Best Ways to Store Old Print Photos

Updated: Nov. 23, 2022

Your old print photos deserve to be treated with care. Whether you're storing them away or hanging them up, check out these tips and tricks.

Old print photos vintage camera polaroidsjakkapan/Shutterstock

Saving Your Best Memories

Have you come across a box of old print photos that stirred up lots of memories? Whether it’s from your great-grandparents’ wedding day, or your first steps as a baby, a single image can evoke deep feelings. And not to mention, these photos are from the days long before digital photos, uploaded to Facebook and Instagram, took over. These old-timey prints are often found in boxes, drawers and dusty albums. (By the way, if you’re doing some spring cleaning, be sure to check out these 8 Principles of Organizing That Work in Every Room).

Coming across these visual time capsules that aren’t stored online may have you wondering, what’s the best way to store old print photos? It is possible to store and preserve old pictures so they’ll last for generations to come, but there are a few important tips and tricks for doing so successfully.

1. First things first: Handle your images with care, or there’s no point in storing them. To be sure you don’t harm the print, wear clean, cotton gloves, if possible. Avoid touching the print side of the photograph with your fingers, as this can leave behind oils that can damage it. You’ll also want to be careful not to bend the photo. It’s an heirloom, so treat it like one!

2. Avoid placing print photos in the “peel and stick” albums, since the materials they’re made of, like ordinary plastic, glue and cardboard, can harm the image over time. If you use an “acid-free” magnetic album, the photos should be fine.

3. If you’re looking to store the images individually, purchase PVC-free plastic sleeves or use plastic sandwich bags.

4. If you want to store a stack of photos, layer them between sheets of acid free paper in a metal box. If you use a cardboard box, make sure it’s acid-free. You can also store the layered photos in a cabinet, closet, under the bed, or in this clever Bookcase of Secrets.

5. When storing print photos, avoid areas with temperature fluctuations and extreme humidity. Store your photos in areas below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, avoid potential flood areas (here are 9 Affordable Ways to Dry Up Your Wet Basement For Good!) and store in a dark place, if possible. Do not store your photos in the attic, basement or garage due to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Instead, choose a well-ventilated area. The circulating air will keep mold growth and other damaging organic substances at bay. (Speaking of mold, here’s How to Prevent Bathroom Mold.)

6. If you want to frame an old photo, purchase an acid-free mat to ensure the photo doesn’t come in direct contact with the glass. You’ll also want an acid-free backboard to keep the image from deteriorating.

Need more wall art inspo? Check out this DIY Wall Art: Paint Over an Old Canvas.