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How do I clear out my storage unit?

How do I clear out my storage unit?
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Operations - Store and Insure

Time to move on from your storage unit? Follow our tips for a smooth transition

There is usually no limit on how long you can store goods for, but if the price of monthly storage goes up, or your circumstances change, it may make sense to stop using storage for a time. Or you might want to move your goods to a different storage provider.

The task of sorting through stored goods, whether your own or someone else’s is daunting – but you can make it easier by following our plan for cleaning out a storage unit.

Ideally, you want to move all your stored goods straight from the storage unit to their final destination in one go. For example, you might want some items in your home or that of a relative. Or you might want to move your things to another storage site. But some of your stored goods might be going to auction, a donation centre or to a buyer. And others might need to go to the tip. Try to avoid moving the contents of your storage locker into your garage or spare room, because then you’ll have the same daunting task of sorting your goods, except you’ve now got to do it in your home.

Take an inventory before you clear out your storage unit

If you have an inventory of stored domestic goods, you’re already ahead. Use your inventory to help you plan your clear-out and decide what you’re keeping, recycling or selling. Here is our advice on making an inventory for self-storage.

Find out when you are allowed to empty your storage unit

It might be more convenient for you to take your stuff out of your storage unit outside business hours – but check that you can do that. Some storage centres are open 24/7 (and you’ll often pay extra for that privilege). If this is not the case for your storage unit and you can’t come to an agreement with the storage company, you’ll have to do your moving during business hours, even if that means taking a day’s holiday.

Do you need help with clearing out your storage unit?

Don’t try to move large or bulky items alone, particularly if your unit is some distance from your vehicle. A good storage company will loan you a trolley, but you can’t rely on staff to help you shift furniture as they may not be able to do this. You can ask your friends for help – but it might be less stressful to get a reliable local removal firm to do this work.

A house clearance company can help if you just want to empty your storage unit and have done – but do check your stored goods and inventory before letting them in.

And a professional declutterer can help if you are struggling to even get started with emptying your storage unit. The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) has a directory to help you find the right person.

Get rid of stored items you no longer want

Getting rid of unwanted items will make a space in your unit that you can work from on moving day. If you’ve been storing items that you no longer want, clear-out day is the perfect time to get rid of them. When you’re selling or giving away things through social media, you can avoid giving strangers your home address by asking them to meet you at your storage unit.

How big a vehicle do I need to empty my storage unit?

The first step in deciding what van to hire to empty your storage unit is to work out the volume in cubic feet or cubic metres of your stored goods. You can estimate this easily if you know how large your storage unit is.

This table is a rough guide to the size of vehicle you’ll need.

Unit size

House size

Vehicle size

255 cubic feet or 7.25 cubic metres


car or small van

600 cubic feet or 17 cubic metres

one-bedroomed flat

transit van

1,280 cubic feet or 36 cubic metres

three-bedroomed house

removal van

Some storage companies offer you free use of a van as a perk – don’t forget to ask if this applies to you!

Do I need to clean my storage unit when I empty it?

If you leave rubbish, including boxes and packing materials in your storage unit, you will be billed for disposal. You probably don’t need to do a detailed clean of your empty storage locker, but definitely make sure you take everything out, even stuff you don’t want any more.

Are my stored goods insured while I’m moving them?

If you have self-storage insurance with Store and Insure, your goods will be covered while you move them in an enclosed vehicle from storage to your home. Make sure your coverage extends to moving day. We cover by the day, so get in touch if you need to adjust. When you use a professional removal company, their insurance should protect your domestic goods during transport.

One last bit of storage clear-out admin…

Don’t forget to tell us that you’ve stopped using storage so you don’t go on paying for insurance that you don’t need. And we’ll also want to know if you’ve moved to a different storage company.