As we all learn in grammar school, there are germs everywhere. When it comes to keeping your storage facility clean, excess moisture or standing water anywhere is bad. Fungal mold spores love it and can start growing just about anywhere.
In a self storage facility, mold can destroy cherished possessions, from books, to clothing, to works of art.
Most of the mold problems at any facility will happen in storage units, where items not dried completely, or susceptible to humidity, will encourage the growth of mold once locked away.
Because of this, we suggest you prepare an information sheet on preventing this problem. In fact, you may want to include it on a sheet or in a brochure that includes things not to store.
So, how can tenants prevent mold in their units? It starts with cleaning and drying their belongings before boxing them and putting them in storage. This will remove any crumbs, which might attract pests, and dirt, which can erode the exterior of many belongings. For items that need to be cleaned with water or other liquid cleaners, drying them helps to prevent mold and rust.
Pack books in acid-free boxes that breathe, such as acid-free cardboard. Many other items, like electronics, dishes, and so on, are safest in airtight plastic boxes, that will keep humidity out. However, even if you dry everything carefully, there may be some residual moisture. Put a desiccant pack in each box. Those are the little packets of beads you’ll often find in the box when you buy new electronics. Desiccants absorb excess moisture from the air, so by putting one, or two, in a box, you help keep your items dry. Check the expiration date on the desiccants, and put in new ones when the old ones expire.
Speaking of desiccants, here’s a good way to help keep humidity down in the unit itself: Pour some fresh, unscented, clay kitty litter into a bucket. This will work as a makeshift, powerless dehumidifier that will work for around six months (less in areas with high humidity).
It’s great when you can upsell a new tenant on a helpful service, and if you’re going to do this with anything, we recommend you try with climate control. You’re charging only about 25% more on those units than on your standard units, and climate control protects people’s belongings well. Let them know that it moderates the humidity and temperature, keeping both at ideal levels for all their belongings.
Advise them that they should still follow the instructions for cleaning, drying, and packing their possessions, but that climate control will help to ensure the safety of their things.
While the advice above will help tenants to keep their units free of mold, what about the rest of the facility? That’s the responsibility of the staff, and it starts in rooms where you work.
Keep the office and store areas tidy. After mopping a floor, you can let the residual water air dry. But in the bathroom, you’ll want to clean in and around the sink at least every evening before leaving the facility, and to periodically check the pipes underneath. Clean the toilet, and not just the bowl. Make sure the pipes around it are dry, and that the porcelain is dry where it meets the wall and the floor.
If you have a break room, make sure any dirty dishes are washed and dried, and the sink is clean and dry at night. Also, clean the refrigerator every few weeks.
Your facility probably has a few storage units set aside. Within those units, you may keep supplies, advertising, records, and items tenants left behind that you hope to return to them. Follow the same instructions that you’ll recommend to tenants to keep those clean and free of mold.
When walking around your storage facility, look for any liquid leaking from underneath a doorway. You should also look for mold or moss growing anywhere a pipe extends outside a building. Clean it up before it spreads with a moss, mold, and algae cleaner.
Though it takes a bit of effort, and tenant buy-in, you can reduce the amount of mold all around your facility. We hope these steps help.