boxes

Sherry Brown, Professional Organizer

Finding the Best Box

Most of us keep our possessions in boxes – big boxes, small boxes, decorative boxes, or just plain cardboard boxes. Most boxes are used for moving and temporary protecting our precious things.

For a lot of us, we pack our items in a cardboard box with good intentions of just moving it to one place and unpacking it, but then we decide we don’t need it or don’t know where it is, then we just put it in storage, wherever that might be – garage, attic, basement, shed, or who-knows-where.

Herein lies the problem.

Cardboard breaks down more quickly than plastic and is more to weather conditions, such as moisture and heat. It also takes a shorter amount of time to age. If you use cardboard boxes to store items long term, don’t expect the items to remain in perfect condition.

However, this statement isn’t always true. If you maintain your storage area; keep boxes off the ground, don’t stack more than a few boxes high, and make sure the heavy items are on the bottom of the stack; they may just survive. Another thing that really helps keep your cardboard boxes stay in good condition is a climate-controlled environment.

If you have the option of climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled, and you plan on storing items in cardboard boxes, always take the climate-controlled option. What this does is maintain the level of humidity and temperature so your cardboard boxes will not be as affected by outside conditions.

If you are storing items in a shed, attic or garage, then you really need to be aware of what is being stored and what kind of box you are storing items in. Are you storing on a concrete slab? Wooden flooring in an attic? Brick flooring in a shed? Each of these can be disastrous for cardboard boxes.

Concrete slabs, if not sealed properly, will seep moisture, and if you have a cardboard box on the ground, it will then absorb the moisture and get the items in the box wet. If this happens, your items have not only become ruined, but there is now a chance of mildew or mold growing in the box. If you have chosen to stack cardboard boxes in this situation, the bottom box walls have now become even more compromised and there is a chance of the stack falling.

Instead of storing your items in the garage, perhaps you decide to store them in your attic with a wooden floor. There is no chance of moisture seeping up through the floor to ruin the boxes. However, there is a chance of water leaking through the roof and onto the boxes, thus causing the same type of damage as in the garage. Although, if you have a leak in the roof, you probably have bigger problems than your storage boxes getting wet. The shed is just a combination of both of these situations.

Now it’s time to mention the yuckiest of all things – bugs! They are especially attracted to cardboard boxes and their contents. A solution is plastic boxes.

Plastic boxes are not affected by moisture or water. They are also not as susceptible to breaking down when stacked or dealing with the elements and are better protected from insect infestation.

Plastic boxes come in a variety of colors. One idea is to store items in clear boxes with different colored lids. This automatically starts you off with an organizational system you can use by color coordinating the lids with the subjects of what you are storing. You can even make a legend of the colors and stick it to the wall of the storage area.

Some examples of lid color coordinating are:

  • Green – Christmas, winter
  • Red – Valentine’s Day
  • Orange – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fall
  • Blue – Fourth of July, Summer
  • Pink – Easter, Spring
  • Black – New Year’s

Plastic boxes for storage come in various sizes and you don’t need tape to put them together. Find clear ones so you can see the contents and ones with locking lids so you don’t have to worry about items falling out or other things getting in – if you know what I mean!