Are you getting ready for a big move? Are you rotating your clothing as the seasons change? Are you doing some decluttering and need to get some items you don’t regularly use out of the way?
If any of these situations apply, you could benefit from temporary or long-term clothing storage.
You shouldn’t just stuff your clothes in an empty closet or toss them in the garage and hope for the best. You need to preserve your clothing properly if you want to prevent damage and ensure it stays in good condition until you need it again.
Not sure how to preserve your clothes? Keep reading.
Below are five effective clothing preservation techniques you can use before putting clothes into storage.
1. Invest in Dry Cleaning
You can use dry cleaning for more than just getting a red wine stain out of your favorite article of clothing. Dry cleaning and storage go hand in hand, especially if you want to preserve your clothing long-term.
The following are some of the top reasons why you should invest in dry cleaning before packing up your clothing and putting it in storage space:
Prevent Stains and Discoloration
Who wants to pull their favorite winter sweater out of storage only to find a big stain they forgot to deal with after last year’s Christmas party?
It’s easy to assume that your clothes in storage are clean, especially if you haven’t worn them recently. However, this isn’t always the case.
Dry cleaning will eliminate all these pesky stains, even the minor ones in hard-to-notice places. It will also remove unseen particles that could cause discoloration if they’re left out sitting for months — or even years.
Prevent Insect Problems
Texas is known for its insects, from moths and flies to beetles and crickets.
Do you want to keep these pesky critters out of your clothes and prevent them from eating a hole in your favorite sweater or leaving an unsightly stain? Get them dry cleaned before putting them in storage.
Dry cleaning removes any insects that might have set up shop in your clothing stacks without you noticing. It can eliminate any eggs they may have laid, too.
Prevent Unpleasant Smells
Dry cleaning your clothes before storing them also helps eliminate unpleasant, musty smells that sometimes linger on clothing when packed improperly. If you want to keep dust, sweat, and other unpleasant scents from sticking to the fibers of your clothes, get them dry cleaned first.
2. Use the Right Storage Containers.
There are many different containers you might use to keep your clothes clean and organized while in storage. The following are some of the most popular options:
- Cardboard boxes
- Wardrobe boxes
- Plastic bags
- Vacuum bags
- Garment bags
- Plastic storage boxes
Plastic storage boxes and wardrobe boxes are the two best choices out of these six options.
Rodents and insects can quickly eat through cardboard boxes. They are also not very durable against moisture and dust, among other natural elements.
Wardrobe boxes, tall cardboard boxes with a rack installed for clothes that need to hang, help prevent wrinkles. However, they are also vulnerable to moisture, dust, and other cardboard-related challenges.
Plastic bags and garment bags can also trap moisture, which creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. We’ll discuss why vacuum bags are problematic in the next section.
What makes plastic boxes so effective?
Plastic boxes with snap-on lids are durable and tightly sealed, so insects and rodents are less likely to find a way in. They keep moisture out, too, which prevents mold and mildew growth.
It helps you not to run into any previously described issues if you’re using high-quality boxes with lids that secure correctly.
3. Avoid Vacuum Sealing
Most of us have seen the infomercials for vacuum bags and thought they were the perfect solution for our storage needs. However, think twice before you decide to take this approach.
For short-term storage (a couple of weeks or less), vacuum sealing might be an okay solution. If you’re going to be storing your clothing much longer than this, it’s best to invest in some plastic storage bins.
Vacuum sealing is very harmful to clothing, especially delicate items.
Sucking the air out of the bags can damage the fibers and cause your clothes to wear out faster. It can also cause permanent creasing and wrinkling.
Keep in mind that natural fibers like cotton need to breathe if you want to preserve them long-term. If you vacuum all the air out of the bag, you’ll prevent this from happening and may cause them to deteriorate more quickly.
Many people are drawn to vacuum sealing because it allows them to save space and store more items in a small area.
If you’re serious about preserving your clothes, you’re better off using plastic bins and packing them properly. By storing the heaviest items at the bottom of the container, you’ll be able to maximize the space available without overstuffing them and damaging your clothes.
4. Prevent Insect Infestations
As you now know, dry cleaning is one of the best steps you can take to prevent insect infestations and protect your clothing while it’s in storage. At the same time, there are some other ways to keep insects and other critters at bay, including the following:
When most people think of proper clothing storage, they think of adding mothballs to their storage bins to keep their clothes safe.
The problem with mothballs is that they contain chemicals like naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, both toxic to humans. They may also leak and leave stains on your clothes.
Add Cedar Chips or Cedar Balls
Instead of mothballs, toss some cedar chips or cedar balls into your storage bins. Not only does cedar smell amazing — and won’t leave a musty scent behind — but cedar products also do a great job of keeping bugs at bay. Cedar chips and balls are long-lasting and won’t leak onto your clothes.
Keep Food and Drinks Out of the Storage Space
If possible, make it a rule that nobody brings food or drinks into the storage space.
If crumbs get dropped, or beverages get spilled, it’ll be harder to keep insects out. As a result, you’ll most likely deal with them potentially eating holes or leaving stains on your clothes.
Practice Preventative Pest Control
Lastly, practice preventative pest control around your storage space — or work with a storage unit provider that does this for you. This means regularly spraying the area with pesticides to prevent them from getting inside and wreaking havoc on your belongings.
5. Consider Climate Control
Another good way to preserve clothing and keep your belongings safe before putting them in storage is to choose a suitable storage unit. If you’re going to pay to rent a storage space, look for one that offers climate-controlled units.
A climate-controlled storage unit is kept at a consistent temperature and humidity level. This creates the perfect environment for long-term clothing storage and reduces the chances of mold growing, insects moving in, etc.
You might indeed have to spend a bit more money or do more searching to get your hands on (and your clothing in) a climate-controlled storage unit. It’s still worth it to put in this extra time and money.
Think about how much you’ll save if you don’t have to pay to replace your clothes after having insects chewing on them or stains settling in for months or years.
Remember, too, that some of your clothing — like your wedding dress, for example — can never be replaced. Most of us can agree that it’s better to invest in keeping items like these safe.
Let Dutch Boy Cleaners Assist with Your Clothing Preservation
Proper clothing preservation is essential if you want your clothes to look as good coming out of the storage unit as they did when they went in.
Of all the techniques listed above, dry cleaning before storage is one of the most beneficial.
Dry cleaning prevents stains from settling in, keeps bugs at bay, and helps you avoid unpleasant smells. This is especially true when you work with an experienced dry-cleaning company like Dutch Boy Cleaners.
With over 40 years of experience in the dry-cleaning business, we know how to handle all kinds of clothing, from the finest silks to furs to formal wear.
We pride ourselves on taking care of the little things, from replacing broken buttons to restoring damaged garments, so they look like new. We triple-inspect all items, too, so you’ll never get met with an unpleasant surprise when you open your garment bag.
Contact us today to learn more about services or determine which of our 8 locations in the San Antonio area works best for you.