Our wardrobes, naturally, change with the seasons. Effective clothing storage helps free up closet space and protects garments during that unused period. Storing clothing out of season also makes sure that you don't have to buy a new wardrobe when temperatures change.
However, if you're storing clothing incorrectly, a nasty surprise may await you. Assorted bugs and moisture can invade the protective case for the garments. Bugs can consume fabric or lay eggs. Moisture can rot or stain delicate fabrics. But you can avoid these problems if you adequately prepare your clothes for storage.
Properly Storing Clothing
Wash and dry each piece to remove dirt and oil. Use a clothing brush to remove any potential insect eggs. Make sure the article of clothing is truly clean and completely dry.
Usually the best way to store clothes is to hang them up. Pants, blouses and anything that wrinkles need to be placed on hangers. Use appropriate hangers according to the clothing item, like a hanger with clips for skirts.
Make sure to hang clothing by natural folds or seams to avoid ruining a garment's shape. Buttons, zippers or snaps should be done up when storing clothing. Leaving them undone can affect a garment's shape.
If you're storing clothing like knits, never hang them up. The rule for knits is the same for your closet or for a plastic box; fold the item and place it on a flat surface. Knits will stretch and fray on a hanger, especially at the shoulders.
When storing clothing made from linen, never fold or hang the garment. This can cause permanent creases or wrinkles. Instead, loosely roll up the item to store.
Plain plastic bags, garment bags or plastic boxes with lids are not good enough when storing clothing in high-risk locations. Moisture and insects can still get in poorly constructed storage devices.
Use waterproof and airtight clothing storage boxes with synthetic fabrics to ensure proper protection. However, natural fibers need to expand and contract according to the temperature, and they can become ridden with mildew if put in an airtight container in a hot and humid area.
To prevent mildew, put a desiccant in the container with the clothes, but not right up against them. The moisture-absorbing substance will keep the air dry without damaging clothing.
Though clear bags can be used for storing clothing, they do have a disadvantage. When a storage bag is clear, sunlight can still get through and cause garment colors to fade. Use an opaque bag to avoid chances of fading.
Once you find the right container, pack clothing with the heaviest items at the bottom, and lighter items on the top. Do not overload the container when storing clothing; this will cause wrinkles and decrease air flow, causing possible damage.
Store clothing containers in a dry, cool place. Extreme temperatures, cold or hot, can attract insects and hurt fabrics, and any moisture can seep into containers that aren't watertight.
Remember, most fabrics need circulating air. When using airtight containers to prevent damage, make sure to ventilate clothing at least two times a month. Open the container in a clean area to allow air circulation and be careful not to let any insects slip in.
If you live in an area without excessive insect or moisture worries, try storing clothing in breathable containers, like canvas clothing bags or loosely woven baskets.
Moths and Mothballs
For protection against mice or moths when storing clothing, you can use the classic trick, mothballs. However, mothballs can be dangerous, especially around pets or children. Adults can also become sickened if they have prolonged contact with mothballs.
The mothball stench comes from the hydrocarbon Naphthalene. The smell can seep into clothing and be almost impossible to get rid of. You'll find many suggestions for removing the mothball scent, but most of them have no effect. This nasty-smelling solid can have a long life and is insoluble in water.
If you plan on storing clothing with mothballs, make sure to keep the actual balls away from the fabric. This helps cut down on the smell by reducing the garment's direct contact with Naphthalene. When it's time to take the clothes out of storage, air them out in warm temperatures after removing them from storage, or place them in the dryer on air dry with no heat.
Do not bother rubbing clothing with lilacs, washing them in vinegar or soaking them in a baking soda solution to get rid of the mothball smell. These old wives tales don't work. Using one part strong, multi-purpose household cleaner with three parts warm water to soak and wash the garments can decrease the smell slightly.
Assorted chemical and cleaning companies offer products for removing odors, even mothballs. Choose carefully, though, because many of these items just try to mask the smell, not remove it. When testing one of these new products, look for unscented items that offer a money-back guarantee.
The best way to avoid the mothball aroma is to do away with mothballs altogether. Storing clothing with cedar blocks or chips can be just as effective, and smells much nicer. However, neither mothballs nor cedar is totally effective against pests, so washing clothing and using airtight and watertight containers is still important.
Stored Clothes that Still Smell Nice
To avoid the stale smell when storing clothing, try adding aromas you find pleasing. Tiny, thin bags filled with lavender, clove, cinnamon or baking soda can help give garments a refreshing scent.
Avoid overly sweet scents, especially when storing clothing in unsealed containers. The sweet smell can cause problems by attracting mice and insects. Perfumes, musk and air fresheners are all unsuitable for storing clothing.
For a light freshener, try mixing equal parts of clove and cinnamon in a small, finely woven sack. Place an equal amount of baking soda in a separate small sack and place both bags where you're storing the clothing. Make sure the bag material is thin enough to let air through, but tight enough to prevent the contents from getting on clothes.
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