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Q. What items can be safely stored in an attic?

Susan Bishop

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

A. While the space below the roof of a house varies in size, shape, and form, the qualities of an attic are constant: exposure to heat and insects. "Things you really care about should probably never go in the attic," says Allison Carter, a certified professional organizer based in Atlanta. "The heat is definitely a problem, and it is very hard to seal in the space because attics are usually ventilated." What not to store up above: objects made of wood (which will rot from moisture), leather, natural components like hair or ivory, and fabric. Also, never use an attic for safeguarding photographs, as they are particularly sensitive to the harsh conditions. "Photos and papers―they will all eventually deteriorate," says Carter.

Nonporous and nonbiodegradable items, such as ceramic, glass, metal, and certain types of plastic, will fare better. All items should be in resealable, airtight bags. Then, for extra protection and better organization, pack the bags in stackable plastic containers. Make sure to cover oddly shaped and bulky objects, like a Christmas tree. "Nothing should be sitting out open to the elements," says Carter.

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