How to Pack a Storage Pod

family carrying moving boxes

One storage pod brand, PODS, revolutionized the way people moved and stored their stuff in 1998, and now others have followed suit with similar portable storage containers, often simply called storage pods or moving containers. While moving services and moving trucks make moving easier, they also tend to be more expensive and less convenient. Storage pods—a combination moving truck and storage unit in one—are a great alternative with no time constraints. But your experience won’t be as orderly or time-saving if you don’t know how to efficiently and securely pack a storage pod.

How the Process Starts

The company you rent from will deliver an empty storage pod to your home and leave it at ground level for easy loading and unloading. A storage pod can stay on your property for as long as you need it, unless local regulations prohibit doing so. This gives you plenty of time to pack your storage pod. When you are ready to move the unit, the company moves it for you to your new home or to a storage facility. Storage pods are waterproof and weatherproof, and most hold one or two rooms of stuff.

Preparing your Stuff

Before you pack the storage pod, you’ll need to prepare your stuff properly for this type of storage container. In order for your items to best fit in the unit, use as many of the same sized boxes as possible. Don’t overload boxes, but aim for a firm pack for greater protection and reinforce the bottom and top of the boxes with tape. That way you’ll have strong boxes you can build sturdy walls with throughout the storage pod.

What to Load When and How

Where you load your things it’s important to create a solid foundation that won’t shift during transportation so your items won’t get damaged during the move.

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Create a wall:

Pack items from floor to ceiling, creating wall-like layers until they reach the top of the truck. Pack boxes and other items tightly to avoid shifting and to evenly distribute weight. Build a sturdy wall of boxes along one side or end of the container.

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Distribute weight:

When loading boxes and other items, such as furniture, distribute the weight evenly from end-to-end and side-to-side. Start with some of the heavier items, such as appliances and furniture, on the bottom. If you can’t get proper weight distribution with your items, place the heaviest items in the center of the storage container and place lighter items on top.

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Fill and maximize space, and provide stability:

Fill any open spaces with boxes and other small items to provide stability. If there is space between the top of the boxes and the unit’s ceiling, place soft items on top of the boxes, such as bags of clothing or linens. Odd-shaped items, such as bikes, can go on top of boxes or near the doors. Remove the legs from furniture and stand large items such as couches on end to maximize space. If you have a mattress to load, load it last to finish off the last layer of stability.

Fragile and Important Stuff

Not everything you own should go in your storage pod.

Keep your valuables, heirlooms, legal documents, important papers, and any essentials separate and keep them with you when you move. While storage pods are generally a safe way to move your things, it’s better not to chance the loss or damage of such items.

Securing and protecting your items

Take some extra steps to make sure your stuff is safely secured and protected inside the storage pod.

  • Clothing, newspaper, and pillows work well to cushion fragile items. Wrap glass, televisions, and other fragile items in furniture pads or bubble wrap. Furniture padding also works well to protect wood surfaces and corners. Cover appliances and furniture with moving blankets; portable storage unit companies often have moving blankets available. Wrap couches, mattresses, and other soft furniture with stretch wrap.
  • Cover items on the top of the unit with a layer of cardboard or other material to protect it from light exposure, particularly if the unit will be stored outside for an extended period of time.
  • Most storage containers have points to install loading straps. Use these whenever possible to secure the items inside the unit and to prevent load shift, but don’t apply force when securing the straps or you may damage your items. Be sure to secure the last section near the doors with loading straps to secure the items and prevent the items from disrupting the door’s operation.
  • For mold, mildew, and odor control, consider using moisture absorbers inside the unit. These are sometimes available from the portable storage container company or you can purchase them at a home improvement store.
  • Keep your storage pod safe from theft by locking it whenever it is unattended. You can purchase a lock from the container company or a lock may be provided.>

“Most damage occurs from people rushing to load or unload a container. When people are packing or unpacking after a long and stressful day, they can get a little clumsy or careless,” according to Ross Black, owner of Simple Box, one company offering a type of portable storage container. Taking the extra time and planning to pack your storage pod carefully will make unpacking easier and quicker while eliminating the unnecessary stress caused by dealing with broken, damaged items.

About Sommer Sharon

Sommer Sharon
Freelance Writer, Website Producer. Former landlord/house flipper. 3 time homeowner. Happily producing content from the comfort of her home (or hotel). Avid traveler. Loves music and the ocean, human/animal/earth rights advocate. She's written for such media powerhouses as USA Today, but considers her biggest accolades the two young people who call her mom.
  • Sutton Turner

    I like how you suggested getting strong boxes to fill your self-storage. We are putting a lot of old clothes and toys in our storage unit this summer. Thanks for the tips on packing a storage pod.

  • Ellie Davis

    Thank you for suggesting that when you are packing your storage unit you should make sure and pack the boxes in like you are making a wall. This seems like a great way to make everything fit. I’ll have to keep this in mind when my husband and I are loading our belongings in a storage unit. Hopefully, I can find the best storage unit possible for us.