How to Store Clothes Long-Term

People are becoming more conscientious about how they spend their dollars. People want high-quality items that last instead of cheap stuff that breaks easily.

Trending toward fewer, high-quality items has been going on in Europe for years, and it’s making its way into the U.S. People are willing to spend a bit more on something that will look great and will be durable for years. “Buy once, cry once”, as the saying goes. Pay the high price and you won’t have to buy it again.

If you’ve ever purchased a nice suit or a high-quality pair of shoes, you know the value of spending a bit more upfront. What you get in return is a product that won’t break as easily and can even look better with a bit of wear on it.

If you want something to last, though, you’ve got to treat it right. Storing your clothes, whether they’re a treasured item like a wedding dress, your tux, or just winter clothes you want to last for more than once season, is important to their long-term quality. The better you store them, the better they’ll stand up to the wear and tear that clothes normally go through.

Here are some long-term clothing storage options to help you keep what you like longer and cut down on the cost of clothing for you or your family.

mom and daughter having fun while doing the laundry

Clean Your Clothes Before You Store Them

Ok, so this one is a bit obvious, right? Still, we’ve got to spell it out. If you’re storing clothing long-term, then it should be clean. Sometimes, people who are in a rush or tying up loose ends before a move feel like they don’t have time to wash things before they shove them in a box.

Putting something off for a week can turn into years in what seems like a blink of an eye. The next time you open that box to take out an old dirty winter coat for the change of seasons, don’t be surprised if there is mold growing on your jacket.

Before you store clothes long-term, make sure you clean them first. It will prevent mold from growing and ward off any bugs from running towards the stench of sweat.

Use Boxes Not Just Bags

Depending on what your definition of long-term is, it’s a good idea to opt for boxes instead of just bags.

When your clothing is in bags, it’s easy for them to get smushed or damaged when they’re moved. If you forget what’s inside a drawer or underneath something, you can accidentally pile on top of expensive items or pieces that you like. When you take them out, they’ll never be the same.

To be on the safe side, store your clothing in boxes. They can stack easily and you won’t have to worry about delicate items getting crushed.

dry and folded clothes in a basket

Keep Your Clothing Dry

Of course, moisture is the enemy of a lot of clothing. It’s much easier for clothes to deteriorate in humid climates or if they’re exposed to too much moisture. When things get wet it’s also much easier for mold to grow.

To keep your clothes in good condition, store them someplace that’s protected from anything like an air conditioning leak or rain.

If you’re very particular about your clothing, then go to lengths to keep them out of wet areas in your house like a basement. Instead, you can consider putting them up in the attic or even a climate-controlled room in your home.

Cedar Instead of Mothballs

Mothballs were once a thing. Hopefully, the smell of your grandparents’ closet was enough to put you off of them for good. They leave a strong smell in your clothing and don’t really do that great of a job protecting your shirts, pants, coats, and other items.

Instead, try using cedar. It’s a relatively new way of warding off pests, and it smells a whole lot better than mothballs. You don’t need to stick the cedar balls right on top of the clothes or inside a vacuum bag if you’re using those. Just place them on top or around your clothing boxes to keep insects and rodents away. 

Avoid Any Light Damage

In addition to moisture, good long-term storage for clothing avoids unnecessary light exposure. You’ve probably noticed by now that, if you leave a shirt or something out in the sun for long, it will fade. Keep wherever you’re storing clothing nice and dark to protect the color integrity for longer. Your clothes won’t fade as quickly and they’ll look like they’re brand new when you break them out of the box.

Store Heavy Items on Bottom

Just like you don’t want to smush your clothes by keeping them in bags, you don’t want items in the box pressing down on stuff at the bottom more than they need to. To lessen the effects of weight, place the heaviest items at the bottom of your storage boxes for the long term. That way, the stuff on top won’t weigh down on other clothes so much.

boxes of clothes and other stuff to be placed in a storage unit

Think About Using a Storage Unit for Clothing

More and more people are taking advantage of convenient, affordable storage units for things like long-term clothing storage. What’s the point of keeping jackets or swimsuits in your drawers or closets when you only use them for a few months a year?

We know a lot of people with overstuffed closets who could use some more space. Tack onto that the number of people who are still hanging onto their wedding dress or their high school basketball jersey.

All of that stuff is stuff you want to keep, we get it, but it doesn’t have to take up valuable space in your home.

With a storage unit, you can find something low-cost near your home to hold stuff until you need it. A quick trip to a storage unit, and you can swap out the swimsuits for the winter coats. It’s much more efficient than rifling through mountains of clothes that you don’t need. There are even mini storage units for people who only want to store a few items. You’ll love the extra space you get at home and your clothes will stay in great condition.

Make a List of What’s in the Boxes

You might think you’ll remember what clothing you store long-term, but you probably won’t. When most people open old boxes of clothes, it’s like opening up an old mummy’s tomb. You don’t know what’s in there. There may be some hidden treasures, but there might also be that sweater you spent weeks looking for swearing you saw it on the closet shelf.

Create an inventory list so you know exactly what you’re storing in boxes or whatever other type of container you’re using. Label the boxes with what’s inside of them. It will make getting things out or donating them so much simpler.

plastic container for storage

See-Through Containers Are Also a Good Option

These days, you can find a lot of home storage options online or in your local home goods store. There are plastic see-through containers with wheels on them that will fit under most beds. People can use these bins for long-term clothing storage and free up valuable closet space. Just make sure you only store things under the bed that you won’t want in a few days. Getting to them and then reorganizing can be a pain.

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