I find with house moves, getting rid of clothes shines a light on how many of my clothes now no longer fit me, have holes in, or are just plain ghastly. It also shows that in a way, clothes are very much a replaceable commodity. However, when it comes to long term storage, it most often the case that clothes are stored because they are treasured. Some might want to give preferential treatment to some expensive vintage fashion they have acquired but are seldom going to wear, or clothes with particular emotional importance. As such, you need to know what you are doing when it comes to storing them. Clothing fabric is subject to many of the problems discussed on this site: damp, lack of air, degrading in light, plus they are uncannily a favourite food of moths and various other pests. As such, keeping very valuable clothes at home might see quicker deterioration than if you were to put them into self storage near you, since you are bound to be hit by one of these factors, no matter how slight, in a household at some point or another.
So you have the keys to your climate controlled storage unit, now what? Well, the next stage is to put some investment into high quality boxes and packing materials suitable to the task at hand, such as tissue. Since clothes are fickle and will react with almost anything over time, you need to ensure that your boxes and packing materials are guaranteed acid free to prevent the boxes themselves from causing undesired reactions with the fabric, so just grabbing any old box or tissue sheets you have found will not do on this occasion. Clothes prefer an environment with some air, so plastic containers are definitely ones to avoid for this task.
Stored clothes must be clean to begin with, as any sort of dirt on them will lead to permanent marking. Once they are dry and ready for packing, they can be folded and placed in the box. It is a good idea to make sure that they are not folded or packed in tightly, as clothes need some air as we just mentioned. However it is worth using a liberal amount of tissue between folds and anywhere you feel the clothes need it to give them a little bit of breathing space. The tissue can come in helpful to prevent dyes from running between clothes, which is an issue that can occur when clothes are stored for a very long time. Once the box is packed it can be loosely sealed, remember we need a little airflow going in and out of the box.
You have probably heard of wardrobe boxes, which are really like little cardboard wardrobes with their own clothes rail. Are these suitable for storing clothes? In the long run, no, as hanging, whilst practical for day to day management of clothing, causes stretching and strain on seams over time. For a short term solution, why not, as it’s really just a similar situation to your wardrobe at home. Knowing that short term solutions often become mid-term solutions, it is preferable to source non-metal large hangers, as metal will react with the clothing and the cheap thin ones are worst for stretching clothes due to their small surface area. You may however find that wardrobe boxes aren’t cost effective if you need to keep a lot of clothes in storage, and as such it may be more practical to source a mobile clothes rail, such as you might find in a clothes shop or theatrical props department, and cover it with a large clean sheet.
Posted in: Storage Info