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The best boxes for storing domestic goods

The best boxes for storing domestic goods
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Pick the right containers for your storage unit

A tidy storage unit is a joy to use, and it will give you great value for money, too. But what are the best boxes for organising your storage unit?

What are the pros and cons of using plastic storage boxes?

There is something so satisfying about a uniform stack of plastic storage bins, carefully labelled and organised. Plastic storage boxes can be pricy, but if you treat them well, they should last for years. If you pay a bit extra for a brand like Really Useful you can buy replacement lids, as well as inserts, trays and storage towers.

Plastic storage boxes give the best rodent-proofing, and the best damp-proofing of all the storage options. But if damp and pests are likely to be a problem in your storage space, we recommend you move your goods to a safer place.

Look out for plastic boxes that you can recycle at the end of product life.

What are the pros and cons of cardboard boxes?

Cardboard boxes are surprisingly expensive if you buy them, but it is possible to source them for free. Shops may be willing to give you some boxes; or people who have just moved house may have some boxes available if you ask on social media or on sites like Freegle.

Make sure your boxes are still sturdy and in good repair (although it is possible to work wonders with some tape). Don’t overfill them and beware of very large boxes as they can be awkward to carry. Check for stains and smells in your boxes: if you are storing your goods for any length of time, odours can transfer. Dry damp boxes thoroughly, and it goes without saying that you must reject any boxes that have signs of mould or mildew.

Cardboard boxes are easy to recycle when you no longer want them.

What are the pros and cons of using luggage to store domestic goods?

Got a wheelie case that no longer wheels, or a vintage suitcase that just isn’t aesthetically pleasing enough for display? Then you’ve got a free storage container. As with cardboard boxes, make sure there are no unwanted smells in your repurposed suitcase, and that it is thoroughly clean.

Recycling old luggage is very difficult because it is made from so many different materials. Keep it in use for as long as possible and then dispose of it responsibly.

What are the pros and cons of using garment bags?

Garment bags are a good way of protecting clothing from dust and light. You can buy bags designed to hang, or bags designed to lie on shelves.

Experts recommend using cotton or fabric bags for storing clothes. They do not recommend polythene bags as they can promote mould, particularly if your storage space is prone to changes in temperature. Vacuum bags are also available – save space by using a domestic hoover to suck the air out of the bag. Obviously, these can’t be breathable!

Can I put shelves and hanging rails in my storage unit?

You should ask your storage company if you want to fix shelves or rails to the walls of your unit. But there should be no problem with freestanding rails or shelving. Remember to make use of your stored furniture to pack smaller items. Book shelves, drawers and chests can all be used as storage.

What is the cheapest way of getting storage boxes?

If you are keen to reduce costs, check out our detailed tips for saving money on packing materials. In summary:

  • use second-hand packing materials
  • use boxes, bags, suitcases and textiles that you already have

You can also save money by optimising the space in your storage unit. Follow our advice for optimised packing and you may be able to move your domestic goods to a smaller unit.

Another way to save money is to check that you are getting the best deal on your storage insurance. Your stored goods probably aren’t covered under your home contents insurance – but it’s worth checking with your insurer. Most storage companies insist that you insure your stored goods and this will be written into your contract with them. But you don’t have to take the insurance they offer you. You can get better value by shopping around, so get a quote for storage insurance from Store and Insure.

There are various ways to organise your stored goods, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that best meets your needs – whether it’s plastic tubs, cardboard boxes or hanging rails – for the most satisfying storage experience.