How To Store 3D Printing Filament

Filament storage is a small but vital part of the 3D printing experience, but learning how to store 3D printer filament is often a matter of trial and error. This guide will end the guessing game and help you preserve your filament for longer.

It is important to get filament storage right. Some types of filament, like PLA and Nylon, become brittle or swell when exposed to moisture.

Also, dust particles that settle on any filament that is left out can gunk up your extruder. So it is very important to store your filament in a dry, dust-free place.

Put the filament in a bin

The best way to store filament is in a storage bin. You can buy these plastic storage containers at office supply stores, large department stores like Target and Walmart, as well as some Hardware stores.

Make sure you get storage containers that have air-tight lids to prevent humidity from getting inside.

Pro Tip: Also, try to get clear bins if you can so that you can see what filaments are inside without opening it up. It’s not necessary but it makes life a bit easier.

how to store 3d printing filament

Best Desiccants For Filament Storage

Next, put a desiccant of some kind in the bin. That will keep the humidity low and protect the filament from absorbing too much water.


A popular desiccant is a porous bag of rice. Rice naturally absorbs moisture from its environment.

So if you put a few cups of rice in a sock or shoebox and place it in the bin, it will absorb any humidity that gets inside and keep the filament dry. You can also you silica beads or gel packs.

RicebrownBasmatiRiceRice is an age old desiccant material. In ancient times, rice was used to keep other foods and objects dry during storage and transport. Place a cloth bag, sock, or just an open container of filament in the bottom of your filament storage bin. It will keep your filament dry by absorbing humidity from the air inside the container.
Silicasilica-litterKitty litter is a good source of silica desiccant, believe it or not. In fact, kitty litter is mostly silica beads. Simply put some kitty litter in the bottom of your filament storage container to keep your filaments dry.
Silica gel packetsSilica-Gel-Desiccant-for-PackingSilica gel packets are a common desiccant. They are great for keeping filaments dry when they are in vacuum sealed packages or plastic bags.


small dehumidifier how to store 3d printing filament

But Dissicants aren’t the end of the matter. The environment you keep your filament in also matters. If you are storing your filament in a basement or workshop, you might want to take some extra precautions to keep the humidity levels in check.

One way to do that is to set up a dehumidifier in the room where you do your printing or store your filament. Even a small dehumidifier will help a lot.

Check out our guide to dehumidifiers for workshops for some options.

Table could not be displayed.


Another thing to keep in mind is temperature. Don’t leave filament next to a radiator or anywhere where it could warm up enough to become soft. If it becomes soft, your tolerances might get warped and the filament could become unusable.

Try to keep the filament in a cool or room temperature environment, especially in the summertime. If needed, pick up a small air conditioner or even a mini-fridge.

What does water do to filament?

water drop how to store 3d printing filament

Exposure to water will cause some filaments to chemically degrade, especially polyester filaments. PLA is a polyester, meaning that it is composed of ester chains.

Water can break up these ester chains, and the process by which it does that is called hydrolysis. Once hydrolysis goes too far, the filament will become unusable.

Thankfully, wet PLA is often salvageable if swift action is taken. Let’s look at why.

Here’s exactly what happens when PLA comes into contact with water:

Pellets how to store 3d printing filament

While hydrolysis of ester linkages by water will degrade PLA over time, the PLA will at first simply absorb the water without breaking down on a molecular level.

Absorption, in this case, is simply the process of water molecules diffusing into spaces between the strands of polymer chains that make up PLA filament.

The diffusion of water into these spaces causes the filament to swell up a bit but doesn’t immediately break up polymer chains.

how to store 3d printing filament

Once the filament has absorbed water, hydrolysis of the ester bonds that PLA is made of will begin. But polylactic acetate does not undergo hydrolysis all at once. It is a gradual process.

That means that PLA can be dried out before hydrolysis completely ruins the filament. Just pop your spool in the microwave for a minute or two, leave it in a bin with a desiccant, or expose it to a low heat source for a while and it will dry right out.

You can then print with it without any problems. But if you don’t dry it fast enough, the hydrolysis will break apart too many ester chains and the PLA will become too brittle to use.

What happens when other types of filaments get wet?

question mark how to store 3d printing filament

What will happen to other filaments if you don’t learn how to store 3D printing filament properly?

PHA has good resistance to water. But ABS, Polycarbonate, and PETG are hygroscopic, meaning that they absorb water.

Thankfully, they won’t break down the way PLA does. Nylons are hygroscopic as well, and they do decompose when in contact with water.

However, the process is so slow that you would never notice it. For all of these polymers, if they get wet or absorb moisture, you can dry them and use them. 

For a description of Hygroscopic polymers, click here to visit Plastics Technology.

How to dry out filament


There are a few ways to dry filament that has absorbed water. Each has advantages and disadvantages. But all of them will dry your filament out well.

  • Microwave: I know it sounds crazy but it works. Place your spool in the microwave and zap it for about 30 seconds.  You might hear some popping and sizzling sounds as the water evaporates out of the filament. Once it’s done, let the filament cool off before repeating the process if necessary. Warning: make sure the type of plastic is microwave safe (PLA is not, for instance).
  • Desiccant: Place the filament into an airtight container with a desiccant, such as a bag of rice. The spool will be completely dried out in a day or two.
  • Heat: Place your filament near a heat source. Be careful not to let the filament get too hot, otherwise, it may begin to melt and your tolerances will be off. After 5-15 minutes, it will be dry.

How long does 3D filament last?

failed 3d prints

Most regular polymers used to produce filament can last indefinitely so long as they are stored properly. Few if any plastics must be used within a specific timeframe. Even when exposed to moisture, many plastics will not degrade.

That being said, each type of filament has different degradation properties. Nylon, for instance, does degrade when in contact with water over months or years.

PLA will degrade faster in water because it is a polyester and therefore susceptible to hydrolysis, as explained above. But ABS will usually only begin to decompose when exposed to direct sunlight.  

And PET only degrades at higher temperatures (above 570ºF) and so are unlikely to decompose quickly.

How To Store 3D Printing Filament In Other Ways

Storage bins are the best way to store filament. But there are also filament racks and shelving.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Filament-Storage_27Large, 5 gallon ziplock bags are a very common way of storing filament. Simply place a spool in the bag with a desiccant and you are good to go.
filament-storage-boxPlastic storage bins are probably the most popular way of storing filaments since they are easy to use and customizable. Include a desiccant in the bottom of the bin to keep your filaments dry.
3-Stall+renderFilament safe is a brand of filament container that keeps each spool in an individual container. That way you don't have to expose every one of the spool to air when you need to open the container to use the filament. You can put a desiccant in each section and label the lids.

How to create the ultimate filament storage container

You can create the ultimate filament storage unit by making a few simple modifications to a plastic storage container. This is the best way we know how to store 3d printing filament.

Basically, you can create a container that keeps your filament dry and that you never have to remove filament spools from in order to print.

The filament simply unspools within the container and exits through holes in the side of the container. It looks like this:

how to store 3d printing filament

The process is simple. First, install a rod across the width of the box (can be a wooden dowel, metal or plastic rod). This will act as the spoke of the spool rack to keep your filament elevated and free spinning.

But importantly, it should allow the spools to unwind independently so that each spool can be used freely without requiring the other spools to spin as well.

Next, drill several holes in the sides of the bin. The reason you need to make holes in your box is to allow the filament to unspool through the side of the box to your printer so that you don’t have to remove the filament every time you want to use it.

Once you’ve drilled your holes, you are going to install Bowden feeder tubes and a bracket in each hole. Make sure to calk the brackets with ABS calk so that they are airtight.

What you will have when you are done is the best way we know how to store 3D printing filament using basic materials and tools.

How to clean dusty and dirty filament

clean 3d filament

Cleaning up dusty or dirty filament is kind of a pain, but there are some nifty tricks you can try. The most efficient way to do it is to wind the filament from one spool to another while holding a towel around it.

As the filament passes through the towel, it will wipe off any dust or dirt. You can also get filament dust filters that attach to your 3D printer. They are basically sponge holders with a hole in the middle.

The filament will pass through one of these small devices before it enters the hotend and the sponge will wipe off any dust particles that might be on the filament. Check out some of the filter designs on Thingiverse and print your own.

How to fix tangled filament and poorly wound spools

tangled filament

One of the reasons why it is important to make sure you store your filament properly is to avoid making a mess and tangling filaments. Filament tangles are surprisingly easy to create.

It happens often when filament falls off of a spool and gets mixed around. Other times, the tangle is created by the manufacturer during winding.

So how do you fix a tangle of filament?

  1. The simplest tangle occurs when the end of your filament is under one or more coils of filament on the spool. To fix it, unwind the spool until you reach the tangle and pass the unwound filament under the spooled filament to release it. Then wind the filament back onto the spool.
  2. For more intense tangles you have to start by pulling the filament tangle apart and spreading out the mess. Find the loose end of the filament and wrap it around something round, like a tin can or a coffee mug. Then start winding the rest of the filament around your object. Every time you come to a snag, thread your object through the tangle to free the snag. Then continue winding until you come to the next snag. Eventually, all of the spool will be untangled and wrapped around the object.

Conclusion: How To Store 3D Printing Filament

At the end of the day, storing filament properly is important if you want to preserve filament for the long term. It’s especially important if you are not printing very often or if you want to collect different types of filament or different colors.

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to learn how to store 3d printing filament. For PLA and ABS, all you really have to do is buy a plastic bin and throw some rice in the bottom of it to act as a desiccant. Then put your filament in and you’re good to go.

Leave a comment if you have any questions. Hopefully, this guide helped you get started.

Comment (1)

  1. Taylor Anderson December 18, 2019 at 8:59 pm Reply

    Thanks for mentioning that 3D printer filament shouldn’t be left next to anything warm, as it can melt. One of my friends actually has a 3D printer. These tips could really help him properly care for the filament, so thanks for sharing them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

Hatchbox benchy
Hatchbox Filament Review: Best 3D Printer Filament

Hatchbox is the most popular filament brand on the market today. And for good…

eSUN Filament Review: Cheapest Filament

eSUN filament is the most popular and widely distributed of all of the cheap…

Eco-filament filament review
Eco-friendly 3D Printer Filaments Reviewed

Eco-friendly 3D printer filaments are on the rise. One of the great benefits of…

(Less than $20) Cheapest ABS Filament That Is Usable

Cheap ABS filaments are everywhere. All across the internet, from Ebay to Amazon, filament resellers…

(Less than $15) Cheapest Filaments: Cheap Filament You Can Actually Use

The cheapest 3D printer filaments are often very poor quality. A few years ago,…

gizmo dorks review
Gizmo Dorks Filament Review: Fantastic Customer Service For A Good Price

Gizmo Dorks filament has a unique backstory.

Have you ever wondered what it would be…

Buying A 3D Printer: 2022 Decision Guide

Buying a 3D printer is a tricky task. “Which 3D printer should I buy?”…

Resin printing
Cheap Resin 3D Printer: Top 3 Cheap SLA Printers

Cheap resin 3D printer setups are all the rage right now among hobbyists and…

filabot owner
Filabot Filament Review: DIY Filament Extruder

If you care about the environmental impact of 3D printing, you should know about…

Best PVA Filament: Ultimate PVA Buyer’s Guide

Finding the best PVA filament is important since it can be expensive. But when…

Pellets, Powders, And Resins: Non-filament Plastic Used In 3D Printing

There are a few different forms of plastic that can be used in 3D…

Best 3D Pen Filament
Best 3D Pen Filament Refills: ABS and PLA

Running low on 3d pen filament, this is the list for you. We’ve compiled…

HIPS Filament: Complete HIPS 3D Printing Guide

HIPS filament (High Impact Polystyrene) is a support material for stabilizing prints that cannot…

Best CAD Programs: 135 CAD Software Applications

This list contains the 135 best CAD programs available today. CAD (computer-aided design) applications…

Hatchbox wood XBOX controller
5 Tips About How To Print With Wood Filaments

Now that we’ve told you about some of the best wood filaments available, let’s…

MonoPrice Select Mini V2
Best 3D Printer Under $300 (Buyer’s Guide)

Choosing a 3D printer with the right balance between price and quality is hard,…

PLA vs ABS: PLA And ABS Comparison Guide

Many different materials are used in the 3D printing, but the most common plastics…

Inland pla Inland filament review
Inland Filament Review: The Best Cheap Filament Ever

Inland filament isn’t fancy. But it sets the standard for what a cheap, budget-friendly…

Garage Dehumidifier: Best Dehumidifier For Garage Workshops

Trying to figure out what size dehumidifier for garage or workshop you need? Or…

Glow In the Dark Filament Review

Choosing the best glow in the dark filament can be tricky because it’s hard…

3d Print removal tools
Best 3D Print Removal Tools And How To Use Them

3D print removal tools are super helpful for removing printed objects that are stuck…

Best 3D Printer Under $1000
Best 3D Printer Under $1000: 2022 Buyer’s Guide

The competition for the winner of the title “best 3D printer under $1000” is…

Empty spool weight
Empty Spool Weight Database 2022

Here’s a nifty trick: if you know the weight of your spool when it…

Bed Adhesion Materials
Best 3D Printer Bed Surface: Excellent Adhesion

For successful 3D printing, it is important to have the best 3D printer bed…

Measure filament calipers
Best Digital Calipers For Measuring 3D Printer Filaments

Calipers help you measure filament and parts on your 3D printer. If you’re someone…

CAD software
CAD Software Database

Below is our Database of CAD Software including compatible operating systems and requisite experience…

How To Recycle 3D Printer Filament

Learning how to recycle 3D printer filament with a 3D printer filament recycler is…

SainSmart Packaging
SainSmart Filament Review: Top Quality, Good Price

SainSmart filament is made by an electronics supplier from China. The company sells many…

3D Printer bed surfaces
Best 3D Printer Bed Surface And Adhesion Methods

When it comes to successful 3D printing, it all boils down to having a…

Digital caliper
How To Find Cheap Calipers [Secret Tip]

Obviously the main thing to pay attention to when shopping for cheap Calipers calipers…

Push Plastic masterspool
Push Plastic Filament Review: 3D Printer Filament

This is a decidedly positive Push Plastic filament review. Push Plastic is an Arkansas…

Gizmo Dorks print
3D Printing Post Processing Techniques

One of the advantages of making objects yourself with 3D printers is that you…

Stainless Steel Vernier
3D Printer Accessories – Buyer’s Guide (2022)

There are a ton of 3D printer accessories you can buy to make 3D…

3D solutech logo
3D Solutech Filament Review: Fantastic PLA

3D Solutech filament is good quality and their PLA is 100% made in the…

Filament colors
3D Printer Filament Buyer’s Guide 2022

Welcome to the most in depth 3D printer filament buyer’s guide on the internet….

Best Metal Filaments: Real Metal 3D Printer Filament

Metal filaments have a tough job. The best metal filaments can trick the eye…

7 Most Common 3D Printing Terms (Glossary)

3D Printing is complicated and the terminology can often be technical and obscure. Here…

The Best ABS Filament: 3D Printer Filament Guide

The best ABS filament brands are a pleasure to work with. ABS it is…

Best CNC Machine
Best CNC Machine: CNC Router Guide 2022

We love CNC machining and have always admired the precision and design of the…

Best 3D Printer Under $500
Best 3D Printer Under $500 (Buyer’s Guide)

Everyone has a budget to work with, and if you are looking for the…

Resin printing
Best Resin 3D Printers: Buyer’s Guide 2022

In creating a list of the best resin 3D printers, we had to sift…

ABS Solvents: Best Solvents For ABS Post-Processing

The look and feel of ABS filaments can be improved dramatically with a little…

Best Flexible 3D Printer Filaments
The Best Flexible 3D Printer Filament Brands

The best flexible 3D printer filament can be used to print some very cool…

3D Printer Filament Brands Database

Below is a database list of 3D printer filament brands complete with general information…

3D Printer Filament Comparison Guide

This 3D printer filament comparison guide covers 15 materials used in 3D printing. While…

Best DIY 3D printer kit
Best DIY 3D Printers: 25 Best DIY 3D Printer Kits

The best DIY 3D printers are not only cheaper than high-end 3D printers but…

The 8 Best PLA 3D Printer Filament Brands

Every 3D printer filament brand claims to be the best PLA filament brand in…

Best Antimicrobial Filament: Antibacterial Filament Buyer’s Guide 2022

Antimicrobial filaments solve one of the major problems with regular filaments like PLA, ABS,…

Best Nylon Filament Brands And Print Settings

The best nylon filament brand is undoubtably Taulman 3D. Not only did Taulman invent…

3D Printed Plastic Objects 3D Printing Terms
Glossary of 3D Printing Terms

3D printing terminology is often technical and obscure. Use this Glossary of 3D printing…

Corkfill wood filament
Wood Filament Guide: 10 Best Wood Filament Brands

It’s super important to use the best wood filament you can find when printing…

Black Magic 3D Filament Review

Black Magic 3D is a cutting-edge manufacturer of experimental 3D printer filaments.

Their flagship product,…

ColorFabb logo
ColorFabb Filament Review: High-Quality Producer

Welcome to the ColorFabb Filament Review. This is a review of the entire company,…

MakerGeeks Filament Review: OFFICIALLY SHUTDOWN


UPDATE: As of February 2019, MakerGeeks is out…