A home organizer's secrets to containing the clutter

Tidy, clutter-free homes need proper storage solutions. Here are the dos and don'ts for storing things safely and more efficiently from home organizing expert Karen Lawrence.

A home organizer's secrets to containing the clutter

The basic cardboard box is ideal for moving and short-term storage

  • But cardboard boxes collapse under pressure when stacked. And since cardboard absorbs moisture—and moisture deteriorates cardboard—boxes aren't great for long-term storage, especially in humid attics, basements and garages.
  • Moist cardboard attracts insects, such as silverfish, that feed on paper. Weakened boxes allow easier access for rodents.

For long-term storage, plastic is best

  • When you use plastic containers, make sure stored items are dry before putting the lid on, because plastic can trap moisture inside, promoting mold and mildew growth.
  • Also, if you're going to use plastic, use several small containers. People will often get huge plastic boxes, fill them up and then not be able to move them.

Don’t store clothes in dry-cleaning bags

  • This may seem like a good inexpensive solution for keeping clothes fresh and dust-free. But dry cleaning uses toxic chemicals, and the bags the clothes come in trap those chemicals. Also, mold and mildew can form on clothing sealed in plastic.
  • Remove the bags before you hang the clothes in your closet—and certainly before you store clothes for the season. If you want to store them in something, use garment bags made from a breathable material like cotton.

Don’t store precious photos in frames

  • If you choose to no longer display a framed photo, remove the photo from the frame and store it in an archival safe box, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper. The photo will take up much less space than the frame, which is now available for other photos.
  • If you leave the photo in the frame, humidity will make the photo stick to the glass, and gas emissions from the materials used for framing—masking tape, cardboard and rubber cement—may leave behind harmful residue, spotting the photo.
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