Dampness is one of the worst things that furniture can be exposed to. Moist, humid environments can cause mold and mildew to take hold, seriously damaging your furniture and also creating a potential health hazard. If you need to store some furniture for a prolonged period of time, it is a good idea to take some precautions to prevent damp damage.
Preventing Damp Damage
Putting your furniture in self-storage can keep it safe and dry while you are decorating or moving house. However, not all self-storage units are created equal. You should choose your self-storage units carefully, and pack the furniture properly so that it stays clean and dry.
Choosing a Storage Unit
The best storage facilities have wide doors and strong, secure walls between each locker. Walk around the storage locker to make sure that there are no signs of water damage, particularly in the corners. Check with the facility to find out what sort of insurance or compensation policies they have. You may need to take out a separate insurance policy that covers any potential water damage to items you keep in storage.
Cover the floor of the storage area with thick plastic sheets that will keep moisture away from the concrete floor. Lay wooden pallets on top of the plastic sheets to act as a buffer between the sheets (which will collect any moisture that does make it into the unit) and your furniture.
If possible, disassemble wooden furniture (such as beds or tables) before storing it. Put any nuts and bolts in a bag and tape the bag to the frame. If the furniture is varnished, clean it with soapy water and then apply a fine coat of wax to it.
Remove drawers from dressers and end tables. Use the drawers to store smaller items, and place a towel over each drawer to keep it dust free and to protect it from scuffs and damage.
Fabric items such as chairs or mattresses should be carefully vacuum cleaned and wiped down or sprayed with an antibacterial agent before putting it into storage. Cover them with a plastic sheet to minimise exposure to both dust and damp.
Treating Mold and Damp Damage
If something has been sitting in your loft or garage for a long time and has been damaged by mold, don’t just throw it out. In many cases, it is possible to salvage the item. Start by taking the furniture outdoors to clean it. Try not to clean moldy items indoors because the mold spores can spread, causing even more damage or introducing health risks into the home. Work in a well ventilated area and wear a mask to avoid breathing in any spores.
Start by performing a small spot test (on the rear, or underside of the furniture) using your chosen cleaner or detergent. Wipe the furniture down with a clean cloth soaked in a mild detergent. If the furniture is varnished and the mold is superficial, then simply wiping the furniture clean then treating it with an alcohol solution or a slightly stronger detergent may get rid of all of the mold. If the furniture is not varnished, or the mold has taken a stronger hold, sand the furniture down with fine sandpaper, then cover it with a clear coat or some wax to keep moisture out and prevent the mold from growing back.