Decluttering your home can be difficult enough with items that don’t hold sentimental value—let alone deciding how to handle your priceless keepsakes. When belongings have stories attached to them, can be passed down to your children, or might be worth good money one day, it’s better to save them than regret it down the road. After all, who doesn’t love looking back on old memories and pieces of family history?
Guide to Storing and Preserving Your Prized Possessions
Whether you have a designated space in your home for keepsake storage or you choose to keep them in a self storage unit, there are significant do’s and don’ts to consider before storing them. Storage Express is here to walk you through some of the best ways to store your various keepsakes.
How to Store Keepsakes
From Grandma’s dining set to your children’s baby shoes, art projects, and letters, many memories are worth keeping forever. Looking through them later also makes for great family bonding time. However, failing to store them properly for a period of time can ruin them for good.
- Eliminate anything that’s not worth keeping.
- Group similar items together. (e.g., high school, college, weddings, etc.)
- Carefully pack groupings of items into their own boxes or bins.
- Use clear plastic bins for special possessions so they are easy to find and stay protected from dust, moisture, and mold.
- Choose acid-free tissue or wrapping paper to protect fragile items.
- Place paper documents (like certificates and diplomas) flat in a file box and inside an envelope made of acid-free paper.
- Label each box using a strip of tape and dark marker (e.g., by person, date, or event).
- Don’t use newspapers to wrap sensitive items, as the acid in newsprint can damage textiles, paper documents, and other collectibles.
- Don’t fold or staple any paper documents or place them upright.
- Don’t store keepsakes in the attic, basement, or garage, and keep them away from exterior walls that draw extreme heat or cold. (This is crucial!)
How to Store Old Toys and Clothes
No matter if you need storage tips and ideas for toys, baby clothes, antique clothing, or other fabrics, it’s important to do it right—as all these items hold memories from significant times in your or your child’s life. If you’re going to go through this effort in saving items, do it right.
- Sort and separate toys and fabrics by the materials from which they are made.
- Wash clothing, and clean and dry toys before storing. Take more heavy-duty garments, such as coats, suits, and leather, to be professionally dry-cleaned.
- Pack up everything by category, and opt for acid-free boxes—ideally plastic—that allow air circulation in the container.
- Use box space wisely to prevent damage to breakable items, placing padding along the inside edges and between layers for cushioning. Fill any empty spaces so nothing can fall over.
- Use plastic, padded hangers for any items you are hanging up.
- Use bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or old towels to fill space and protect your toys.
- Seal boxes with packing tape, and label each one for easy organization and access.
- Consider displaying select items (like collectible toys or baby shoes) on a shelf or inside a display case or shadow box; this allows you to show them off while preventing damage or dust accumulation.
- Store clothes and toys somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight—such as underneath beds and inside closets.
- Avoid cleaning antique clothing before storage.
- Avoid hanging up heavier clothing that could tear or stretch on hangers.
- Don’t use mothballs, as they are both ineffective and toxic.
- Don’t overstuff or under-pack boxes, as this can cause damage when items shift around.
- Don’t leave batteries inside any toys to avoid corrosion.
- Don’t keep clothing in the attic, basement, or garage, and keep them away from outside walls and heat sources. Inconsistent temperatures and humidity levels can cause warping or damage to belongings.
How to Store Physical Media Collections
It’s not uncommon for your photo albums, musical records, baby books, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and other items to be near and dear to you. These physical items tend to hold sentimental value, especially now that we live in such a digital world. They contain a lifetime of memories and enjoyment and are pieces of history in your life.
Storage Tips for Photographs
When storing photos, do:
- Thoroughly wash your hands or wear gloves before handling them.
- Keep them in acid-free albums or envelopes.
- Place them down flat into sturdy, acid-free boxes with acid-free tissue between layers.
When storing photos, don’t:
- Mark or write on the front or back.
- Use rubber bands, tape, paper clips, or any other abrasive materials to help contain photos.
- Keep them in direct sunlight, as this is what causes photos to fade the most.
- Store them in areas where temperature and humidity fluctuations can inflict damage.
Storage Tips for Books
Of course, the best way to store books is displayed on your bookshelf in a temperature-controlled environment. However, if you are packing them away, place them flat into small boxes.
Storing books on their spine causes them to become misshapen, and storing them on the opposite edge of the spine can harm the shells of books. Particularly if you’re using cardboard boxes, avoid packing too many books into medium or large boxes. Doing so may be too heavy to carry, not to mention the load may even break through the cardboard.
Storage Tips for CDs, DVDs, and Vinyl Records
When storing your CDs and DVDs, it’s most essential that they avoid moisture, direct sunlight, and bending. Keep the discs stored upright in a dry place and inside plastic cases at all times.
When it comes to vinyl records, you should clean them regularly, but especially before long-term storage. For best preservation, ensure that the inner album sleeves are not made of plain paper; record collectors often opt for polyethylene sleeves, which help prevent static, dust, and scratches. Get plastic coverings for outer record sleeves to preserve their album art, which is vulnerable to scratching, fading, and color bleeding. Do not stack vinyls on top of one another; instead, store them upright as if on a bookshelf. Lastly, keep vinyl records out of the way of heat, moisture, dust, and debris, as this can all cause distortion in the discs’ grooves and wreck their sound.
When Space Runs Short, Self Storage Can Keep Your Keepsakes
Although some things we keep might be more useful if donated or disposed of, a true keepsake or collection deserves to be stored carefully so it can be appreciated by future generations. It might be tempting to just stack boxes of them in the basement, attic, or wherever else there’s room—but in reality, the safest options are inside display cases, closets at home, or climate-controlled storage spaces.
If you need a little extra room, rent a self storage unit with temperature control to help protect sensitive belongings. At Storage Express, we offer affordable storage units ranging from small closet-sized spaces to large garage-sized units. See our storage unit size guide to get an idea of the dimensions you need. Then, find a heated and cooled storage unit at select Storage Express facilities, and rent online or by phone 24/7!