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  • Brian Trimble

The Best Ways to Clean Out Junk from a Storage Unit


It is totally understandable to feel overwhelmed by cleaning out your storage unit. Years of your piled materials, gifts, and appliances lie dormant, yet they seem to be actively preventing you from starting to clean.


Cleaning out your storage unit has no shortcuts. It takes time even if you have extra hands or hire professionals. It requires you to do both the planning and heavy lifting.


This task is totally achievable with the proper tools, resources, and time. Following the steps below can be part of the resources to accomplish this.


Visit your storage unit first and take inventory

Before you know how much you have to clean, you need to see what you will clean. Visiting your storage unit and taking inventory of your things already gives you a headstart.


Look around the unit. How high are the piles of gifts from last Christmas? Do you need a pickup truck for this washing machine?


The important thing here is to get a feel of the things you will clean, and knowing how much you own. It may turn out to be less than you thought. List out your things to help you track your belongings later on, especially when you begin to move them out.


Know the purpose of your cleaning

Do you need to return this unit as soon as possible? Are you moving to a new place? Is this an extension of your spring cleaning?


Regardless of the reason, it will help you stay on track and calm your overwhelmed feelings.


Take a “before” picture of your storage unit

You will need a “before” picture paired with an “after” picture once you are done. This allows you to see all of your belongings at one glance. It allows you to review what you need to clean later on.


You may need to take a whole picture of the unit, and feel free to take pictures of each corner or specific things, such as appliances. This helps cover the things you missed from your inventory list.


Moving your things might be hard to track later on, so you need to know their locations to help you navigate the cleaning process.


Create your plan of decluttering including schedule and assistance

Seeing how much you need to clean gives you clues on how to clean.


Now, you need to create a plan of when and how to accomplish decluttering your storage unit. Do you need one whole free day or do you want it spread out over a few weeks? This depends on the unit you have to clean and how much time you have.


You might need more assistance. You may need to contact professionals to help you move your appliances. Your cabinet drawer might be too heavy for you to lift. Estimate projected expenses when you plan to avail them.


Know how many boxes, plastic bags, or containers you’ll need. This usually depends on the sizes and quantities of your belongings. You might want to have a separate container for your photo albums and your children’s toys. Make sure you consider all of your belongings in your plan.


Here are other important things to ask yourself:

● Do I need to hire professional cleaning services?

● Do I need to hire professional moving services?

● Do I need extra hands in lifting things around?

● How many boxes would (roughly) be enough for all my things?

● Would there be a space to separate the organized things and the cluttered things?

● What additional materials do I need to clean? (cleaning solutions, vacuum, trash bags, broom and dustpan, etc.)


Suggested method: Four-Box Method or divide by purpose

You might consider dividing your things by (1) keep (in your house), (2) store (remains in the storage unit), (3) sell (for a future garage sale), and (4) toss (to the dumpster).


Classifying each item helps to navigate the cleaning process easier.


Of course you can remove, alter, or add the box labels. Maybe you are returning the storage unit, so you can remove “store” and focus on the other boxes. Maybe you like to have a “donate” box for a nonprofit organization you support.


Your goal here is to stay organized and make cleaning stress-free. As long as things are getting organized in boxes, you can worry about their resale value or function later. A simple system makes cleaning less overwhelming.


At this point, you can update your inventory list based on the four-box method or simply take pictures to help track your stuff.


Gather your supplies

Supplies include trash bags, broom and dustpan, rags, gloves, cleaning solutions, etc. You get the picture. Instant access to all your needed materials helps you go through your cleaning process in less time.


This includes your human resources too, if you invited a professional or a friend to assist you in cleaning. You already used your head in the previous process, so it is now time for you to move your hands.


Start small to avoid feeling overwhelmed or be systematic

You can start with the things lying around the cabinet drawers, rather than tackling its contents. The first few minutes of your cleaning give you momentum. After dusting small spots and collecting a few books, you may now do some heavy lifting or tackle more things.


Some prefer cleaning by location, dividing the room into areas that need to be cleared. Others prefer the idea of cleaning by size, starting from handheld tools to heavy furniture. Others go with their feelings, saving things they are emotionally attached to for last.


The point here is for you to start. You might even develop the system while making your inventory. It turned out that you only had a dishwasher and a refrigerator, so you will save that last and focus more on the piled gifts from all the birthdays and holidays.


Here are other ways you can start without feeling overwhelmed:

● Follow your inventory list

● Set aside a whole day solely for starting to clean (without the pressure of finishing)

● “Group” rather than “clean”: You may group “like” items, such as by appliance, your children’s toys, gifts from your friends or churchmates, kitchen items, and personal items, etc.

● Place sticky notes on the boxes to remind you of their intended contents.

● Lay out all of the things first before putting them into boxes


There is no right or wrong way to start, and hopefully that does not paralyze you. Think first of making progress rather than finishing. You’ll get to that point eventually.


Set a deadline (and hire a junk removal company to speed things up)

You may need more than willpower and motivation to get the cleaning done. Deadlines set the perfect tone for dealing with hesitation. It is helpful when you are collaborating with professionals or asking for others’ help. You will be forced to make the most out of your time.


To save more time, you can hire a junk removal company to be your “toss” box. Not only can they provide a trash receptacle, but they can also organize your waste for you. No need to wait to update yourself with the trash pick-up schedules.


Cleaning your storage unit requires planning and execution. If you are interested in asking for professional junk removal services, The Woodlands Dumpster Rental offers cheap deals and quality services. You can contact them to lessen both your stress and cleaning time.

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