Wardrobe Oxygen: Seasonal Clothing Storage
Spring is in the air: The days are longer, the birds are chirping, and we're switching from wool and tweed to cotton and linen. It's important to properly store your winter wardrobe so it maintains its quality and shape for when the cooler weather returns.
A few tips to store out of season clothing:
- Wash Before Packing. Even if an item looks clean, be sure it has been properly laundered or professionally dry-cleaned before packing it away for the summer. Small spots undetectable to you now can set into clothing over the summer, making permanent stains. Sweat can eat away some fibers and leave yellow stains. Clean clothes are also less desirable to critters, meaning less chance for damage from moths and carpet beetles.
When laundering these items, forgo starch as that it can attract insects and also stain fabrics that are left neglected for long spans of time.
- Location, Location, Location. It's tempting to store your winter clothes in a corner of your garage or attic; however you want a cool, dark, and dry location to preserve your garments. Extreme heat can dry out shoes, leathers and silks, direct sunlight can fade items even stored in plastic bins, and cooler temperatures will prevent mold and insects. Consider a shelf on a closet, a dry area in your basement, or under-bed storage systems.
Before storing, be sure to vacuum your area to get rid of any dust and pests; also be sure to wash any storage containers so they are free of anything that could damage your clothing. This little extra bit of preparation can really make a difference in the life of your garments.
- Let Them Breathe. Storing items in breathable containers will prevent the growth of mold and mildew. It will also prevent permanent creases in fabric. Plastic storage bins (or those giant-sized Ziploc bags) are fine for temporary storage (a couple months), but for longer storage (or if you wish to invest in quality storage that can be used for many years to come) consider heavy fabric storage boxes and garment bags. Never use cardboard boxes for clothing storage--the adhesives in them attract moths and other insects.
- Know When to Fold Them. Some items like structured jackets should be left hanging when they are stored. Companies like The Container Store sell reasonably-priced garment racks with canvas covers--they are easy to disassemble when not in use and snap together when you're ready to store your winter garments. Choose molded wooden hangers to ensure your garments maintain their proper shape over the next few months of storage.
Knits and sweaters should never be stored hanging because gravity can cause them to become misshapen. Knits should be folded in storage containers, heavy pieces like denim sweatshirts at the bottom of the box; lighter weight knits at the top--this will prevent creasing.
- Keep Critters at Bay. Even with the above preventative measures, carpet beetles and moths can still find your clothes. Keep them away with repellents like cedar and sachets of real lavender. These options do a great job at repelling insects while being safe around pets and children.
Following these simple steps will ensure that the money paid for these garments will be well-spent-- you will have a beautiful wardrobe of garments waiting for you once fall returns!
Alison Gary has over ten years experience as a personal shopper, stylist, and visual merchandiser. Her blog Wardrobe Oxygen provides fashion advice to all women, regardless of age, size, budget, or lifestyle. She is a full-time working mother, blogger, wife, and frugal fashionista located in the Washington D.C. area.