How to buy clothes Tips and Tricks ::: How to store clothes

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Storing Garments

Properly handling and storing garments between uses and between seasons can extend their useful life and keep them looking their best. The following tips for short and long-term storage are provided by the Soap and Detergent Association.

Storage on a Hanger - Types and uses for hangers.

Folded or Flat Storage - Especially for knits and stretch-ables.

Short-Term Storage - For frequently woren items.

Seasonal Storage - Summer/Winter clothes during the off season.

Long-Term Storage - Storing tips for long periods.

Caring For and Storing Heirloom Textiles

Storing Garments on Hangers

Select the appropriate hanger based on the style and weight of the garment, as follows:

  • Plastic Tubular Hangers provide minimal support for tightly woven lightweight shirts and blouses.
  • Padded, Shaped, Suit Hangers are for sheer fabric blouses, dresses, jackets, suits, and tailored garments.
  • Traditional hangers with an enlarged, rounded, horizontal bar are appropriate for folded slacks or pants.
  • Knitted garments should be folded and never hung. Hanging can cause the garment to stretch out of shape.
  • Always use fabric support straps or loops, and when necessary sew additional straps to garments, to reduce stress. These straps help to distribute the garment weight and minimize the distortion of the garment in areas, such as the neckline.
  • Hang slacks or pants from the cuff or hem, or fold over the rounded horizontal bar of a pant hanger. This type of hanger will prevent the pants from developing crease at the thigh.
  • Avoid wire hangers, unless they are covered. Wire hangers can rust and stain fabric, and the metal edges can snag the fabric.
  • Provide enough space between hanging garments to allow the garment to hang naturally, and air to flow around the garment. Allowing space also prevents wrinkles and garment distortion.
  • Use garment fasteners at the neckline of a dress or blouse/shirt, and at the waistline of skirts and slacks to keep them positioned well on the hanger.
  • Make sure the storage area is clean. The storage area should undergo a thorough cleaning annually (i.e. vacuuming, dusting, airing-out, etc.).
  • Potpourri and sachets can provide a pleasant odor in a small the storage area. However, to prevent spots and stains, avoid any direct contact between these materials and the stored garments.

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Folded or Flat Storage


Folded storage is used for items such as sweaters, knitwear, stretchy clothing, or delicate and fragile apparel that cannot/should not be hung.

  • Use white tissue paper between garment folds to prevent creasing. Do not fold the garments the same way each time, to help prevent permanent creasing.
  • Roll items such as underwear and socks, rather than folding. This will minimize storage space and reduce wrinkling.
  • Painted closet shelves, or drawer liners will help prevent garment snags and protect garments from the natural oils of unfinished wood.
  • Always stack folded garments with the heaviest on the bottom. Avoid stacking folded garments that have a tendency to crease.
  • Clean and air out the storage area at least once a year.
  • Potpourri and sachets can be used to provide a pleasant odor to a small storage area. However, avoid any direct contact between these materials and the stored garments.

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Short-Term Storage of Garments

Short term storage is for clothes that are worn frequently. Proper handling can extend the life of the apparel and reduce the number of needed launderings and dry cleanings. Make the best possible use of existing storage space by installing shelving and accessories to add more functionality to your storage areas.

  • Give garments a chance to air overnight before storing in a closet or drawer. This allows excess moisture trapped in the clothes a chance to evaporate and will also reduce wrinkling.
  • Try to allow all wearable items, including footwear, at least one day rest between wearings.
  • Use a brush to lightly whisk winter clothes and outerwear, especially woolen items, after each wearing and in between cleanings. This will help keep them fresher for a longer period of time.
  • Remove all jewelry, such as pins, from all clothing, and check all pockets before storing. Leaving items on the apparel or in pockets can create a drag on the garment and cause fabric distortion. Always secure at least the top fastener on each garment to help maintain the itemīs original shape and prevent further distortion.
  • After wearing clothes and before storing, determine the need for laundering or dry cleaning. Remove all spots and stains and launder or dry clean as soon as possible. Delays can make stains more difficult to remove, or may even cause stains to become permanent.
  • Store frequently worn items in the most accessible places within the storage area.
  • To make accessorizing more convenient, store items such as jewelry, belts, and scarves in one place.
  • Keep storage area away from heat and light. Exposure to direct sunlight and artificial light can cause some dyes to fade.
  • Make sure clothing is completely dry before storing. Moisture can cause mildew to form.
  • Clean out storage area at least once a year, and allow closets and drawers to air out.

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Storing Seasonal Garments

Seasonal storage is for winter or summer clothing during the off season.

  • Garments should be cleaned before storage. Many foods and beverages leave yellow stains behind as they age. Stains can also attract insects that may damage the fabric while feeding on the stain.
  • Either launder or dry clean all clothing prior to storage. Use only appropriate laundry detergents for washing. Avoid using soap, chlorine bleach, starch, garment sizing, or fabric softeners. Rinse all washed garments thoroughly. If some items require the use of a fabric softener before wearing again, wait until the garments are unpacked at the end of seasonal storage. You can put them through a rinse or dry cycle with the added fabric softener prior to returning the items to use.
  • Avoid storage space where garments can be exposed to potential problems, like the heat of an attic, moisture of a basement, or the grease and fumes of a garage. Any storage area should be cleaned and vacuumed before storing clothes.
  • Do not allow the stored items exposure to sunlight or artificial light, which can cause some dyes to fade or yellow.
  • Do not use plastic bags for storing clothes. The plastic prevents air circulation, and allows moisture to collect and mildew may form. Canvas garment bags with cedar tops and bottoms provide great storage protection. These bags are available in a variety of sizes for both hanging and flat storage items.
  • Itīs important to allow all fabrics to breathe. Use packing material that also breathe, like white tissue paper or clean sheets/pillow cases.
  • Suitcases make great temporary storage containers. By placing folded items inside pillowcases or sheets, they can be easily removed when the suitcases are needed for travel.
  • For flat storage, fold as little as necessary, and fold on seams as much as possible. Donīt overstuff your storage container.
  • If storage space at home is insufficient, talk to your local dry cleaner. Some companies offer seasonal garment storage.
  • The best way to avoid moth or insect damage is to store cleaned items in a clean, well ventilated area. If using moth balls or moth crystals, suspend them in a mesh bag from the top of the storage container, and allow the fumes to filter downward. Never allow the clothes to touch the bag of moth balls. Be sure to carefully read and follow the product instructions on the moth balls or crystals. Avoid inhaling the vapors, which may be toxic to humans.
  • When items are removed from storage, air out the clothes thoroughly before returning them to you closet or drawers.
  • Often unwanted wrinkles can easily be removed from stored items made from wool, wool blends, or specialty hair fibers, by hanging them in the bathroom and allowing the steam from a shower to relax the wrinkles. After steaming, allow the items to hang overnight. Any unwanted creases that remain can be gently pressed out.

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Long-Term Storage of Garments

Long-term storage can be used for heirloom/keepsake garments or for clothes in which the time in between wearings can range from one year to several years in length. Some examples of these items include: wedding dresses, maternity clothes, baby clothes, holiday garments, and costumes.

  • Garments should be completely cleaned (laundered or dry cleaned) before storing. Use only appropriate laundry detergents for washing. Avoid using soap, chlorine bleach, starch, garment sizing, or fabric softeners. Rinse all washed garments thoroughly.
  • Carefully select the method of storing (hanging or flat). Use Only Acid-Free and Archival-Safe Packing Materials for storing these items. Acid-free boxes and tissue paper can be purchased from office supply stores, Internet resources, and dry cleaners that specialize in the cleaning and preserving of heirloom fabrics.
  • Wrap the fabrics in the Acid-Free Tissue Before Folding. The tissue paper cushions the fabric and helps to guard against sharp creases, which can break and damage individual fibers of the fabric. Bodices or other curved areas of a garment should be stuffed with acid-free tissue paper. Heirlooms and keepsakes should be stored by themselves, not with other garments.
  • Carefully select the storage container that will provide the garments inside with the best protection. Lightweight plastic boxes that sturdy, waterproof, and vented is a good choice for garments made from fibers, other than wool, wool blends, and specialty hair fibers.
  • Store woolen items in a tightly sealed cedar chest or cedar enclosed trunk in which the cedar is at least 3/4" (2 cm.) thick.
  • Line the chest with a clean white sheet that has been laundered several times to totally rid the fabric of all chlorine bleach, soap and detergent residue, and fabric softeners.
  • Use the acid-free tissue paper or the freshly laundered white muslin sheeting as packing material. Do not use plastic bags, as these can trap moisture and cause mildew to form or cause the yellowing of fabrics.
  • Carefully label all storage containers with a list of the contents and the date.
  • Carefully select a storage area where there are no extreme temperature or atmospheric conditions. Storage in basements, attics, and garages can expose the stored items to extreme temperatures, dampness and humidity, and grease and undesirable fumes. (The ideal storage conditions are a temperature of about 75 degrees F, and a relative humidity of 55 percent.)
  • When items are removed from storage, air out the clothes for several days before using. Garments can be freshened up by laundering or dry cleaning. Heirloom items that have been stored for a number of years may need to be lightly vacuumed through a mesh screen, and then aired out.
  • Often unwanted wrinkles can be easily removed from stored items made from wool, wool blends, or specialty hair fibers, by hanging them in the bathroom and allowing the steam from a shower to relax the wrinkles. After steaming, allow the items to hang overnight. Any unwanted creases that remain can be gently pressed out.

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Caring For Heirloom Textiles

The following tips are provided for preserving and storing your fabric and apparel treasures. Also see the tips for Long-Term Storage.

  • Use Only Acid-Free and Archival-Safe Packing Materials - Acid-free boxes and tissue paper can be purchased from office supply stores, Internet resources, and dry cleaners that specialize in the cleaning and preserving heirloom fabrics.
  • Wrap Fabrics in Acid-Free Tissue Before Folding - The tissue paper cushions the fabric and helps guard against sharp creases, which can break and damage individual fibers of the fabric. Bodices or other curved areas of a garment should be stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to prevent creasing.
  • Do Not Use Metal Clips or Pins - Safety pins and paper clips can rust over time. Rust stains on fabrics can be impossible to remove.
  • Never Store in Plastic Bags - Plastic bags are petroleum-based products. Plastic can break down over time giving off chemicals and fumes that can discolor and destroy fabrics.
  • Store Each Item Separately - Keep natural fibered fabrics, such as cotton, separate from maunfacturered fibers, such as polyester fabrics, which are petroleum-based. A 100% polyester fabric, like the plastic bags, is a petroleum-based product, which can cause damage to fabrics made from natural fibers.
  • Do Not Use Plastic Storage Boxes - Plastic storage boxes are popular today. While these may be great for storing seasonal clothes, they are not appropriate for long-term storage of heirloom textiles.
  • Labeling - Special care should be taken when labeling precious fabrics. Use either an acid-free paper card or a cut piece of cotton fabric. Write the information on the card or fabric using an indelible marking pen. Do not use a felt-tip or ball-point pen, since the inks from these pens can run, discolor, or fade onto the fabric. Attach these identification labels to the appropriate items in an inconspicuous place, using a needle and a strong cotton thread.
  • Allow Fabrics Some Breathing Room - Fabrics need an opportunity to breathe, to prevent damage from dry rot. Occasionally, unwrap and unfold the fabrics to give them some air time. Then refold, repackage, and return them to the storage box.
  • Protect From Sunlight and Artificial Light - Sunlight and artificial light sources can cause degradation and fading of heirloom textiles. If items are displayed on the wall or framed behind glass, keep them away from sunlight and areas with direct artificial light

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