Clothing storage is pretty straightforward, but it’s easy to make common storage mistakes that will cost you time, money and aggravation. Properly cleaning, packaging, and storing your clothing will dramatically increase the lifespan of your closet. Why go to such great lengths? So that you or someone else can wear the clothing again in the same condition you left it.
If you can’t take all of these steps when storing clothing, then at least try to follow as many as you can. The better you treat your textiles, the longer they will last. These clothing storage tips will help whether you’re storing clothes in a garage, storage unit or under the bed. Just remember that some locations are more ideal than others. To learn how to store clothes the right way, keep reading.
1. Take an inventory to save money.
When parents preserve baby clothes for future children, taking an inventory is one of the most critical steps. Why? Because without this list, it’s incredibly easy to forget what clothing you have in storage. If you forgot about that bin of 3T clothing in the basement, you’ll be repurchasing a lot of clothing you don’t need. The point of storing baby clothes (or any clothes for that matter) is so you can save money by reusing what you already have in the future.
Also, knowing what clothing you are holding on to will make the storage process easier. If you ever need to find an item, you’ll know where to look and how it has been stored.
Your clothing inventory should include:
- The name of the article of clothing.
- A brief description including size.
- Where the item is stored.
2. Discard or donate clothing in poor condition.
There’s little point in storing clothes that are in poor condition that you’ll be unlikely to wear again. Clothing storage is most effective when the clothing you’re saving is in like-new condition. Existing smells and stains will only set into the clothing more permanently when stored for long periods of time. Smells from undesirable clothing can seep into better clothing as its stored, too.
Determine why you’re opting to store the clothes. Next, figure out which clothes are best suited for the task at hand. If you’re storing off-season clothing, choose your best winter or summer clothes and get rid of the rest. For children’s clothing, pick a handful of items in each size and in each season.
As a general rule, if clothing is beyond saving by laundering, get rid of it. Take this opportunity to declutter your closet and ask yourself which clothing deserves a spot in your storage space.
3. Clean and prep your garments.
Storing clothing in good condition will help ensure the garments stay in good shape while they are packed away. Regardless of how clean you think your clothes are, don’t just throw them into a storage bin and forget about them. A little prep will go a long way.
Here are some ways to prep your clothing for storage:
- Discard any plastic garment bags. When storing clothing for long periods, these bags can accumulate excess moisture and damage clothing.
- Wash your garment according to the guidelines on the label even if the item looks clean.
- If the garment has a musty smell to it, you can use a clothing steamer to freshen it up.
- Vacuum clothing and textiles that can’t be washed to remove loose soil and dust by placing a screen between the clothing and vacuum on a low suction setting.
- Come up with an organization and labeling strategy for how you will store your clothes.
3. Pick a cool, dry place to store clothing.
Where you store your clothes is more important than how you store your clothes. No matter how clean your clothing is, if you store your bins in a musty basement, your clothing could very likely become musty.
When picking a spot to store clothing for an extended period, find a place that is dry, dark and maintains a cool temperature. It’s also important to have good airflow and no direct sunlight.
Remember these pointers when seeking a storage space:
- Stay away from light. Find an area that is free from ultraviolet light and store the garment boxes off the ground. If your storage spot has light coming in, opt to use opaque storage containers instead of transparent ones.
- Don’t use airtight containers. Unlike most things in storage, you do not want your clothing storage boxes to be airtight because textiles need circulating air for longevity. This is why air quality in the storage area is so important for clothing because any smells or dampness will be absorbed. Airtight containers would work for clothing that will only be in storage for a short time.
- Avoid attic spaces. Areas like this fluctuate in heat throughout the year and excess heat can break down clothing fibers.
4. Pack clothing with care using acid-free boxes.
If preserving clothing is extremely important, acid-free archival boxes are the best storage option, if you can afford them. If you don’t have access to those boxes, you can line cardboard or wooden boxes using quilt batting and white sheets to add a layer of protection between the clothing and nature. You can also create hanging storage using garment racks.
Here are some other clothing storage tips to remember:
- Avoid wire hangers. Ideally, choose padded, plastic or wooden hangers for hanging storage. Wire hangers can damage clothing over time.
- Cover clothing racks in breathable fabric. Cotton or linen covers will help keep out dust and pests but also allow the air to circulate.
- Utilize cedar or cedar oil. Placing cedar blocks or lining a storage area with cedar is a healthier way to deter moths than the use of mothballs. Plus, cedar won’t leave your clothes with an undesirable smell.
- Line metal boxes and drawers with breathable fabric. This will ensure that sharp edges won’t accidentally rip your garments.
- Avoid hard fold lines or creases. Place your textiles in their storage box in a way that doesn’t require many folds or sharp creases.
- Separate garments with acid-free tissue paper to protect the fabrics. Clothing needs to breathe, so ideally, it should not be sealed in plastic bags or plastic storage containers.
- Once a year, refold all clothing differently. This will make sure the creases don’t set and start to degrade the fabric.