How To Clean and Prepare Your Collectables for Self Storage

An array of collectable items (coins, photographs, paintings, letters, etc.)

We know how collectables start; first as a harmless hobby, then as a steadily growing investment, and finally, they sprout into a wondrous obsession. However, as your collection grows, it's not uncommon to start facing storage challenges. Whether you're moving homes or downsizing (and needing to free up some critical space), self storage is your saviour! In this guide, we'll go over what collectables are, what you need to do before you pack them, how to package them properly, and how to make sure they stay in excellent condition. 


What Are Examples of Collectables?

  • Coins and currency
  • Toys
  • Comic books
  • Board games
  • Collection cards
  • Old photographs and paintings
  • Magazines and catalogues
  • Action figures  
  • Porcelain dolls 
  • Jewellery
  • Vintage collections
  • Vinyl records
  • Cultural memorabilia 


A collectable owner enjoying their items


4 Reasons You Should Consider Self Storage for Your Collectables


  1. Preserve Your Collection's Value: Many collectables are susceptible to damage from environmental factors like humidity, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to light. Self storage units provide a controlled environment that helps protect your items from any harmful elements.
  2. Free Up Your Living Space: As your collection expands, your actual living space might feel cluttered. Displaying all your collectables at once could overwhelm your home and make it feel less organised. Self storage allows you to rotate your collection and keep your living space neat and tidy. 
  3. Security and Peace of Mind: Collectibles often have monetary and sentimental value, making their safety a top priority. Reputable self storage facilities offer advanced security features such as surveillance cameras, access-controlled gates, and individually alarmed units. This level of security can bring you peace of mind, knowing that your treasured items are in a safe and protected environment.
  4. Flexible and Convenient Access: Self storage offers you the flexibility to access your collectibles whenever you need them. Most storage facilities have extended access hours, allowing you to retrieve or add items to your collection at your convenience. This feature is especially beneficial if you have items you like to rotate for display or frequently acquire new pieces for your collection. With easy access, you can enjoy your collectables without the hassle of digging through a crowded storage space at home.


Collectables being cleaned and polished for self storage


Before You Start Packing

Assess Your Stuff 

Before you start with all the fun of cleaning and preparing your possessions, take some time to assess your collection and create an inventory. Not only does this help you keep track of your items, but it also ensures that nothing gets lost or damaged during the moving period. Create a detailed list, noting the condition of each item, its size, and any special considerations for packing.

Research Your Storage Needs 

Different collectables require specific storage conditions to maintain their quality and value. Research the optimal storage requirements for each category of items you're storing. A typical guideline includes adequate light protection since UV rays can fade colours and damage delicate materials. When storing items like vintage photographs, comics, and textiles, ensure they are shielded from direct sunlight or intense lighting.

Dust and Dirt Removal 

Before packing, thoroughly dust your collectables to remove any accumulated dirt. For larger items, start by using a soft brush to gently dislodge dust from crevices and corners. For smaller items, a can of compressed air can be handy for getting right in those tricky nooks and crannies.

Gather Cleaning Supplies 

You'll definitely want to clean your collectables before storage to prevent dirt, dust, and grime from causing any long-term damage. Depending on the type of items you have, gather the right cleaning supplies, such as microfiber cloths, soft brushes, non-abrasive cleaning solutions, and gloves.


Note: Different materials require different cleaning approaches.


  • Glass and Crystal: Use a non-abrasive glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth to clean glass and crystal items. Avoid spraying the cleaner directly onto the object; instead, apply it to the cloth.
  • Metal: For metal collectables, such as coins or antique tools, use a soft cloth to wipe away dirt. If any tarnish is present, consider using a metal polish appropriate for the specific type of metal.
  • Paper and Textiles: Dust paper items like posters, books, and documents with a soft brush. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary, consult a professional, especially if you're working with valuable or delicate pieces.
  • Plastic: Avoid using alcohol-based cleaners on plastic collectables, as they can cause unsightly damage. Instead, opt for a mild soap and water solution, and dry the items thoroughly afterwards.

Disassemble if Necessary 

Some collectables might have parts that can be easily disassembled for safer storage. For example, if you're storing a model ship you built by hand, consider removing delicate parts that could break during the move to storage.

An owner carefully packing collectables of high value into a box


How To Package Your Collectables Properly

Now that the prep work is complete, let's start getting your items packaged for self storage!

Handle With Care 

When handling your collectables, always use gentle and deliberate movements. Avoid applying too much pressure, especially when dealing with fragile or valuable items. It's a good idea to wear clean, lint-free gloves to prevent the transfer of oils from your hands onto the objects.

Packaging Materials 

Investing in quality packaging materials is crucial to ensuring the protection of your collectables during storage. These materials include:


  • Boxes: Choose sturdy, appropriately sized boxes made of high-quality materials. This is particularly important for long-term storage to prevent wear and tear on the box itself.
  • Packing Paper: Use acid-free tissue paper or archival-quality paper to wrap delicate items. Avoid using newspapers, as the ink can taint your collectables.
  • Bubble Wrap: For extra protection against unexpected impacts, wrap fragile items in bubble wrap before placing them in boxes.
  • Foam Inserts: These are especially useful for items with irregular shapes. Foam inserts can be custom-cut to provide a snug fit and stop any unwanted movement within the box.

Use Proper Packing Techniques 

When placing your collectables in boxes, follow these guidelines:

  • Padding: Line the bottom of the box with packing material to provide cushioning.
  • Layering: Place the heaviest items at the bottom and layer lighter items on top. This prevents crushing.
  • Individual Wrapping: Wrap each item separately to prevent them from coming into direct contact with each other. This lessens the risk of scratches and grazes.
  • Filling Empty Spaces: Fill any gaps in the box with additional packing material to prevent items from shifting during transport and storage.

Label and Organise 

Label each box clearly with its contents and any special handling instructions. This helps you locate specific items without having to unpack everything. Create an inventory list for easy reference whenever you visit your unit.

Stacking and Packing in Storage 

When placing your packed boxes into the storage unit, consider the following:


  • Heaviest at the Bottom: Similar to box packing, place the heaviest boxes at the bottom of stacks to avoid crushing lighter ones.
  • Aisles and Pathways: Leave enough space between stacks to create aisles for easy access to any box without having to move everything around.


Boxes being lovingly stacked in a self storage unit


How To Keep Your Collectables in Good Condition After Packing Them in Self Storage 


Regular Check-Ups

Even if your items are stored safely, it's a good idea to visit your storage unit occasionally to ensure everything is in order, especially if you're storing items for a long time.


Get Insurance

Consider getting insurance for your stored collectables. While you've taken all possible precautions, unexpected events like accidents and natural disasters can occur. Insurance provides added peace of mind, knowing that you're financially protected in case of any calamities.


An exterior shot of a Len’s Self Storage facility


How To Book a Self Storage Unit for Your Collectables


  1. Choose from one of our four facilities across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  2. Determine how much space you need and select a unit that works for you.
  3. Reserve your unit and check in online, over the phone, or in person.
  4. Once you are packed and ready, you can move in.


Easy and simple!

Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting out, taking the time to care for your collectables during storage will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. If you are looking for clean, dry and secure personal storage facilities that offer affordable and flexible options, call us today on 0131 552 8141 / 0141 810 8580 or drop into one of our branches, and we’ll be thrilled to show you around.