Spring is approaching and the weather will soon be getting warmer. It might not be time to put away all your winter clothes yet, but it's not too early to start planning to store them. A little careful planning and packing will help you preserve and protect your gloves, scarves, sweaters, coats and winter shoes for next year - and hopefully for many more to come.
Here are 5 essential tips to help protect your clothing during storage:
1. Empty your pockets.
It's a treat to find money in the pocket of a jacket you haven't worn in awhile. It's not so nice to find a leaking pen or a sticky old peppermint, however - and it would be even worse to find such nasty surprises in a jacket that had been in storage for four or five months. Once you've identified the items you're planning to store, take the time to empty all the pockets in every garment. Also make sure to remove any jewelry, brooches or stick pins from your lapels. If they oxidize while in storage, they could leave a stain that may not be removable.
2. Wash and clean everything.
Before you put any winter clothing into storage, make sure every item is clean. Stains, small food particles or smells that remain on clothes before they are put away will only set in while they are in storage, and may even become permanent. Worse, food particles may attract insects. Dry clean or wash your clothes according to the label instructions. And while it may seem a no-brainer, make sure everything is completely dry before you pack it away. You don't want to open a box next spring and find moldy clothes.
3. Pick the proper storage containers.
If you're like most people, you'll need to hang some items and put others in containers. Without a doubt, the best material in which to store clothes is fabric. It provides a breathable moisture barrier that protects clothes while reducing the chance of mold or mildew growth. Look for canvas hanging bags or storage boxes. You can use plastic bins with lids, but make sure to clean and dry them thoroughly before use. Space Bags or other vacuum sealed bags are also a good solution if you have limited storage space.
4. Use an insect repellant.
Moths and other insects are a real concern when it comes to storing clothing. Don't reach for the mothballs, though - they might be effective, but they contain harsh, potentially harmful chemicals and they can leave a permanent smell in your clothes. Cedar blocks are a much better choice. They repel insects, absorb moisture and keep odors down. Another good natural moth repellent is lavender. Tuck a lavender sachet into each container with your clothes, and they'll not only remain insect free, but they'll smell great too.
5. Choose the right location.
The best place to store any clothing is cool, clean, dark and dry. These conditions protect your clothes and minimize the chance of damage. Unfortunately, the places in our homes we naturally think to use for storage are some of the worst for clothes. Basements are damp, attics get hot, and garages can be either, depending on the weather. Instead, consider a location inside your home. A guest room is ideal; if you have space under the bed on in the closet, use it.
Follow these tips and come next fall, you'll open your storage containers to find your winter clothes fresh and damage free. They'll be ready to wear with just a little pressing or a quick run through the dryer.