Updated June 3rd, 2024 at 17:30 IST

Best Practices for Storing Clothes in a Storage Unit

So, let's get started and make sure your clothes stay in tip-top shape, no matter how long they're in storage!

Reported by: Digital Desk
Best Practices for Storing Clothes in a Storage Unit | Image:Open Source
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You've got a closet full of clothes you love, but not enough space to keep them all. Sound familiar? A storage unit can be a lifesaver, but if you don't store your clothes properly, you might end up with a hot mess of wrinkled, musty garments.  But don't worry, we’ve got your back. We will share tried-and-true tips for storing clothes in a storage unit like a pro. From prepping your clothes to choosing the right containers, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to keep your clothes looking their best.

So, let's get started and make sure your clothes stay in tip-top shape, no matter how long they're in storage!

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Wash and Dry Clothes Thoroughly

Before you even think about storing clothes in a storage unit, you've got to make sure they're clean and dry. I'm talking spotless and bone-dry, people.

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Why? Because any dirt, stains, or moisture left on your clothes can lead to some serious damage down the line. We're talking mold, mildew, and permanent staining. Trust me, you don't want to open up your storage unit to find your favorite sweater covered in fuzzy green spots.

Remove All Stains

First things first, inspect your clothes for any stains or spots. Whether it's a splash of spaghetti sauce or a smudge of makeup, those stains need to go before you pack things away.

Treat each stain with the appropriate cleaning method, whether it's a dab of dish soap or a run through the washing machine. The key is to get rid of any residue that could attract insects or cause discoloration over time.

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Air Dry Completely

Once your clothes are clean, it's time to dry them thoroughly. Even a hint of dampness can spell trouble in storage.

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Skip the dryer and opt for air drying instead. Hang your clothes up or lay them flat until they're completely moisture-free. It might take a little extra time, but it's worth it to prevent mold and mildew from taking hold.

Remember, storing clothes that are even slightly damp is just asking for trouble. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, so don't give them a chance to set up shop in your storage unit.

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Fun fact: Did you know that the oils and sweat from your skin can actually break down fabric fibers over time? Yep, even your natural body oils can do a number on stored clothing. So, make sure everything is clean and dry before packing it away for the long haul.

Use Appropriate Storage Containers

Now that your clothes are clean and dry, it's time to talk storage containers. And, not all containers are created equal when it comes to storing clothes in a storage unit.

You want to choose containers that will protect your clothes from moisture, pests, and physical damage. Here are a couple of options to consider:

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Plastic Storage Containers

Plastic storage containers are a popular choice for a reason. They're durable, stackable, and most importantly, they create a barrier against moisture and pests.

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Look for containers with tight-fitting lids to keep out any unwanted intruders. And if you really want to go the extra mile, consider using containers with built-in wheels for easy transport.

Wardrobe Boxes with Metal Poles

If you have a lot of hanging clothes to store, wardrobe boxes are the way to go. These tall boxes come with a metal hanging bar, so you can keep your clothes wrinkle-free and ready to wear.

Just make sure to choose boxes made from sturdy cardboard or plastic to prevent crushing or damage. And don't forget to label each box clearly, so you know exactly what's inside.

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Pro tip: Avoid using plastic bags or flimsy cardboard boxes for long-term clothing storage. Plastic bags can trap moisture, leading to mildew, while moving boxes can easily be infiltrated by pests or moisture. Stick with heavy-duty plastic containers or wardrobe boxes for the best protection.

Opt for Climate-Controlled Storage Units

If you're planning on storing clothes long-term, a climate-controlled storage unit is the way to go. These units maintain a stable temperature and humidity level, protecting your clothes from extreme heat, cold, and moisture.

Why is climate control so important? Because fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause some serious damage to your clothes over time. High humidity can lead to mold and mildew growth, while extreme temperatures can cause fabrics to become brittle or discolored.

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By choosing a climate-controlled unit, you're giving your clothes the best possible environment for long-term storage. Plus, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your favorite outfits will be in great condition when you need them again.

Keep in mind that climate-controlled units do come at a slightly higher price point than standard storage units. But trust me, it's worth the investment to protect your valuable clothing items.

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Protect Clothes with Cotton Garment Bags

When it comes to storing clothes, breathability is key. That's where cotton garment bags come in handy.

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Unlike plastic bags, which can trap moisture and lead to mildew, cotton garment bags allow your clothes to breathe while still protecting them from dust and pests. Plus, they're gentle on delicate fabrics like silk and lace.

Simply slip each garment into its own cotton bag before placing it in a storage container or hanging it in a wardrobe box. The cotton sheet will create a barrier against any potential damage while still allowing air to circulate.

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If you're tucking away coats or dresses for a while, use padded hangers inside the bags. It'll keep them from crinkling and stretching during storage.

Use Moisture Absorbing Packets

Even with the best storage containers and climate control, moisture can still find its way into your stored clothes. That's where moisture absorbing silica gel packets come in.

These little packets work by absorbing excess moisture from the air around them. By placing a few packets in each storage container, you can help prevent mold and mildew growth on your clothes.

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You can find moisture absorbing packets at most hardware or home goods stores. Just make sure to choose ones that are specifically designed for use with clothing and textiles.

And don't forget to replace the packets every few months, as they'll eventually become saturated and lose their effectiveness. A little extra effort goes a long way in keeping your clothes dry and odor-free.

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Properly Hang or Fold Clothes

The way you store your clothes can make a big difference in how they look and feel when you're ready to wear them again. Some clothes are better off hung, while others should be folded and stacked.

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Here's a quick rundown:

  • Hang dresses, coats, jackets, and anything made from delicate fabrics like silk or lace.
  • Fold sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, and other casual items.
  • Use acid-free tissue paper between folded items to prevent creasing and discolouration.

When hanging clothes, invest in sturdy wooden or padded hangers to prevent stretching and distortion. Wire hangers may be tempting, but they can easily snag and damage delicate fabrics.

And when folding clothes, take the time to smooth out any wrinkles or creases before placing them in storage containers. A little extra care now will save you from having to iron out stubborn wrinkles later.

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Avoid Vacuum Sealing Delicate Fabrics

Vacuum sealing might seem like a great way to save space when storing clothes, but it's not always the best choice for delicate fabrics.

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The intense pressure from vacuum packing can cause permanent creasing and damage to items like silk, lace, and cashmere. Plus, the lack of air circulation can trap moisture and lead to mildew growth over time.

If you do choose to vacuum pack some of your clothes, stick to sturdier items like jeans, sweaters, and coats. And be sure to use high-quality, moisture-resistant bags designed specifically for long-term storage.

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Personally, I prefer to stick with breathable storage containers and garment bags for my delicate items. It may take up a bit more space, but it's worth it to keep my clothes looking their best.

Label Boxes for Easy Retrieval

There's nothing worse than digging through a dozen identical boxes trying to find that one specific sweater. Save yourself the headache by labeling each storage container clearly and specifically.

I like to use a simple labeling system that includes the contents of each box, as well as the season or occasion they're meant for. For example, "Summer Dresses" or "Winter Coats."

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You can use adhesive labels, permanent markers, or even color-coded tape to keep things organized. Just make sure your labels are clear, legible, and securely attached to each container.

If you really want to go the extra mile, consider creating an inventory list of everything you have in storage. That way, you can quickly reference what you have and where it's located without having to open every single box.

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Pest Control Measures

The last thing you want is to open up your storage containers and find a family of moths or mice have made themselves at home in your favorite sweater. To keep pests at bay, there are a few simple steps you can take.

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Cedar Chips or Blocks

Cedar has natural pest-repelling properties that make it a great choice for storing clothes. Simply place a few cedar chips or blocks in each storage container to help deter pests like moths and silverfish.

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You can find cedar chips or blocks at most home goods stores, or even make your own by sanding down a cedar plank. Just be sure to replace them every few months as the scent fades.

Avoid Food Stains

Pests are attracted to the tiniest traces of food, so it's important to make sure your stored clothes are completely free of any food stains or spills.

Before packing clothes away, inspect each item carefully for any signs of food residue. Even a small spot of ketchup or coffee can attract insects and lead to an infestation.

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If you do find any food stains, treat them immediately with a stain remover and wash the item thoroughly before storing it away. A little extra effort now can save you from a big headache later.

Choose Appropriate Storage Space

When it comes to storing clothes in a storage unit, not just any old space will do. You want to choose a unit that's clean, dry, and free of any potential hazards.

First and foremost, make sure the storage space is the right size for your needs. You don't want to cram your clothes into a too-small space, as this can lead to wrinkling and damage. But you also don't want to pay for more space than you actually need.

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Take some time to measure your storage containers and estimate how much room you'll need to stack and organize them comfortably. A good rule of thumb is to add about 10-15% extra space for easy access and airflow.

You'll also want to consider the location of your storage unit. Look for a facility that's convenient to access, but also secure and well-maintained. A unit with good lighting, pest control, and regular cleaning will go a long way in protecting your clothes from damage.

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Sell Unwanted Clothing Items

Before you start packing up clothes for storage, take a moment to go through your wardrobe and identify any items you no longer wear or need. Chances are, you have at least a few pieces that are just taking up valuable storage space.

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Consider selling these unwanted items online or at a consignment shop. Not only will you free up storage space, but you might also make a little extra cash in the process.

Just be sure to clean and press any items you plan to sell, as this will help them look their best and fetch a higher price. And if you have any designer or high-end pieces, consider taking them to a specialty consignment shop that caters to luxury brands.

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If you're not storing too many items, keeping everything neat is so much easier while also ensuring you maintain them all in good condition. It's an awesome feeling when something useless to us ends up benefiting someone who will love wearing it.

Use Natural Fibers for Long-Term Storage

When it comes to storing clothes long-term, natural fibers are your best friend. Materials like cotton, linen, and wool are breathable, durable, and less prone to damage than synthetic fabrics.

If possible, choose storage containers and garment bags made from natural fibers like cotton or muslin. These materials will allow your clothes to breathe and prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mildew and other damage.

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You can also use natural fibers to protect individual garments within your storage containers. For example, placing a clean cotton sheet between folded items can help prevent color transfer and provide an extra layer of protection against dust and pests.

And if you're storing any items made from delicate natural fibers like silk or cashmere, consider placing them in individual cotton bags or wrapping them in acid-free tissue paper for added protection.

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Avoid Using Plastic Bags

While plastic bags might seem like an easy and cheap option for storing clothes, they can actually do more harm than good in the long run.

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Plastic bags trap moisture and prevent air circulation, which can lead to mold and mildew growth on your clothes. Plus, the chemicals in plastic can break down over time and transfer onto your garments, causing discoloration and damage.

Instead of plastic bags, opt for breathable storage options like cotton garment bags or acid-free boxes. These materials will allow your clothes to breathe and prevent moisture buildup, keeping them fresh and clean for longer.

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If you must use plastic bags for short-term storage or transportation, choose ones made from breathable materials like polypropylene or nylon. And be sure to remove your clothes from the bags as soon as possible to prevent any potential damage.

Taking the time to properly store your clothes in a storage unit is well worth the effort. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your favorite outfits stay in great condition for years to come, no matter how long they're packed away.

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Storing clothes in a storage unit doesn't have to be a gamble. By following these best practices for storing clothes, you can keep your garments looking their best, no matter how long they're packed away.

Remember, it's all about preparation, protection, and organization. Wash and dry your clothes thoroughly, choose the right containers, and don't forget those handy moisture absorbers and cedar chips.

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With a little extra TLC, your clothes will be ready to wear whenever you need them, without any funky smells or mysterious stains. 

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Published June 3rd, 2024 at 17:30 IST