Maybe you haven’t visited your storage unit for so long that you’ve forgotten what’s all inside. Perhaps you inherited someone else’s unit. Even more, you might have purchased a storage unit at an auction.

Whatever the case may be, the time has come that you have to find out what’s inside and clean it out. This can be a daunting task when you first open the door. Chances are, you’re going to find tattered boxes heaped on top of one another. There probably won’t be a clear path to walk through. Dust and cobwebs will likely adorn just about everything in sight.

But it’s your responsibility now. While the intrigue of finding a hidden treasure or two might be exciting, the process is going to take some work.

Don’t fret though. We’ve been through this more times than we can count. We’re here to help and below are our best tips for cleaning out a storage unit.

Clear a space

As we said, you might not have any room to move around when you open the unit. As such, the first thing to do is create a path so you make your way inside. As you do so, gently set items out of the way in a place where they won’t fall. You never know what kind of valuables might be inside a box.

Take Inventory

Once you’ve cleared away the dust and created a path, take inventory of everything you can see. As you make your way around the unit, write down the number of boxes you need to go through. This goes a long way in estimating how much time you’ll need to clean out the unit.

The Search Begins

You’re going to find boxes that are within your immediate reach. Open each one and take careful notes of what you find. What items are fragile? Is there anything of value? What can you discard?

Make a Plan

Planning is the key to success.

How Much Time Will You Need?

Now that you’ve scratched the surface, it’s time to come up with a plan to declutter the storage unit. You should have a rough estimate of how much time this will take. Now, you need to pick a day, or maybe even a couple to dedicate solely to getting this done.

The trouble with trying to do a little here and a little there is that items get lost, you can’t remember where you put this or that, and frustration sets in. It’s best to get everything done in a single go.

Do You Need Help from Other People?

In some cases, cleaning out a storage unit might require more than one person. Maybe there are large items that you can’t move on your own. It might be that there’s just so much stuff that there’s no way you can get through it by yourself in a reasonable amount of time.

Before you get started, ask for help if you need it. Taking this important step helps the process go smoothly and chances are you’ll be done a lot faster.


As you make your way through the countless boxes and piles of sundries, it’s important to categorize them.

Typically, you’ll want to create separate piles for items you want to keep, store, sell, donate, and get rid of.

By taking the time to consider in which pile each item belongs, you’ll make the process of cleanup a lot simpler.

Stay on Task

One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when cleaning out a storage unit is getting distracted. It’s all too easy to find a particular item of interest and spend the next couple hours researching its value online. Before you know it, you’re making calls to appraisers to see if it’s worth anything.

Remember, you’re here to do a job and get it done as efficiently as possible. There will be plenty of time for research and wonder once the project is complete.

If you have a difficult time staying on task, you might want to consider hiring a professional organizer. Yes, these people do actually exist, and they’re masterful about staying on task and putting everything in the right place.

Discarding of Unwanted Items

Inevitably, you’re going to end up with a pile of unwanted junk when you clean out a storage unit. While the most convenient strategy might just be to load the trailer and head to the dump, consider if your unwanted items might be useful for someone else. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Consider donating your unwanted items to a thrift store, Goodwill, or Habitat for Humanity. When you donate to organizations like these, you’re not only doing a good deed, your donation can be used as a tax write off.

Selling Items

One of the piles you’ve created is things you want to sell. How you go about this is entirely up to you but, some popular avenues include Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, and Ebay.

If you’d rather do things the old-fashioned way, schedule a weekend to hold a garage sale. You just might be surprised how much money you can make.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning out a storage unit isn’t something most people enjoy. Whether it’s your own or someone else’s, it takes a lot of time, work, and dedication.

The good news is that the process only has to be as hard as you make it. At Lucky Horseshoe Storage, we’ve found the strategies listed above to be the most useful and efficient.

If you have any questions about cleaning out a storage unit or want to inquire about general information regarding self-storage units, give us a call today. We’re standing by and eager to help.