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Sadly, depending on the age of your home and/or where you live, you’ve likely had to contend with a musty basement once or twice.

Moisture can get in, seals can fail, the temperature can fluctuate, and it can get awfully hard to safely keep anything in there. If you’ve been battling moisture and mildew in your basement and need to figure out how to better organize anything already down there, here’s a few tips we’ve found to keep everything a little cleaner:

 

Leave space for air to move: Moisture and humidity collect most often in areas where items are tightly packed together and the air can’t move between them to dry it out. Wherever possible, leave space between items on shelves to help the air flow through and prevent moisture from accumulating. In cases where space is at a premium, you may need to provide shelves with open decking and backs such as wire shelving to help improve air flow.

 

Moisture removers everywhere: It’s no exaggeration when we suggest using as many moisture removers as you can throughout the basement to help capture moisture in the air and prevent it from building up and damaging your stuff. There’s plenty of DIY recipes to make them yourself using household items (such as cat litter, activated charcoal, and silica gel), or they’re easily purchased at supermarkets and hardware stores. You’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes.

 

Use the right materials for storage: As you probably already learned the hard way, a lot of materials can’t withstand the conditions of a basement as easily as some others. “Softer” materials such as cardboard and wood aren’t good choices for long-term basement use due to their ability to absorb a ton of moisture very quickly. Stick with more corrosion-resistant options like chrome shelves, epoxy coated shelving, and plastic bins to keep the dampness at bay (and try to remember to keep a lid on everything).

 

Keep it airtight: If your basement is home for a lot of your seasonal clothes when you don’t need a coat, vacuum sealing may be the way to go. By reducing the amount of air in a container you can more easily prevent the buildup of mildew, and vacuum packing at home might be the ideal solution for long-term storage of clothes you don’t wear that often or anything with sentimental value such as a wedding dress.

 

Remember to keep an eye out: Finally, no matter how many precautions you take, you’re going to have to keep checking on everything you store down there. Don’t leave anything unattended or sitting still for very long, and for particularly sensitive items (electronics, old fabrics) bring them upstairs into the sun to let them dry out and warm up a little.

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