Storage Tips

Keeping your stored items in good condition

Homeowners are ingenious - they find all kinds of different places and ways to store their stuff inside their homes, though there are a handful of places that really lend themselves to being storage areas. They are:

Basements

Unfinished basements, especially, are an ideal area because they're usually large and capable of storing a lot. If you sort your items for storage they'll be a lot easier to find. You can put shelves up and use plastic storage bins, chests and boxes to maximize your storage room. You can also use storage bags for clothes and bedding items

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Attics

Although some people use their attics as living quarters, most people use them as a storage space. Because attics are at the roof the house, they aren't always easy to get in and out of. Therefore attics are where most people store items they don't frequently use.

Laundry rooms

They can often get cluttered with clothes, washing detergents, bleaches, and the washer and dryer. You need to have a good storage system in place so you aren't tripping over loose items. Ideal laundry storage includes baskets for the clothes and a wall shelf or cabinet above the washer or dryer for the detergents and cleaners. If you don't have room for a wall unit, you can get a caddy that mounts onto one of your appliances.

Top 5 Enemies to Your Stored Items

If you've ever stored items for extended periods of time, then you well know that it's not all sunshine and lollipops - stored stuff has some dangerous enemies that can seriously and permanently damage your possessions. They are:

Moths

Though only destructive during the larval stage, they will cause the most damage to items that are stored and left untouched for long periods of time. When moths have attacked, you will notice holes eaten through fabrics. The small white larvae will leave behind silken cases and lines of thread, as well as fecal pellets. Clothes moths (the most common kind) are most attracted organic materials, such as paper, leather, fur, feathers, wool and occasionally linen, silk and cotton.

Mice and other rodents

These little guys will build their nests in warm places, such as the insulation in your attic. They won't stray far from those nests - just 12 to 20 feet - and will inspect that territory daily for new or changed items. Usually the first sign of rodents in your home is their droppings and/or their musty-smelling urine. You will notice holes gnawed into boxes, wrapping another storied items, especially fabric. You may also notice smear marks rodents leave behind from grease deposits in their fur.

Water / Moisture

Water can get into your stored goods via a drip from a leaky pipe or seepage through a wall, or it can just be the result of a damp basement. Moisture mixed with mold spores (which are present everywhere, all the time) and food (aka your stored stuff) at a certain temperature (anywhere between 2 and 40 degrees Celsius) will cause mold. Not only can the growth of mold be dangerous to your health, but the spores will also settle into your possessions and cause permanent damage.

Extreme Temperatures

Whether cold or hot, extreme temperatures can harm your stored items. If your stuff is exposed to freezing temperatures, it can lead to breaks, cracks and chips in breakable items. What happens with hotter temperatures is a little different. Essentially, heat causes molecules and atoms to move faster and farther apart from each other, causing the change of your stored items from solid to liquid, then liquid to gas - meaning your stored fabric items will essentially decompose and disintegrate into nothing.

Thieves

there's not much to say here. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to have anything stolen, you know how devastating it can be. Whether it's expensive stuff or just something with sentimental value, thieves don't always care.

How Can You Protect Your Stored Stuff From These Enemies?

The best way to protect your stuff is to be aware of what enemies are found in your storage areas. Basements can be prone to humidity and dampness, as well as floods from appliances upstairs, so it's not a good idea to store anything directly on the floor. You should use watertight containers and place stored items on shelves or pallets for added preservation.

Be careful what you store in the attic, because attics are prone to temperature fluctuations. You should avoid storing photos, slides, film footage, VCR tapes, camcorder tapes, music tapes and other media in your attic. If you are storing items in boxes or chests, you should label them so they are easy to find later on. You should also be aware that attics are often home to critters such as moths and mice, so make sure your items are in strong, durable, airtight containers and are well protected.

If you're storing dangerous chemicals in your laundry room and you have small children, make sure the chemicals are out of reach. A foldable clothes horse, rack or other hanging device is ideal for the laundry room. A wall mount for your ironing board is also a space saver.

Unfortunately when it comes to thieves there's no sure way to protect your belongings. Safes, locked cabinets and storage units help, but it is best if you monitor your storage space and make sure it's in a generally safe area.

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