Unless you’ve converted your attic into a bedroom, you’re most likely using it to store everything from off-season holiday decorations to the kids’ elementary school artwork (they’re in college now). It’s a catchall for stuff that you use infrequently and stuff that you never use at all.
But you may be shocked to learn that, as a go-to storage spot, an attic has its limits. Depending on where you live, attics can be subject to extreme heat or cold, fill with moisture and be invaded by insects and rodents. Start clearing out yours if any of the six items below is a current occupant.
Cardboard has a lot of great uses but one of them is not as a storage receptacle in the attic. Heat and moisture will eventually cause the cardboard to disintegrate and damage the boxes’ contents.
A better storage solution: plastic containers with secure lids.
When your children outgrow their stuffed teddy bears and unicorns, instead of donating them to charity, you probably throw them in a plastic bag and put it in the attic. But, says Jeffrey Phillip, a New York City professional organizer, they’ll probably get ruined. “Their fabric composition makes them extremely susceptible to moisture, mould, mildew, moths, bugs and mice,” he says.
A better storage solution: delegating the cuddly creatures to a temperature-controlled area, such as under a bed or in a closet.
If the attic is where you’re storing near-to-your-heart clothing items, like your grandmother’s wedding dress, move them out immediately. Heat, humidity and sunlight are notorious for ruining delicate fabrics.
A better storage solution: a temperature-controlled area, such as under a bed or in a closet.
Since wood is a porous material, it will absorb moisture, causing mildew and mould to grow, says Phillip. The extreme temperature changes in a typical attic can lead to cracks, warping and weakening glued joints.
A better storage solution: the home of a friend or family member for temporary use or a storage facility with temperature-controlled spaces.
Photos and Important Papers
Things like family photos and baptismal certificates stored in an attic face their worst enemies: mould, mildew and discolouration. Moths and mice will make a picnic out of your precious items.
A better storage solution: “Papers are best kept in a filing cabinet within a room or closet in your home,” says Phillip. “For very sensitive documents, consider acid-free storage boxes, which will prevent discolouration and decay. Keep photos in acid-free photo storage boxes away from the light.
The extreme temperatures in an attic are not safe for paint, stains or varnishes. The temperatures can not only affect the chemical compositions of these items, negating their usefulness, but the heat can also cause harmful chemical reactions, says Phillip.
A better storage solution: a cool, dark place such as a closet or cabinet or even a garage or basement that maintains an appropriate consistent temperature.