Storing Items in Humid Climates
March 27, 2013

humidity in storage unitsSub-tropical climates go hand-in-hand with higher temperatures and humidity. Storage units can also become hot and stuffy in certain conditions, which can wreak havoc on your belongings. Here are some tips on how to prepare and store items to keep them in tip-top condition, and help prolong their life.

What items are most at risk?

Electronics, furniture, clothing, DVDs, CDs, photographs, musical instruments, and artwork are the items most at risk of being affected by moisture, mould, mildew, dirt and dust.

How can I protect these items?

General tips

General tips to minimise damage to your belongings while in storage include:

  • • Ensuring they are as clean as possible before storing—dirty items or those with food or drink residue are more likely to encourage mould and mildew.
  • • Wiping items with a disinfectant that contains a fungicide—this will kill any existing fungal spores and discourage new ones from forming.
  • • Storing your most vulnerable items away from the door of your storage unit— this is where moisture and humidity is at its highest.

Item types

Electronic Items

Electronic items need to be adequately packaged before you transfer them to a storage unit. Moving blankets are a good choice, or to be extra safe you can use foam padding or bubble wrap. However, never shrink-wrap these items as they will retain moisture—a definite no-no for anything electronic! Batteries should also be removed to avoid leakage, and items stored off the floor to discourage moisture from accumulating.

DVDs and CDs

CDs and DVDs don’t need to be stored in their hard cases, and it also takes up valuable storage space! Instead, transfer them to CD/DVD sleeves or envelopes that can be enclosed in binders to protect them from scratching. There are also wallets, cases, boxes and cabinets on the market specially designed for this type of storage—some of which are lockable for extra security. Many of them will also allow you to label and/or colour code items to make them easier to find in the future.

Musical instruments

All musical instruments need to be carefully prepped for long-term storage. If you have a stringed instrument, it should be cleaned well with an instrument cleaning cloth, and the strings should be loosened to release tension. This avoids strings snapping or warping the neck of your instrument. It should then be placed in its hardcase to prevent knocks, dust, and scratches. If storing for a lengthy period, line the case with acid-free tissue paper.

A brass instrument should be disassembled and its caps and valves removed. Clean it well with an internal cleaning kit, then polish it to protect its coating — specialised products can be obtained from most music stores. Parts should be wrapped in a non-abrasive material and everything sealed in their protective case.

When storing drums, skins should be loosened to minimise the stretching that can occur in storage. Make sure the kit is clean and dry, and coat the rims with wax to prevent moisture damage (again, see your local music store). Wrap each individual drum in soft towels or blankets to keep them protected from dirt and dust.

Pianos just need a quick wipe-over and polyfoam or bubble wrap used to protect pedals and legs. Cover the keys with a soft cloth, close the lid and place a sheet over your piano in storage to prevent dust and dirt settling on top of it.

Furniture

Wood often expands and contracts in the changing seasons, so avoiding moisture is critical. To prepare wooden furniture, wipe down and coat in an appropriate wax or oil to enhance its protection. Moving blankets can be used to protect it further once it’s in storage.

Leather furniture should be conditioned well and ideally placed on a tarp or plastic sheeting once stored to keep moisture, mildew and mould at bay. Cover it with a cotton sheet, which will allow air to circulate and minimise the effects of dust and dirt. Upholstered items should be wrapped in plastic sheeting to protect them from moisture.

Clothing

All clothing should be washed before storing as unwashed items can produce mildew and mould if they are left long-term. Residual stains, oil, sweat, perfumes, and lotions can also cause clothing to smell, turn yellow, and attract pests.

Clothing should also never be vacuum-packed when being stored, as it can cause deterioration, permanent wrinkles, and creasing. Mothballs or cedar chips can protect clothing from vermin and moths.

Store clothing in plastic bins that can be snapped shut, not plastic bags or cardboard boxes as they are vulnerable to humidity, mould, mildew and water damage. Bins should also not be over-packed, as air needs to be able to circulate so your clothes can “breathe”. Clear bins will allow you to see items from the outside, darker bins will ensure your clothing doesn’t fade, and labelling and/or colour coding allow you to access specific items when needed.

Another option is to invest in a wardrobe box, particularly if you are storing delicate items. These allow clothing to be hanged, but avoid metal hangers as they can stretch or rip clothing and may rust in humid environments. Once in storage, cover boxes with a cotton sheet to protect them from light and dust.

Artwork and photos

Artwork should be wrapped in plastic to protect the finish and keep it clean. Custom-sized styrofoam packaging can help seal items, and it should then be placed in a close-fitting cardboard box. Any gaps should be filled with dense packing material — like bubble wrap — and then the entire item sealed shut with packing tape.

Ideally, photos should be preserved in sleeves, albums or photo boxes that are PVC-free to protect them from acid and lighting. They should never be stored in albums that require photos to be affixed with glue or tape, mounted to anything other than quality archival paper, and not held together with paper clips or rubber bands. Shoeboxes also aren’t a suitable storage solution — mainly because they aren’t waterproof!

Books

Books should be dry and clean before being packed, and any bookmarks or paper clips removed. They should then be wrapped in good quality archival paper, to enhance durability and preservation, and to prevent the books from yellowing. Avoid larger boxes, as they will allow books to shift in transit, which can damage spines and covers. These should also be dry, clean, durable and acid-free to allow books to breathe and resist mould. Don’t overload boxes when packing as this can bend books and cause them to lose their shape when in storage. Finally, they should be carefully sealed with sturdy packing tape.

For more moving advice and suggestions on how to protect your items from moisture and humidity, please ask our friendly staff at All Size Sheds. As the smart storage specialists, we have a range of storage tips and can provide a storage solution to suit your next move. Call us today (07) 5534 7181.

References

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