Tips For Storing And Preserving Clothes

As Seen in The Los Angeles Times (Julie Neigher)

Garment-care experts at Garde Robe share some tips on storing clothes at home.

  • To avoid distortion and stretching, never store vintage, embellished gowns, knits or delicate items on hangers.  Always store them flat, wrapped individually in acid-free tissue and place in a breathable box.
  • Always remove the plastic garment bags from the dry cleaner immediately.  These bags do not allow the garment to breathe properly, which leads to fading from fumes.
  • Never put worn items back in the closet next to clean garments.  Even if a garment appears clean, your body oils and leftover perfume act as a magnet for material-damaging insects such as moths.  Putting the worn garment back in the closet is an invitation, and those “guests” will create havoc and irreparable damage.  Don’t kid yourself that a few pieces of cedar and a lavender sachet will keep your closet free from insects indefinitely.
  • Be aware that leather items (handbags, shoes and garments) absorb a lot of water and can take longer to dry completely.  After cleaning, keep leather pieces outside the closet for a few days.  Items placed in the closet too soon could cause mildew and contamination.
  • Don’t allow leather and denim items to come in contact with other items. Use breathable garment bags for hanging items, dust covers for handbags and individual boxes for footwear.  Placing these things in the closet unprotected can lead to dye transferring to other things.
  • Don’t overcrowd your closet.  Proper air circulation is critical for preserving fabrics.  If you choose to store infrequently worn garments in a guest room closet, be sure to open the closet doors and leave a fan on in the room from time to time.

Never store garments in:

  • Basements or attics where temperature and humidity are inconsistent.
  • Closets that have an outside wall (those tend to have higher relative humidity).
  • Plastic or vinyl bags.
  • Near a sunny window.

Ideal storage conditions for long-term preservation of fabrics are:

  • Steady temperature.
  • Low relative humidity to prevent moisture and mold.
  • Low light to prevent fading.
  • Filtered air to remove impurities that could be trapped in fabric.
  • Moving air to prevent culture growth.
  • Breathable bags and boxes.
  • Wrap items individually in acid-free tissue or muslin.