A woman is packing photos in a U-Haul box to be stored in self-storage.

Old photos – whether they’re piled in a box or placed neatly in a photo album – hold some of our most cherished memories. It’s why it’s so important that you take extra care of your photos in self-storage. Luckily, there are some simple ways to prevent wear and tear so your photos and other printed media stay in the best possible condition and are enjoyed for generations to come. Follow these tips to store your photographs in a storage unit successfully.

1. Organize Your Photos

Prepare your photos by organizing them. This will make the move-in process easier. Sort your collection in a way that makes sense to you, whether it’s by type of photo, size, age or memories. With your collection organized, you can plan how you’re going to pack and store them.

Pro Tip: Wear cotton gloves when handling photos and try not to touch the printed side as a precaution.

2. Use Photo Storage Supplies

These supplies will help protect your photos and keep them organized while they’re stored:

  • Acid-free paper/tissue
  • Sturdy boxes that close
  • PVC-free plastic sleeves/sandwich bags
  • Picture frame boxes
  • File folders and file boxes
  • Envelopes
  • Silica gel moisture absorber

3. Choose a Photo Packing Method

There are several ways to pack and store photos. What works best for you will depend on your needs and the types of photos you want to store. Here are a few common methods and why you might want to use each.


Stacking is an easy way to organize and store large quantities of loose photos. If you’re not adamant that your photos are stored in an album or individual container, you can stack your photos in a box while placing a sheet of acid-free paper or tissue in between each.

Photo Albums

If you have photos in “peel-and-stick” photo albums, remove them and look for an alternate storage method. These photos albums often use chemical adhesives that damage photos over time. If you want to store photos in an album, us an “archival” photo album that has acid-free sleeves.

File Folders and Envelopes

These aren’t just for paper documents! File folders and envelopes are great for storing sets of photos or photos you want to store individually. When storing sets, be sure to place acid-free paper or tissue between photos. You can consolidate files and envelopes in an accordion folder or File Box.

Picture Frame Boxes

Any photos that are in a large picture frame can remain there. Simply use a U-Haul Mirror & Picture Box and the store it as is. Just be sure to make a large ‘x’ on the glass with tape to prevent shattering.

4. Use the Right Sized Storage Supply

Choose the right sized storage supply when storing your photos, whether it’s an envelope, box, or photo album. Using an item that’s too large can cause shifting and bending. On the same subject, avoid overstuffing envelopes, boxes or photo albums to prevent crushing, folding and bending. This will damage photos over time.

5. Pick Sturdy Storage Supplies

Photos are best kept flat, so only use folders, envelopes and other packing materials that are firm and flat. Only use boxes with thick walls and lids that shut all the way and are made from acid-free materials.

6. Keep the Light Out!

Prevent light sources from penetrating your storage containers. Close boxes tight and block the carrying handles on the side. Photos exposed to light over extended periods of time will fade over time.

7. Keep Boxes off the Ground

Store your photos high above the ground on top of sturdy furniture or shelving. This prevents them from getting crushed or damaged by other boxes being piled on top of them.

8. Choose a Climate Controlled Facility

When it comes to choosing a storage unit, don’t consider anything that’s not climate-controlled! High heat, humidity and dust can do a number on photos, which is why having a climate-controlled storage unit is so important. We recommend storing your photos at 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit or below and storing your photos in an area that’s well-ventilated.

No matter what items you need to store, U-Haul has a storage facility near you that can accommodate. Make U-Haul your Storage Place and find a storage facility near you.

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