We Miss You Already: Self storage for Your Summer Sports Equipment

Oh September! We always lament your arrival. You mean the end of summer. You mean the beginning of the school year. You mean the end of baseball, golf, lacrosse, tennis, surfing, scuba diving and every sport that’s played under the summer sun. In many ways, you kind of mean the end of fun, and the beginning of getting serious again. And you wonder why we lament your arrival?

Indeed, when September comes, many of us need to start thinking about all the summer sports equipment (maybe our own, or maybe our kids’) that needs to go away in self storage for the winter. Of course, you can’t simply toss the equipment into the corner of the garage, or it won’t be good to use next season (nor will your garage smell very good in a day or two). Instead, we at Storage For Your Life have put together the following tips to help you prepare your summer sorts equipment for life in winter storage.


Cleaning

It is an absolute must to clean all of your summer sports equipment before putting it away in storage. Jersey’s and articles of clothing can obviously be washed in the laundry machine, but many other items will take more effort to wash properly.


Equipment

Equipment like shin pads, baseball gloves, shoulder pads, and helmets are all items that cannot be tossed into the washing machine. For most of these, taking a damp cloth and only a small amount of dishwashing liquid, and wiping down the interior and exterior of the items should rid the equipment of any dirt and grime that may break down the materials of the gear over the long stay in storage.

Something like a baseball or golf glove, made with leather, is the exception here. For leather items, start by wiping off any excess dirt with a brush or a cloth. Use a leather cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe away any further dirt, and be conservative with your use of the leather cleaner. Once it’s clean, use a leather conditioner to moisturize the leather, preventing it from deteriorating during its stay in storage. Again, be conservative with the conditioner, as too much conditioner can actually start trapping dirt, which will harm the glove in the long run.

Always allow everything to dry properly before storing them.

Small boats

For small boats, such as canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, etc., hose them down, and scrub off any areas of dirt build up with a damp cloth or brush (inside and out). If you use your boat in salt water, then use a sponge with dish soap to be sure to remove all salt. Remove things like the neoprene and hatch from a kayak to allow the boat to dry completely. After drying, apply a coat of gunwale guard oil to the gunwales of your canoe, and UV protection on vinyl gunwales.

Motorized boats

For motorized boats and jet skis, clean the inside, but also be sure to remove any items, such as fishing gear, that might leave an odour. Ensure that when you finish cleaning, everything dries completely. Do not leave anything wet behind, or this will lead to mould growth.

Hose down the exterior of your boat with a power washer to remove any unwanted debris and salt residues. Wash it again, but this time with a specialised boat cleaner, and then finish with a boat protector solution.

Finally, fill your boat with fuel, and remove the battery. Batteries will continue to drain electronics even when the boat is off. After long periods, this will drain the battery entirely. Connect the battery to a tender (or maintainer), and store it in a cold and dry place.

Scuba diving equipment

Scuba diving equipment should be rinsed thoroughly, to ensure that not only salt is entirely removed, but also sand, plant life, microscopic creatures, and bacteria. Allow your scuba equipment to dry completely, and store it such that it can breathe (so not inside plastic bags, for example). Keep it out of UV light as well.

Surf boards

Surf boards need to have their old coat of wax removed before going into storage. Leave the board out in the sun for 15 minutes before starting this process, as this will loosen the wax, and make your job much easier. After getting the majority of the wax off, spray it with WD40 and scrub off any remaining wax, dirt, and grime. Ensure the board is completely dry before applying a fresh coat of wax, ready for spring. Store your board vertically, and out of UV light.

Water skis

Rinse your skis of any salt and sand, and allow them to dry completely. Preferably, you can store them in a padded bag, protecting them from any UV light. Otherwise, keep them out of the light, and store them in a protected area so that they will not be knocked over.


Repairs

Before your gear goes into storage, now is the time to fix and mend anything broken.          

Uniforms are easy, but equipment issues could be challenging. If you do it now, rather than at the beginning of the season, you will be able to score on end-of-season sales. Pop over to your local equipment shop and speak to a representative about your issue. They’ll point you in the right direction, and you’ll be ready for game 1 in the spring time.

Similarly, with any boats, mend any issues now, or speak with your local boat mechanic, so that when the spring time arrives, it’s primed and ready for the season.


Getting rid of odors

When you play, you hopefully play hard. And if you play hard, then your equipment is likely a stinking mess at the end of the season! Washing your equipment (as per above) will take you a distance to minimizing the stench, but if you really want to get rid of any equipment odors, then read on.

Take your smelly piece of equipment and put it in a plastic bag. Put a bowl in the bottom of the bag with the equipment, and then load the bowl half full of baking soda. Seal the bag as tightly as you can to prevent airflow. Leave it for a week or so. The baking soda will absorb any odors during this time, and the stench will disappear. This is a good trick for the interior of smelly fishing boats as well.

Another trick, for the long-term, is to crumple newspaper inside the smelly equipment during its stay in storage: the newsprint will soak up some of the stench in the meantime. Taking equipment out of storage that reeks of last season is no way to start next season: do your spring-self a favour, and get rid of any odors.


Organizing

Now that all the annoying stuff is out of the way, you really just need to organize any equipment properly so it can be located easily in the spring time. Large plastic bins are good for keeping the equipment away from moisture, and if you purchase clear bins, then you can also see what’s inside and locate things even easier.

Be sure that every bin is labelled appropriately so that you can find things in the spring. Organizing things into types is a good way to keep things straight. Try organizing by the type of sport or by the player (if there are a number of players in the house). Another option is to use coloured bins, organizing sports or players into specified coloured bins (in this case, make sure to prepare a legend to remind you of which colour is which sport/player).

For boats, they should always be stored covered to protect them from any elements. If you are storing it indoor, at a self storage facility, then as long as you have a private space (not a shared warehouse), then you can avoid covering it (although we would still do so to keep dust out). Smaller boats, like canoes and kayaks, should be stored upside down.


No moisture, no heat

Anything you do put into storage does need to be completely air-dried before it goes into storage, especially in plastic bins that do not breathe. Anything left with moisture will risk mildew or mould growth. With the weather still on our side in September, we suggest leaving the equipment out to dry after going through the cleaning process with them.

Finally, sports equipment should not be stored in hot temperatures or near heat. Keep your equipment stored in cooler rooms (room temp is ok) with completely dry conditions. This is all the more important for leather equipment, like a baseball glove.

With all this accomplished (and as the unfortunate month of September suggests), you’re now ready to move your summer sports equipment into self storage. If you have any questions about specific items of equipment or anything to do with summer sports storage, then speak with your Storage For Your Life agent today.