The Ultimate Guide to Summer Clothing Storage

Fall is upon us and it’s time to switch your closets from summer to fall/winter wardrobes. Proper handling and maintenance of your off-season garments is critical as it can extend the life of certain pieces by several years. Therefore, the wardrobe storage experts at Garde Robe created important tips that will help preserve your offseason wardrobe.

– Always make sure garments are clean prior to storing them for an extended period of time. Even if the garment looks clean, if it has been worn it may have bacteria, perspiration, perfume, hair spray and or body oils that will damage the fabric if left untreated for several months. Invest in a hand steamer, which will sterilize garments and kill bacteria because of the heat as well as reduce wrinkles.  But be cautious as some fabrics, such as silk, should not be steamed.

– You should always remove your dry cleaner’s clear plastic bags immediately as these bags trap gasses that can cause discoloration and don’t allow the garment to breathe properly.

– Proper storage conditions and ventilation is essential. Garments should not be subjected to dust, sunlight, humidity or drastic changes in temperature, so basements and attics are not recommended in most cases. Proper spacing between garments must also be taken into account – never crowd garments into a small area in the back of the closet because the fabrics need to breathe. Be extra cautious when storing leather and suede as these fabrics can dye transfer into one another – use acid-free tissue to separate these garments. Never store furs at home over the summer as they must be stored in special cold storage units. Always use a reputable furrier and have the fur revitalized as needed.

– Keep bugs out by regularly vacuuming the inside of your closets and luggage. If you notice signs of insects, including flying moths or insect droppings, you should call an exterminator who will set traps to catch insects and larvae – but don’t use traditional mothballs, which can give off toxic vapors. Cedar and lavender to repel insects work best in closets and drawers that stay tightly closed.

– Purchase and use the proper storage supplies. Most garments should be folded in acid-free tissue and stored in breathable fabric garment bags or acid-free cardboard archival boxes. It’s fine to store your clothes in plastic bags for travel to keep them from wrinkling in your luggage. But plastic bags, which emit gasses that tend to discolor clothes, aren’t recommended for long-term storage. Breathable garment bags and canvas boxes are inexpensive and vital to maintaining a garment’s pristine condition. Boot trees and toe shapers for footwear and appropriate hangers are also highly recommended.

– Fold all knits with acid-free tissue to avoid creasing the individual fibers and place them in a breathable box or sweater bag with the heaviest ones on the bottom. Material damaging insects such as moths will be attracted to cashmere and other natural fibers, especially if bacteria are present. Placing cedar and lavender sachets in the boxes works as a deterrent and are far more pleasant than moth balls. However, the sachets often contain oils so be cautious to avoid direct contact between the sachets and garments. Heavily beaded and bias-cut garments should also be folded with tissue and not hung in most cases; gravity will distort them.

– Hanging garments require proper hangers and breathable garment bags. Hanger selection should take into account the type of garment and its weight. Heavy garments such as winter coats should be stored on strong, padded hangers. In most cases, pants and slacks should be hung from the hem or cuffs to avoid creasing. Take advantage of a garment’s support straps or loops to avoid stretching.

– Never store your purses in the bottom of a closet; the leather will absorb the excess moisture (especially on slab floors), which causes mold and mildew. Avoid storing purses in plastic bags; always use breathable fabric duster bags (even clean pillowcases) to protect them from dust and control moisture damage. Don’t store your patent leather handbag in contact with other items; dye transfer is a problem which often cannot be remedied. Stuff the bags with acid-free tissue to maintain the shape and avoid creases. Finally, find a dark, dry, cool area with good air circulation for storing your nice handbags, and generally avoid attics and basements.