Insider’s Guide: The Best Way to Store Clothes in Storage Units

Insider’s Guide: The Best Way to Store Clothes in Storage Units

By: Andrew Mazzonna

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December 8, 2021

Don’t store your clothes just to throw them out later! There’s nothing worse than opening a box of clothing only to be hit by the smell of mildew or the sight of wrinkled, dirty, and dusty clothes that don’t look like they used to. To make your clothes last a long time and prevent damage during short, long-term storage, or seasonally, store your clothes in storage units the best way with our method.

Wash and Dry Before Storing

This is a no-brainer, but it is important to wash and dry your clothes before putting them into storage. Any dirt, debris, food, or odors on your clothes can seep into the fabric and cause smells that are hard to get rid of. Any lingering moisture will cause mold and mildew, so make sure to completely dry your clothes and wait 1 – 2 hours after they have come out of the dryer before packing. 

Folding Your Clothes Right

For anything that can stand a few folds and therefore doesn’t need to be hung in a wardrobe box, fold your clothes like a pro. We recommend watching Chasing The Look’s video: How to Fold Clothes to Save Space & Prevent Wrinkles to fold your clothes the right way and prevent wrinkles. When it comes time to pack your clothes, they will use a minimal amount of space.

The Best Containers for Storing Clothes in Storage Units

Wardrobe boxes

Anything that you’d normally store on a hanger, like delicates and dresswear, should be kept in a wardrobe box. For added protection, store suits and blazers in garment bags. Make sure to fold dress pants correctly. If your dress is too long for the box, use this hack. 

  • Blazers & sport coats
  • Dress pants
  • Linen dress shirts
  • Blouses
  • Dresses & blouses
  • Silk garments

What is a wardrobe box? A wardrobe box is a cardboard box with a hanging bar across the top. If you’re moving or putting your clothes in storage, these boxes are a convenient option for clothes that need a hanger. Wardrobe boxes are usually pretty big at 2 x 2 feet wide and 4 feet tall: enough to fit 8-10 articles of clothing. 

Pro tip: Take off the bar, add the clothes, then re-install the bar for easier packing.

Airtight plastic storage bins

Store basic clothing items in a plastic storage bin or tote, remembering to fold them properly. Airtight plastic storage bins are the ideal solution because they keep out moisture and therefore limit mold and mildew from growing. As an extra protective measure, use silica gel desiccant packets to make sure no moisture is left inside your containers. These containers are great for clothes and shoe storage alike. Add a dryer sheet to keep that freshly washed smell. We recommend to carefully store hats in plastic storage bins. Learn how to properly store hats. For long term storage, ties are best kept folded or rolled in plastic bins – learn how to store ties.

  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • T-shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Hoodies
  • Pants
  • Jeans
  • Shoes
  • Swimsuits

Vacuum bags

Anything that you don’t mind being wrinkled can be stored short-term in vacuum packing bags to save space. Warning: Do not store wool in vacuum bags. Vacuum packing inevitably causes wrinkles that may become permanent. In addition, the vacuum seal compresses the clothing fibers so natural fiber and wool clothing should not be vacuum-packed. 

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic gym shorts
  • Belts (roll these loosely)

Cardboard boxes are a short term solution

If you’re on a really tight budget and cardboard boxes are all you have, then cardboard will do fine as a clothes storage container for a few months. Choose another option if you live in a hot, humid climate or you need to store your clothes for 6 months or longer. 

Prevent Pests with Cedar Chips or Cedar Balls

You will want to stay away from pesticides, especially if you have young kids. Mothballs and other chemical pest deterrents will seep into your clothes and make them smell and deteriorate. Cedar is a natural pesticide because it releases natural phenols that are toxic to pests—not to mention, cedar smells considerably better than chemical alternatives and can also help eliminate other odors.

Make Sure to Label Your Clothing Storage Containers

Grab some tape and a Sharpie and jot down what each box has in it, like “winter” or “jackets.” Depending on how many boxes or bins you end up using, this will be very helpful when you want to grab seasonal clothing or when you’re unpacking your storage unit after a move. Packing and storing clothes away for the winter is a common practice, so check out our guide for storing clothes for the winter.

Stack

When all of your clothes are neatly inside their containers, stack them and put the wardrobe boxes on top. If you are using plastic bins you don’t need to worry about what’s on top, but if you have to use cardboard boxes be careful of stacking anything heavy on top. Put your bins of seasonal clothes closer to the front of the unit to access them easily. For more storage unit organization, learn how to organize a storage unit.

Extra Tip: Fold a Dryer Sheet in with Your Clothes

Clothes tend to absorb any smells around them. Dryer sheets are an easy solution to keep your clothes smelling good and not pick up that “been in the closet for a year” smell. Have a small closet? Check out how to organize a small closet.

Climate-controlled Storage Units are Ideal for Clothes Storage

With these tips, your clothes will be ideally prepared to be stored inside storage units. Fragile fabrics generally require climate-controlled storage. Climate-controlled units will keep everything at room temperature and ideal humidity, so you could get away with less preparation and your clothes will store much longer.  

andrew mazzonna

Writer for Store Space who enjoys the great outdoors and all things web-related, but scared of spiders.

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