Cardboard Boxes: A Storage Nightmare

Filed Under: Storage

Older Chicago attics and basements are notorious for storing dusty cardboard boxes. We often come across clients storing items in them leftover from previous moves or memorabilia passed between family members. Grandma’s china or tea set has been in the same box for forty years. Here are seven reasons why you should avoid cardboard boxes for storage, altogether.

  1. You cannot see what is inside at first glance. The easiest way to identify a container’s contents is to use clear containers. This saves a ton of time when you are looking for something. Also, although I always suggest labeling bins, sometimes you can forgo it if you can see directly inside to identify the contents.
  2. They take too much effort. You may think this is a silly reason but stop and think about it. They are awkward to move on and off shelving and carry and it takes more effort and time to cut through tape and open four flaps versus taking off one lid when you need to access the contents.
  3. Dust can creep inside. Cardboard boxes are not sealed perfectly and over time dust does end up inside and can ruin contents. This is not the cleanest or safest way to store items.
  4. Bugs and rodents are attracted to them. A dark box is the best hiding spot for these little critters. What insect, bug, or rodent, would not use it as their home?
  5. Water is their worst enemy. Cardboard boxes are not meant for long term storage. I often come across boxes of photos, keepsakes, and memorabilia that have been ruined by moisture in basements or garages. It is so sad to see this damage and know how easily it could have been prevented.
  6. Plastic storage containers are made with space saving in mind. When you use consistently sized plastic bins (especially the larger containers) in basements and garages, these containers can be easily stacked one on top of another if shelving is not an option and in many cases are designed to sit on top of one another very securely. This frees up floor space and shelving which can be valuable real estate. Stacked cardboard boxes overtime will start to collapse and the base boxes will not hold the weight or structure.
  7. Moving made easy! When the contents of the basement and garage are already stored efficiently and securely in plastic containers, move day can be so much easier. When you can see the contents at first glance, you can more quickly purge unwanted items and trust that the remaining contents will be safe in transit, landing safely in their new space in your new home.

Plastic clear tubs/bins/containers are the best long-term option for storage. If no moisture gets in through a loose lid, the items inside are very safe. Buying plastic clear containers is not the cheapest option, but I encourage you to start switching things into plastic over time. Perhaps cycle through a year’s worth of holidays and each time you pull out a cardboard box of seasonal clothes or holiday decor, swap it for plastic. After a year you should be all set. Stores will often sell colored tubs during each season (i.e., red, and green for Christmas). This makes searching for items even easier.

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