Collecting trading cards is just one part of the hobby. For many people, there’s something enjoyable about the very act of protecting and storing their cards. You may find that sleeving and cataloging cards are almost meditative experiences—it gives you an opportunity to appreciate your collection all over again. Read on to learn four ways to properly protect your trading cards.

Binders or Boxes

While binders or boxes aren’t essential for protection, they are crucial for cataloging and organization. If you have the space and a collection to warrant it, we highly recommend boxes for your trading cards. Binders full of cards become unwieldy and expensive, while boxes can easily and affordably store thousands of cards.

Keep in mind that you probably don’t want to store your cards in a box without factoring in the other protective tips we have—repeatedly flipping through unsleeved cards can wear them down.

Protective Sleeves

Protective sleeves are the most common way to protect trading cards for a good reason. They’re cheap, and they mostly get the job done. While sleeves offer a lot of protection, remember that a sleeve has an opening. Sure, your card is safe on the front, back, sides, and bottom, but what about the top? Also, it’s fairly easy to bend penny sleeves, meaning you still need to handle them with care.

Top Loaders

Top loaders are tighter and thicker than penny sleeves and work best in conjunction with other protective measures. For the best protection, put your card into a protective sleeve and then into a top loader. This will prevent your card from experiencing scratches, bends, and other forms of damage.

Climate Control

Finally, after you pull something great out of one of our baseball card breaks, sleeve it, and top load it, make sure you store it somewhere with a constant temperature and climate. Even inside a top loader, humidity can affect your cards. Store your cards in a space that’s cool and dry—around 40 percent humidity at most.

Now that you know these four ways to properly protect your trading cards, pick up some sleeves and top loaders and begin your meditation-like process (just try not to relax too much and fall asleep).