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Not everyone knows how to store furniture in a storage unit correctly. However, with these common-sense steps, you can adequately keep and protect furniture for generations.

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Tips for storing furniture

How do you protect furniture in storage? Easy. You take the time to store it correctly. But let’s be realistic, ensuring that furniture stays in peak condition does take a little bit of work.

With these furniture-specific storage tips, you’ll be able to protect any furniture piece, regardless of its material — from tables and desks to chairs and couches, whether they are priceless family heirlooms or inexpensive bed sets awaiting your child’s return from college.

Keep reading to learn how to store furniture in a storage unit or garage, whether or not that space is climate controlled. Have a question we haven’t answered? Reach out to us in the comments below.

Storing Furniture the Right Way

Protecting furniture in a storage unit without climate control

In Summary:

1. Investigate your storage options.
2. Clean everything thoroughly.
3. Take everything apart.
4. Wrap furniture for long-term storage.
5. Protect glass items.
6. Raise furniture off the floor.
7. Don’t leave food behind.
8. Don’t cram too much inside.

1. Investigate your storage options.

Putting furniture in storage can be a costly decision. Do you keep it for the long term or do you sell the furniture and buy new when the time comes? The average cost of a storage unit varies, but in many cases, opting to store furniture makes sense if you’re in the middle of a move or going through a transitional time.

When storing furniture, protection from the elements is paramount. Consider all of your options before choosing a storage space. If you’re serious about maintaining this furniture in storage over the long haul, you might want a climate controlled storage unit.

Climate control will ensure your valuable furniture pieces stay safe from moisture and changing temperatures (plus keep the temperature pleasant when you visit). Items like wooden furniture, instruments, antiques, and sofas with delicate fabrics will do best in this type of unit.

However, there are steps you can take to protect furniture even if climate control isn’t an option. Making sure everything is clean, dry and well protected is essential.

2. Clean everything thoroughly.

How to store furniture

Protect furniture in storage by never putting dirty items inside. Not only will offensive odors travel to nearby units, but cleaning will also significantly cut down on the chance of mold and the amount of dust in your storage space.

Some tips for cleaning furniture for storage:

  • With wooden or plastic furniture, use a mild soap and water. For wooden pieces specifically, and especially antiques, use a wood cleaner like Murphy Oil Soap to protect the existing finish on the wood.
  • Be sure to also clean fabric items like couches or seat cushions with fabric or upholstery cleaner. Check that everything is completely dry before you start packing it up.
  • Polish any metal sections with a polishing cloth and metal cleaner. This step will help remove any existing oxidation and delay the build-up of tarnish.

3. Take everything apart.

Before moving furniture from its original location, disassemble anything you can — this includes desks, bookshelves, tables, chairs and more. This extra step will make your truck, and later your self storage unit, much easier to pack. And it will also reduce the likelihood of breaking or scratching anything.

Put all screws, bolts, Allen wrenches, and other small items in a labeled baggie, which will be stored alongside the furniture piece to which it belongs.

4. Wrap furniture for long-term storage.

Make sure everything is completely covered, which includes the floor. Before putting anything inside your storage space, lay down thick plastic sheeting on the floor to prevent moisture from the floor from seeping into your furniture. This step is especially important if you are not in a climate-controlled space.

Also, never put furniture into your self storage unit uncovered. Use old sheets, blankets, drop cloths or plastic wrap to cover the pieces and protect them from dust and moisture. Take care not to wrap furniture with thick plastic covers that will seal in moisture because that can create condensation and the furniture would eventually swell. Wrap furniture so that it can breathe by loosely draping the material over the furniture.

5. Protect glass items.

how to protect furniture in storage

Understandably, glass tabletops and mirrors require some extra precautions. First, wrap the piece with packing paper. Don’t tape the paper directly to the glass, as it will leave a nasty residue for you to clean later.

Afterward, either cover the glass in bubble wrap or put the entire item into a box for some extra security. Use a box that is long and wide, but relatively flat, similar to the shape of the glass itself.

6. Raise furniture off the floor.

Whenever you’re storing furniture without climate control, avoid putting furniture pieces or anything that could be ruined directly on the floor. By using pallets or cinder blocks to raise the floor, you add an extra layer of protection against flooding. Even a layer of cardboard or a drop cloth is better than nothing.

7. Don’t leave food behind.

Whether you’re storing furniture long term or for a few months, never leave anything perishable in your storage facility that may attract bugs or unwanted critters. This advice extends to any cardboard storage boxes you use—never use anything that previously came from a grocery store or might be soiled in any way. While storage facilities are treated with pest control regularly, you can never be too careful.

8. Don’t cram too much inside.

Wrapping furniture in storage

The best way to store furniture in a storage unit is by not overdoing it. A surefire way to break something valuable is by shoving too much into your self storage unit. Take a moment to organize your storage unit for easy access. Pack furniture methodically by starting with the largest pieces and working in boxes and small items in at the end.

Make sure there is always an aisle to access the back and sides of your unit. Try to keep your storage space clean and decluttered to protect furniture and other contents. As you try to cram in more and more things, you risk knocking things over, bending pieces and causing other damage.

Storing furniture in a storage unit doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. In conclusion, one of the biggest mistakes people make is either spending too much on too large of a unit or not purchasing one that’s large enough. Make sure you pick out the appropriate size storage unit for the amount of stuff you have.

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This post was originally published on 3/25/14 and was updated 4/23/18 to provide a better experience for the reader.

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann is a moving and storage expert. She covers everything from finding a home to settling into one, and all the stages in between, for the Life Storage blog.

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