By Terry Dowling, Certified Self Storage Manager
Storing clothes the wrong way can lead to damage and hassles down the road. However, by cleaning, packing and storing your clothes properly, you will extend the life of your closet. The better you treat your clothing now, the longer you will have it and get to enjoy it. If you think it’s worth keeping in storage, then it’s worth protecting for future use and wear.
We recommend these steps for storing your clothes to keep them in the best shape for years to come:
Preserving baby clothes for future children is important if you plan to grow your family. This can be a great cost savings for baby number two, so you won’t have to purchase the same items all over.
It can be easy to forget what clothing you have in storage, though. So be sure to mark each box or tote with the sizes or months to keep it all straight. For example: 0-6 months, 2T-3T, 8-12 Misses, etc. It’s best to mark at least the top and two sides of each box or tote. If you are using clear totes, simply tape a piece of paper inside for the sides to keep from writing on the actual tote. Boxes you can write directly on or use large white labels to make it stand out. Then, keep a sheet of paper that lists everything you put into those boxes and totes. List the name or description of the clothing, the size, the box or tote it’s in (if you number your boxes and totes, this really comes in handy), and where the box or tote is placed inside your self storage unit.
Donate or Discard Some of the Clothing.
There is no point in storing everything! Go through all the baby and kids’ clothes and decide what items you want to donate and what ones are in bad enough shape that they should be tossed. If you had a boy the first time around and you know you are having a girl this time, you can donate all the clothes that won’t make sense for your little girl to wear. Many items work well for both boys and girls, but others may be more gender specific. Same goes if you are having a boy this time and already have a girl.
Now, if anything is stained, torn or just too worn to keep, make sure you get rid of it. Do not donate these items. If you couldn’t get a stain out, there could still be some lingering odor as well. If you pack that in with good clothes, the smell can affect everything which is not something you want. If there are a lot of kid’s clothes with stains, and only a small portion is ruined, you can get creative and craft a baby quilt! Cut out 4” or 6” squares of your favorite pieces and start making a baby quilt for your next child. Or, you can make one for each of your kids and keep them in storage until they get older and start their own families. Then you can present them as a gift for your grandchild at the baby shower! What a great wat to reuse something and create a lasting memory at the same time.
The same goes for your clothes and your spouse’s. If they are going out of style, maybe now is the time to donate them. Some things like cocktail dresses, men’s suits and jeans never really go out of style and can be worn over and over for years to come. Only keep the items that fit well and are comfortable, and that you know you will wear again. If there is any question at all, maybe you should just donate them.
Clean Your Clothing before Storing.
Clothing that is in good condition now will stay in good shape while are packed away if cleaned properly first. Discard any plastic garment bags, because they can accumulate moisture which may damage your clothing. Wash the garments according to the label, and thoroughly dry them before storing. Nothing is better than knowing your garments are freshly washed when placed in storage, so they can be used immediately when taken out for baby number two!
Pick a Cool, Dry Place to Store Clothing.
It is essential to pick a cool, dry place when storing clothing, especially if it will be there for a long time. It is also important to have a good air flow and no direct sunlight. Storing in a damp, musty basement or hot attic can end up making your clothing smell or damage the materials. Avoid using airtight containers if storing for long stretches of time. Airtight containers are only good when used for short term storage. Textiles need circulating air for longevity. We recommend purchasing our specially treated boxes from our retail shops located inside the rental offices. These are designed for storage and will stand up over months and years.
Hang Up Sensitive or Delicate Clothes.
Avoid wire hangers at all times. Choose padded, plastic or wooden hangers for your clothes. Wire hangers can rust over a period of time leaving the rust on the garments. Also, if you have your child’s christening gown or baby blankets that you want to keep for years and pass on as heirlooms, it’s best to hang them up rather than pack them inside boxes or totes with other items. The same goes for fancy dresses, silk shirts and other garments such as these. You can purchase our Wardrobe Boxes in our retail shops, which come with a metal hanging bar built inside the box for easy use.
Utilize Cedar or Cedar Oils.
Placing cedar blocks or cedar oils with your clothes is the healthiest way to prevent moths, rather than the using moth balls. Also, cedar won’t leave your clothes with an undesirable smell. Not to mention, moth balls make everything in the vicinity smell – not just the clothes they are with.
Once a Year, Unpack and Refold Clothes.
Make sure you refold the clothing in the opposite direction in which you have folded it the last time. This will help prevent the creases from setting in which can start to degrade the fabric over time. This is also a good time to check everything over and make sure no damage has occurred. Check for evidence of rodents, moths and moisture. If you are keeping your clothes in your basement or attic, this is especially important to check. If you find any damage, remove the damaged items and use a new box to repack the items. Also do a quick sweep of the clothing styles. Ask yourself seriously if you can see yourself wearing the garment again. If the answer is no, get rid of it.
These tips are a great way to protect your favorite clothes when in storage. Whether you choose to store in extra closets, your basement or attic, the garage or a self storage unit, they all apply. When using self storage for keeping your clothing, we recommend using a temperature control storage unit. This will keep the temperatures consistent all year long and help prevent damage over months or years.
If you have any questions about storing your clothing, please contact us or reach out to any of our knowledgeable property managers. And, if you are ready to start using self storage to extend the life of your closet, you can rent a storage unit online 24/7.