Storage Woes

By Chelle Cordero

June 30, 2017 4 min read

There are many reasons to have a personal storage space, whether it's combining or dividing homes after marriage or divorce, downsizing for military deployment or college living, or emptying a home after someone goes into a nursing home or passes away. According to a fact sheet published in 2013 by the Self Storage Association, there are over 52,500 primary and secondary self-storage units rented in the United States, equal to approximately nine percent of all American households. Without renting a self-storage unit, the average household relies on storage spaces in an attic, basement, garage, root cellar or shed.

Whether you choose to store items in your own or rented space, you expect that your things are stored safely and will be safe from damage that can be caused by bugs, rodents and other pests. Many people have had the unfortunate experience of finding damage done by mice, rats, roaches, ants, spiders, moths, flies, bed bugs and other creepy-crawlies. Your possessions can also be damaged by environmental damage from water leaks, extreme temperatures, fire and theft. If it's worth saving, then you don't want everything turned into damaged junk.

Before you store, think about the items you are planning to put away. Use waterproof containers -- like the heavy plastic kind with snap-tight covers. If you are planning to store important documents such as birth certificates and deeds, use a small, lockable, fireproof box. Photographs, paintings, sculptures and precious metal objects should be stored in temperature and climate controlled storage spaces. Wood, leather and delicate fabrics also survive best in dehumidified and temperature controlled environments. Collectibles put away for the possibility of an increased value need to be stored properly or they will be ruined, making them worthless.

If you are storing upholstered furniture, vacuum everything carefully and make sure everything is completely dry -- especially if you've used any cleaning solutions or steam. If possible, store the cushions in the covered plastic bins; sofas, chairs and mattresses should be wrapped in heavy plastic and sealed with heavy-duty tape to help prevent any infestation in the stuffing. Wash all fabrics including linens, towels, curtains and clothing in hot water before packing away to make sure that you are not also packing away any larva or crumbs. Packing fabrics in vacuum sealed bags is another protective step. Use pallets to keep your possessions and bins off of the floor to prevent water damage and reduce buggy hiding spots.

Clean dishes, pots and pans before packing in bins to make sure there are no food particles that might attract pests. Launder, scrub and clean all children's toys before packaging and storing to get rid of baby drool and residue left by sticky fingers. Never store perishable food items or any food item where the packaging can be chewed through. Do not put houseplants in the store room area. Planting liberal amounts of peppermint around the exterior of your home, garage and shed will help deter mice, rats and many bugs from entering the premises. The following scents can be purchased and will help to deter rodents and bugs: mothballs, fox urine, peppermint and spearmint oil, cayenne pepper, cloves, ammonia, dryer sheets and citronella. Inspect and replenish monthly.

Before loading your bounty, make sure you inspect the area for any signs of rodent droppings, spider webs and cracks or holes that pests can use to enter. Even the smallest space under a garage door can be an invitation. Vacuum and/or sweep the area, seal all cracks and paint the concrete floor if feasible. Spray everything down with a bug spray or oil of peppermint. Rat poison should not be used in any areas where house pets or children can come in contact with it; this can also allow a rat to die in hiding and your storage area will begin to smell from the decay.

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