Proper long term clothing storage can be a tricky task for many people. Whether in the process of moving or facing the challenge of very little room for storing clothes, there are ways to keep your stuff clean, moth-free and organized.
Here are 10 tips to help protect your clothes from damage while in storage and hacks to keeping your closet organized.
How to Store Clothing
1. Wash everything first
Dry clean or wash everything before storage. This is probably obvious, but you don’t want your clothes getting smelly in storage. More importantly, it’ll remove or insect eggs that may already be on the clothing. Any stains or dirt can do more damage while in storage. Avoid starching clothes before storing and empty your pockets. You might find cash or candy so why wait until next season?
2. Hang it or fold it?
Fold sweaters, shirts and pants (neatly) to reduce pulling and wrinkling. Hang heavier garments like winter coats. Wire hangers are bad for storage and may stretch the clothing and ruin the shape. Trust us on this. Now, hang these items in cotton or heavy-duty vinyl garment bags. For sweaters and folded clothing, enclose in a sweater or blanket bag. For easy storing and moving, put the folded items inside a plastic storage bin (not cardboard).
3. Storage materials & location
There are a number of ways to store items, depending on the space available. Sweater boxes, under-the-bed storage bins and hanging garment bags are great if you have room inside your home or apartment. This is also useful if you need to access the items more frequently.
No matter where you store clothing, it should be cool, dry and well, as in, not a hot attic or damp basement. Any sunlight or humidity can stain or fade clothing. If you’re fancy enough to have leather, suede or fur, use a breathable bag. Avoid cardboard boxes for any type of clothing because the glues and dyes can ruin them.
4. Make it moth-free
Mothballs prevent moths from eating stored clothing, which is important. When using mothballs, do not put them directly on the clothing and use only in sealed containers. The chemical used to repel moths can be hazardous to humans so wash all clothing that is stored with mothballs. We realize that’s redundant since you washed them before storing, but it’s for your own good.
For a less toxic and better smelling option, try cedar blocks, shavings or oil. Again, store in sealed container to deter bugs and protect clothing.
5. Plan ahead
Be sure that the clothing you want to use for the next season is available when you want them. Store clothing according to what you’ll want first and then give yourself time to wash the items after retrieving them. Don’t wait until the bitter cold to dig out your sweaters. Beat the dry cleaning rush as the weather cools and be prepared. Likewise, if you’ve stored your summer clothes but are taking a midwinter trip to the tropics, keep a few items under your bed or in the back of your closet instead of sending them all to the storage unit.
Organize Your Closet Year Round
6. Store seasonally
If you’re tight on space, store your seasonal items somewhere other than your closet. You will not need your down parka in July (we hope) so dry clean it and pack it away once the weather is consistently warm. This will free up closet space for new summer dresses (you’re welcome). In the same way, pack up your bathing suits and sandals when you dig out your sweaters and boots. You don’t want to deal with a cluttered closet; it only makes getting ready in the morning a bigger hassle than it already is.
7. Accessory hangers
If you’ve got tons of scarves, purses or necklaces, consider getting hangers to de-clutter your space and make them easily accessible. You’ll feel better when they’re organized and find what you want faster. Again, store items seasonably if appropriate. Put away wool or knit scarves during the summer and likewise for pastel or paisley scarves in the winter.
8. In-closet storage
Try using storage boxes and shelves within your closet. Building shelves along the bottom for shoes and boots will make the floor less cluttered. Small baskets or bins are great for socks, gloves, and hair accessories. A linen closet can also benefit from a few storage bins. Sort and store sheets by size and/or season instead of piling them all on the shelves together.
9. Door-mounted shoe or scarf rack
There are many ways to use the back of your closet or bedroom door for additional storage. Mount hooks for scarves and belts or get a shoe rack for sandals and flats. This will free up floor space in your closet for bins or boxes if necessary.
10. Purge frequently
Most importantly, don’t keep stuff you don’t need. Purge your closet of clothing that doesn’t fit or you no longer wear. Keep only what’s appropriate for the season. Donate what you don’t like anymore and feel good about yourself for a few days.