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6 tips for storing clothes for the long term

Recently, I finally took the opportunity to go through my daughter's stuff. All of her baby clothes were still mixed with the clothes she currently wears. I was going to throw them in a garbage bag or cardboard box to put them in the garage.

However, after entering the garage I discovered that all the cardboard boxes we had there had been chewed into pieces by mice!

Having sifted the internet, I found that most of the recommendations gave the following 6 simple steps and measures for long-term clothing storage.

1. Wash your clothes before putting them away

Wash and iron your clothes before putting them away. Stains and dirt fix into clothing over time and when you finally pull them out for reuse, they will be difficult to remove. Dirty clothing can also attract parasites and insects that can damage clothing. Make sure the clothes are properly rinsed before drying and storing them to make sure all bleaches, chemicals and detergents have been removed. This will not only make sure your clothes are safe during storage, but they will also be clean and ready to wear when you need them.

2. Pull under vacuum with a vacuum cleaner and seal or not?

There is a wide variety of vacuum bags available on the market which are great space savers. However, there is just as much speculation out there that storing your clothes in these bags for an extended period of time could damage them. The reasoning is that most natural fiber fabrics need air to maintain structure and integrity and that by sucking all the air out of the bag, it also compresses the fibers.

When removed from these bags, it may take a long time for the fibers to decompress, with some people even suggesting that the item will take the same time to decompress as the time it was in the bag. I have used these bags in the past for seasonal wear, so the items were in the bag for a period of only months and not years, and I didn't have any problems. But for any heirloom, expensive or sentimental value items, I probably wouldn't take the risk.

3. Say no to plastic bags and cardboard boxes

Airtight plastic containers with lids are best for storing clothes. This will keep your clothes dry and stop mold and mildew growth ... in most cases. If using plastic containers, make sure they are clean, dry, and lined with old (but clean) cotton sheets. Avoid plastic bags as they can trap moisture and cause mold to grow or cause fabrics to yellow.

Packing clothes in a cardboard box will not protect them from pests, as rats and mice can easily puncture the cardboard. Depending on both the sentimental and monetary value of the items, use acid-free boxes and tissue paper, not all plastic boxes are safe as they release chemicals that could have adverse effects on clothing.

4. Naphthalene

Not only does mothballs leave your clothes smelly, it is not 100% effective and can be potentially dangerous if found by children or pets. A much more attractive alternative is natural cedar wood pellets. Not only do they smell better, they are just as effective as mothballs and are also more effective when used in conjunction with all of the tips mentioned. When using mothballs or woods with camphor, make sure they are not placed between clothing but at the top of the container.

5. Clean, cool, dark and dry

The atmospheric conditions and the environment in which you are storing your items can cause damage if extreme. Ideally, it is suggested to store garments in conditions that do not exceed 23° C with a relative humidity of 55%. However, I would only follow this point to the letter if I was storing expensive or sentimental items. As long as the space is clean and protects the box from the elements, everything should be safe.

6. Check, not just protect!

It is important to check your items in stock, wherever and whatever you are storing. If you check your items once a year, you will minimize the risk of your items being damaged and could save them before that happens. This point is particularly important to me, not least because I even easily forget that I saved the clothes in the first place! :-)