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Can I Store My Sports Cards in the Garage or Attic?

When you are getting back into collecting sports cards you may have your old collection in an attic or your garage.  It might be at your parents house hidden behind your old toys or behind your porn mags. Wherever you had your cards, they probably weren’t stored that best way possible.  

You shouldn’t store your sports cards in your garage or attic because it will be susceptible to the outdoor climate.  Humidity greatly affects sports cards as well as the cold and hot weather. Having your cards in a temperature controlled environment is the best strategy to keep your cards safe.  

While doing my research I quickly realized that humidity was the biggest factor in destroying your sports cards.  If there is too much water in the air, your cards will get moldy and become worthless. 

How are you Storing your Cards?

Do you keep your cards stacked up on a table? Do you keep them in the same box that they came in? How you store your cards are important in protecting them and keeping them safe. If you don’t care about storing your cards properly then they won’t be in pristine condition if you ever try to sell them. Below are the essential products you need to protect your cards. 

Penny Sleeves – They are essential to protecting your valuable cards.  When you start to collect cards these are the first things you need to buy.  When you open a pack of cards and you hit that rookie it immediately should go in a penny sleeve.   

In this video below I show you how to properly penny sleeve a card without damaging the corners.

Top Loaders – Once your card is in a penny sleeve it needs to go in a top loader.  It’s a hard plastic card holder that you put your card in from the top.  Hence the name top loader.  Duh!!  These card holders come in different types of thicknesses, so they can hold various patch cards, cleat cards, etc.    

Storage Boxes – Once you have them in a top loader you need a place to store your cards.  As much as you love having your cards on the kitchen table, your wife might not.  So you will need a cardboard storage box to put your cards in.  They will be able to store cards that you left unprotected, should be commons, cards in top loaders, and even graded cards. 

Note –  Cardboard storage boxes for graded cards are much taller, you can lie down the graded cards to fit in a regular height storage box but you won’t be able to fit anywhere near the amount as a box made for graded cards.   

If you want to know what I recommend head over to my Resource Page where I show you what I buy to protect my cards.  

Humidity 

Humidity is the biggest killer of sports cards.  Too much moisture and it will damage your cards and make them smell. Then it will go for your wife and kids, then who knows what else it will do.  But I digress.    Okay we get humidity is bad, but what should the humidity be? Well, according to the Library of Congress, where they store our most valuable documents, they keep at 50% and they keep the temperature around 50 degrees which is ideal for paper documents..  

The Polygon group, a company that deals with temperature climate solutions, suggests a humidity range of 45%-55% for your sports memorabilia.  

So it’s safe to say the target humidity you’re shooting for is 50%.  You don’t need to pump the AC to get your house/ room down to 50 degrees.  A regular temperature of 68-72 degrees is fine.    

Okay, so we know humidity is bad. How do I figure out the humidity in my home? A quick search will show you that you need to get yourself a hygrometer.  A hygrometer will measure the temperature and the relative humidity.  Go to my resource page again and you will find the one I recommend based on the research I did.  

The hygrometer

So, you now have a hygrometer and you realize that your house is humid, what do you do now?  If you are a serious collector and/or you have a fairly expensive collection you don’t want to chance them being damaged.  Go buy a dehumidifier.  This will take all of the moisture out of the air.  You can set it to the humidity you want,which should be 50%. You will have to dump water out of it after a while, but it shouldn’t be something you have to do everyday unless you live in a basement apartment.  

The dehumidifier that I used is almost the exact one as the Soleus Air 45 Pint Portable Dehumdifier and it worked amazing. Checking on the reviews and my previous experience this is the one you want to get. 

I was in a basement apartment so I had to dump a ton of water out.  But if you are storing your cards in a conditioned room on the 1st floor, you won’t have to do it that often. Maybe once every 3 days. There are other dehumidifiers that have hoses that you can run to a drain, but they tend to be pretty expensive.  The dehumidifier I recommend should work perfectly for what you need.     

Can Graded Cards Be Affected By Humidity? 

Your graded cards can be affected by humidity. The slabs act similar to a window.  When there are sudden changes in temperature and humidity, particularly in the cold, condensation occurs. An example of this is during the winter time your card being in the mailbox and then immediately going inside your nice and toasty home.   Now BGS (Beckett) sleeves the cards before slabbing for extra protection which will help, but PSA and SGC doesn’t.  

Now some people like to put a graded card sleeve to further protect the card from case scratching and also to help with sudden changes in temperature.  The type of people who do this are also the ones that put plastic on their sofa cushions.  Can you really trust them?  I guess so, but now it’s got me thinking of my grandma.  

Where Do You Live? 

Depending where you live, you will deal with different concerns about storing your cards.  If you live in North Dakota you would have to worry about extreme cold and humidity.  If you live in Arizona, you will have to deal with extreme heat and dryness.  If you leave your cards to the elements, ie. direct sunlight, rain, snow it doesn’t matter what holder you put them, they are toast.  But most people don’t keep their cards outdoors. But even indoors you have to make sure they stay in a conditioned space and are stored properly. 

Extreme cold with no humidity won’t damage your cards if they are in a cardboard storage box.  But it might chip easier.  If it’s hot and humid you have to deal with your cards getting moldy or your cards may stick together or warp.  Even cards that have been penny sleeved can grow mold in a hot and humid climate. 

In my research I have found collectors, even in conditioned spaces, have had problems with their cards in areas where extreme hot/ cold in humid climates exist.  Making a dehumidifier that much more important.    

What Not to Put Your Cards In

If you are storing cards for investments and to retain value, I suggest not to use binders to store your cards.  If you want to be able to go through your collection with the least amount of headaches then binders are the way to go.  But they also will damage your cards easier and take up a lot of space.  They can be stored on a book shelf, but if you try to pile these on top of each other like cardboard boxes your cards will be damaged. 

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9 thoughts on “Can I Store My Sports Cards in the Garage or Attic?

  1. Great info bro, thank you. I swear I thought I was the only one having those penny sleeve issues. Also, for all of my graded cards, I store them in these large, white tint stackable storage drawers from the container store. Holds all of the different sizes of the graded cards. Easy to access and strong enough to hold a large amount. I was tired of the boxes and their look.

  2. Awesome advice. I actually like the look of storage boxes brings me back to when my local card shop had stacks of them everywhere.

  3. Very informative article. I bought a hygrometer and my room hovers from 55-62. Is that too high? I’ve had my cards in here for years just left on the table and haven’t noticed any problems. Or should I move them somewhere else? TIA!

    1. That’s fine. You are looking for extreme’s either way. I would put them in a storage – check out my supplies section. You should put them in penny sleeves, top loaders, and store in a cardboard box.

    1. I am not sure. Very interesting to think about. The only thing is it would probably damage your cards unless they are PSA graded cards.

  4. Can you leave autograph cards, graded, and memorabilia cards out on display or is it best to keep in a box. Also I have a auto jersey hanging on a wall in a frame in my living room. Should I cover the auto or will it fade. Thank you

    1. Of course you can display it! You don’t want to hide that goodness in a box. Just make sure it’s encased in a uv resistant, acid free enclosure. Most of the things you buy to display signed jerseys or balls have both of these(UV resistance/Acid Free). Another big thing is direct sunlight. You don’t want direct sunlight because the auto will fade. You should put the displayed item on the wall that has the window on it (exterior wall) to avoid this.

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