Long Term Storage

Are you thinking of putting some goods away in storage? The first decision you will need to make is it short term or Long term, as both are useful for different reasons.

Short vs Long-Term Storage

Short-term storage is good for storing something temporarily during a move. Typically, the line between short-term and long-term storage starts at around 90 days, with storage needs of 90 days or more calling for a long-term storage facility.

Long-term storage can be good if you need to store away one item, like a classic car or for storing things with sentimental value, that you can’t seem to part with but can’t fit into your current living space. Other times, people who are making an international move, or plan long term travel, deployment, or living abroad for a set period of time will need to pack up their entire lives and store their furniture or other items for a long time,

Whatever your reason maybe you’ll need to take some precautionary steps before storing your goods long term.  Unfortunately, determining what to do with your stuff while you’re away from home for months (or years) can be stressful. Whether you’re headed on a European adventure or an a 1-year work secondment in Cape Town, worrying about your belongings in long term storage is the last thing we want you to do.

Depending on your circumstances, it might make a lot of sense to get rid of your residence if you are renting and keep all your belongings in a long-term storage unit. In fact, there are many benefits to renting storage space to secure your items for an extended length of time. Saving money and gaining peace of mind are the two most important advantages of self-storage. But before you charge out to get boxes for packing, hiring a trailer and moving everything into a storage unit and take off, read these long term storage tips first.

But don’t think that simply boxing your belongings ore parking your car in long-term storage will preserve or protect them! There are many steps you can take to ensure that your possessions will be as good as new when they come out of storage.

Packing Tips for Long Term Storage


1. Ask yourself how much stuff you need to store.

Self-storage units in Cape Town come in all sizes to fit your circumstances, but the unit you end up renting needs to make sense. When deciding what to do with your belongings while you’re away, first and foremost, consider your needs. Do you have a lot of stuff that needs storing or is it only a few items?  What is the size of the items and do the require special care while you travel? Would you prefer to store all your belongings to eliminate having to pay rent for your apartment? If you are not sure, why not consult one of our trained staff members?

2. Clean and Prep your belongings

Before you store your furniture, appliances, clothes or even your boat give each item a thorough clean. Use an appropriate cleaner for the type of material (metal, wood, glass, etc.), and wipe or shake down once more for an added layer of protection. Make sure all your belongings sparkle before you load them onto the truck or trailer. Be sure to clean, dry and defrost all your items before placing them in a storage unit.

Wash and iron your clothes before storing. Surfaces stains and dirt will set into clothing overtime and when you do finally get them out of storage to use again the stain will be difficult to remove. But please do not use mothballs, they can leave your clothes smelling terrible, and can be potentially dangerous if found bye children or pets.

Make sure that all water has been drained from washing machines, and your fridge defrosted before you store them. Deodorise your washing machine, microwave or fridge, imagine returning to your storage unit to reclaim your refrigerator only to be met with a stale smell upon opening the door? Avoid unpleasant odours by keeping washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator doors ajar while in storage and placing a deodoriser inside. A great natural way to absorb any nasty smells is to place a plate of baking soda or coffee grounds in your fridge while it’s in storage.

As a final step, let the item breathe in a well-ventilated area and dry completely. This will ensure no patches of trapped moisture can reside on your item as you cover and pack the piece for storage. Patches of trapped moisture left alone can damage your item over time and create marks of discoloration.

3. Disassemble for Easy Transport

For larger items, such as dressers, beds, tables and couches, it is important to prepare the items for transportation. If possible disassemble the pieces before the big trip to the storage unit to lighten your load.

For example, remove legs from tables and sofas, take out drawers from dressers and cushions from sofas, and remove planks from bedframes. Group, wrap and label these pieces together to stay organized.

4. Package, Cover and Protect

After you’ve prepped your furniture and appliances for long-term storage, protect it with the right materials. Bubble wrap can be useful to wrap items that easily break, such as framed pictures, mirrors, lamps or blunt parts like chairs and table legs.

Fragile Items, Furniture and Appliances

Make sure that all fragile items, such as glasses and porcelain, or even your cd collection, is wrapped in newspapers, old clothing, old sheets or foam peanuts before storing them in new sturdy cardboard boxes.


Use only new boxes or airtight plastic bins to store smaller items. Neve use old, recycled or used boxes as they can contain moisture, bugs and mould.

Additionally, remember that not all furniture pieces will have the same needs for proper protection, so it’s recommended you conduct necessary research prior to moving items.

Never Use Plastic Bags

As a general rule, never wrap items in plastic bags or store goods such as clothes in plastic bags. Not only can it suffocate certain materials like wood and fabrics, plastic can lead to condensation or unpleasant smells in your unit. Instead, use drop cloths or covers, sheets or blankets to keep dust away and allow air to circulate.

Moisture can collect in these bags and cause items to rot. This is a major problem in Cape Town because we live so close to the ocean.

Check for Moisture

Check all items for moisture, mould and dampness before storing them. This includes clothing, furniture, books, paper, kitchen utensils, tools and anything that can rot or rust. If you can dry the item then do so, if not throw away anything that is damp, wet or mouldy.

A handy tip is to run all your clothing and bedding through the dryer before placing them in storage to make 100% sure they are dry.

Check for Insects

When packing your belongings, insects are the last thing on your mind, but check everything for insects before storage, including your clothing and furniture. If you think there’s a chance of bugs, spray insecticide before storage. If something is infested with bugs, consider throwing it out.

Protect Your Valuables

Put valuables, such as jewellery and collectible coins, in a safety deposit box, and not in self-storage. A better solution still is to give them to a friend or relative that you trust for safe keeping.

On the other hand, if you need to store breakable bottles, put them in a tight plastic tub on the bottom. Make sure the bottles are carefully packed in something soft, like old newspaper or old clothing to prevent breakage.

5. Strategically Store and Pack your belongings

To maximize your unit’s space, you may be tempted to cram and jam items without a proper plan in place. This sloppy approach to storage can ultimately be harmful to your furniture and belongings.

Properly packing and storing your belongings will help make sure they’re secure while you’re away. Taking time to pack well seems like a simple enough tip, but it cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure breakables are well packed, and boxes are stacked correctly leaving space in between items. Keep boxes and furniture off the floor whenever possible. The benefits are two-fold: you’ll allow air to flow freely between the furniture, which will help protect your items from damage, and you’ll reduce the risk of accidental damage to your pieces should you ever need to collect an item.

Improperly storing your items, even for the short term, can result in unnecessary damage and stress.

6. Use a temperature-controlled storage unit when necessary.

Item such as electronics or wood furniture are generally temperature sensitive and should be stored in a climate-controlled unit. It may cost a bit more, but the increased cost may bring peace of mind knowing your belongings won’t be subjected to extreme temperatures while you’re away.

7. Purchase travel and storage insurance just in case.

Security is always important, especially if plan to travel abroad. To add another layer of security, and peace of mind, it is worth looking into insurance for the items you store while you’re away. You’ll want to make sure your policy covers belongings that are stored off-site and within a long-term storage unit.

8. Nominate someone to check in on your belongings now and then.

Consider asking a friend or appointing a trusted colleague or person who can visit the storage unit on your behalf if the need arises. He or she should be granted permission and the legal authority to act on your behalf to respond quickly if there were any problem that needs to be addressed at the moment. This is especially important if you’re storing a car, a boat or any big ticket item for a few months. If the tires are still in place and the battery is in the car, taking the car for a spin can help ward off premature damage from sitting.

9. Set up your storage rent on autopay.

When it comes to paying your long term self-storage account, you can set it up a direct debit, or you can use your bank’s bill payment feature and pay it online. This way you can enjoy yourself and have one less thing you need to think about.

10. General Tips

These tips might sound like common sense, but the it can help you save money and even safe guard you in the long run.

Sell or Throw Away

Before packing for storage, go through your belongings and see if there’s anything you don’t need anymore. It might even be a good idea to list your goods for sale on Gumtree.

Food Quarantine

Check all your belongings you plan to store for food debris or residue, because it can attract rodents, insects and other pests. It can also rot and create some nasty odours.

But most importantly never ever store food, even canned or dried food, in long term storage.

Make Copies of Important Documents

Make sure that you have a backup copy of business and financial records, such as bank statements and tax records, before you store them. A good way to do this is to scan those items and put the records in secure cloud storage. This way you can access them from anywhere.

Also, you can store important documents such as marriage licenses, titles, wills and deeds in a safety deposit box.

Don’t Play with Fire

Never store flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel fuel or kerosene, better still give these away before you move.  If you have an petrol-powered device such as a lawn mower and you plan to move it into long-term storage, make sure to drain the fuel from it first.

Avoid Storing Liquids

Avoid storing bottles or containers full of liquid because they can leak and damage other items in storage. What are some reasons you’ve needed to use a self-storage unit for long term storage? How did it work out for you? Tell us your stories in the comments below.