clothing storage containerThere are many reasons why you may need to pack and store clothes. Perhaps you do this seasonally; summer clothes are stored to make room for winter sweaters and vice versa. Maybe you are moving to a new location and need to pack all your clothes up for self storage or for the move. Or perhaps your wardrobe has outgrown your closet and you are looking to store the items you use least often.

Whatever the reason you need to pack and store your clothes, here are a few techniques to do it right:

How to Prepare Clothes for Storage

Take the time to properly pack away your clothes and it will pay off when you bring them out of storage. Always wash clothes before you store them, even if they look clean. Any dirt or stains you can’t see now will be very apparent and difficult to remove after months in storage.  Body oils left over on dirty clothes can cause a strong odor that could attract insects or just be generally unpleasant to unpack.

How to Pack Clothes

Store clothing in plastic containers to optimally preserve it. Cardboard boxes are okay if you are storing your clothes temporarily, but can attract bugs if stored too long because of the acidic material. Sealable plastic containers are ideal if the clothes will remain in storage for more than a few weeks. These will better protect your clothes because they are airtight.

Always properly fold your clothes to avoid wrinkles and distortion. Start with heavier items and place them in the bottom of the container. Lighter items should be folded and placed on top. Though clothes are generally light, packing bulkier items (like sweaters or coats) altogether in one container can cause a heavy load. Pack some heavy and some lighter clothes in each container to balance the weight.

How to Store Clothes

The optimal location for long term storage is cool and dark. Hot temperatures can damage clothing fibers and set in any leftover stains, while too much natural sunlight can fade vibrant colors. If you are storing your clothes in cardboard boxes, you also want the location to be dry.

Use moth balls or cedar blocks to kill moth larvae extremely sparingly and only in areas where there is a definite need. These are toxic to humans as well, so never place moth balls or cedar blocks directly on clothing. Remember to air clothes out for a day or two before wearing if it has been stored in areas treated with moth balls.