Save Money By Storing Clothes Properly

by Brandi Savitt – updated April 17, 2015

Treat Your Sweaters Better!

In all of my adult life, I never had a problem with moths nibbling at my sweaters – that is, until last fall.  That’s when my system of doing nothing to preserve my winter wardrobe finally caught up with me!

I went to put on my go-to black cashmere sweater when the weather got chilly, and smack in the center of my chest was a giant hole the size of a golf ball!  Those nasty buggers had been feasting on my favorite knits all summer long, and I was out hundreds of dollars as a result.  Certainly not very Fab & Fru! Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes – here’s the best way to store your winter wools this spring and summer…

Dry Clean, Dry Clean, Dry Clean

While it is not pleasant to think about, your sweaters’ worst enemies in the warmer months are insects. Moth larvae, carpet beetles, and silverfish feed on the natural fabrics (and crumbs) in your clothes, causing holes or tears. Sounds gross, but tiny food particles, undetectable stains, fragrances, perspiration, and skin oils all get deposited on our favorite knits.  All these unseen nasties are the crack that lures insects in to nibble away in the warm weather.

Cleaning your sweaters BEFORE storing them is the best preventative measure you can take. The dry cleaning process not only cleans away all of the above culprits, but it also kills any larvae that may be waiting to hatch and feast.

If you don’t like the idea of dry cleaning your knits, hand wash them, dry them well, then wrap them in airtight bags and put in them in the freezer for 3-4 days to kill any lingering creatures.

Optimal Storage Areas

If you have the room, your closet is still an ideal place to store your sweaters.  What you want is a dark, dry and relatively cool place keep your knits protected.  A cedar chest is also great, as is under the bed or stairwell.

Whatever you do, avoid storing clothes in the attic, basement, or garage.  Attics get too hot in the spring and summer, basements are too damp, and garages are dusty and prone to insects.  Wherever you decide to store your clothes, make sure to vacuum and clean the area first!

The Best Way to Store Your Knits

Delicate sweaters and knits should be stored into plastic, wooden, or cloth boxes with lids.  Fold your sweaters from each side inward to avoid a crease down the center.  Lay each sweater as flat as possible to reduce wrinkles.  Use acid-free tissue paper or clean white cotton pillowcases between each layer of sweaters to help maintain color.

Place the heaviest sweaters at the on the bottom and the lightest on top. If you’re using an airtight plastic bin, consider punching a few tiny holes in the lid to encourage air circulation.  If  clothes aren’t able to breathe, they degrade more quickly and can develop mildew or mold. -Be sure to remove your sweaters from the dry cleaning hangers, and do not store them in the dry cleaning plastic.  The hangers will ruin the fabric, and the plastic is too thin for any real protection against bugs and moisture.

Don’t Use Mothballs

Besides the horrible smell, mothballs and moth crystals are toxic and potentially harmful to kids, pets and you! And if that’s not bad enough, the harsh chemicals inside each ball can potentially melt any plastic container you may be using for storage.

Opt instead for sachets of lavender, eucalyptus or cedar chips and place the sachet inside your garment storage boxes. The Container Store recommends cedar, saying that its essential oils stave off adult moths and beetles.  However, they lose their power after a while, so rub the cedar blocks or chips with sandpaper periodically to release new oils.  -You can also refresh your sachets every month or so with a few drops of essential oil.

Here’s to preserving your wardrobe for next year.  Bye bye winter – HELLO spring!

What are your favorite clothing storage tips? Check out these Fab & Fru spring cleaning posts!

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