Storing off-season clothes
The seasons are changing, and it’s time to swap your wardrobe and bring out the sweaters, jackets and boots that you will wear from the first hints of autumn through to the spring.
When it comes to storing seasonal wardrobes, it’s very important that it is done in the proper way. All it takes is some careful preparation, smart storage and a few small repairs to keep your favourite clothes, shoes and accessories in their best shape for the seasons to come. Whether you’re dealing with vintage clothing, baby clothes or seasonal garments.
Here are a few tips to help increase their longevity by storing them correctly.
Wash and dry thoroughly:
Before you begin to pack your clothes, be sure to wash the clothing you want to store according to the guidelines on their labels and to dry them properly. Dirty clothes are more likely to attract pests. So, clean any small stains, residual perfumes, lotion, oil or even sweat as they can sit in the fabric and turn your clothing yellow. You can also vacuum clothing and textiles that can’t be washed to remove dust. Place a screen between the clothing and the vacuum cleaner on a low suction setting.
Keep bugs out:
Instead of mothballs that can smell awful, throw some cedar chips in with your clothes to deter pests. They work just as well as mothballs, but without the pesticides that can be harmful to your clothing.
Ensure that your shoes are well cleaned and polished before storing them, and keep shoes separate from the rest of your clothes. You can also stuff the shoes with tissue paper or other material to help them retain their shape. Keep shoes in their original boxes or other shoe boxes if you have them. If not, they can be wrapped in shoe bags or charcoal bags to absorb any odours and keep them from getting dusty.
Repair damaged items:
Examining your items for tears, rips or other mends before storage will make the retrieval process easy. You won’t have to deal with any tasks you postponed like sewing on buttons or stitching up small holes. If your summer heels are missing or need some care, fix them before storing.
Donate or discard unwanted items:
Storage is most effective when the clothing you’re saving is in like-new condition. There is no need to fill up space with clothes that you no longer wear. Sort them into three categories: clothes that you will store, ones you will toss into the bin and ones you will give to charity.
Avoid vacuum-packing when storing clothes:
Though vacuum bags can save a huge amount of space, they are damaging to your clothing. If such items are made from natural fibres such as silk or wool, they might end up losing their shape over time. Vacuum bags are good only for short period storing.
When packing your clothes, there is no need to iron them, but you should still pack them with care. Place heavier items at the bottom and more delicate ones at the top. Rolling items is also a good trick if you want to fit more clothes into one box. Don’t overstuff your storage box to keep items looking at their best. If you have items that should be hung rather than rolled or folded, consider investing in a storage box that has a hanging rail.
Use a wardrobe box:
For more delicate clothing, invest in a wardrobe box to hang your clothing. You should always avoid metal hangers, as they can cause fabric to stretch. They may also rust in humid environments or rip clothes because of sharp edges. Instead, invest in wooden or padded hangers for your clothing. Also, do not cover wardrobe boxes with plastic. Instead, cover with a cotton sheet to protect them from dust and light.
Choose the right storage location:
Store your clothes in a cool, dry, clean and dark place as bright light can cause fabrics to fade.
Use plastic bins:
Though cardboard boxes or plastic bags are cost-effective options, they can leave your clothing vulnerable to damage. Plastic bags can trap moisture and can lead to mould and mildew. Cardboard boxes are also vulnerable to humidity and water damage. Instead, invest in plastic bins with airtight lids, as they will keep your items safe from pests, humidity and dust. Make sure not to over pack the bins, as there is no air flowing through to let your items breath. And opt for clear bins so that you can see the items inside.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly