How to Prevent Your Books, Photos, & Documents from Yellowing

Planning to store your books, photos or important papers over a long period of time? Before you pack them away, you should make sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to stop them from yellowing over time. 

Paper contains a polymer called lignin that oxidizes in responses to sunlight and air. When this happens, the chemical breaks down into acids that are yellow, making your items look old and decayed. 

So if you’re looking to keep you’re paper products safe, especially books or photos that have large sentimental or financial value, read on for a few tips to keep your stored items looking brand new. 

Frame your photos or keep them in an album 

If yellowing occurs as a result of a paper’s exposure to sunlight and air, it makes sense that one of the best ways to keep your photos safe would be to minimize their interaction with the outer elements. Framing your photos or keeping them in an album where they are protected by a plastic layer is one of the best ways to do that. These methods will seal off your photos from the outside world and ensure that their quality isn’t lost — no matter how long they’re in storage. 

Remove bookmarks or papers from in between book pages 

If you have any items between the pages of your books, it will open them up  to more air and light. Instead, ensure that the pages are tightly pressed together to minimize how exposed they are.  

Pack your books vertically, not horizontally

This is another step you can take to make sure that the pages of your books are pressed as tightly together as possible! When stored up and down, you can better prevent space between pages and thus prevent air and light from altering the coloring of your book pages. 

Store documents in acid-free folders

If you have loose documents or drawings, consider storing them in acid-free folders. These kinds of folders have a more balanced pH so they’ll help prevent acidity in your storage environment and the breakdown of your papers. They’re also less susceptible to breakdown themselves, meaning that they’ll be sturdy protectors of your papers for longer. 

Choose your boxes wisely

If you truly want to protect your paper documents, not just any box will do. Like folders, acid-free boxes tend to work better to stop the deterioration of your items and remain sturdier over a longer period of time. Plastic tubs as opposed to cardboard boxes are also an effective way to better seal off your photos, books or documents from the outside elements. 

Ensure your items are stored in a dark, cool place 

If you’re storing your items on Sharespace, talk with your host about keeping your items away from sun, heat or fluorescent lights. Paper products that are stored away from these elements will last longer and will deteriorate less. Your host will want to keep your items protected just as much as you do ––  safer storage could be just a conversation away!