This time of year is one of the most popular times of the year to get organized and to de-clutter.
Using our perspective on air quality and heating and cooling, here are 5 reminders when it comes to de-cluttering, storing, and organizing your items, or even a loved one’s belongings.
1. Know what climate-controlled storage really is
Whether it’s your home or whether you are looking to rent space outside your home, typically “climate-controlled” refers to a temperature that is kept anywhere between 55-85°F throughout the year.
A non-climate controlled space or unit is of course going to be the opposite of this, and it will lack this kind of temperature maintenance; when temperatures get high, you have no control over the airflow and the temperature of that space. For some items, that may not be a problem, but for many items you may want to store in the home or outside the home, that can have major repercussions.
2. Make sure you’re aware—and that you can manage—moisture levels
Not only does climate controlled refer to your temperature, but it also deals with moisture levels in the air. You want to be sure that the humidity level is also controlled and kept at a level that is going to be best—likely including a dehumidifier and a humidifier—for whatever it is that you are storing, that is, if your items are in need of being climate-controlled.
So what kinds of items might that include? The list is long, but popular items include household appliances, leather furniture, wooden furniture, entertainment centers, beds and bed frames, and more.
The reason you want to be sure to have moisture control as well is because too much moisture can bring on mildew, discoloration of pieces, mold, and even more. That can absolutely ruin pieces and even cause permanent damage to things like household appliances.
3. Avoid the “throw it in a box” mentality
Sometimes people want to store major, large items in storage. That includes things like washers an dryers, refrigerators, or large pieces of furniture or even artwork that’s not currently being used. But avoid the tendency some people have of just putting a ton of “miscellaneous” items or even collected items in storage without a strategy in doing so.
For example, say that you have a collection of stamps or special collections of coins or other items that could even include instruments. Another example? Wine! Believe it or not, these are items people have put into storage with very little thought about the airflow, temperature, or humidity levels in those spaces. Fluctuating temperatures can actually ruin wine, and humidity and extreme temperatures can completely ruin instruments such as guitars, pianos and even instruments made of brass.
It’s surprising that people tend to throw their coveted items in boxes for storage, but it’s just something that people can neglect to consider when it comes to organizing.
Pro tip: always avoid storing anything near your furnace or water heater (and other major appliances in your home). Not only can they catch fire, but they can restrict air flow in ways you don’t intend to.
4. Organize office items by activity and use
One of the biggest tips you can use to better utilize your space is to start organizing into “centers” based on how things are used—that can be in your home or in your office.
Think of it as clustering items that tend to be used together. HGTV describes this in three ways for your typical office, as just one example:
- Your work center. This would be where your most frequently-used office related items and products are. Do you use a to-do list everyday on paper? Then have that handy. Do you use your computer daily? Then this would also be in that area (1).
- Your reference center. Your reference center is those items you need to refer to, and they need to be simple to find when you need them, but you aren’t accessing them each and every day necessarily. So may that is binders, manuals, folders with notes, and books and materials. You need them organized, but not necessarily in your line of sight at all times (1).
- Your supply center. Your supply center is just what it sounds like: the place where you have office and paper supplies and other materials you tend to need like envelopes or even stamps (1).
The idea is that you have things organized not only be frequency of use, but also somewhat related to other activities that usually go together. Not only do you feel like what you need is more accessible, but hopefully things that are more relevant to you are closer to you, and those things that are rarely used aren’t “wasting” key space in your office (1). Now you are well on your way to feeling less cluttered.
5. Get serious about air flow
If you check on your stored items (whether in the attic, basement, or outside your home) and you feel like you smell that musty, dingy smell, be careful! Yes, that could be a two-fold problem of moisture and lack of airflow, but that just makes it all the more important to pay attention to.
Air flow is going to reduce stagnant air which isn’t a great thing for indoor air quality or for your stored goods.
We’ve talked temperature, humidity, and a bit about airflow. But don’t think of the idea of airflow in your storage space as just an afterthought, especially if you are considering a storage unit. There are lots of things a storage unit or storage space can have to promote airflow, and of course it also depends on the setup of the space you are storing items in…is it large, like in a warehouse, or is it a small room? That includes a high efficiency HVAC, walkways, and even HOW things are stored—such as wooden pallets or similar setups.
Ask professionals what you can do to promote airflow. There are so many ways to encourage airflow, a few of which are listed here:
- Changing the room size
- Changing the door size
- Changing how often the door is opened to a space
- Fans meant to drive airflow
- Passive vents and other similar solutions
- Other indoor air quality solutions to help trap particulates in the air
- Deodorizers (although those don’t get to the root of the problem)
All in all, yes, this list may seem like a lot of consideration when it comes to storing your items and goods. But a lot of up-front strategy and consideration can go a long way and can make sure that you properly protect all your items.
When it comes to choosing outside storage, like a self storage facility, take your time to do your homework and to take steps to protect your coveted items.
It may seem like it costs you more to take precautionary steps and to use a climate-controlled unit, but when your materials call for it, it will be worth the additional investment.
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