Protecting your stored items from Mould and Mildew

Protecting your stored items from Mould and Mildew

Picture the scene, you have completed on your house move, unpacked your main possessions, settled in and then you start to think about retrieving your other beloved items from storage. You arrive at the storage facility, excitedly open one of the boxes only to find mould and mildew everywhere. Somehow moisture has got in and your possessions are ruined. Unsightly, smelly and a danger to your health you have no other option but to get rid of everything affected.

Mould and mildew love moisture, spread fast and thrive in damp conditions. Not picky, mould and mildew can grow on most materials including wood, fabrics, paper, stone and even plastics. These fungis will gradually break down affected materials if left long enough.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mould and mildew, Store Insure are unable to cover your items for any damage caused by mould (this is a standard exclusion and not specific to Store Insure!), however there are definitely some steps you can take to minimize the risk.

Taking a little more time over your packing and following the steps below will help to ensure your items stay as mould and mildew free as possible so there are no nasty surprises when it is time to retrieve your possessions.

Clean and dry

Books, clothes, art, vinyl records, paperwork – whatever you are storing it is essential in all circumstances to prepare your items for storage. Fabrics in particular are good at trapping moisture so make sure they have ample time to thoroughly dry before packing. Likewise make sure that any stains are removed as that small spot may become a nightmare stain if left to fester.

Prepare & pack

What you choose to pack your items in will be dependent on what you are storing. If storing clothes, you would be better off opting for plastic boxes with airtight lids to ensure that no moisture can access them whilst in storage. However if you are storing art you should opt to cover the painting/print in a heavy breathable cloth rather than plastic (as this will trap moisture!). You can also invest in some silica gel packs to place in the boxes (Silica gel sachets absorb the moisture within the sachet, without turning it into a liquid residue).

Most items will be fine if packed in dry sturdy boxes and kept off the floor, below is a short summary of some specific items that require slightly different storage solutions:

  • Clothes/Fabrics – Ensure they are 100% clean and dry then pack in a plastic airtight storage box.
  • Paintings/Art – Wrap in a heavy breathable cloth then place in a specialist art box (wood or cardboard).
  • Furniture – Protect any delicate items with bubble wrap, keep off the floor and use dust sheets to cover.
  • Books – Pack in a strong corrugated cardboard box, line the box with tissue paper or packing paper (not newspaper) and ensure books are dust free before packing. Pack standing up and allow space as they will need airflow.

Air flow

Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air and as we have already learnt, mould and mildew love a damp environment! One of the simplest things you can do to instantly reduce the risk of your items becoming covered in mould and mildew is to create air flow around your storage container.

  • Don’t stack all your boxes tightly together or push them against the sides of the storage unit to maximise space – less is more.
  • Do leave space between items, this will encourage air flow and help dry out the air, reducing moisture.

Raise your items

It doesn’t matter what type of storage unit you have rented, making sure your items are off the ground will help air flow and go towards reducing the risk of fungi. Investing in some shelving units to fit the smaller boxes is a great way to keep items protected, this also has the added benefit of providing an orderly storage environment!

For items of furniture, placing them on wooden pallets is an inexpensive, effective way of reducing the risk of moisture being absorbed from the floor - especially if concrete.

Out of sight, out of mind

It sounds great - put your items in storage and forget about them until it’s time to retrieve them. This may be fine for short term storage (1-3 months), however if you are planning on storing your possessions for longer it is definitely worth making regular trips to your unit to check everything is in order with your items. The sooner any damp issues are detected, the more salvageable your items will be, reducing the risk of the mould and mildew spreading.

Research your storage unit

Depending on what you are storing, it is worth doing some research beforehand to find the best option for you. There are different types of storage units and not all are suited to storing the same goods.

It may also be worth considering a climate controlled unit if the items you want to store are of monetary or sentimental value. This will keep the humidity and temperature in the storage unit within a consistent range in order to protect more sensitive items from extreme cold or heat. However, there are far fewer climate-controlled units available than traditional storage units so it may be that you will have to travel further afield.

Viewing your chosen facility before signing any lease agreement is a good idea and will likely help you spot any pre-existing damp conditions or odours/stains associated with damp.

And finally…

So, you have decided on what you want to store, worked out what type of storage unit you want and are confident in your packing abilities – what’s next?

  • The next thing to do is choose a storage provider! Our handy online UK storage facility directory will help you help you find a provider fast!
  • Once you have decided on a storage provider, you will need storage inusrance so use our ‘Quote and Buy Online’ service for instant cover.
  • Our online resources and blog section have a wealth of information regarding storage units, types and uses, as well as handy guides and articles when it comes to storing and storage insurance. If there is anything you can’t find then please do get in touch via our online chat or email which can be found on our website, we are always happy to help!

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Patrick Pellens

Author: Patrick Pellens

I started in the insurance industry in 2003 specialising in Personal Insurances such as Motor Bike, Car and Home Insurance.