Learn how to store clothes to keep them in perfect shape. Whatever your reason is for storing them for an extended period, you will want to do so in an organized and systematic manner to prevent possible mold growth and other issues. It might seem an easy task, but it’s not because it's easy to commit mistakes! Here we will discuss the most important tips and recommendations.
How to Store Clothes - Tried-and-Tested Tips
Even if you have a spacious wardrobe or walk-in closet, saving space will help you save time searching for the right outfit and reduce or relieve the stress you experience when squeezing in your washed laundry. That is most especially if you live in an area that has distinct seasons. As such, storing your clothing items you won’t wear for the season or regularly is essential.
Tip #1 - Sort
Decluttering is the ultimate part of storing clothes to help you save space and ensure you’re only keeping what you would need in the future. If you’re storing your off-season clothes, only choose the best winter or summer clothes. On the other hand, if you’re saving baby clothes, only keep a handful of each clothing type or season, especially since children grow fast.
If you’re traveling to another area for a long time and need to store your remaining clothing items, only keep those that you would surely wear within eight months or a year. It’s also best to disregard any item that no longer fits you; if you lose or gain weight in the future, keeping them isn’t ideal since they might be out of style already.
You can opt to sell, trade-off, or donate the clothing items you no longer need and want. For worn-out, irreparable, and permanently stained ones, you can bring them to recycling centers that will accept them in exchange for discount cards or offers. Such places include Levi’s, H&M, and Columbia. Another option is to give or sell them to individuals doing small sewing projects. Or better yet, use them to create your rags, hair accessories, and more.
Tip #2 - Prepare the Garments
One of the rules of how to store clothes effectively is to ensure you keep the items in their like-new conditions. Here are some of the recommended ways to prepare your clothes before storage:
- Empty the Pockets: Check the small and big pockets of each clothing item you need to store. Ensure there isn’t anything that can make your clothes and storage area loaded with germs and bad smells.
- Launder or Dry Clean: Even if you haven’t worn an item to be stored or only used it once, washing it is essential when storing for a long time so as not to attract pests. Follow the washing and drying instructions for each fabric. Similarly, you must dry each garment completely to prevent mold and mildew growth. If the clothes have been dry cleaned, discard the garment bags or plastic that come with them to avoid moisture buildup and fabric damages.
- Vacuum: This is optional, especially if you’ve already washed the clothes. Vacuuming can help remove dust that might be lingering before storage. Just don't forget to set your vacuum cleaner to low-suction.
- Steam: Although there is a way to wash silk and other delicate fabrics, you can opt for a garment steamer. It can help remove unwanted odor, kill germs, and remove dust and other dirt. Just make sure you store the items completely dry.
- Repair: Some of your garments might have small holes and lose stitches. Sew them before storing your clothes.
Tip #3 - How to Store Clothes by Labelling
Storing your clothes won’t be 100% effective if you don’t organize them well. Staying organized will ensure you can easily find and access anything that you would need in the future. Before you learn how to store clothes, here are the recommended organization tricks you can consider:
- Labeling: Putting specific labels for each item container, such as "Alice’s winter sweaters" and "mom’s summer shorts", is highly recommended.
- Color Coding: If you live alone, color coding is another option. You can assign a color for each season and then another set of colors for each type of clothes. You can also do this if you have a small family, assigning different colors for each member.
If you want to be more detailed and systematic, adding an inventory list to any of the two methods is ideal. You need to list all the items in each storage container, including how many of each item is in it, sizes of the items, and other details you want to include. You can paste the list in each container or just save it in an Excel sheet.
Tip #4 - How to Store Clothes in Containers
Definitely, you have plenty of clothes that you can store folded, such as sweaters, leggings, and shorts; in fact, you can even fold items you usually hang.
Vacuum bags are items some people will recommend in terms of how to store clothes since they can help save space. Most experts say otherwise though. That’s because long-term storage of clothes in these bags might leave permanent wrinkles and creases. Worst, they can damage the items due to suffocation or lack of airflow.
The best thing to do is place the heavier items, such as windbreaker jackets, on the bottom of your storage containers. You have several options. Below are the most common ones and listed in order of recommendation.
- Suitcase or Travel Bags: Since these are meant for clothes, they’re perfect for keeping your articles of clothing. Just make sure they’re clean, and you won’t need them when you travel. You can opt to wrap your clothes in acid-free tissue paper before placing them inside the suitcase or bag for extra protection.
- Canvas or Fabric Bins: Available in various colors and shapes, these are breathable but costly bins perfect for delicate fabrics like cashmere, types of wool, and silk. They’re great for your closets, especially those with transparent windows that will help you see the items inside. Make sure, though, that you choose those with lids that will close tightly.
- Plastic Bins: Not all plastic bins are great storage choices for your clothes. Choose those with snap lids that close tightly. If there's a possibility that the bin will get expose to light, opt for darker-colored ones; otherwise, clear or light-colored ones are just perfect. Just ensure you don’t overpack for breathability and crack prevention.
- Cardboard Boxes: Although the easiest to find and most cost-effective, these boxes should be your last option. They’re vulnerable to bacteria, molds, insects, mildew, bugs, water, stains, and humidity. If possible, use acid-free boxes or add a layer of protection by lining the box with a white sheet or quilt batting before placing your clothes. It’s also best to add deterrents. Lastly, completely avoid using used food boxes that would surely attract ants and more.
Whatever storage containers you choose to follow this tip on how to store clothes, ensure they're clean and can fit into your chosen storage spot.
Tip #5 - How to Store Clothes in Garment Bags
For clothing that you need to hang, you must carefully select the hangers you would use. They must be sturdy and wide enough to retain your clothes’ shape.
- Coats, Blazers, Gowns, and Dressers: Use hangers made of wire and have padding to avoid damages.
- Dress Pants: Using wooden hangers, you must hang these bottoms along their crease.
- Skirts: For skirts, use hangers with clips. Before clipping them into the skirt’s waist area, though, you must place an extra piece of fabric to prevent leaving any clip marks on the skirt.
After hanging your clothes, it’s best to place them individually in a zippered garment bag made of fabric to deter pests and prevent dust entry. Then, hang them in your storage.
Tip #6 - Find the Perfect Storage Spot
Even if you used the right container for your clothes and organized them well, all your efforts and every trick on how to store clothes you applied will be put to no use if you pick the wrong storage spot. The space in your home where you’ll keep them should be cool, dry, well-ventilated, and away from direct sunlight.
The attic will be one area but only if you don’t have too hot summers and there’s space. The basement can be an option, but only if it’s not prone to flooding or too much moisture. That said, the best places in your home will be under the bed, an empty closet, upper shelves of your current closets.
You can also invest in wardrobe boxes if you don’t have enough room for your items you need to hang. These are actually perfect for delicate fabrics and provide sufficient airflow. You can place them in your bedroom or storage room and then cover them with a cotton-made sheet to prevent light and dust from entering. However, it comes with the same issues as cardboard boxes, and you can only hang a limited number of items.
Tip #7 - How to Store Clothes wiht Bug, Insect, and Moisture Deterrents
The combination of washing your clothes, choosing the right container, and carefully selecting the storage area ensure you limit or prevent bugs, insects, and moisture. Still, it’s best to add some extra protection.
Mothballs have long been used but no longer recommended because they’re considered health hazards. A safe, natural, scented option is cedarwood chips and blocks since they can deter vermins and bugs. Place them in a container to prevent staining any clothes, and then leave the container open. You can also spray your containers and storage units with diluted cedarwood essential oil. Lavender is another great option.
When it comes to moisture, you can use desiccants from your empty medicine bottles. Better yet, use moisture absorbents that you can buy online or in a local retail store.
Tip #8 - How to Store Clothes by Refolding
Folded clothes stored for a long time can develop creases and lines that would be difficult to remove even if you iron them properly. Thus, it’s best to find time to refold the stored clothes every year. This is also the perfect time to check for the presence of developing stains, dust, pests, and moisture.
How to Store Clothes - The Conclusion
The provided tips on how to store clothes for the long-term will give more room for your current clothes to breathe and stay in shape. It’s best to follow them all, but if you can’t, at least follow most of them. Ensure they’re organized well, not cramped in their storage containers or hanging areas, in a climate-controlled area, and safe from insects, bugs, and other destructive organisms and environmental factors.
The time and effort you invested in packing and organizing your clothes before storing them will make a significant difference when it’s time to unpack them and maintain their quality.