Paper documents will start to decay over time. Preparing them for storage, however, can significantly extend their lives. This is important for anyone who needs to store legal documents, family photographs, and other items that they want to last for many years.
Use Acid-free Folders and Dividers
Acid-free paper tolerates age much better than cheaper types of paper. When organizing paper documents for storage, place them between pieces of acid-free paper. You should also place them in an acid-free folder.
Remove Paperclips and Staples
You do not want any paperclips or staples in your paper documents. Remove them as carefully as you can before placing them in storage. It’s best to use a micro-spatula to remove the items. Do not use a staple remover. They damage paper too easily.
If you want to attach documents to each other, then you should place a piece of acid-free paper between each page. Then, place the group between two pieces of archival paper. You can place a paperclip on the outside of the archival paper. It will accept any damage from the paperclip instead of letting your documents get hurt.
Store Documents Flat if Possible
If possible, it helps to store your documents flat. If you have to place them in a file cabinet or box, make sure that each folder has support that takes pressure off of the documents.
Choose a Cool, Dry Place
You want to store your documents in a place with clean, circulating air that avoids all temperature extremes. You never want your documents to get too hot or too cold.
Try to find a storage space with a temperature between 15.5 and 21 degrees Celsius (60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit). The best storage facilities will have relative humidity between 40 and 50 percent.
Using a storage unit with climate control can help keep documents in good condition.
Keep Documents Away From Light
Light will slowly cause paper to decay and become brittle. It’s best to choose a storage location where natural light will never touch your documents. In fact, you should limit exposure to all kinds of light. Only access the documents when you really need them. Just a few hours of exposure to light can cause damage.
Now that you know some tips for keeping documents safe, do you feel more comfortable putting your documents in long-term storage? What other tips would you use to keep your paper documents in good condition?