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Tested: Out-of-the-Box Ideas for In-the-Box Storage

Tested: Out-of-the-Box Ideas for In-the-Box Storage

By: Eric Mees

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September 22, 2020

Thanks to the Internet, there are literally hundreds of ideas out there for safely packing moving boxes, many of which can also be used for storage, moving or even travel. A quick search on Pinterest and Lifehacker produces a wide range of “hacks” for organization and storage. 

But the real question is, do they work? Some of the suggestions look like they require an arts and crafts degree from Martha Stewart University, or seem like they’d cost more than a traditional solution, so we’ll just stick to the ones we liked and could be tested with items found around the house. So, no, we’re not turning that old filing cabinet into a sports-equipment holder, tyvm.

We tested the methods below and found them to be among the cleverest out there, as well as some of the most cost-effective, since many of the items used can be found at home or purchased cheaply.

Kitchen Trash Bags

If you have a lot of bulky clothing like jackets or hoodies, packing them can be a bit frustrating. It seems like you get two or three items in the box and it’s already full. Well, here’s one of our favorite hacks to reduce the space taken up by those bulky items.

You’ll need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Kitchen trash bags (13-gallon size)
  • Bulky clothing, linens, towels, etc.
  • Box or storage bin

Just fold up and stack a few items together and put them in the bottom of a kitchen trash bag. Gather the opening of the trash bag, insert the vacuum’s hose attachment and wrap your hand tightly around the bag to make a seal. Next, turn on the vacuum cleaner. Once your trash bag full of clothes condenses to a more manageable size, quickly pull out the hose and tie up the bag (drawstrings, zip ties or wire ties work best). Then, stack multiples of these vacuum-packed packages right in your boxes!

We were skeptical, so we tried it ourselves using two down jackets and a hoodie. The condensed package ended up being smaller than just the folded hoodie itself. Because down jackets are so compressible, we wanted to test a couple of different scenarios, so we tried three beach towels. Again, these reduced to less than the size of one folded towel. 

What’s more, the plastic bag will help keep dust and dirt at bay.  

Lawn or Leaf Bags

If you have a bunch of clothes you want to move from your closet to another closet or a wardrobe box, here’s a simple way to gather them together.

Leave your clothes hanging in the closet and push about 20 to 25 items as close together as possible. Take a large leaf and lawn garbage bag (33-gallon drawstring type is preferred) and, starting at the back, just pull it up over the clothes. Then tie the drawstring around the exposed hanger hooks and you’ve got one manageable package rather than 25 loose shirts that are just as likely to fall off the hanger anyway.

When we tried this, we were able to get a mix of about 23 men’s shirts and hoodies into a single bag.

Pro tip: If you’re using a wardrobe box and the metal hanger rod is removable, don’t put it in until AFTER you add your bags of clothes.

Coffee Filters

When packing dishes, many people use newsprint paper or foam pouches (also called bubble wrap sleeves) to keep the items from bumping into each other. While the bubble wraps sleeves work great, you often have to purchase several different sizes to get everything protected. And newsprint? Papercuts. Do I need to say more? OK, here’s more: Don’t actually use newspaper, because it could get your plates dirty from the ink.

So, what’s a cost-effective solution? Coffee filters. Whereas a box of newsprint might run you $20 or more, and the foam pouches are $14 for 100, you can pick up 300 8- to 12-cup, flat-bottom coffee filters for less than $9. Just set one or two between each plate and stack ‘em up to reduce the chance of chips, scratches and breaks.

Obviously, if you have valuable or irreplaceable china, you’re still going to want to invest in the bubble wrap sleeves. But for the everyday plates and bowls you’re planning to send to your kid’s college apartment someday, the coffee filters work just fine. And you can re-use them!

Pool Noodles

Averaging about $3 apiece, pool noodles are one of the most cost-effective, helpful items you can purchase for moving and storing. If you have pictures or mirrors that need protecting, you can use a pool noodle to protect the frames by keeping other items from coming in contact with them.

You’ll need:

  • Tape measure
  • Steak knife or box-cutter
  • Pool noodle(s)
  • Optional: trash bag

First, measure the length and width of your frame; mark the center of your noodle with these measurements; make 45-degree diagonal cuts across the noodle using the measurement as the mid-point of the cut; rotate the noodle pieces so it makes a rectangle; filet the noodle open on the side facing the frame and slip on. If your artwork fits in a trash bag, put the bag around the frame first before slipping the noodle pieces on.

Full disclosure: we weren’t math majors, but we were able to make the measurements and cuts without too much drama. That said, we ended up using two pool noodles and two garbage bags to cover and protect a large piece of artwork from our family room, at a cost of less than $6 versus $30-plus for a picture-frame box.

We’ve even seen people using noodles to protect the edges of flatscreen TVs, but as with any of these tips, judge the value of the item before you subject it to experimentation.

If you end up having leftover scraps, save them! Pool noodles can be used to protect other items—or protect you from those items. For instance, you can slip a noodle scrap over the blades of kitchen knives and all manner of garden implements you might be storing in the offseason, like garden rakes, hoes, shears, machetes and the like.

For those of you storing cars, you can use a pool noodle to prevent door dings or inadvertent scratches. Just hang a pool noodle on some string at the widest point of the car doors. If it’s an older car, you can run the string through the windows and roll them up to secure it. Or for a garage, suspend the string from the ceiling.

Socks

Wrapping glasses, cups and mugs in newsprint is the worst. It takes forever and it usually starts to unwrap even before you get it in the box. And when you try to take them out, there’s a good chance they are just going to unwrap themselves right then and there and end up broken on the floor. OK, that was a little dramatic. Nonetheless, try this cost-effective solution to protect your drinkware from chips, scratches or breaks.

That’s right: Socks. Unless you live in Key West, you probably have some on right now!

Just take an old, adult-sized tube sock and slip a wine glass right into it. This will also allow you to stack your glasses in boxes more easily, as well as see how many you have in the box—something you can’t always do with paper.

Granted, this probably isn’t going to work with your oversized burgundy wine glasses, nor do you want to try it with your heirloom collection of leaded crystal, but your daily stemware and drinking glasses are most likely gonna be fine.

Towels & Wash Cloths

So if you didn’t get carried away with the vacuum-packing like we did, and you still have your bath and kitchen towels and wash cloths out, remember you can use them to add additional padding in boxes with fragile items, such as dishes, glasses or lamps. Similarly, a towel can be used to protect a surface if you’re stacking furniture top-to-top to save space.

Disclaimers: Professional driver on a closed course. Wait, that’s not it. Please use common sense when packing or storing any items. Store Space is not liable for damage or loss caused by or related to any of the suggestions in this blog. Our stores carry a wide range of boxes, including specialty wardrobe boxes, tape, mattress bags, packing materials and much more. To protect your stored items from unexpected loss or damage not typically covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, ask your Store Space Storage Expert about our Tenant Protection Plan, available at all stores.

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