Sorry, the attic is no place for precious family photos. 

By Katie Holdefehr
December 05, 2019

Between the extreme temperature fluctuations, the potential for moths, and the precarious piles of boxes, the attic can be a tricky storage spot. Many delicate materials won't fare well in a location that's freezing cold in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer, yet you want to maximize your attic storage. To take advantage of every square foot, without risking your prized possessions, we've outlined the items you should really never store in the attic, along with others that should be able to survive the attic's harsh environment. Follow the guidelines below to ensure every beloved family photo, Christmas decoration, and wool blanket lasts for as long as possible. 

RELATED: 4 Things You Should Never Store Under Your Kitchen Sink—and 5 You Should

What Not to Store in Your Attic

Old Photographs 

You know that box of priceless family photos you have stored in a box in the attic? You may want to consider relocating it. The temperature variations most attics experience can damage old photographs and film. Instead, store printed photos in a dry spot where the temperature doesn't fluctuate as much, such as in a bedroom closet or under the bed. Tuck the photos inside PVC-free plastic sleeves and use archival-quality paper boxes. 

Paint 

While the attic and basement may seem like convenient places to stash bulky paint cans, the changes in temperature in the attic can ruin the paint, making it unusable. If you're going to store extra paint, it's worth keeping it in a temperature-controlled spot in your home, like a spare closet or cabinet. To save space, transfer leftover paint from the can to smaller airtight containers, labeled with the date, paint color name, and the room they belong to. 

Instruments

Even if you haven't played your violin in years, think twice before you store it in the attic. Again, temperature fluctuations are the culprit here. The changes in temperature will make wood expand or contract, potentially causing wooden instruments to warp. 

Expensive Wool, Silk, and Linen

These natural fibers are some of moths' favorite foods. Plus, they tend to be pricey. To avoid moth holes in your expensive wool sweaters, it's best to wash them first, then store them in an airtight plastic container, and keep them in a temperature controlled spot. 

Wooden Furniture 

For the same reason you shouldn't store instruments in the attic, it's best not to stash wooden furniture either. The changes in temperature could warp the wood and cause it to crack over time. 

Candles 

If your attic tends to get very hot during the summer months, those tapers, votives, and tealights are at risk of melting. Instead, store your candles in a cabinet or drawer in the kitchen or dining room, or in a spare closet. 

Important Documents

While the attic may seem like a smart spot to stash important papers because there's little risk of them getting moved or misplaced, the conditions of the attic could result in water damage or cause the papers to deteriorate more quickly. Instead, keep birth certificates, tax forms, and other essential paperwork in a special designated spot in your desk or home office. 

What You Can Store in the Attic 

Spare Cookware 

If you have extra pots and pans you're not currently using in your kitchen but want to stash for huge holiday feasts, the attic can be a great place to store them. Plus, they're designed to handle extreme changes in temperature. 

Holiday Decorations

If you're not sure where to store your artificial Christmas tree and endless holiday garlands, consider the attic. Invest in storage bags and bins that can keep these items protected. 

Suitcases 

Luggage and suitcases are well suited to attic storage. But before you stash them away, think about a spot that will be easy to reach—you'll thank yourself the next time you head off for a vacation or work trip. 

Sports Equipment 

Most sports gear is designed to withstand the elements, so it should be fine in the attic. 

Ceramic, Metal, and Glass 

If you have a large collection of vases or ceramic knick-knacks, consider storing them in the attic. Just be sure to pack them properly so they won't break. 

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