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What Should I Not Pack in My Storage Unit?

Keep Your Stuff Safe and Yourself Out of Trouble

So, after some careful consideration, you’ve finally decided to rent a storage unit. Not only did you determine the right kind of unit for your needs, but you calculated the best possible size of unit to fit your stuff – all from a storage unit company you can trust.

But before you start boxing up all of your possessions, you should learn about the certain things you should never pack in a storage unit. With some items, it’s about keeping out rodents and bugs, and with others, it’s about ensuring that your possessions (and those of people in units near yours) are kept out of harm’s way.

Our rundown will discuss the basic logic behind the prohibitions so you don’t accidentally break your rental contract (or the law).

1) Perishable Food

You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but we’ve seen some unfortunate storage units in our time. Do not store food that can spoil in a storage unit, even if it’s a top-of-the-line climate-controlled facility. You do not want anything in your unit that could spoil, decay, and/or decompose, because it will attract all manner of pest, insect, and vermin. Think of it this way – if you wouldn’t keep it on your kitchen counter for weeks at a time after it’s gone bad, why would you keep it in a storage unit?

2) Animals and Animal-Related Products

A no-brainer of equal size and import to #1, animals and their attendant products do not belong in a storage unit. No matter how much food or water you provide or how often you visit to clean up their waste, you can’t keep living things inside your unit. Not only will they not survive, but the pet and their stuff will attract unwanted visitors because of the scents they emit. The one exception might be canned food (because it can’t be chewed through), but even that could vary by storage facility, so either call for clarification or don’t store it at all.

3) Plants

This one isn’t quite as obvious, especially since some are genetically capable of existing without much care, but plants are a no-go in storage units. Not only is there a good chance they will die over time (because they will miss having any regular access to sunlight), but they will attract pests and bugs.

4) Humans

If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, living things don’t belong in storage units – and that includes you! Simply put, you cannot rent a storage unit and use it as a temporary (or permanent!) living situation. Even if the unit is air-conditioned, it’s not set up for legal residency in any shape, form, or fashion.

5) Firearms and Munitions

That’s right: you can’t store your guns, ammunition, or anything remotely related to firearms in your average storage unit. There are two basic reasons for this: 1) There are laws in some areas that dictate specific terms on how firearms should be stored; and 2) The ammunition could catch on fire and explode in the wrong conditions. We recommend seeking out a storage facility that specializes in firearms and munitions if you need a place to store your weapons in the long-term.

6) Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials must to be stored according to highly specific temperatures and regulations, and your standard storage unit facility cannot guarantee those standards will be met. If such materials aren’t stored properly, they can escape from their containers (in gaseous, liquid, and solid states of matter), causing increased chance for environmental damage and health risks. This includes the following:

  • Cleaning products
  • Ammonia/bleach
  • Pesticides
  • Insecticides
  • Roofing Tar
  • Paint, paint thinner, paint removers
  • Biological waste
  • Radioactive materials

7) Flammable Materials

Much like #6, the items in this area can become supremely dangerous in the wrong conditions – especially if stored in a poorly ventilated area without climate control. In other words, this stuff can and will catch on fire and explode if stored improperly, making them a heightened risk that storage facilities are unwilling to absorb. Such items include:

  • Propane tanks
  • Aerosol cans
  • Jerry cans
  • Gasoline
  • Oil
  • Paint
  • Explosives
  • Fireworks
  • Corrosive waste
  • Kerosene lamps
  • Fertilizer
  • Asbestos or products containing asbestos
  • Fuel of any sort – including what’s in a vehicle or lawn equipment

8) Anything Else That Attracts Pests

Yes, this is a catch-all category, but it also contains the items that most people simply don’t think about when renting a storage unit. In short, your storage unit is NOT supposed to be a backup garage wherein you keep stuff you don’t want to have inside your home. Unless you find a low-rent option that doesn’t play by the same rules as the rest, most storage facilities do not want you keeping anything inside your unit that could remotely attract animals, pests, bugs, or anything that would be unsafe or unseemly. Not only do they want to keep your stuff safe (since many of those critters will actively attack the items you have in your storage unit), but they also want to keep their entire facility clean to appeal to new renters.

While the actual items on this list will definitely vary by storage unit company, a decent list to start with includes:

  • Waste & trash: Surprise, surprise – your storage unit can’t be a long-term waste receptacle.
  • Scented items: Yes, this includes candles.
  • Wet items: Please dry out your clothes before storing them.
  • Corkboards: Pests are attracted to its particular scent.
  • Taxidermy: Bugs love dead animals just as much as live ones.
  • Water jugs and plastic grocery bags: Something in the plastic is appealing to pests.
  • Banana boxes: Trust us – the scent of the bananas completely seeps into the wood.
  • Paper that isn’t properly boxed: It should be packed in boxes, and the boxes should be taped up on all sides.
  • Foam, including bed covers and pillows: If you want to store foam, it needs to be stored in a plastic sealed container

9) Your Valuables

This category is equally broad, as it really depends upon what you consider valuable. Our rule of thumb: If it’s anything you’d prefer to store in a safety deposit box or safe at a bank, it does not belong in a storage unit. Our recommended items to leave out include:

  • Money
  • Antiques / Crystal / Precious Stones or Gems
  • Art Collections
  • Silver and Silverware
  • Cameras
  • Coin Collection
  • Oriental Rugs

10) Miscellaneous Items

Finally, there are simply some items that storage facilities do not want in their unit. And yes, while different companies have different rules, our research discovered a few key common items worth mentioning:

  • Stolen Items: This should be self-explanatory.
  • Uninsured / Unregistered Vehicles: If it’s your vehicle, it should be registered, and if it’s not yours, see the prior item on this list.
  • More than Four Tires: It is quite cost-prohibitive for a storage unit facility to dispose of tires if you abandon your storage unit.
  • Your Place of Employment: As in, you can store the items you sell on Etsy in your unit, but you can’t use the unit as the place where you physically transact business.
  • Drugs: This specifically means prescription medication (even if it’s yours), as it’s subject to all sorts of laws about access and security.
  • Medical Supplies: Much like the previous item, there are lots of laws on the books regarding medical supply storage, so you will need specific permission from your facility and access to a top-notch climate-controlled storage unit.

Ultimately, while the specific items on your average “Do Not Store” list will vary from one storage unit facility to the next, the basic principles will always boil down to one core concept: Safety First.

Happy Storing!

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