How to Preserve Your Sentimental Treasures: Items to Immediately Remove from Your Attic

Why your attic is the worst place to store childhood books, vintage furniture, and other valued items.

By Kelly O’Roark


When it comes to attic storage, most of us put just about everything in there. There are certain things that we just can’t part with, but they don’t exactly fall under the category of “everyday use.” While it’s definitely convenient to put all of those items in one location, there are certain items that should stay far away from the attic.




Unless you live in Alaska (or a place where there aren’t four distinct seasons), your attic will have fluctuating climate changes from cold, dry air in the winter to hot, humid air in the summer. So when the hot summer months reach well into the 90s, your attic is most likely going to reach 120 to 130 degrees with no ventilation, which mean very high humidity. And that, my friends, is the enemy when it comes to protecting your sentimental belongings: extreme fluctuation in climate (i.e. temperature and humidity levels).


While things like Christmas ornaments, holiday décor, pots and pans, luggage, and dishes are perfectly fine in an attic, there are certain items that need to be transported to a climate-controlled space in the house, such as a bedroom closet, coat closet, or a finished basement to avoid permanent damage. It’s a good idea to take inventory of your attic to find out if any of your prized possessions need to be relocated.




Follow this checklist in order protect your family heirlooms from permanent damage. When going through your attic, be sure to remove the following:


1. Books and Other Paper Items

Old yearbooks, novels, keepsake Bibles or religious books, and even files with old paperwork (such as tax returns, contracts, etc.) should never be kept in the attic. They’ll most likely end up getting damp from the fluctuation in humidity, and you’ll end up with black mold spots and yellow stains over your precious paper (yuck)!


Instead, store the papers safely in a filing cabinet in a desk, and put the books on a bookshelf or on a shelf in your closet or cabinet.




2. Family Photographs

If you have photo albums filled with black-and-white pictures (or any pictures for that matter), be sure to store them on a book shelf or in a cabinet, as they run the same risk as books and paper documents in regards to the type of damage.


Stains, wrinkles, mold, and discoloration will ruin your beloved family memories, and those snapshots in time are something that can never be replaced. So grab your grandparents’ wedding pictures before it’s too late!




3. Children’s Stuffed Animals

There are certain dolls and stuffed animals that were a big part of your childhood, and you just can’t let them go – I get it. (In spite of the eye rolls I get from my mother, I will never let go of Teddy Ruxpin!)


Make sure that you store those fantastic furry friends in a safe space because, in the attic, they’re likely to become victim to moths and dust mites as well as mice, squirrels, and birds (they like to use the stuffing to build nests). So take Mr. Bear and all of his friends to a place where the only other furry creatures they’ll run into are their fellow stuffed animal companions.




4. Wooden Furniture

Antique furniture such as tables, chairs, and grandfather clocks may seem like they’d be safe in an attic, but unfortunately, they could end up breaking even though no one’s touching them.


The extreme changes in humidity levels actually cause the wood to expand and contract, which in turn, can cause the wood to split. No one wants cracks in their grandpa’s dining room set, so it’s best to find a climate-controlled storage unit or an empty space in your finished basement.




5. Electronics

Radios, phones, televisions, clocks, and anything else that runs on a charge aren’t meant for attic storage. Once moisture and condensation seep into the seams, those items will pretty much be rendered useless.


If you have flat screen televisions or a telephone system that you’ll most likely never use, try selling them. Not only will it save the items from being ruined, but it’ll put some extra cash in your pocket! If the items hold sentimental value, it may be time to invest in a climate controlled storage unit (as mentioned above) if you don’t have any extra storage space left in your house.




6. Vintage Clothing

Whether it’s baby clothes from when you were a tiny tot or your grandmother’s wedding dress, be sure to keep any sentimental pieces out of your attic, as they’ll be sure to collect yellow and brown water spots, mold spores, and possibly little holes due to moths and mice.


Put those special clothing items and accessories in a closet to ensure that they’ll remain in good condition for the next generation. Case in point: my great grandmother’s faux fur coat has always been stored in the main coat closet, and it looks brand new!




Just remember that when it comes to attic storage, make sure that you pull out anything that is made of paper, fabric, wood, and wires, and tuck it away in a temperature-controlled space!




What other types of items would you add to the list? Share your wisdom with us in the comments below!


Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark

Next: How to Finish Your Attic and Put it to Good Use