Are you getting ready to pack up for a long distance move, or just thinking of decluttering your home and putting a few things in safe, long term storage? One item that takes up a lot of space are those old photo albums from years gone by – yet they’re also something that most of us are reluctant to get rid of. So you’ve decided to put your photos away for safe keeping. How do you safely pack photos for long term storage to ensure they don’t get damaged? Here are a few tips to follow before you get started packing photos.
1. Don’t keep photos in peel and stick covers
Self stick or pressure sensitive tape is actually a big no no when it comes to storing your photographs. Not only is the sticky residue hard to remove from your photographs, but it contains chemicals that will ruin pictures over time. Avoid sticky covers if at all possible.
2. Label your photos
You’ll definitely want to know what photos are stored where. Not only should you label your boxes (something like, “1988-1998 Photos” would be a good store), but you should also consider dating and labeling the back of each picture. Use an acid free marker with a soft tip, not a ball point pen or other device that will leave an imprint.
3. Remove tape, staples, and glue
Clean up each photo and remove anything that could scratch it, leave a mark, or damage other photos in the storage process. This is a tedious process, especially if you’re dealing with photos that were taped into albums. But you’ll be thankful you did it when you go back in 10 years to view your precious keepsakes.
4. Protect your photos
Store each photo individually in a plastic sleeve that is PVC free when you pack photos. You can find photo safe storage sleeves at your local hobby or photo supply store. An easy DIY alternative if you cannot find non-PVC sleeves is to use a Ziploc sandwich bag.
5. Use acid free products
Acid from wood, markers, mats, or other objects will break down the photographs over time. Opt for acid free products if they’ll be stored in the same container as your photographs. Remember, you might only intend to keep your photos in storage for a year or less, but often times you won’t even open the box for a few years or more, and not on a frequent basis.
6. Beware of humidity, temperature, and light
Humidity is your worst enemy in the battle to pack photos for long term storage. You don’t want the air to be too dry, or your photos will become brittle and crack. But you don’t want the air to be overly moist, either, since this can introduce mold and mildew into the mix.
Lower temperatures tend to be safer for your photographs, since it helps to preserve ink, color, and the paper itself. If your long term photo storage area gets hot (regularly reaches temperatures above 75 degrees) then you might want to rethink the storage location.
Dark, as opposed to bright, locations are also optimal when thinking about safely packing photos for long term storage. You can also purchase light-proof boxes for photographs in order to block outside light from reaching them.
7. Consider creating digital backups
Last but not least, consider backing up your photos digitally. There are dozens of online storage solutions where you can keep your images backed up, many of which are free or else less than $5 a month. You never know when disaster will strike. Instead of losing your photographs to fire or flood, at least play it safe and keep them stored on the cloud. UNITS can provide you with packing supplies and portable storage in the east bay.