It all began when I was on leave. One random day, I decided to go through my son’s old clothes and make sense of the mess that his possessions were in at the time. It was then that I discovered his clothes were in cardboard boxes, which we kept in the shed and that was where I first headed. Much to my surprise, I found out that some annoying rodents had chewed almost all the boxes to shreds. Luckily most of the clothes were in tact but since it had been my intention to keep my son’s old clothes I decided to search out more efficient means of storing clothes long term.
I started where all the research in this century starts from, the Internet. I am quite pleased to say that I was able to come up with six simple steps that would most definitely work for anyone.
1. Do laundry before storing
Make sure to launder and press all your clothes before storing. Stains and dirt that stick on the surface of the clothes are usually very hard to get out when you have put them in storage. Make sure to follow all the laundry instructions as per the clothing labels. Dirty clothes are like a magnet for rodents and other insects. Also, ensure that no clothes are damp but properly rinsed and dried prior to keeping in storage. This will not only make sure your clothes are safely stored but also that they are ready to wear once out of storage.
2. The great debate on vacuum sealing
Given that there are a wide range of vacuum seal bags in the market, it’s not a big surprise that there is an ongoing debate on whether storing clothes in these bags could damage your clothes. The main weight behind the “for” argument is that most natural fiber clothes need air to maintain their structure and integrity. By removing all the air, you are compressing both the garments and the fibers as well. It would take a very long time to reverse this process after the clothes have been removed from the bag. A certain reputable source with a PhD in Fiber and Polymer Science was quoted to have said that both processes (compressing and uncompressing) take the same amount of time. From my experience, I have not had this issue before, probably because I keep them in the bags for just months and not years.
3. Out with the plastic bags and cardboard boxes
The best way to preserve any clothing is with air-tight plastic containers and a lid. These make sure your clothes are dry, and in most cases, stop the growth of mould and mildew. If you do decide to go this route, the containers must be clean, dry and, if possible, lined with cotton sheets. These are a better alternative to plastic bags or even cardboard boxes because these do not offer protection from rodents and other vermin. Other options like acid free boxes are left for heirloom items and other items of sentimental value.
4. Not Mothballs, Cedar balls
Mothballs leave your clothes smelling terrible and are not 100% effective at protecting your clothes from pests and vermin. Even more dangerous they are when found by children or pets. This is where cedar balls come in, they smell better and are more effective than mothballs. When using either balls make sure they are not put on the surface of the garment but rather on the top of the container to make them even more effective.
5. Keep it Clean, Keep it Cool, Keep it Dark and Keep it Dry
Beyond other factors that affect the clothes kept in preservation, the atmospheric conditions and environment you are storing clothes in can cause damage that is beyond repair. Under ideal conditions, do not store clothes in places with temperatures above 23°C and a relative humidity of 55% or more. Make sure that the space where you are keeping the clothes is clean and you should be good to go. For people that do not make use of self storage facilities but use their own personal
space be sure to keep those places clean, dry and free from vermin.
It is not just enough to put away your clothes some place and think they are safe from damage. It is equally as important to check on your items in self storage. If you check your items frequently, you will to a large extent reduce the likelihood of the items being damaged. This is the most important tip to me because I find it easy to forget that I have items stored away.