As we go through life, we accumulate memories and mementos. These can include a christening outfit, birthday cards, medals, and stuffed animals, among other things. We want to keep these items to pass on to our loved ones and to take out occasionally and remember our past selves. But how do you correctly store these things so they don’t mold, deteriorate, or become chewed on by moths and mice? A little prevention and care taken when storing valuables becomes invaluable in the long run.
A lot can be said about the benefits of climate-controlled storage versus attic or basement storage. The potential drastic changes in temperature in a basement or attic can cause your valuables to break, warp, and crack. Mold and mildew love to do damage to your possessions and also happen to love damp environments like basements. You don’t necessarily need to rent a professional storage space. Instead, store your items in a dry, well-ventilated area away from light and drastic temperature changes. Even a place as convenient as the back of a closet or under your bed is better than the attic or basement.
Your items need protection. It would be easy and convenient to store everything in cardboard boxes. You surely have an abundance, as they are delivered right to your front door with any shipment you receive. Unfortunately, storing items in cardboard boxes is a poor choice—moths and mice can chew right through them and into your memories. And consider your precious items as good as gone if there is a flood or a leak in your home; the boxes will collapse and disintegrate, leaving your items to brave the elements on their own. In addition, paper boxes can be a fire hazard. Instead of paper, try waterproof plastic containers. Be sure the containers are made out of polypropylene (#5 and PP designate this type of plastic) to prevent discoloration. This simple swap has no downside; your items are infinitely better protected from critters, water, and stains.
A combination of proper storage containers and the best possible storage environment will keep your items as good as new for years to come, ready for the pleasure of future generations.
- Clean items before storing. Items may not looked soiled, but even a small amount of food, perfume oils, and sweat can cause stains over time and, even worse, pests are drawn to stains. Avoid these issues altogether by cleaning the items yourself or bringing them to a dry cleaner. If you opt for a dry cleaner, remember to remove the plastic storage bag. These plastic coverings do not allow air to circulate, encouraging mildew. And because they are clean, your items will be ready for wear or use as soon as they are taken out of storage.
- Use archival tissue paper to wrap items. Wrap each item in tissue, puffing out hats and wrapping buttons and any metal items separately to ensure they don’t stain. Fragile items should be padded and wrapped to prevent breakage.
- Label your containers. A stack of well-packed and well-preserved boxes is quite an accomplishment, but without labels, you will be faced with quite a treasure hunt when seeking out one specific item. Avoid unpacking and repacking boxes in your hunt by clearly labeling boxes with a washable Sharpie or a label maker.