Clothes in the attic

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17 Things You Should Never Store in Your Attic

Even if your attic isn’t exactly a showpiece, it’s still a pivotal part of your home when it comes to extra space. However, in many houses—particularly older ones without climate control—using your attic space as a personal storage unit is a “solution” that might create more problems than it solves.

By stashing stuff in your home’s top level, you can irreparably ruin clothing, damage furniture, and even nullify safety devices. So, before you make such grave mistakes, read on to discover which of your possessions you should never, ever store in your attic.

1 Wool Clothing and Blankets

While your attic may seem like a safe place to keep any sweaters and wool blankets until the winter rolls around, storing them in an attic might eventually render them unusable.

“Heat, humidity, and cold can wreak havoc on your fabric items,” says Karin Socci, a Master Certified KonMari Consultant and owner of The Serene Home. “This is even more true for things made out of natural fibers, such as wool.” What’s more, attics are notorious havens for pests like moths and carpet beetles, which can quickly lay waste to your precious goods.

2 Electronics

If you’re storing electronics in your attic, you might be unpleasantly surprised to find them less-than-functional in the future. According to agricultural engineer B.R. Stewart, attics without air conditioning can reach up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot day. And that’s way too hot for your electronics to survive. Apple recommends using their computers at between 50 and 95 degrees, while other devices, like TVs and phones, can easily overheat or even warp if left in intense heat.

3 Holiday Decorations

/ID-Art

Your holidays might just be a lot less merry this year if you’ve been storing your decorations in the attic. “Holiday decorations can be damaged by the extreme heat in attics,” says professional organizer Susan Santoro, founder of organizing website Organized31. “Delicate fabrics and items that are painted are particularly prone to damage when stored in the attic,” and plastic decorations, like ornaments, may melt or warp in the heat.

4 Fire Extinguishers

Hoping to keep your home safe with a fire extinguisher? You might want to find a more climate-controlled space than your attic to store it in. According to fire safety company Kidde, storing one in a space hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce the lifespan of a fire extinguisher—and may even shorten the discharge time.

5 Wooden Furniture

/subin pumsom

That antique armoire your grandmother gave you deserves a more temperate climate than your attic can offer. Under intense heat, wood can warp. And if your attic isn’t finished, pests can damage those precious pieces.

6 Art

If you’re hoping to pass down any beloved paintings to the next generation, make sure you’re not storing them in your attic. ” can be damaged by pests…and by extreme temperature changes in the attic,” says Santoro.

7 Instruments

“You usually don’t want to store instruments in an attic because the heat rises and there’s humidity there,” says Lucas Workman, brass repair technician at Siegfried’s Call, a New York-based horn outfitter. Unless your attic is climate controlled, “it’s not the best place to store wood or string instruments in particular. This is especially true if the instrument’s been sitting in a fabric case.”

8 Leather

/Vladimir Jotov

Want to keep that cherished leather chair pristine? Make sure you’re not storing it in your attic. According to Santoro, leather is particularly susceptible to temperature fluctuations, and it can become stained by moisture in humid environments or begin to crack under overly-dry conditions.

9 Candles

/George Nazmi Bebawi

That emergency stash of candles you’ve been keeping on-hand for blackouts won’t do you much good if you stash them in your attic. The above-average temperatures in an unfinished attic during the summer could leave you with a melted mess of wax instead.

10 Paint

/Ozgur Coskun

Temperature fluctuations in your attic might mean that your next paint job is more of a disaster than a masterpiece. Both heat and cold can change the consistency of paint. And, if the can isn’t tightly sealed, high temperatures may cause it to dry out quickly.

11 Flammable Chemicals

If you’re storing any flammable chemicals—whether for cleaning, photography, or home repair—you’re going to want to keep them out of your attic. “Flammable or hazardous items should not be stored in the attic with extreme temperatures… These items can cause a fire within your home,” says Santoro. “Hazardous chemicals can also leak from containers exposed to extreme temperatures.”

12 Cardboard Boxes

/Africa Studio

Those cardboard boxes stacked up in your attic could become a veritable buffet for pests if you’re not careful. “Pests are attracted to the cardboard and to the glue used in construction of the box,” says Santoro. “Boxes also break down and disintegrate, which will attract pests even more.”

13 Art Supplies

If you’re thinking of storing your kids’ crayons and craft glue in the attic for future use, think again. Those high temperatures in your attic have the potential to melt those crayons, dry out that glue, and send you on a mad dash to the craft store.

14 Cosmetics

Using a hot and stuffy attic as your own personal glam room? You might want to reconsider. In addition to potentially melting any precious products, humidity can also spur the growth of mold in natural or preservative-free formulas.

15 Books

/JuliePhotos

If you want to keep those beloved books in good condition, keep them out of your attic, says Santoro. “Extremes in temperature in the attic, and moisture and pests…can damage keepsake items made of paper,” she says.

16 Batteries

Those spare batteries may not be long for this world if you’re keeping them in a hot, humid attic. According to Duracell, the prime environment for batteries is somewhere dry and room temperature. At high temperatures like the ones you might find in your attic, batteries can rapidly lose power or may even start leaking, potentially setting you up for a chemical burn.

17 Medication

While keeping prescription refills or extra OTC medication in your attic may seem like a smart way to keep them out the reach of children, doing so can cause a whole lot of problems. In addition to gel capsules potentially melting in the heat, some medications may lose their efficacy when stored at high temperatures. And to curb additional storage mistakes, learn all about these 33 Items You’re Storing All Wrong.

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Unless you’ve had your attic converted and it’s climate-controlled, it will be subject to extremes of temperature and fluctuating humidity. This might be fine for suitcases, Christmas decorations and boxes of crockery you’re keeping just in case, but natural materials won’t fair well. Unless you really don’t care (in which case, why are you storing it?), here’s a list of items to remove from the attic:
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

1. Wooden furniture

Have you inherited antique wooden furniture but it’s not quite your style? Don’t store it in the attic. The fluctuating humidity and changes in temperature can cause the wood to expand and crack.

2. Toys

If your kids can’t bear to part with their favourite stuffed animals when they’ve outgrown them, it’s not unheard of to stash them in the attic (on the basis that out of sight is out of mind, but they’re still in the house if anyone throws a tantrum!). However, be aware that mice, dust mites and other critters will ruin them given half a chance. So store them in airtight plastic containers, not black bin bags.

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3. Carpets and rugs

Wool, silk and other natural-material carpets and rugs won’t like being rolled up and banished to the attic – but moths, carpet beetles and nesting birds will! They love dark and undisturbed places. Check the attic for old birds’ or wasps’ nests, which are the ideal breeding ground for larvae. No other option? Get your rug/carpet professionally cleaned first, then spray with moth repellant and bag up in heavy-duty polythene before storing.

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4. Candles

Think about how hot it gets in the attic in summer months. Store them inside the house to avoid them melting into waxy blobs in the attic.

5. Old tech

VCRs, TVs, smartphones, laptops and games consoles shouldn’t be kept where there are big fluctuations in temperature. Humidity levels vary too much in the average attic for delicate electronics. Moisture can easily collect inside and damage them.

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6. Vintage clothes

Old wedding dresses, ballgowns and clothes that you don’t have room for in your wardrobe when they’re out of season, are all better stored in a wardrobe or under-bed drawers. The greatest danger for delicate clothing is light (both artificial and ultraviolet) dirt, damp, moths and excessive heat. Vintage and delicate clothing needs to breathe, so storing in plastic is not recommended. It should be stored flat, wrapped in tissue and placed in boxes. Buffered acid-free paper should be used for cotton and linens. Unbuffered acid-free paper is used for silks and woollens.

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For long-term storage, find a space that is dry and dark with a cool, even temperature and good air circulation. This should not be a basement or attic – ideally a cupboard in the living area of your house, and not one on an outside wall.

GHI Tip: Unpack vintage items at least once a year to make sure they don’t get permanent creases.

7. Leather

Keeping hold of your old leather jacket just in case it comes back into fashion? Don’t store it in the attic. The extremes of hot and cold could ruin it, leaving it smelling musty and sad.

8. Photographs or picture albums

Your recent memories may all be in digital format but how sad would it be if old family or wedding albums, slides or negatives got damaged from exposure to excessive heat and cold? Remember, wherever you do store them, it needs to be away from direct sunlight so they don’t fade.

9. Books

Forget bookworms, it’s an insect called silverfish that you need to know about. They love to nibble on starchy substances, such as wallpaper or the glue in book bindings. Cigar-shaped, wingless insects with pincers on their behinds, they’re not choosy about content when it comes to devouring books.

10. Paper

If papers are precious enough to keep or, like tax return information and birth/marriage certificates, need to be kept, don’t shove them in the attic. These things should be stored ideally in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet in the house itself.

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Did you run out of space to store new furniture, boxes, or other belongings? Are you wondering what items can be safely stored in the attic? This is a common problem that homeowners face at some point or another.
If you happen to have a basement this is sometimes an option, however basements have their own sets of problems too. Common basement problems usually involve your things getting wet or worse yet, mold. Storing items in your attic then tends to be far more preferable than storing them in the basement. However, things you really care about should probably never go in the attic either, such as:

  • Objects made of wood
  • Leather
  • Natural components like hair and fabric
  • Photos and papers- they will all eventually deteriorate.

And below are some reasons why the above items should be kept out of the attic.

Attic Moisture

The biggest problem associated with attic storage is the potential for moisture damage. Even if there’s no visible water leaks or standing pools of water, like in a basement, high humidity levels in the attic can ruin your belongings. Moisture in the attic can be caused from insufficient attic insulation. Moisture vapor then settles into fabrics, thus promoting the growth of mold and mildew. Whether it’s clothes or furniture, mildew will destroy your items, forcing you to toss them out.

Attic Cleanliness

How clean is your attic? If no one but your air conditioning service tech has been in your attic for quite some time, chances are your attic is the filthiest spot in the house. A dirty attic attracts rodents and uninvited guests. The attic should be cleaned thoroughly, from ceiling to floor. Scrub away all dust, dirt, grime, mildew and mold. The cleaner your attic is, the safer it will keep the possessions you store up there.

Pests in the Attic

Deciding what you will keep in the attic will help you choose the appropriate storage bins and boxes. Select heavy-duty bins that will prevent irreversible damage to your cherished possessions. Some items to store in the attic are:

What can you store in the Attic?

Just before you store items in the attic – check for pests. Moisture isn’t the only danger to items stored in the attic. If rats, mice, raccoons, squirrels or other pests are inhabiting your attic, they may damage your belongings too. Attic pests such as these frequently urinate and defecate on items stored in the attic. In some cases they will also chew them up to create bedding.
Before storing any items in your attic, inspect the area for signs of a pest infestation. Most types of infestations are easy to identify, as the pest will leave behind a trail of feces (note: mice feces is about the size of a grain of rice).

  • Holiday decorations: Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving decor, Fourth of July party supplies
  • Kitchen supplies: ceramics, plates, and dish sets
  • Project bins
  • Travel items

For more information on attic clean up and how to remove pests and waste, contact Atticare today.

How to Store Books Properly: 10 tips and tricks

Books are one of the most sentimental items we keep around our homes. Think of what they represent: A good story, knowledge, a symbol of our intellect and personality. But when the books start piling up the question becomes, how to store books?

The emotions we have about our books are the heart of the issue behind knowing how to store books. We don’t want to get rid of books. While our love of books is unlimited, our space is. Most people can’t have the libraries featured on Star Wars, National Treasure (a.k.a. The Library of Congress), and Beauty and the Beast. It’s just not feasible.

But that’s ok. We are here to help you find a way to have your cake and eat it too. We want to help you think of creative, yet tasteful, ways to store books properly and elegantly. We’ll cover a few ways to store books around your home, and then some maintenance tips for your books both to keep them fresh or ready for long term storage.

7 Places to Store Books in Your House

Storing books in your house doesn’t have to be contained to a simple bookcase. Remember what Marie Kondo says: you should make your home and possessions spark joy.

Vertical Space

Don’t be afraid to stack your books in a very tall, skinny shelf. These can make your room look taller, and draws attention to your books without taking much space.

Under Benches

If you have bench seats around your house, these can be a great place to store books. It creates a look like you’re books are prolific around your home while still staying neat.

Transform Closets

Small closets around your home can easily turn into book cases. You may consider replacing the door with a glass windowed door so that the books are visible.

Thin Shelves

Thin shelves where you place books face out can turn a hallway into a gallery. It’s a clever way to display your favorite books and covers in full force.

On a Staircase

Put books in the spaces between the posts on a staircase. Like other suggestions in this list, storing your books this way gives the appearance that you have books all over your home, while still looking clean and neat.

On Top of Cupboards

If your cupboards don’t stretch to the ceiling the tops of can be an excellent place to store books. Plus it makes your kitchen look equally in line with your love of books.

On Mini Shelves

A new trend is to up little shelves on different walls that hold 5-10 books or maybe fewer with bookends.

Tip #1: Climate Control is Key when Storing Books

Let’s remember that paper degrades. It is organic, and it will disappear over time because of pests, bacteria, mold, fungi and anything that might snack on the paper. It’s not quick, thank goodness, but over time, it will take its toll. Here are some things to remember when storing your books:

  • Low temperatures are ok. Lower temperatures prevent living things from living comfortably, so it can actually be good to store your books in a cold space. It is recommended to keep the temperature below 75 degrees when you store books.
  • Humidity is BAD! Fungus and mold thrive in highly humid spaces. That’s why bathrooms can often be the most disgusting room in the house.
  • Low relative humidity can also be bad. If it gets too dry, then your pages can become brittle. Brittle pages break. We don’t want broken pages.
  • Light can be bad. UV radiation can cause paper to yellow and ink to fade. Keep your books out of direct sunlight. Books are meant to be read, not sunburned.

Take very good care of your books. You never know when one might become valuable because of discontinued publishing or a limited supply. If nothing else, preserving them for the future generation should be a worthy enough cause in itself.

Tip #2: Proper Shelving

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Because books are so loyal, why should we be any less loyal to them? That is, of course, a very cheesy way of saying that to store books requires attention and care. You could pile them up in your garage. They won’t last very long, but you can go ahead and do it.

If you wish to preserve your books, get some shelves. Boxes might seem more economical; however, that increases the chances that the books become damaged.

When thinking about storing books in your garage, you’ll have to consider all the angles. I mean that literally. You need to make sure that the books don’t fall. When anything falls, it can be damaged. Then, there’s the question of who will pick up the book. Don’t let them fall. Find the right type of shelving that will keep the books nestled together like a happy little family.

Tip #3: Keep Pests Away

We’ve already mentioned that a lower temperature can discourage insects and the right humidity can discourage mold and fungus, but what about rats? Yup, rats could pose a serious threat to your many-paged friends. Nothing is worse than having to read a book that has been nibbled on one corner. Believe me, I have a cat that chews on anything paper, if we let him.

In garages, there’s a clever way of discouraging mice from getting at your books. It’s cotton balls soaked in mint. Simply position the cotton at places where mice are likely to venture (please don’t put them on the books), and the scent should chase away our Mickey Mouse wannabes. You could also try a cat (unless you get one like mine that likes chewing on books).

Storing books in a garage is not impossible. Just make sure you do it right.

Tip #4: Keep Food Away

Do you remember the movie A Bug’s Life? In it, there’s a character named Heimlich. He’s a caterpillar who never stops eating. That is an excellent comparison to a bookworm.

Bookworms aren’t worms, although they eat just as much as one. They are detrimental to books and can even wreak havoc on bookshelves. They are attracted by food, so keep food away from your books.

This is good advice anyway because paper is absorbent and can collect all sorts of crumbs, smudges and sticky stuff. If you want to store books, then keep food away so you can keep your books. It’s that simple.

This really shouldn’t even be an issue. In libraries, food is rarely allowed near books. When storing books, it helps to think of yourself as a library (The Pagemaster for example). You need to safeguard your books. I know you won’t be accessing the books as often as the people at a library; however, your goal isn’t accessibility alone. You also want durability and preservation. The accessibility has to last for a really long time. That can only happen if you store books well.

Tip #5: Sprinkle Pepper

This is an interesting tip. You can sprinkle pepper or insect powder near your books. Let me be clear, though. DO NOT SPRINKLE ANYTHING ON THE BOOKS. Just like the cotton balls, you put it near the books, and the smell deters the pests from munching on your old books. Bookworms don’t pose a real threat to modern books, but to antiques they can be devastating. I’d also caution not to inhale any of the pepper because it is very uncomfortable. Just saying.

Some people also suggest to use camphor in a similar way. Put some of the strong-smelling stuff around your shelves, and the bookworms should be kept at bay. The aroma will annoy them to the point of driving them away. It’s us against the worms, so either they go, or we do. My vote is that they go.

Tip #6: Mind the Seasons

Attics are interesting parts of the home. In many houses, the attic is un-insulated. Sometimes, the attic is unfinished. The key, then, is to remember the seasons and take countermeasures accordingly.

In the summer, the attic can become the hottest part of the house because heat rises. In the winter, the attic might become the coldest part of the house because it is generally left unheated to save electricity or gas.

During summertime, remember to add airflow and do something to lower the heat. If you have to, move the books. Maybe that’s not an option? Try putting an air conditioning unit in the attic. Sometimes storing books in the attic just isn’t feasible because it is so exposed to the elements.

Let’s not forget about humidity. If there is a leak in your attic, sometimes you won’t know it unless it rains and you are up in the attic. Make sure you’ve protected your books beforehand. You don’t want to find out your attic leaks by opening a book and smelling the damp, musty smell of mold. That is no fun at all.

Tip #7 Use the Correct Containers

Sometimes shelves are not an option. They are the best option, but sometimes you just can’t do it. That means you’ll have to find the right way to store books, in other words, the right containers.

In choosing the right container, you need to think of the previous tips. Let’s compare and contrast some of the most popular options.

Cardboard: The classic cardboard box can serve the purpose perfectly. Make sure to get a box that has not been used to store food. The food will have left some residue or aroma that will attract bugs and pests. You will also want to keep the area in the right levels of humidity. On shelves, books have more airflow and less chance for mold to grow. In boxes, the chances of mold and fungus go up.

Plastic: Plastic boxes are obviously more expensive. They come in all the shapes and sizes that you could possibly need; however, they can break and cause a mess, if not taken care of. Again, remember to make sure no food has inhabited the box and that the temperature and humidity are at the right levels. Sunlight can affect plastic boxes more than cardboard because the plastic can act like a lens. It can intensify the effects if not managed correctly.

That is all to tell you to choose your containers carefully.

Tip #8: Keep the Jackets On

Personally, I always thought that the book covers were simple decorations made to make the book look more impressive. I thought that, maybe, a hard backed book needed some way for people to judge it by its cover. Well, these book jackets actually have a purpose other than to annoy people.

Book jackets take the brunt of all the damage inflicted on books. They protect from scratches, scuffing, burning (although they don’t offer much protection here) and even the occasional glob of gooey donut filling (don’t judge) that falls on the book. They are the book’s first line of defense. They also help the book remain classy.

To some people this might not make much of a difference, but when selling books, you have more options when the book jacket is still intact. So here’s to the book jacket, the most under-appreciated part of the book (here, here!)

Tip #9: Dusting

Even though the previous tip listed the book jacket as the dust jacket, it doesn’t really protect against dust. Although dust jackets don’t actually keep dust away. And it turns, out dusting is a really good tip in storing your books. Anticlimactic I know, but dusting helps to keep books in really good shape.

Some dusting is better than no dusting, so if you don’t have time at least dust a little in whatever way you can. If you are more committed, the best way to dust is starting from the spine and moving out towards the edge of the pages. This is to prevent any dust from falling in the cracks between pages. Dust is so small that even a vacuum can’t get it all out. That reminds me, when you do dust, if you choose to use a vacuum, use the brush attachment so you don’t accidentally suck up any loose pages.

Tip #10: Correct Placement

Remember all of the previous steps, but most importantly, pay attention to how you put the book in the space. The best way to place books is standing up with their spines visible. You might recognize this method as the same method found in libraries. Why not try it yourself? Make sure none of the pages are folded. Each page is important to the book as a whole.

If you can’t stand the books up, make sure you stack them correctly. You’ll always want to start with the largest books on the bottom. Here, I mean the largest profile. Then, stack the books like a pyramid. This is so the books don’t topple and fall. While stacking books in boxes, you’ll want to stack like-sized books together, in order to conserve space.

Using these tips in concert will ensure that your books remain for generations.

Conclusion

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”

–Vera Nazarian

I would be remiss if I didn’t end an article on how to store books properly without a quote about the wonder of books. I really am a huge book nerd (even though I don’t really look like it). Books deserve a good home, and that means good storage.

Remember: 1) Climate control is key, 2) Proper Shelving, 3) Keep pests away, 4) Keep food away, 5) Sprinkle pepper, 6) Mind the seasons, 7) Use the correct containers, 8) Keep the jackets on, 9) Dust, 10) Use correct placement. With these key tips you will have no problem keeping your books in tip-top shape!

If you have any suggestions for other book users, comment below. We’d love to hear them.

When it comes to all the things you might need to store, nothing is quite as precious, and extraordinarily delicate, as your book collection.

A person’s book collection offers a glimpse into their soul. Many consider the tomes upon their bookshelf to be a deeply personal representation of their self and their history. So it is with great trepidation and care that one most endeavor to place their books into temporary storage for an extended period of time.

Physical books may seem relatively resilient compared to the Kindle versions some of us have begun to replace them with, but be aware that even the hardiest of hardcover books face several hazards when you put them away for an extended period of time.

As novelist Umberto Eco once wrote, “A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.”

Eco knows what he’s talking about (he ought to, the author tended a 30,000 volume personal library in his Italian mansion). The threats he enumerated—pests, the elements and misuse—are exactly what you, as the librarian of your self-storage unit, will need to guard against.

How to Store Books

To find out the best way to handle your book storage, we turned to Richard Davies from Abe Books, an online marketplace that specializes in trading collectible and rare books.

The following steps will walk you through preparing your books for storage, packing your books, and choosing a suitable storage space for your book collection.

1. Dust Your Books.

The right precautions can go a long way in preventing pests and the elements from totaling your beloved books. Before packing them away make sure that they are in pristine condition.

Use a soft paintbrush to remove any dust and dirt from the book’s cover and its pages. Making sure the book stays dry is paramount.

“Don’t wipe them down or introduce any sort of dampness,” said Richard.

2. Air Out Your Books If Needed.

If the book feels damp or smells musty, allow it to air out in a dry room before packing it away. Damp books are likely to mildew once stored—if there’s already mold or mildew on its pages, you’ll either have to keep it out of storage or seek professional assistance.

3. Inspect For Pests Before Packing.

When cleaning your pages with a brush, check for insect eggs, which resemble tiny black seeds and often get lodged in the gutter between pages and the binding. If you do find eggs, the only measure you can take is a good, thorough cleaning.

“Don’t use bug spray or any other kind of spray,” said Richard. “It will almost certainly react with the paper and damage the book.”

4. Provide Protection for Dust Jackets.

Packing books the right way can help keep insects and moisture far away; packing the wrong way will put your books in danger of those “clumsy hands” Eco warned about.

After your books have been thoroughly cleaned, it’s best to wrap them up.

“Many hardcover books are wrapped in dust jackets and they can be particularly fragile and liable to small tearing, so that’s a good reason to add extra packing around each book individually.”

Though the purpose of a dust jacket is, nominally, to protect your book from the elements, a pristine jacket is an important factor in a book’s value, should you be a collector planning to someday sell.

“The presence of a dust jacket is vitally important in maintaining a book’s value, so treat them particularly carefully. Many collectors add mylar ‘Brodart’ protective coverings (the clear, crinkly plastic wrapped around many library books) to their books for extra protection,” said Richard.

5. Wrap Your Books Correctly.

It’s important when wrapping and padding your books that you use the right materials

Whatever you do, don’t use plastic bags to wrap your old books. Plastic traps moisture and can cause condensation, which will end up destroying your home library.

Another wrapping material to avoid is newspaper.

“Don’t wrap books in newspaper, as it’s acidic,” said Richard. “Don’t leave any newspaper cuttings, or printed bookmarks, inside books. The ink in the newsprint will cause another chemical reaction and damage the book.”

Instead, use acid-free archival paper to keep your first editions in good condition.

6. Choose Quality Boxes For Your Books.

“Store them in a rigid box that will truly protect them if someone drops the box or drops something onto the box,” said Richard.

Small cardboard moving boxes are fine for short-term storage of both paperbacks and hardbound books. For particularly valuable books and longer term storage, consider acid-free archival boxes.

7. Arrange Your Books in Boxes With Care.

When it comes to how your books should be arranged in their storage box, Richard had a few tips:

“You can pack books in any way you see fit, but don’t pack books really, really tightly (they can bend or go out of shape from the pressure) or too loosely, as movement during transit could put dents and bumps into them.”

You can use bubble wrap to fill in any gaps in your box to keep your books from shifting around.

Paperback books are particularly prone to bending, while hardcovers are susceptible to denting.

“Don’t bump the corners when packing and storing the books–it’s easy to put a dent into a hardcover.”

In general, small and medium-sized books will be safe either lying flat or standing upright—if you do store them upright, don’t stack anything else on top of them. Heavier, large books should be laid flat. Regardless of the book’s size, it should never be forced to rest on its spine or on the front edges of the cover, as this makes damage to the binding much more likely.

8. Choose an Optimal Storage Space.

There’s a reason the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cool, dry cave in the middle of the Palestinian desert, and not in the sweltering Amazon rainforest (other than, you know, their being on separate continents). Some environments are downright dangerous for books.

The proper preparation and packing will do little to protect your books if you choose to store them in the wrong environment. So your basement or attic will work just fine, right? According to Richard, that’s probably not the best idea:

“A cool, dry environment is ideal. Don’t leave books in direct sunlight, as cover artwork will fade and pages will go brown. Dampness is extremely dangerous for books.”

Though your basement or attic should surely pass the sunlight test, make sure they’re also kept cool and dry year-round. This typically means your attic or basement should be finished, properly sealed, not prone to flooding or roof leaks, free of pests, and connected to your home’s central air conditioning system.

Moisture will encourage insect eggs to hatch and mold and mildew spores will begin to proliferate above 55% relative humidity. If your attic or basement doesn’t maintain low humidity year-round, a storage facility with climate control–which keeps stable year-round temperatures and low levels of humidity–is a good alternative.

9. Keep Storage Boxes Off the Floor.

One last note of caution: Don’t stack boxes on the floor, as this puts them in danger should your home ever flood. Keeping the area dry is your number one concern

They Just Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

Richard’s final word of advice on storing books is that, no matter what precautions you take, books won’t stay in pristine shape forever.

“Physical books will age. That’s reality, because paper is made from organic materials and the paper pulp also contains some chemicals that react with the paper.”

Despite your best efforts, pages will still yellow over time and lose some of their integrity. But surprisingly enough, older books will better stand the test of time.

“Older books were made with higher quality paper and they will last much longer than modern books made from cheaper paper.”

What Clothing Items Should Never Be Stored In The Attic?

In case you are wondering, what clothing not to store in the attic; the answer is simple. Thre are a few simple rules you could follow to keep away specific clothing items out of your attic.

Remember, clothing items you truly care about must ideally never go into the attic, since heat is a concern here. Moreover, attics are particularly sensitive to harsh environmental conditions, dust, mites etc. An attic is hard to seal, due to ventilation issues. Therefore, specific fabrics are best left out of the attic, like leather and animal fur clothing.

Additionally, an attic might not be an ideal place for storage of the following:

Expensive fashion or designer label clothing, off-season clothing items you rarely wear, clothing you plan to do away with, kid clothing that are of no use to you anymore etc.

Remember, the key to correctly store clothes in your attic is wrapping every clothing item individually in plastic and protect it from moisture. Additionally, you must make use of a storage trunk to protect the clothes from bugs and direct sunlight.

Handy tips for correct attic storage:

Have you noticed a trend in the treasured clothing items you are having a hard time parting with? Well, if so, this might be a good time to reconsider your definition of “treasured possessions”. If certain clothing items are of real value to you, it might be a good idea to incorporate them in your daily life and honor it, instead of stashing them away into your attic. In case they are of less value or you do not use it, you will be better off donating them away to the less fortunate or sharing them with loved ones.

An attic is vulnerable to extreme heat and extreme cold. It gets infested with small bugs and animals due to the condensation and weather changes. Hence, clothing that holds emotional value for you but no practical value, needs to be eliminated from your attic.

A portable attic closet will come handy for storage of old suits and wedding dresses. Here they will stay protected from external dangers such as dust, heat, pests and insects.

Your attic may hold several memories and trigger numerous emotions. Give yourself some time to soak in the feeling and do what you need to do to keep moving forward! If you are feeling overtly anxious going through specific boxes, consider asking your friend or a loved one to assist. Organizing with a friend or loved one will not only be fun but also make your storage task really easy!

Store your clothing properly and protect them from damage. It might be a good idea to make use of vacuum sealed bags for storage. Remember, it is imperative that all items must be packed in an airtight, resealable bag. For additional protection and proper organization, pack these bags in a stackable plastic container.

Remember, if you take proper precautions, you could safely store various clothing items in the attic for years!

Widmer’s dry cleaning services inspects your clothing before it is cleaned and ready for attic storage and we’ll alert you when we see something that needs to be repaired before cleaning. Widmer’s can repair you clothing, and for instances of serious damage, we can restore your clothing with our garment restoration services.

Trust us with your clothing and you will see why “Widmer’s Means Clean!”

PICK-UP AND DELIVERY – Call (513) 321-5100 – OR – Bring Your Clothing to Any of Our Locations!

How To: Store Your Things

An electrical inspector points out that storing clothes in this closet would be a safety code violation.

Where you store depends largely on what you are storing. Clothes will smell musty if stored in a damp basement; antique furniture won’t hold up if subjected to extreme temperature changes or high humidity. It’s important to do your homework up front to provide a safe environment for all of your possessions and furnishings.

A Holistic Approach
A house free of fire hazards is essential for the well being of its occupants and the safekeeping of family possessions. Check your home routinely from top to bottom to insure its overall health. Schedule a professional home inspection with your local fire inspector or fire department. In general, use extreme caution when storing flammable materials and never store household chemicals, paints, turpentine, and the like near a heat source. Check attics for mice because these pests can seriously damage goods and even eat through electrical wiring. Also make sure that smoke detectors are present and in good working order on every floor of the home, including your attic and storage spaces.

Water, in every form, is a huge hazard for safe storage. A leak-free roof is essential when storing in an attic; a properly graded foundation with adequate perimeter drainage is necessary for a dry basement. Even occasional water in the basement can make storage a nightmare. Humidity and condensation can cause serious problems for your home and its contents.

Long-Term Storage
When it comes to long-term storage, out of sight should never mean out of mind. Regular inventory checks are critical to ensure that your possessions are free from damage. Mice, moths, silverfish, temperature extremes, humidity, and water can damage valuables beyond repair. Organization and a master plan for storing and safeguarding are critical for responsible long-term storage: Label all boxes; post a map of your basement or attic in a visible location; maintain a regular schedule for spot checks to protect against infestation or damage.

Books and other precious documents are especially vulnerable to environmental factors like temperature and humidity. Temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees and humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent are ideal. While a large collection of books may fare better in a metal cabinet, bear in mind that moisture can damage contents, and corrode your storage facility as well.

Storing in cardboard boxes is a risk. Silverfish, certain types of roaches, and bookworms are attracted to the starchy materials found in book bindings and can even eat their way through the boxes to get to the books themselves. Silverfish lay one to three eggs a day and can live up to three years, so an undetected infestation can result in significant damage. Preventative measures are essential, because infestations are usually discovered too late. If you must store in boxes, purchase fresh ones from a moving company. Also, inspect used and antique books thoroughly before packing to make sure that they are pest-free. Don’t pack too tightly — books need a degree of ventilation. Whenever possible, store books in a bookcase on a main living floor, and use acid-free boxes and protectors for storing documents and photographs.

On-hand Storage
Keeping items ready and on-hand requires tight organization and accessible storage. Closets, armoires, and out-of-sight landings may be perfect for guest pillows, blankets or wrapping paper. Closets can also be outfitted to maximize storage space and organization. Closet systems offer components sold in sections, which allows for a custom build and fit. In addition to closet organizers, bins on rollers, and slide-out drawers make cupboard storage and under-bed storage a snap.

Plastic tubs make excellent containers for bulk storage like clothing and holiday items. Portable wardrobe bags made of durable vinyl are ideal for hanging clothes in an attic or basement, provided the rafters or joists can bear the weight. A cedar closet is an excellent storage solution for a basement or garage. However, while cedar and mothballs prevent moths, they do not eradicate them once larvae are present. Larvae are attracted to even lightly soiled woolens, so make sure to dry clean or launder your clothing before storing.

Attic Storage
Attics are often reserved for the treasures that represent our link to the past. Whether family silver, valuable paintings, rugs, or handmade quilts are being stored, special care and attention are essential in order to assure safekeeping for generations to come. Antique furniture was crafted when homes lacked the luxury of central heating and cooling systems. As a result, the humidity level in the home was fairly stable—60 percent was typical. Today, in colder climates, humidity levels within the home can drop to as low as 30 percent. Most furniture can withstand subtle changes in humidity and temperature—but drastic changes can weaken glued joints, and cause a variety of ills ranging from cracked or split surfaces, to buckled or warped panels. Make sure that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated.

“I Need It Now”
Storing everyday items may not require as much attention in terms of packaging and protection, but organization is essential in order to save time and reduce clutter. Here convenience becomes a necessity. Store everyday items in the rooms where they are most often used. A bed with a built-in captain’s drawer neatly houses excess clothing; armoires and entertainment centers conceal video tapes and games; drawer organizers and lazy susans make the search for pots, pans, and kitchen tools a breeze. Built-ins like linen closets and food pantries should also top your list when moving into new construction. Adding one or both can fit easily into renovation plans, as well.

What Can I Store in My Attic?

Jonny Valiant

Q. What items can be safely stored in an attic?
Susan Bishop
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
A. While the space below the roof of a house varies in size, shape, and form, the qualities of an attic are constant: exposure to heat and insects. “Things you really care about should probably never go in the attic,” says Allison Carter, a certified professional organizer based in Atlanta. “The heat is definitely a problem, and it is very hard to seal in the space because attics are usually ventilated.” What not to store up above: objects made of wood (which will rot from moisture), leather, natural components like hair or ivory, and fabric. Also, never use an attic for safeguarding photographs, as they are particularly sensitive to the harsh conditions. “Photos and papers―they will all eventually deteriorate,” says Carter.
Nonporous and nonbiodegradable items, such as ceramic, glass, metal, and certain types of plastic, will fare better. All items should be in resealable, airtight bags. Then, for extra protection and better organization, pack the bags in stackable plastic containers. Make sure to cover oddly shaped and bulky objects, like a Christmas tree. “Nothing should be sitting out open to the elements,” says Carter.
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Are you struggling to find areas inside your home to store new furniture, boxes or other belongings? This is an all-too-common problem that nearly every homeowner will face at some point or another. You don’t want to throw away your old belongings, but at the same you don’t have enough space inside your home to keep them.

So, what’s the solution to predicament? Assuming you have access to an attic, there’s a whole new world of storage possibilities right at your fingertips. The vast openness of an attic is the perfect area to store old furniture and other items. However, there are a few things you should know before you begin stashing your old belongings here.

Attic Moisture Can Ruin Items

The biggest problem associated with attic storage is the potential for moisture damage. Even if there’s no visible water leaks or standing pools of water, high humidity levels in the attic can ruin your belongings. Moisture vapor will settle into fabric, promoting the growth of mold and mildew. Whether it’s clothes or furniture, mildew such as this will destroy your items, forcing you to toss them out.

Placing a dehumidifier in your attic may help temporarily, but it’s not a long-term solution to the problem. If you plan to store items in your attic for any serious length of time, you must eliminate the source of the humidify. You can read through our previous blog post for sources of moisture in the attic, but some of the most common causes include the following:

  • Lack of ventilation
  • Missing and/or damaged insulation
  • Leaking roof
  • Dryer or bathroom exhaust venting to the attic
  • AC condensate drip pan overflowing

Check For Pests

But moisture isn’t the only danger to items stored in the attic. If rats, mice, raccoons, squirrels or other pests are inhabiting your attic, they may damage your belongings. Attic pests such as these frequently urinate and defecate on items stored in the attic — and in some cases they will chew them up to create bedding.

Before storing any items in your attic, inspect the area for signs of a pest infestation. Most types of infestations are easily to identify, as the pest will leave behind a trail of feces (note: mice feces is about the size of a grain of rice).

Contact the Attic Guys for more information on how to remove pests from your attic!

How To: Store boxes of paper in an attic

Q. I would like to store some boxes of papers in my attic. I am concerned that mice might visit and think the papers are nesting material. I know they can chew through cardboard, and I’ve been told they can also chew through plastic. Any suggestions?

Bethesda

First, make sure the attic really is the wisest storage place. Conservators warn against storing family treasures, including papers, in attics or basements because hot and/or humid conditions degrade many materials.

“I tell people to get archival storage boxes and put them under a bed or in a closet,” says Suzanne Gramly, senior paper conservator for the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Of course, longevity is a bigger issue if you’re storing family papers that you want to hand down rather than old business papers that you plan to toss as soon you legally can.

A metal filing cabinet is a good way to preserve papers in the attic. (bigstockphoto)

There is also a weight issue with attic storage. If you have many boxes to store, the weight could cause part of your house to sag if the attic floor wasn’t built to carry the load. Ask a builder or building inspector to assess the situation. Or at least store the boxes close to outside walls or near inside walls that line up with walls or posts on lower floors, carrying weight in the attic all the way to the ground.

If, after all these warnings, you decide that attic storage really does fit your needs best, here’s an idea for keeping out mice: Get an inexpensive metal filing cabinet. Secondhand shops often carry them, as do office-supply stores. Gramly recommends placing papers in archival-quality folders first because the folders help buffer the effects of fluctuating temperature and humidity.

I have an old table that needs to be professionally cleaned. It’s in good shape but is sticky after 50 years of dirt, grime, wax, etc. How can I find someone who works with antiques and who will know how to clean it and not ruin the inlay? I’ve tried various products myself. Nothing has worked.

Annandale

Your piece might need more than a thorough cleaning. Sticky finishes often can’t be cured, just stripped and redone. Even though your table doesn’t fit the century-old definition of an antique, you should be able to get an honest evaluation and good results from a reputable shop that refinishes antiques.

With a very old antique, refinishers often try to strip off only the damaged layer or layers so they can preserve as much of the original finish as possible, since a lot of the value of the piece depends on that. But for a table that’s 50 years old, complete stripping makes more sense, says Don Selkirk, owner of Don’s Furniture Restoration in Lorton (703-798-3368, www.donsfurniturerestoration.com ). Steve Strosnider of
A Perfect Finish in Fairfax (703-204-2009, www.aperfectfinish-va.com ) also said that complete stripping will probably be the best approach.

It’s worth taking your table to a restorer or two for an evaluation, though. If the table does just need cleaning, you might get the work done for as little as $200 to $300, including a new topcoat or two to replace whatever finish comes off during the cleaning process. A complete redo could cost three or four times as much, though you might be able to save by having only the top of the table treated.

I had a tile floor installed in my kitchen about two years ago. The next month, I replaced the dishwasher. The new floor was a little too high for the dishwasher to fit perfectly. But the laminate counter had enough give to work. Then, about a year later, I got granite countertops. There was so little give that a few tiles in front of the dishwasher had to be broken, just so we could slide it back into place. I replaced the broken tiles, effectively “tiling in” the machine.

I could live with this, but the dishwasher is unstable. Sometimes I have to brace my knee against it when filling or emptying it. We can’t use the manufacturer’s stabilizing brackets because we can’t slide the dishwasher out. The granite installers gave me some Granite Grabbers, but again, there’s no removing the dishwasher. Any ideas?

Oakton

You probably thought of this, but in case not: Are the adjustable feet under the dishwasher fully retracted? If not, you might be able to create enough wiggle room by screwing them in. Also, since a dishwasher’s stabilizing brackets are usually secured after it is moved into place, why is it necessary to slide out the dishwasher to access them? Perhaps the brackets just need to be pivoted, using a screwdriver. Many dishwashers have side-mount brackets, just for situations with stone countertops. So if yours does, finding them could give you a quick fix.

But before you do a lot of fiddling, call the granite installers and ask them to come back and finish the job. Securing a dishwasher is part of a countertop installation. It’s not enough to just hand you a product and tell you to deal with it — unless, of course, the crew specifically discussed the issue and you waved away their warnings.

If the countertop installers can’t or won’t find a solution, call a company that installs or repairs your brand of dishwasher. The Granite Grabber system uses a slim $6 device with an adhesive backing that sticks to stone; it also includes a threaded recess where you can fasten the dishwasher’s stabilizing bracket. It’s useful in many situations, but it’s not the only solution out there. An experienced installer will know of a few things to try, including possibly removing the dishwasher’s legs to make it shorter.

If these ideas don’t work, perhaps you can swap out the dishwasher for a shorter model. But this would involve taking out the tiles you replaced, so it’s probably feasible only if you still have extras for a second patch job. As a last resort, hire a stone countertop installer or someone experienced in salvaging building materials to lift the stone. This involves alternately slicing through the adhesive underneath and then wedging the countertop up to give access to adhesive farther in. Once the stone is out, a countertop installer can top the cabinets with plywood and create enough space to install the dishwasher correctly. Be sure to fill in the flooring under the dishwasher first.

A tippy dishwasher is a definite safety hazard, so it isn’t something you should just learn to live with. You might get used to bracing it with your knee, but will every visitor to your house?

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to [email protected] . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

What precautions should I take with the things I store in the attic?

Before you store anything in your attic, consider how fragile the items are
An Arizona attic can feel like an oven during the summer. Here are 10 things to consider before piling your belongings up there:

  1. Heat can damage memorabilia like photographs, collectibles like baseball cards and keepsakes like scrapbooks—or anything else made from paper. Find a cooler place in your house to store cherished papers so they won’t yellow, fade and decay.
  2. Even if a little bit of water gets into the attic, it can rot wood and leather and create mold and mildew. Unless you’re sure the space is sealed up tight, keep those products out of the attic.
  3. Pack your storage items into sturdy, plastic boxes with snug-fitting lids, not in cardboard. The plastic bins will protect them better. Other good options: ceramic, glass, metal and other containers that are non-biodegradable.
  4. Heat also can melt cheap or old plastics, even in a well-ventilated attic. The attic is not a good place to store paint or varnish.
  5. Cover everything you store in the attic, either by enclosing it in a box or wrapping it in a tarp. This goes for bulky objects, too, like artificial Christmas trees, which you should protect from the elements.
  6. Attics attract bugs. The occasional critter—a mouse or even a bird, for example—might even find its way into the attic through a tiny opening in the roof. They’ll claw, chew and peck at your possessions until they’re shredded. That’s another reason to keep them enclosed or at least covered up.
  7. If you live in an area that freezes during the winter, consider the damage a cold attic can cause. Hot-and-cold cycles can cause products to delaminate, discolor, harden and become brittle.
  8. It’s human nature to fill the space we have. So beware of stuffing your attic with junk that you don’t really need to save. Sift through your storage items and decide what you really want to keep and what you can donate or throw away. Don’t just shove it out of sight because you’re attic is cleaned up and ready for storing things.
  9. Watch out for exposed nails. A sharp edge can puncture your items if it brushes against then or if you pile them on top of it.
  10. If your attic doesn’t have its own floor—and it’s likely that’s the case; the ceiling of the house often creates the floor of an attic—don’t place anything heavy directly on the drywall. It’s unsupported and will not hold much weight. Even a slightly heavy box can push right through the ceiling and into the house—which will leave you with a big hole in the ceiling to repair.

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