Long-Term Storage Strategies

Haphazard storage of clothes and linens — whether you’re stowing a raincoat or napkins — can lead to disastrous damage from mildew and insects. Because stored goods may sit unattended for months, you might not notice the damage until the pieces are unsalvageable. However, if you follow the basic rules for fabric storage, your clothes and linens will last for years.

1. Make sure clothing and linens are clean when you put them away, and store them in a clean container or storage area. Perspiration, food, or dirt on stored clothes attracts insects.

2. Store clothing away from light, which can promote the hatching of insect eggs.

3. Avoid unventilated areas where temperatures and humidity are uncontrolled for storing off-season clothes; a damp basement, for example, promotes mildew growth.

4. Don’t use plastic bags or other airtight containers, which tend to trap mold-feeding moisture.

5. Pack loosely so that air can circulate around folded items in the storage area.

6. Forgo starch, fabric finish, or sizing (which keeps fabric crisp) on any clothes or linens before storing; the stiffeners can damage fabric over time.

7. Use a chemical desiccant (to absorb moisture), such as silica gel or calcium chloride packets, but don’t let it touch the fabrics or it may damage them.

8. Ventilate storage areas when the weather is dry and cool.

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