I got my parents' house cleared out all right. The place was pristine. All new interior paint and finishes screamed fresh start for the next homeowner, except … for the garage.
That was where I temporarily off-loaded those family keepsakes that would take more time than I had. Stacks of slides in carousels, military discharge papers, marriage certificates and diplomas remained.
Besides, if these archive-worthy items were going to last, I knew they'd need special handling.
Coincidentally, The Container Store was opening its 60th store in my town of Orlando. I told my tour guide I was interested in archival storage.
Here's what Karen Hartman, the store's sales trainer, taught me:
Edit, edit, edit. Then preserve.
Go archival. Look for archival labels when selecting storage supplies. Archival means it's treated to protect keepsakes from the ravages of acid, dust, dirt, pests and light.
Acid as enemy. Paper and wood contain acids that will cause paper, photos and textiles to yellow and get brittle over time. Archival storage containers are acid-free or acid-neutral, meaning they have had the acid buffered.
Consider it a long-term investment. You pay for acid-free treatment and sturdier, reinforced corners that keep boxes from crushing when other boxes get stacked on them.
File under forever. Treasures come in all sizes. So does archival storage. Store paper items such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, immigration documents and military discharge papers in archival file or garment boxes.
Protective plastic. You'll also want acid-free plastic when storing photos, CDs or DVDs, especially those that contain family photos.
Don't forget the tissue. “If you buy an archival box, then wrap items in paper that is not acid-free, you've defeated the purpose,” said Hartman. This is also true for envelopes and folders.
Don't store dirty stuff. Have garments professionally cleaned. Remove pins, which can stain.
Stuff and wrap. Before putting the lid on, use acid-free tissue to fill sleeves and soften folds of garments. Wrap the whole garment in acid-free paper.
Put a name on it. Once you've carefully packaged, label.
Where to store. Put keepsakes in clean, climate-controlled places.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.