Storing Out Of Season Clothing

Storage guidelines for maintaining qaulity, pest-free, safe and off-season clothing without too much expense.

The change of a season is a great time to clean out or update your wardrobe and store off-season shirts, coats and other clothing. Tackle one closet at a time so this task won't be overwhelming and look forward to an organized space, the warm feeling of giving to others, and the opportunity for shopping ahead.

To begin, remove all the off season clothing from the closet and establish organized piles - a keep pile for clothing that will last another year or season and a donation pile for clothing that is out of style, worn or no longer fits. Fold, bag and donate clothing to a charity of your choice and keep track of the estimated donation price for tax purposes. With everything of the closet, consider adding organizers at this point, if needed. Next, attack your keep pile and store properly so this off-season clothing will be ready to wear next year.

To store clothing, first inspect each piece for stains, torn seams, missing buttons or frayed edges. Take the time to repair any tears or have a professional do the repairs if not gifted with sewing abilities.

Launder any pieces that need cleaning or take to the dry cleaner, depending upon the fabric. Perspiration remnants and food spills can attract pests, especially on woolen material and stains can set in permanently.

Iron clothing to maximize the storage space and allow clothing to sit in a natural state.

Winter coats, bedding, rugs and drapery should be brushed outside with a stiff brush. This should remove all debris.

Storage of off-season clothing can be done either at home or at a local dry cleaner. If you have the storage space and the ability to prepare and look after the clothing, home storage will save you money. Dry cleaners, however, can clean, iron and store clothing for a season giving you piece of mind and insurance should anything occur.

If storing at home, select either a closet or purchase plastic containers and bags that can be used for storage. Caution should be taken when using plastic containers for long-term storage, years instead of months, as they do not allow items to breathe which may degrade certain fabrics. Closets need to be vacuumed and dusted before using and bags or containers should be free of damage and holes. Storage should prevent insects and maintain your clothing for the next season.

If hanging items such as coats and dresses, utilized plastic padded hangers so clothing isn't stretched or damaged. Use plastic hangers as metal hangers can become rusty and transfer that rust to clothing. Cover clothing with clean cotton, such as a laundered sheet, to protect from condensation and dust or wrap each piece in plastic. Hang with even spacing between pieces to prevent wrinkles or crowding. Fold and stack clean cleaning on shelves.

To further deter insects, which infiltrate and destroy wool or wool-mixed clothing, utilize cedar, lavender or mothballs. All of these products can be useful but need to be mixed with proper storage and regular cleaning for full effectiveness.

The heartwood of red cedar contains natural oils that kill clothing moth larvae. However, cedar will only harm young larvae, not beetles or older larvae, and the effectiveness fades as the scent of cedar fades. In addition, the cedar scent will transfer to your clothing - a benefit or hindrance of personal taste.

Mothballs or crystals contain pesticides that release a gas to prevent and kill insects. This method works best with clothing stored in plastic containers or bags. Pesticides can be harmful to children and pets and can cause an unpleasant odor. Stored clothing will need to be laundered before being worn with this method.

Sachets filled with lavender or lavender oil will deter insects but not kill eggs or larvae. This method may not be as effective as cedar or pesticides but will leave a pleasant scent behind.

Once stored, keep an eye on your clothing on a monthly basis. Move bags and containers and vacuum or dust underneath them, as well as within the corners of a closet. Insects detest sunlight and clean areas, so observation and monthly inspections will benefit in the long run.

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