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Whether you are looking for long-term clothing storage solutions or just want to put your summer or winter wardrobe away to leave space in your closet for the current season, learning how to store your clothes correctly is essential. 

You’ve likely made a nice investment in your clothing items, and you want to store them in such a way that will allow you to continue to enjoy them when you’re ready to wear them again. 

Improper storage can stretch items, increase the chances of mold or mildew growing, attract bugs, or damage the fibers in the clothes.  These problems could clearly ruin your clothing , so putting in the time and effort to store your treasured garments is important if you want to keep them safe for future use. 

In the next few sections, we’ll share a few key pointers to help you make sure your clothing is stored properly to protect it and keep it ready for when you need it again.


Downsize Your Wardrobe

Have you ever just looked in your closet and thought, “I don’t even wear half of this stuff anymore?”  Well, before worrying about how to store your clothing, now is the ideal time to downsize your wardrobe. 

Start by removing any clothing items that are damaged, stained beyond repair, or just aren’t looking their best anymore.  Also, weed out any clothing items that you don’t wear anymore and don’t see yourself wearing in the future.  There is no point taking the time, effort, or space in your home to store something you have no intention of wearing again. 

Depending on the condition of each item that you are getting rid of, you may consider selling, donating, or recycling it.

Wash Clothes

While it may be tempting to just start packing up your clothes right away, washing them first is actually a very important first step. 

Before any clothing items should be placed in storage, you need to make sure they are clean.  If there are any items that haven’t been washed recently or clothes that you wore briefly but didn’t wash before hanging back up, now is a good time to wash them. 

While a little dust or a small amount of sweat on a shirt in your closet isn’t really a big deal, once you pack up your clothes in storage, dirt, sweat, or oil could cause mold to begin to grow.

And, again, who wants to spend the time storing their clothes only to have them ruined in storage?

Organize and Take Inventory

Another important task to complete before storing clothes is to organize all of your items.  Sort your clothing by type or season.  When like items are grouped together, it will be much easier to find what you are looking for.  

It is also a good idea to take inventory of what you own and are putting away to store, so grab a pen and paper or, if you’re more technologically inclined, set up a spreadsheet on your computer.  When you have an inventory sheet, you’ll be able to check it to confirm if you have a particular item before unnecessarily purchasing something new.

Determine the Storage Location and Select Appropriate Storage Containers

Now you’ve downsized your clothing and have it all sorted.  This should help you get a better idea for how much space you’ll need for storage.  You’ll need to determine where you plan to store the clothes before you can select the type of containers you’d like to use. 

When selecting a location, keep in mind that an area that is dry, dark, and cool with sufficient air flow will offer the most ideal conditions for clothing storage.  For this reason, garages and attics typically aren’t a great choice since they can get very hot in some climates.  A basement may be a viable option, but avoid using your basement if it has ever shown any signs of moisture, as this could lead to the growth of mold or mildew on your items. 

Once you’ve determined the location you’d like to use to store your clothes, you can determine which container sizes will be best suited for the space.  Use this information to look for storage boxes that will fit in the space.  However, it is essential to keep in mind that all storage boxes are not created equally, and some options are not good to use when storing clothes.


Archival Storage Boxes

If you’re looking for the Mercedes of storage containers, consider using archival garment storage boxes.  These boxes are specially designed to protect clothing for long-term storage.  They are acid-free, designed to keep light, dust, and dirt out, and solidly built to allow stacking.

Plastic Bins

Storing clothes in plastic bins is another popular choice for long-term storage.  Plastic storage boxes may cost a bit more than some other options out there, but they are a great way to keep stored clothes clean.  Plastic bins also offer greater protection against humidity and water, which is important for keeping clothing from getting moldy.  Additionally, plastic bins are good for keeping insects, mice, or other pests from accessing and damaging your items.  When choosing plastic bins, be sure to select ones that are acid-free, as they will offer the most protection for your items.

Cardboard Boxes

While some people think storing clothes in cardboard boxes is a good idea, the opposite is actually true.  Cardboard can attract bugs, which could damage your clothing.  Additionally, cardboard boxes will not offer any protection against moisture, so it will be more likely that mold may begin to grow on your items.  Cardboard is also porous, so it will absorb liquids and smells in the area where your clothes are being stored and may transfer these smells to your items.  So, any money you may save by using cardboard boxes instead of plastic bins or archival boxes will be cancelled out when you need to replace your clothing items that get damaged in storage.

Vacuum Bags

What about vacuum bags, you may ask!  We’ve all seen the commercials and how ‘cool’ these look for conserving space.  While removing the air from clothing does make it more compact for storage, leaving clothing items stored in such a compact fashion can damage the fibers on many fabric types.

Carefully Pack Your Storage Boxes

Now that you’ve selected the bins you would like to use for storing your clothing, the next step is to pack each box.  Clearly, you don’t want to just crumple up all your clothes and toss them in a bin!  Rather, take the time to neatly fold each item.  You don’t want to make any hard creases though since the items will remain folded for so long, and it could damage the fabric.

You will also want to place acid-free tissue paper between each clothing item.  The acid-free tissue paper can help retain the shape of each clothing item.  It will also help protect the fibers in the clothing and keep them from degrading during storage.

If you’ll be leaving your clothing items stored for more than a year, it is a good idea to open up the boxes once a month and refold the items in a different way.  If clothes remain folded in one position, it will be more likely for the fabric along the creases to begin to degrade.  When you refold them and change the position of the crease, you are decreasing the chances of the fabric degrading. 

Protect Your Clothes from Pests

No moths welcome here!  Before you close up each tote, don’t forget to take measures to keep pests away. 

Cedar can be quite effective for this purpose.  Cedar has an oil that is a deterrent for insects.  The oil in cedar also kills moth larvae.  Placing some cedar chips in each storage container is a simple and effective way to take advantage of all the benefits cedar offers for long-term clothing storage.

Safe Long-Term Clothing Storage

Learning the best way to store clothes is very important..  It can be the difference between pulling out a box of mildewy, degraded, or pest-eaten clothing or taking out a bin of well-preserved and ready-to-wear items!  Hopefully you can use the tips we shared to organize and safely store your clothes so they are ready to use whenever you next need them.