When the winter snows start to melt away, and the local swimming pool starts making preparations for its busy season, it is time to pack away our winter clothes. Sweaters, coats, gloves, hats, and thermals are all thrown into the nearest container and tossed into some out of the way place. Or, if we do not want any nasty surprises next winter, we take the time to store our clothing properly. Follow these tips to ensure the safety of your clothes. A little effort when you pack the clothing will make a big difference when it is time to unpack.
1. Clean all outfits thoroughly before packing. Particles left on items can stain and set into your clothes after several months of storage. Cleaning the clothes also means that insects will be less likely to take up residence in your sweaters. Most clothing just needs to be washed normally or dry cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructons. Taking a little time to thorougly wash laundry before you pack it will keep your clothes safe during storage.
2. Plastic storage containers can be used for storing clothes, although if any bug larvae are in the clothing, they will have a feast. Cardboard boxes can be used for temporary storage. Make sure you use new clean boxes to avoid staining and insects. Even then be aware that cardboard boxes can attract bugs. One of the best storage containers is an unused suitcase that has been thoroughly cleaned. Line containers with acid free tissue. It may be possible to pack the clothes in plastic storage containers although trapped moisture can be an issue depending on the storage conditions.
3. Be careful with the use of mothballs. Many children and pets are naturally attracted to them with deadly results. Another option would be cedar blocks or cedar lined storage. Mothballs and cedar can be effective against insects, but keep in mind that neither is a complete guarantee. Just like with other cleaning products, storage chemicals should be used with care and according to directions.
4. Although it may be tempting, do not hang sweaters or other knit items that can become misshapen by long term hanging. Many a good sweater has been stretched beyond repair. Instead carefully fold the items and place into the storage container. Stack your folded items from the lightest items on top to the heaviest items on bottom. Stacking items loosely will allow air to keep circulating, even during a long storage.
5. If you do choose to hang items, utilize all of the extra hanging loops to keep the clothing from becoming misshapen. Wrap the clothing in something breathable (i.e. fabric). Make sure the clothing has enough room to have air circulate. This will keep down the risk of mildew and mold. It will also keep the clothing from wrinkling and creasing during storage. I do not recommend storing clothes in plastic bags. The bags do not allow the clothes to breathe enough.
6. Remember Clean, Cool, Dark, and Dry. Your storage area must be all 4 of these in order to protect your clothing. Clean any area thoroughly before storing. Choose a place that is not likely to be exposed to heat. Avoid areas near heating sources. A dark place will prevent fading and keep the area and clothing cool. Make sure the storage area is dry because wetness will attract mildew and insects.
7. Check on your storage. Don't abandon your stored clothing into oblivion. Regularly check on items to make sure that there are no issues. When you are ready to pull clothing out of storage, clean all items before wearing them. Inspect your storage containers to make sure that they are free from cracks, stains, or damage as well. Before you store items again, some storage containers may need to be replaced. Be sure to buy storage containers that will work well with your storage.