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How to Clean Out and Declutter a Storage Unit

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Although a storage unit is the perfect way to get a little extra space, it's easy to find yourself with a mess on your hands--especially if you didn't plan ahead and stick to an organizational pattern. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get your storage unit tidied up. Here's how to get started!

Before Cleaning Your Storage Unit

While it's tempting to jump right into a storage unit cleaning project, you should always have a plan. This helps save time, organize your approach, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Start with these steps:

#1: Take Inventory

It's important to know what you're working with, so spend a little time figuring out what's actually behind that storage unit door. At this point, you don't need to worry about removing or reorganizing anything--you just want to see what the situation is.

#2: Make Notes

As you're getting the lay of the land, jot down any initial thoughts you have. Maybe you're finally ready to get rid of that one thing you've been holding onto, or perhaps you absolutely know you need to keep something else. This helps take "small bites" out of your cluttered storage unit before you even get started.

#3: Create Decluttering Plans

Most people organize items into three categories:

  • Keep.
  • Toss.
  • Donate.

Have a plan for each item type, how you'll store or transport it, and whether you'll want to reconsider throughout the cleaning process.

#4: Enlist Some Help

If you have friends willing to roll up their sleeves and do a little work, ask them to help out--especially if you have heavy boxes or large items in your storage unit. You should also get help from anyone who may have items in the unit, because they'll need to help you make some big decisions.

During Your Storage Unit Project

Once you've done all the prep work, it's time to get your cleaning project underway. Check out these tips for decluttering your storage unit:

#1: Be Prepared To Let Go

Some items come with emotional attachments that make it difficult to let them go. Be prepared to face these situations and know how you want to handle them ahead of time--and remember that you don't have to get rid of everything.

#2: Give Yourself Space

Clear out a half or corner of your storage unit so you have room to work. If you can't, see if you can set up a canopy just outside your unit where you'll drag things out and either take them away or reorganize them to be stored again.

#3: Stay Focused

It's easy to get distracted when you find all that stuff you may not have seen for months or even years. It's equally easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed. The key is to pace yourself, stay focused, and set reasonable goals to help you make progress you can be proud of.

After Decluttering Your Storage Unit

When your storage unit is decluttered, clean, and organized, you might think the work is done. However, that's not necessarily the case. Keep these things in mind:

#1: Set Rules

You don't have to make a formal list of commands for how your unit will and won't be used, but it's helpful to give yourself some guidelines. This helps keep you from cramming things away that you'll likely just toss later. It also helps you get more out of your storage unit by guiding how and why you use it.

#2: Stay Consistent

If you came up with new organizational techniques or solutions, stick with them. This will seem easy at first, but the more time passes, the more tempting it might be to start shoving things wherever they fit. Don't give in; stay consistent and don't make more work for future you.

#3: Clean Occasionally

Although your storage unit may need a "deep clean" every now and again, you can avoid most of this work by doing a little bit of decluttering at regular intervals. For example, you might give yourself a goal of cleaning the unit once a month, or removing junk every time you visit the unit for another purpose. No matter what your plan is, you'll find that a little work now saves you a lot of trouble later.


Although organizing a storage unit is up to you, there are ways to avoid crowding and cluttering from the beginning--such as choosing the right unit size. That way, you know you have plenty of room to organize, no matter what you need to put in storage.

Ready to choose the storage unit that works for you? Need help organizing an existing unit? Contact us today!