Freeing up closet space is a biannual ritual for many of us, swapping out shorts and swimsuits for coats and sweaters. It can be liberating to clean out closets – pondering the passage of time while donating old items and packing away others for storage. But the piles get high quickly, and can take up a surprising amount of room. Using a self-storage unit for seasonal or long-term storage of clothing and furs can be a space-saving, convenient solution.
Just folding garments and putting them in a box, bag or bin, however, can be a costly mistake. There are specific ways to pack clothes – especially those made with quality fabrics, leather or fur – to preserve them well. The following are steps you can take to prevent damage to fabrics and furs, and get the most out of both your clothing and self-storage.
Choosing a Storage Solution
- Choose a space that will be cool and dry all year long. Your garage may seem like the logical place to store extra clothing, but fluctuations in temperature, exposure to sunlight and pests can cause significant damage to fabrics, leather and fur. Cooler temperatures help prevent mold growth, the presence of pests, molting of furs and drying out of leather. A climate-controlled self-storage unit keeps the temperature between approximately 50 and 80 degrees with the use of central air and heat.
- Sunlight can cause fading and attract insects. Using see-through plastic storage containers may make it convenient to see what’s inside, but if stored in a windowed garage or basement they can open up the possibility for some unpleasant surprises. Self-storage units offer the necessary darkness needed for proper preservation.
Proper Packing Materials
- Plastic bags including vacuum-seal bags should be avoided when storing expensive clothing. Not only can they permanently crush fabrics and furs, but the airtight seals can cause mildew and mold growth.
- If hanging garments, use non-rusting hangers and allow plenty of space between items. Wardrobe boxes are specifically made for storing clothes, and come with a built in hanging rod. They are particularly useful for packing furs, suits and other garments that must be hung. At Top Lock, we offer these and other quality packing supplies for purchase.
- Rolling garment carts can be used in combination with garment bags to hang clothing in storage.
- Use sheets of acid-free white tissue to separate garments and line boxes or bins. Use white muslin garment covers.
- Chemical desiccants (such as the inedible packets found in food or prescription items) can be used to absorb moisture and prevent mold growth. These are frequently available for purchase at self-storage facilities.
- Ventilation is important when preserving natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, silk and linen, as well as suede and leather. A wicker trunk or unused suitcase can be a great choice for fabrics that can be folded and stacked safely.
- When stacking folded garments, place the heaviest at the bottom of the pile. Fold and stack them loosely.
- Not all clothes should be folded and stacked. Fur in particular must be hung from the shoulders. Placing fur in a plastic bag, or packing it in between hung items, can permanently crush the fur.
- Cedar blocks, mothballs, etc. can be used in addition to pest control methods provided by the facility. Since they are toxic, avoid using mothballs anywhere where children may be present.
- Avoid storing clothing in dresser drawers or trunks that are lined with wallpaper or adhesive liner paper, as the glue can attract pests. Glued boxes can present the same problem.
- Avoid using starch or fabric finish on any garments that will be stored.
- Fur should be stored in professional cold storage for best results.
Taking steps to preserve your clothing pays off in long-lasting, well-kept wear. For additional storage success strategies, ask your facility manager.