By Vince Mancuso,

As the leaves began to fall and the sun goes down sooner, you know the temperatures are the next to drop and that winter is coming. For many, the season of autumn marks the trigger to place certain seasonal items in self storage.

While a storage unit can be a great place for seasonal storage, there are some key things to know when using self storage, especially with particular items such as cars, boats, and even patio furniture.

1. Properly Clean Items

First, it is important to make sure that all your items are clean prior to storage. For example, if you’re using self storage to store summer clothing, it’s important to use a scent-free detergent, which can wipe out any bacteria that could cause mold or mildew growth while inside storage. Additionally, the scent-free detergents will also go unnoticed by any potential bugs or rodents that could otherwise eat away at the fabrics.

Another part of cleaning is also making sure the items are dry. Any water left on a bicycle—especially on the chain—can result in rust, or worse, can freeze and expand to cause further damage. This is especially important when storing a boat, as any water left in the engine can expand and result in costly repairs.

2. Determine if You Need Climate Control

If you live in a region that has extreme seasonal weather, especially through the frigid winter months, climate control may be a crucial feature in your storage unit. This feature can maintain a moderate temperature and humidity level, which prevents temperature-related damages such as having freezing electronic components snap or a car battery cracking.

Climate control can also be useful for when things warm up again, preventing any condensation from forming to rust metal pieces in patio furniture or dampening summer clothing, which can cause mildew growth and smells to develop.

3. When Covering Items, Use Cotton Covers, Not Tarp

If you live in an area that doesn’t require you to use climate-controlled self storage, there still may be a chance you need to cover your items placed in storage, such as covering a boat or a sports car. While a plastic tarp would prevent scratches or keep things from falling into these vehicles, it doesn’t allow the item to breathe.

A cotton cover allows airflow, which can prevent certain spores or bacteria from growing. Again, this is needed for anything with fabric components as it can, at the very least, prevent smells from forming and at the most stop any stain-causing mold or mildew growth from occurring.

4. Winterize All Vehicles

Speaking of boats and sports cars, some of the top uses for winter storage are for recreational vehicles. However, storing these items over the cold winter months is more than just placing a vehicle in self storage. Much like step one, cleaning your items, you need to make sure your vehicle has been winterized.

For boats, this includes removing all the water and topping off your fuel take as well as pumping antifreeze through your motor. For vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, winterizing means adding fresh fluids such as oil and other fluids as well as checking the tire pressure and adding fuel stabilizers. Car batteries should be hooked to a maintainer, or trickle charger, to prevent the batter from dying without overcharging it.

5. Check Your Items Often

Accident can always occur, whether that means boxes fell on your bike causing it to be scratched or rodents found a overlooked bag of chips in the back of your car, leaving a mess for you to clean up later. Most of these surprise can be caught from the get-go with regular checking-in.

Visiting your items left in winter self storage at least once a month can ensure they are in same condition you left them in, so once the days get warmer again, they’ll be ready to use.