Linen and toy storage for a rustic cabin
August 3, 2014 9:49 AM   Subscribe

We need linen and toy storage for our rustic cabin - must be mouse and spider proof! Also, easy for infrequent cabin users to understand. Ideas?

My extended family has a lake cabin that is very rustic - no electricity, no insulation - that is over 100 years old. It has a sleeping porch with two twin bunk beds, a full size bunk bed, and two full size beds. We need a solution to store the sheets, blankets, towels, kitchen linens and toys such that mice and spiders don't eat, nest or otherwise sully them. Various extended family use this cabin, including small babies, grandparents, and everything in between. Often, a part of the extended family may only visit once a year or less often, so the more obvious the storage, the better.

Right now we have some old wooden cabinets, but stuff is literally stuffed in there haphazardly. And spiders and mice still get in there. And the closed wooden cabinet doors, with latches of varying stages of "working" make them uninviting to open or use. And the floor under one cabinet is just a crap pile of kids toys.

Obviously we need to clean stuff out and clear out unneeded extras. But then what?

What kind of storage is easy to use, mouse and bug proof, that will fit our common cabin stuff?
posted by jillithd to Home & Garden (23 answers total)
Oh, and extra difficulty: must be deliverable in an 18ft fishing boat in Canada. (Cabin is only accessible via boat in summertime.)
posted by jillithd at 9:56 AM on August 3, 2014

will these be visible and therefore need to be nice to look at? Because if not, I would say you should just use plastic rubbermaid bins. They snap tight, stack, and are pretty cheap.
posted by Think_Long at 10:01 AM on August 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Seconding rubbermaids with locking handles. I left some things for yeeeeears in open-air storage under my folks' house, where all kinds of little varmints (including mice and spiders) run through all the time. They never got in. 18- and 20-gallon ones are really easy to lug and hold a lot of stuff.
posted by mochapickle at 10:04 AM on August 3, 2014

Plastic bins are going to be the only thing that works in that environment, I think. You can get the kind that are flat to fit under beds if you're worried about how they look.
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for plastic bins, ideally clear and with big, can't-miss labels ("SHEETS"; "TOWELS") taped to the sides.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:28 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cedar chest.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

We use those IKEA storage bags in our not-all-the-time-home for towels and sheets. Would they fit in your existing cabinets? (latches and such could be fixed)
posted by travelwithcats at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2014

Yep, a wide variety of Rubbermaid bins is what every single thing in my family's cabin lives in between visits.
posted by rockindata at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2014

Nthing the rubbermaid bins. You can store them on a shelving unit or units (metal or wire or wood), if you would like (Shelving units usually come broken down so could easily be brought in by boat and then put together on site). We did something this for both clothes and food storage (sugar!) for over the winter in family summer cottages in Maine. There is no power or heat in these cottages over the winter, and lots of mice and spiders and such, and everything made out fine. Check out stuff at places like the Container Store or Home Depot that is made for garage storage or the laundry room, etc.. Here's an example kind of like what I mean, on wooden shelves.
posted by gudrun at 10:42 AM on August 3, 2014

White duct tape written on with a black sharpie makes an EXCELLENT label for rubbermaid-type bins. Easy to remove and rewrite as necessary, better contrast than "black pen on blue bin" or whatever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2014

Rubbermaid bins are fine if you don't care about aesthetics, but yeah-- cedar chests are pretty much designed for this, and look much nicer. Check your local Craigslist for old Lane chests.
posted by nonasuch at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2014

I store all my linens in a XXL ziploc bag like this.
posted by raisingsand at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2014

These are fun. They're designed for travel, and they're great at summer camp.
posted by equipoise at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2014

For your purposes, a cedar chest may be ok, though we had something (squirrel?) chew its way into a cedar chest in a cottage over a winter. Also, cedar chests are not actually the best thing for long term storage.
posted by gudrun at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rubbermaid underbed bins with labels for sheet sizes. Invest in a label maker. Honestly though if you have mattresses you are going to have to worry about critters nesting in those as well. I've seen people who make basically what they call "Bed coffins" which are metal-lined largeish cedar-type chests which you fold up the mattresses and stick them inside of.
posted by jessamyn at 12:03 PM on August 3, 2014

Rubbermaid boxes are stackable!
posted by oceanjesse at 12:15 PM on August 3, 2014

Rubbermaid - the good thick ones, not the cheap ones. Not sterlite or other cheap knock off.

You could go easy with duct tape & sharpie but that can rub off - cardboard or wood or put a layer of clear tape over duct tape label.

Don't pack it in too tightly - airflow in there & Cedar blocks or chips in sachet bags clipped to the inside lid should do.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 12:30 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can try the plastic bins, but don't think rodents can't gnaw through them. I've seen them do it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:49 PM on August 3, 2014

You can try the plastic bins, but don't think rodents can't gnaw through them. I've seen them do it.

Well, yeah, but you're just storing linen and toys, not food, right?

Another thing -- and I mention this because we have a rustic cabin, too: You may have some additional success sealing cracks between the inside and the outside, just to make it tougher for them to get in. We've had some mice from year to year even so, but sealing the cracks and not leaving food in the house has reduced that activity. I can imagine that mice might get into mattresses, but that hasn't happened to us yet.
posted by mochapickle at 1:32 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

We use those heavy-duty Rubbermaid bins (Roughneck Jumbo) in our mouse/spider-infested cabin. We use the biggest version for each type of stuff--towels, bedding, etc. Nothing has invaded them. They do a good job of repelling dampness, too. Squirrels could probably gnaw their way in, but fortunately we only deal with field mice & bugs. Both mice & bugs can chew through ziplock-type bags & those Ikea bags. Cedar or lavender in the bins can help with the "cabin smell" that linens get.

Our bins are labeled. Hard to miss for infrequent visitors, especially since they are looking for the bedding--taping a list to the inside of the lid in each bin for what goes into it helps get things right.

Like your infrequent visitors, our problem has been with people we have loaned the cabin to--they tend to not put stuff back into the bins, so mildewy pillows. We now have a detailed list of what to do when you close the cabin, including putting the all linens away, taking your trash with you, turn off water heater, etc. The big thing is not to put wet towels/linens in the bins! We say just leave them spread out in bathroom or kitchen (or take them with you & return them next time, but you need a lot of linens to do this). Our cabin is not as isolated as yours, but think how you might word those instructions.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 2:10 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, no matter what you use for storage, make sure to thoroughly clean any toys used by babies and toddlers before storing them, not only so they're clean and ready to go for the next babies and toddlers, but also because any crusty food bits left remaining will attract destructive vermin.

And lbr babies and toddlers are ALWAYS covered in sticky food bits. Always.
posted by elizardbits at 2:19 PM on August 3, 2014

Wen you buy the plastic bins, make sure they don't give off a chemical smell; that's why you should buy the best quality, the Rubbermaid is good quality.
If you get cheaper ones, the chemical smell gets on everything you put in there and is very bad; hard to remove, specially from other plastic items.

We've used plastic bins for long term storage....say, years, in an attic space and they have worked well; no mice get in, nor insects. You can use cedar cubes to make things smell better, too.
posted by billl at 9:12 AM on August 4, 2014

I think I'm going to try for some clear Rubbermaid bins that latch. Now I'll just have to measure the space and figure out what all needs to be stored...
posted by jillithd at 1:19 PM on August 4, 2014

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