What’s Going On With My Stuff?
When a contents company tells you they’ll be cleaning your contents, it’s quite a bit more extensive than it may sound. There’s a large, complex process – and some science – behind contents cleaning. The contents cleaning process includes:
- A “Pack Up”
- A “Pack Out”
- Contents Cleaning
- Contents Storage
- A “Pack Back”
- An “Unpack”
What is a Pack Up?
A Pack Up is the process of packing up your contents so they can be moved to a contents cleaning facility. It involves multiple steps, including:
- Initial overview of contents
- Determining which items are salvageable and non-salvageable
- Photographing contents and existing damage
- Creating a Master Inventory and Box Log Inventory
- Packing contents securely
A project manager from the contents cleaning company will do an initial overview and determine the scope of the project. This is where they’ll determine how many workers, trucks, and supplies will be required to finish your Pack Up in a timely manner. Could two people pack out your entire home? Sure, if you’d like to wait 3 weeks for them to finish. On the flip side, if too many people are working at once, they’ll end up getting in each other’s way.
They’ll create an initial list of non-salvageable items. Non-salvageable items are those which have been completely destroyed or cannot be restored. Keep in mind that additional items may be classified as non-salvageable as the Pack Up and contents cleaning processes continue. It’s not always possible to determine whether or not something is non-salvageable in the beginning.
Your contents will be photographed to document their existence and to track any pre-existing damage (i.e. a deep scratch on a table). Your contents company will then begin to securely pack your belongings, creating the master inventory as they go. They may even use specialized software to document your contents.
This inventory should detail what each item is, how many of them there are, and where they came from. This inventory is typically made in triplicate – a copy for you, a copy for your insurance company, and a copy for the contents cleaning company.
As the contents cleaners are packing up your contents, they won’t just toss them in a box. They’ll ensure items are packed safely and securely. They’ll often use packing paper and bubble wrap when packing items into boxes. Larger items that can’t fit into boxes will usually be wrapped in plastic or some other protective material.
What Is A Pack Out?
Once your contents are packed up and put onto moving trucks, they’ll be shipped to the contents cleaning facility. This process is called the Pack Out. Your contents are loaded securely onto moving trucks, then transported to the cleaning facility. If no cleaning is required, they’ll be taken directly to storage.
An example of packing up contents for storage without cleaning would be a multiple-room wood floor replacement. When a wood floor is replaced in multiple rooms, all of the contents need to be removed from the working areas. Rather than stuff everything into another room, it’s often a better option to remove the contents from the home completely.
What Is Contents Cleaning?
At the contents cleaning facility, your contents will be stored until they are cleaned. When it’s their time to be cleaned, boxes will be opened one by one. Your contents will be inspected by cleaning specialists, who will determine the best way to proceed. They’ll choose the best cleaning processes and cleansers based on the type and extent of the contamination. Items affected by smoke damage may be cleaned differently than those affected by a flood.
As they clean your contents, they’ll carefully re-pack them into new boxes with fresh packing paper and bubble wrap. Most of your contents will be cleaned in this way. Larger furniture items will go through a similar process. However, certain items like electronics will go through special processes to ensure they are dried, cleaned, and restored correctly.
Your now-cleaned contents will be stored until the restoration process taking place at your home or business is completed.
(See Also: Should I Clean My Own Stuff After A Flood?)
What Is Contents Storage?
Typically, your contents will be stored at a secure, climate-controlled facility. Climate-controlled simply means that the building itself has a controlled temperature. Your contents won’t be subject to freezing temperatures in the winter, or excessive heat during the summer. More than likely, they’ll be loaded onto pallets, tagged with your name or job address, and safely stored there until it’s time to move them back into your home or business.
What Is A Pack Back?
Once your home or business has been restored, it’s time to bring your belongings back. The “Pack Back” is the process of packing your contents up to bring them back. Your contents will be loaded into moving trucks, secured for transport, and brought to your home or business.
What Is An Unpack?
The “Unpack” is the final phase of the contents cleaning process. Once your contents cleaning team arrives back at your home or business with your contents, the “Unpack” begins. The team will begin unloading your content and bringing them inside. They’ll review their Master Inventory with you as they unpack each box. This gives you the opportunity to inspect the contents, while also making sure that nothing is missing.
So what does a contents cleaning company do with your stuff? As you can see, it’s quite the process!