasantly surprised to find some family heirlooms or possessions you thought you’d lost. Or you may find some things that you wish you’d lost. (and some living things!)

Keep, Discard, Donate:  Go through the same process that you did when you decided what to store.  As you open your boxes and sort your belongings make “keep, discard, donate” piles.  If you haven’t retrieved something in more than a year, it’s probable that you’ll never need or use it again. Did you really go through this process before deciding what to store, or were you lazy? 

Consolidate:  Free up storage by consolidating.  There will be items that you never use but just can’t part with. Try to combine them in the same boxes and keep them in the back of the unit. 

That doesn’t mean you should store the old knee brace in the mixing bowl of a broken stand mixer.

“The Wait and See Box:”  For those items that you are not sure about, use a “wait and see box.”  You can review this box during your next spring cleaning; and, if you haven’t used these things in the past year, discard or donate them. This is not an “excuse” box because you don’t feel like dealing with these items. Some items have to go NOW!

Label and Redistribute Weight: When you’ve finished re-packing, be sure to distribute weight evenly, with heavier items on the bottom. Clearly label everything to make the next cleaning easier. Don’t store a box of medicine balls on top of grandma’s china tea cups.

Reorganize With a Plan:  Create a written map or drawing of the unit to indicate where items can be found.  Items can be grouped in any way that is appropriate for your life. For example, you can group by person, room, or importance. Leave this plan on a clipboard hanging on the wall of your space for easy reference.  Store belongings that you don’t use regularly in the back of the unit. Save the front space for things you use more often and for seasonal items. Be sure that unused space in dresser drawers, cabinets, or freezers is filled with belongings (not food).  If possible, leave aisles with room to move around and easily view all labels. If you’re super organized, take photos with your phone so that you can check to see what’s in your space prior to making a trip. Yes, this is a bit complicated, but do it. 

And stop complaining. Decluttering is good for your mental health. The most important thing to take with you to your unit is a positive mindset.  Focus on the feeling of relief that comes from a good cleaning and reorganization. Or not. You have to get the job done either way.

If you don’t have a storage unit, but you’re interested in cleaning up your house and storing the junk, read Put that Clutter in Storage and Get on With Your Life.   Happy cleaning!!!

Get to Know This Popular Self-Storage Packing Material

It’s a stress reliever, it comes in rolls, it protects fragile items, and it’s name is a generic trademark used by Sealed Air Corporation. Any guesses as to what I’m talking about? It’s a solution for consumers and small businesses alike, and people love to spend an aimless hour or two popping it. It’s not only the most protective packing for your breakable items, but this stuff keeps kids occupied for hours. You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m talking about the ever-popular, ever-entertaining rock star of the packing material world, Bubble Wrap. You know you love to pop those bubbles. Admit it. But, do you know the history of this humble plastic wrapping material.

The History of Bubble Wrap (Textured Wallpaper???)

Bubble Wrap has been around for a while. In 1957 two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes set out to create textured wallpaper. Textured wallpaper – let that sink in. They created this trend-setter wall covering by sealing together two shower curtains with air bubbles trapped inside. Can you imagine having your walls covered in bubble wrap? It would be great for your baby just learning to walk or for great-grandma who has balance issues. I see no other advantages. Can you imagine having to reprimand your kids for “popping the air out of the wallpaper?” You’d have to put them in the middle of the room for a timeout or your walls would look like used plastic wrap.

After discovering that this wall covering wasn’t as popular as they’d hoped (shocking!!), they had to change direction. For their next trick, they tried marketing this “textured wallpaper” as greenhouse insulation. Apparently, their marketing skills weren’t up to the task because that proved to be unpopular as well.

Three years later, Frederick W. Bowers, a marketer at Sealed Air, the company that makes Bubble Wrap, discovered the perfect use for this product. IBM had announced their new 1401 computer, and Bowers got the ingenious idea that Bubble Wrap could be used as a protective packing material during shipping. He pitched the idea to IBM, the demonstration was a success, and IBM began using Bubble Wrap to protect all of their fragile products during shipping. From modest beginnings, Bubble Wrap currently accounts for 10% of Sealed Air’s revenue, translating to around $400 million in annual sales.

A Modern-Day Marvel With One Small Problem

Today, Bubble Wrap takes on many forms and can be purchased almost anywhere that moving and office supplies are sold. You can always find it at your local self storage facility that carries moving and packing supplies. Mailers, pouches, and padded envelopes are examples of other popular uses for Bubble Wrap.

A downside for customers who are buying Bubble Wrap has been the space it takes up during shipping and storage. In the early 1990s a group of engineers began work on a product that could be shipped in thin, flat sheets of plastic without the bubbles. The method is to eject tiny pellets of polyethylene into sheets, which are then heated. These tiny pellets then flatten to form strong polymer sheets with rows of un-inflated bubbles that are connected in lines. Customers lease a special machine from Sealed Air which inflates all the lines of bubbles and seals the openings. This customer-inflated Bubble Wrap is 40 times cheaper to ship than the original.

Bubble Wrap is useful for so much more than merely packing. Wasting time has never been more productive.

Bubble Wrap Fun Facts

The amount of Bubble Wrap produced by Sealed Air annually is enough to wrap the entire Earth, at the equator, with Bubble Wrap about 10 times.

While originally used primarily for packing, most of the Bubble Wrap currently produced is used for food packaging.

In a demonstration done by Sealed Air, an 815 pound pumpkin dropped from a height of 35 feet onto layers of Bubble Wrap survived without a scratch.

The next time you watch a TV show in a school setting, know that the backpacks everyone is wearing are filled with Bubble Wrap so that they don’t have to lug heavy books.

To survive a six-story fall, you would need 39 layers of Bubble Wrap (don’t try this at home).

In 2015, Boy Scouts in Elbert, Colorado set a Guinness World Record for the most number of people popping Bubble Wrap simultaneously: 2,681 Scouts participated.

Bubble Wrap was a Toy Hall of Fame Finalist in 2016.

Sealed Air manufactures Bubble Wrap sheets with air cushions shaped like letters that spell out “happy holidays” and bubbles shaped like hearts or smiley faces.

Sealed Air licenses day calendars that allow consumers to punctuate dates by popping a giant bubble. Much more fun than marking off the days with a conventional calendar.

Teenage girls all over the world use it to stuff their bras.

If you’re very patient and adept with a syringe, you can make jello shots with Bubble Wrap.

For added dimension to an already great party game, place Bubble Wrap under Twister.

People love to pop Bubble Wrap because:

  • It releases muscle tension
  • It distracts you from your worries
  • It makes an awesome noise
  • It provides instant gratification
  • It has a satisfying, calming tactile feeling
  • You can throw it away when you’re done

Who would have thought a humble plastic packing material could be so versatile in addition to being so useful. I hope that this article provided you with a newfound respect and admiration for Bubble Wrap. Wrapping a package will never be the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to popping – it’s cheaper than a therapist.