How To Pack Your Clothes For Long Term Storage

Unlock practical tips and strategic techniques for ensuring your clothing emerges from storage in impeccable condition.

February 8, 2024
min read
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Putting away seasonal wardrobes or preserving special garments safely over time requires more than just clearing closet space. Follow these tips on pre-washing, storage materials, moth and mildew prevention, organization, and maintenance to ensure your favorite pieces last through many future wears.

Wash, Wash and Wash Again

Laundering everything before storage preserves fabric integrity, prevents issues down the road, and protects investments in beloved wardrobe pieces. Be sure to thoroughly clean items to remove:

  • Embedded body oils, sweat, hair products, and skin care residue
  • Microscopic dirt trapping allergens like pollen, pet dander, etc.
  • Food crumbs and spills waiting to stain
  • Chemical vestiges from manufacturing or dyeing processes
  • Wrinkling and musty odors if packed while dirty

Check Labels

Inspect garment care tags before washing to note special instructions like dry clean only, hand wash gently, line dry instead of heated cycles, or other guidance unique to fabrics like delicates.

Know Your Fibers

Certain fibers like cashmere, angora, and fine wools require delicacy to prevent shrinkage or felting during cleaning. Understand fiber contents before exposing items to water, heat, agitation, wringing, extended soaking, etc. When uncertain, enlist professional dry cleaning to pre-treat.

Whitening Boost

For whites prone to dinginess, add an oxygenated pre-soak to remove stains and boost brightness before packing away. This prevents yellowing during storage to keep whites fresh for the next wear.

Mold Treatment

Kill any spores trying to take hold by using vinegar, tea tree oil or other antimicrobial soaks if dampness introduced possible mold contamination pre-storage. Then make sure fully dried.

Airing Out

Allow freshly washed apparel 1-2 days to fully air dry before folding into containers. Any retained humidity fuels mold development and degradation over time once out of sight.

Use Appropriate Plastic Storage Containers

Breathable archival storage materials preserve contents safely by allowing airflow to prevent humidity stagnation and its resultant mold blooms or chemical micro-degradation from emitting textile gases.

No Garment Bags

Avoid vinyl garment bags sold by dry cleaners for long term storage. Plasticizers in the vinyl outgas over time, turning fabrics yellowed and stiff. Instead line shelves with unbleached muslin sheets first.

Acid-Free Tissue Paper

Use acid-free, lignin-free tissue when wrapping specialty textiles prone to dye loss from poor oxygenation like silks and delicates. The specialized paper quality protects both items without risking color transfer or acid damage to fabric.

Clear Storage Bins

Sort stored clothing visually with transparent plastic bins so you can readily ID contents years later without unpacking everything first to jog memory on what’s stored where. Knowing the contents also helps prompt appropriate seasonal revisiting.

Label Containers

Use permanent marker along the outside to summarize contents either by clothing categories like “summer tanks”, “kids pants”, and “winter accessories” or list specifics like “wedding gown” and “baby christening outfits”. Include year packed for easy timing reference on future reorganization system.

Elevate Boxes

Make sure plastic bins don’t sit directly on concrete floors. The moisture transfer through plastic can create damp conditions inside encouraging mold. Elevate containers with wood pallets underneath to allow ventilation space.

organized clothing in boxes

Make Sure Storage Containers Are Not Humid

Preventing humidity buildup within clothing storage containers helps items resist mold, odor, and degradation issues over time. Monitor conditions and adjust as needed.

Add Moisture Absorbers

Include cedar chipping sachets or silica gel packs in every bin to actively absorb errant moisture from contents and storage space itself to maintain 40-50% stable humidity, the ideal conditions for fabric storage. To reuse spent silica packets, dry in sunlight until the beads turn blue again.

Check Existing Humidity Outside Storage Spaces

Use a hygrometer first to ascertain ambient humidity conditions in basements, attics or existing storage spaces before assuming they make suitable wardrobe storage locales. Anything consistently measuring over 60% invites trouble without dehumidification measures beyond silica packs alone. Consider upgrading space appropriately first before trusting your cherished clothes to the conditions long term.

Refresh Containers Yearly

When retrieving seasonal items for wearing again, take the opportunity to wipe down empty plastic bins before returning to storage duty. Look for signs of problematic humidity like mold, stiff fabrics or pungent smells. Then replace aged boxes and upgrade any insufficient environmental controls maintaining your ideal 40-50% storage conditions. An ounce of prevention saves major headache and heartache down the road!

Don't Include the Hangers

Leave hangers behind as they unnecessarily consume precious real estate inside storage containers and risk snagging fabrics anyway. Follow specialty folding methods instead to maximize useful space and prevent stretched shoulders or misshapen garments over time.

Sweaters & Knits

Lay sweater flat face down and fold in sleeves evenly across the back to minimize shoulder bumps. Then gently fold up the bottom hem into thirds to make a neat rectangle ready for stacking. Place cedar plank dividers between to keep flattened shape.

Casual Tops

Button shirts and smooth out wrinkles across the back. Then fold shirt in half to align hem with collar before doubling over again so fronts meet in the middle. This condensed packet fits easily into a slotted container divider without losing shape.

Suits & Dresses

Pad out the shoulders with acid-free tissue first so they retain structure minus the hanger before folding ensemble pieces in half along a center back seam. Lightly stuff sleeves with tissue to avoid creases before laying flat atop cedar-lined, moisture absorbing sheets lining container bottom. Zip or button enclosure.


Wrap slippery silks and fragile cashmeres in soft herbal tissue or cotton sheets to prevent snagging on fabrics or hardware when stacked. Then place inside a secondary opaque bag or archival box with cedar sachet to control light and humidity exposure over time.

Organize and Label Everything

Packing wardrobes systemically inside acid-free archival cardboard and lidded plastic bins divided into categories specific to each family member allows finding that perfect turtleneck or pair of pumps in seconds versus sorting through a entire tub anos contents come next season.

Clear Bins

Use transparent storage so you can readily ID contents years later without unpacking everything first just to jog memory on what’s stored where. Knowing the contents also helps prompt appropriate seasonal revisiting so items get proper care over long vacancies.

Summarize Contents

Use permanent marker along the outside of neutral boxes to summarize contents either by clothing categories like “summer tanks”, “kids pants”, winter accessories” or list specifics like “wedding gown” and “baby christening outfits”. Include year packed for easy timing reference come future reorganization.

Separate By Person

Divide wardrobes by member instead of cramming everyone randomly into shared boxes. This speeds locating the right sized options for unanticipated seasonal event changes. Bonus: unpacked clothes sort directly into everyone’s bedroom closets or dresser drawers once called back into use.

Nest Containers

Slide slim accessory boxes holding belts, ties, socks and tights inside larger base containers designated for trousers or dresses. The consolidation saves space while keeping partnered pieces together despite seasonal separation.

cedar wood mothballs

Use Cedar Blocks and Cedar Sachets

The naturally insect-repelling oils in cedar wood prevent fabric damaging moths from laying eggs within stored clothing while its lighter aromatic scent proves pleasant to human senses.

Cedar Accessories

Refresh Faded Aroma

Cedar’s protective qualities persist for years but heat and humidity gradually lessen potency. Slide accessories into mesh bags and place outside in direct sunlight for several hours as needed to regenerate aroma from UV light exposure. Just avoid over-drying and potential splintering.

Integrate Throughout Storage

Use cedar items simultaneously within boxes and closet spaces storing textiles susceptible to larvae damage like wool, silk, cashmere, felt and specialty fur or shearling. The enduring light cedar scent provides layered protection from clothes moths seeking undiscovered nourishment opportunities.

Keep an Eye on Your Items

Periodically check stored belongings for early warning signs of contamination like insects, humidity stains, or musty odors. Catching issues early enough allows rescue and restoration before destruction progresses too far.

Telltale Signs of Pests

Look for tiny pin holes in fabrics, microscopic dark dust particles (frass), sticky spiderweb like residue on surfaces, shed exoskeletons, and crawling critters themselves indicating an infestation is already active. Isolate contaminated items immediately for intensive treatment.

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About Wood Blocks

Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge to curate a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also aligns with environmentally friendly practices. From exploring the wonders of natural mothballs and sustainable garment storage to diving deep into DIY solutions and green living, we're here to guide you on a journey towards a more eco-conscious, stylish, and intentional lifestyle.

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