By Terry Dowling, Certified Self Storage Manager
Summer is over and with winter approaching, you are probably wondering several things. How much snow will be dumped on us this year? How cold will it be? How many blizzards will we have this year? The transition into winter storage can be rather difficult and sometimes stressful. But if you plan accordingly, it can be a smooth one.
Let’s begin. Grab a piece of paper and pen, then walk around your property and write down items that cannot be kept outside during the cold, snowy months. These items would do best to move into your storage unit. Things such as patio furniture, bikes, grills and garden tools. Kids toys can be stored for next year’s playing fun. You can even gather up the pool floats and toys as well. It also makes sense to check inside your home and garage in case any outdoor items made their way in there by your kiddos.
Let’s look at ways to store these items properly.
When storing a bicycle, you don’t just want to roll the bicycle into storage and use the kickstand. You should instead secure two hooks and turn the bicycle upside down to hang it by the wheels. When storing the bicycle upright in the storage unit, the cold will affect the tires and can damage the rubber and the tube over time. Hanging it instead will prevent that damage.
For patio furniture, wipe down the table top and legs, and the chairs and legs. Warm soapy water and a rag will remove any pollen or debris that is left on them from months of summer weather. Remove the cushions from the chairs and either wash them by hand, in a washing machine or have them dry cleaned – check the tag for the proper care. This will remove any dirt, pollen and residue and freshen them up for next year. Once the cushions have been cleaned (and fully dried), store them in a vacuum sealed bag, which can be found at many department stores. If you cannot locate a vacuum sealed bag, wrap them well in a plastic cover and tape them shut, like you have created your own bag. For the table, you should place a cover over it which will protect the table surface from getting scratched when in storage, as you are likely to stack items on top of it to save space. We offer many plastic covers for sale in our retail shop, located inside the rental office at our locations.
Next, let’s take a look at storing yard and garden tools. Wipe them down using a soft sand paper or wire brush to remove chunks of dirt and even rust. Then use warm soapy water to remove whatever is left. Rinse them well and let them dry completely. You can sand wooden handles to remove rough areas and prevent splinters from happening. Have them sharpened before you store them, so they will be ready for next season right away. You can do this yourself with a flat file, or take them to your local lawn care store to have them done professionally.
How about all those kids toys? Wipe them down with soap and water. Sanitize them. Using the ratio 1 part bleach to 10 parts water will work on plastic toys. Check the toys to see if any are cracked or any sharp edges exist. The ones that show some damage or are flat out broken should be tossed. The last thing you want is your child getting hurt on them. If any toys have batteries, remove them and plan to replace them next year when you get them back out. If you have a portable sand box, empty it fully then clean and dry it. Once you get everything cleaned, you can place them into your storage unit.
Storing your grill is pretty simple. Clean the grates with a wire brush to make sure there is no leftover food stuck to the grates. You should even wash them with warm soapy water to get them like new. As with most grills, you probably have a propane tank. You must remove the propane tank, as they are not permitted inside a storage unit, per the rental agreement you signed when renting your unit. Wipe the inside of the lid and cabinet and the entire outside. Make sure you dry it well. Once you have everything clean and dry, and the tank removed, you can place it inside your storage unit. If you have a grill cover, you should place it on at this time. If you do not have a cover, it is a good idea to purchase one. Or you can use a plastic cover that we offer for sale in our retail store.
Making a transition into winter storage is a great time to use self storage. Always check to make sure the items are still in good working condition before placing them into storage. If not, time to replace it! If you have questions about using seasonal storage, you can talk with your property manager or contact us for more information. If you are ready to start using self storage for seasonal items, you can rent a storage unit online and get started now!