Clock Storage 101: How Do You Store a Wall Clock and Where?

Andreea Draguleasa
Last Updated on June 10, 2024
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While many in our digital age are accustomed to glancing at the microwave to check the time if a smartphone isn’t handy, some still look to fashioned clocks to check the current hour. Clocks aren’t just functional tools for telling time, but often decorative pieces of art that provide aesthetic and sentimental value.

Whether it’s that funky wall clock you snagged at a street fair or the stately grandfather clock that’s been in your family for ages, where you put them when you need to store your things makes a big difference. You want to keep them working well and looking good, because let’s face it, a clock that doesn’t work isn’t helping anyone and if better days are behind it, the collectible value just plummets.

So let’s get that clock storage sorted one tick at a time.

Essential Clock Storage Tips

A collection of old clocks

credit: Shutterstock 19481479 / Pawel Kielpinski

To keep your clocks in prime condition you have to wind them up regularly (more on that later), but also give them a great place to rest when not on display. So where is the best place to put a clock?

  • First, stay clear of extreme temperatures and high humidity — they can be trouble. Too much heat can warp your clock’s parts, while too much cold can make them brittle. And humidity is the silent clock killer that brings rust with it.
  • What about sunlight? Direct sunlight can fade clock dials and is very harsh on wooden cases, bleaching them and drying any veneer. A shaded, stable environment keeps the colors true and the wood intact.
  • Looking for a middle ground where your clocks can live happily long-term? Your basement or attic, though shaded, won’t do unless thoroughly insulated. A closest in your home could work if you can spare the room. Otherwise. your best bet is a climate-controlled storage unit.
  • Use some type of cover to protect the clock face from getting scratched. Use a dust-tight pouch, blanket, or other soft packaging material.
  • Dust is yet another enemy of clocks, as it can easily sneak into the mechanism and cause wear or clogging. Place your covered clock in a dedicated box, plastic bin, or cabinet to keep it safe from fine particles.
  • Now that we have the clock storage environment in check, note that it’s equally important how you place them, and face up is often the way to go. This keeps the glass or clock face from getting scratched accidentally.

Here is more on storing a clock at a glance:

Storage Tip Why It Matters
Cool, dry environment Prevents material damage and mechanism faults
Avoid extreme temps Protects structural integrity of clocks
Limit sun exposure Preserves dial and case aesthetics
Place clocks face up Avoids scratches and keeps clocks display-ready
Dust-free enclosure Keeps internals clean and functional

Pro tip: Give your clocks a professional cleaning before you store them. Make sure to use proper cleaning solutions only, and never spray WD-40 onto the clock mechanisms — there’s a special clock oil for that. If your piece is antique, ask a professional to do it.

Clock Storage Best Practices by Type

While the above tips stand for both battery-operated (electric) and pendulum (mechanical) clocks, each type has its quirks and needs, especially when not ticking on your wall or mantle.

Battery-operated clock storage

Whether analog or digital, battery-operated clocks are pretty common, but storing them has a catch — that’s right, the batteries. It’s important to remove them if putting any of these clocks away for a while.

Batteries can leak over time, which leads to corrosion and serious damage that’s often beyond repair. Just pop them out and store them separately or use them somewhere else in the meantime. You’ll get new batteries once you decide to remove your clock from storage.

Pendulum clock storage

Pendulum clocks demand a bit more attention, and the first step in storing one of these is securing the pendulum. This stops it from swinging and potentially hitting other parts of the clock.

Got an impressive grandfather clock to put away? They’re a handful because of their size and all those delicate parts, so if you have to move one, you might want to call in the pros. If you’re just storing it at home, stand it straight and ensure all the moving parts like the pendulum and weights are snug and secure. And find a place where it won’t get wet or wobbly — a stable, elevated surface will do the trick.

To sum it up:

Clock Type Key Consideration
Battery-operated Remove batteries to prevent leakage and damage.
Pendulum Secure moving parts, especially the pendulum.
Grandfather clocks Use professionals for moving and storage.

Additional Considerations for Storing Clocks Properly

Another approach to storing clocks, especially if you are keeping a large collection, is to install shelves in your self-storage unit. This will allow you to safely display key pieces of your collection for easy access and enjoyment. Just remember to keep them covered to prevent dust accumulation.

When you’re organizing your clock collection for storage, thinking about weight and stability can save you from a lot of headaches later. And by that, I mean heavy clocks should always go on the bottom shelf and lighter ones higher. You don’t put watermelons on top of eggs, right? This way, lighter clocks don’t risk getting crushed and your storage space is kept stable. It’s not that uncommon for shelving units to tip over if not bolted to the wall.

How about hanging them up? Beyond mere display, wall mounts are a great storage solution too, keeping wall clocks out of harm’s way. Plus, they’re all set for showing off when you want to give them a new home — no extra setup needed. This might be your best bet if you are storing a particularly large clock that won’t fit in any container.

How do you pack wall clocks?

Wall clocks can be a bit of a hassle because they do not have a stable base and do not fit in a conventional box. When preparing wall clocks for a move to storage, there are a few things that make all the difference.

  • First of all, remove any loose parts, like the pendulum or weights. If you have multiple mechanical clocks, you can store all the mobile parts in one box. Just wrap each piece in acid-free packing paper and label it to know what it pairs with.
  • Wrap the clock in a soft cloth. This helps protect the face and glass cover. Bubble wrap may sound tempting, but it can trap moisture in humid environments. You could employ it for moving purposes only, not for storing the clock wrapped in it. If you use plastic wrap, make sure it is not airtight. 
  • Use a sturdy box without much room for movement inside. Look for a picture frame or mirror box that it will fit inside. For large clocks you might need to combine two boxes, or assemble a custom size box from loose cardboard pieces. Fill any gaps in the box with crumpled packing paper.
  • Seal the box well and mark it as “Fragile” to ensure careful handling no matter who helps you move. Also mark which side is the front so you can avoid damaging the clock face by accident.

How often should you wind up a clock?

One last thing before you’re fully set on clock storage and care: Clocks, especially antiques, need regular winding. If you let a clock sit idle, this can dry out its mechanism. As a result, repairs become more difficult and more costly.  How often should you do it?

  • For an eight-day cuckoo clock, give it a wind once a week to keep it running smoothly.
  • A 30-hour clock needs more attention: wind it each night before bed.

If you are storing antique clocks that are still in working condition, and are unable to visit your storage unit all the time to wind them—strongly consider consulting a clocksmith to ensure they are stored properly. If anything, allow the clocks to completely wind down before storing them.

Keep Your Clocks Stored Right

You don’t have the priciest clock ever — that’s the Duke of Orleans’ Breguet Sympathique worth $6.8 million, by the way — but that doesn’t mean you don’t want your clocks ticking right and looking sharp.

You know how to find the best spot to store your clocks, at home or in self-storage: cool, dry and away from too much sun, like a climate-controlled space. You also know how to pack them up tight and make sure they look good for years. Whether it’s that kitchen clock you check every morning or a fancy old clock in the hall, the way you store them can boost their value. And who knows? They might just become valuable pieces you pass down someday.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 28, 2024 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Andreea Draguleasa

Andreea Draguleasa showed an affinity for foreign languages and literature at an early age and started writing when she was 6. She studied journalism, advertising, and public relations at the University of Bucharest and worked as a content writer for a tourism agency and as a journalist for a magazine in the hospitality industry until 2010. After seven years as marketing manager for a Home & Deco online shop, she realized that learning something new every day brings her the most joy, so she went back to researching and writing informative articles. Through her experience traveling the world, she's picked up tips and resources she now shares on self storage solutions. When not writing about home organizing and storage, Andreea spends most of her time reading, playing video games, and spoiling her cat.
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About the SpareFoot Blog

The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
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