A great strategy for enjoying a clutter-free closet is to switch out and store clothing for use during different seasons of the year. You can also tuck away outgrown children’s clothes until needed for younger siblings. For the plan to succeed, it’s important to know how to safely store your clothes long-term. Your reward for taking recommended steps is that your clothes will last longer. To be safely tucked away, textiles need proper care and protection from mice, moths, and other pests. The following tips will help to ensure that your clothing will stay in good shape and won’t suffer any damage during long-term storage.
Clean and Prep Garments
It’s important to wash or dry clean clothing according to instructions on the respective garments before storage. If clothes are stored with unseen oils or stains on them, the stains will become worse and will set in, making stain removal more difficult. Cleaning also helps to make sure your clothes are free of unseen food spills that might attract insects.
Hanging is Fine for Some Items
If you are hanging garments in storage, it’s best to use wooden, padded, or plastic hangers, to protect the fabric. Make sure the clothing is properly situated, so garments don’t become misshapen. Avoid wire hangers altogether because they can damage clothing. Sweaters and other knit items should be folded and stacked, not placed on hangers. Garments with stretchy fabric could stretch beyond usefulness, on hangers. Cover the clothing racks with linen or cotton covers, to protect the garments from collecting dust.
Use Recommended Storage Containers
Available suitcases can be perfect for clothing storage, as long as the suitcase lining is clean. Plastic storage containers with lids are ideal, though it is recommended that you line the clothing storage containers with acid-free tissues. Keep in mind, however, that in plastic containers, trapped moisture could potentially become a problem. You may want to add a desiccant, which is a drying agent, to each box.
Note: Cardboard boxes are not recommended for storing clothing long-term, the primary reason being that rats, mice, and silverfish are attracted to cardboard. It can be fine to keep clothing in a new cardboard box but only for a short time. Also, do not store clothing in plastic bags because moisture could get inside and cause yellowing of fabrics or the formation of mildew.
Tips on Folding Clothes for Storage
Fold items carefully and stack them loosely with heaviest items on bottom, lightest on top. If clothing is stored for more than a year, refold each of the garments so that the folds are in different places and the creases don’t set in, degrading the fabric.
Cedar Blocks, not Mothballs
Moths would like nothing better than to find your stored clothing so that their larvae can chew right through them. Old-fashioned mothballs aren’t recommended for a couple of reasons. First, mothballs are made up of insecticide and could be to toxic to children. Secondly, they make clothes smell bad. Cedar blocks are effective moth deterrents. They are also safe and don’t leave the unpleasant smell.
To Vacuum Seal or Not?
Using vacuum-sealed clothing bags is an amazing way to save space, but some fabric experts express doubts about the safety of storing clothes this way. A healthy amount of debate argues that vacuum-sealed fabrics could be damaged in lengthy storage. The reasoning is that natural fiber clothes need air to maintain integrity and structure. In addition, the fibers become compressed. The clothes need to decompress, once removed from vacuum-sealed bags. An expert in Fiber and Polymer Science has suggested that the time needed for decompression matches the amount of time fabric is in vacuum-sealed storage, which can be impractical.
After using vacuum sealing for storing seasonal clothes, many have reported that their garments seem fine and unaffected. Perhaps the best rule of thumb is to avoid putting fine, expensive fabrics or heirlooms in this type of storage.
The Best Storage Environment
The best environment for storing garments is one that is clean, dry, cool, and dark. Avoid storage in an attic, since there are temperature fluctuations throughout the year, including excess heat. Don’t store clothes in a place near a heating source or with exposure to heat, either, since high temperatures can break down garment fibers. By storing clothes in a dark place, you can prevent fading. It’s very important that storage is dry because moisture attracts insects and mildew.
Check on Your Clothing in Storage
Clothing kept in storage should be checked every few months. Things to look for include moisture, signs of insects or rodents, and the condition of the storage containers. Plastic storage boxes should be free of stains, cracks, and other damage.
A Great Cost-Saving Plan
Quality clothing is a significant investment, and proper packing and storage can protect prized garments. When it’s time to rotate your seasonal clothing or pull out kids’ clothes, be sure to wash them again before use. This will remove any dust and freshen up the fabric. Follow above steps again for clothing from the outgoing seasonal wardrobe to be safely stored.