Keeping winter clothes fresh while they are being stored for the summer is on many people’s minds as they pull out spring and summer clothes and store the winter ones. I live in Tokyo, which has a sub-tropical climate and is very hot and humid during the summer. I have learned several good tips for keeping clothing and bedding mold-free and bug-free during the summer months. Of course these tips work for storing your warm-weather clothing too! Here are my tips on how to keep your off-season clothing and bedding smelling clean and fresh while in storage during the other half of the year.
Use a vacuum bag
A vacuum bag is like a large Zip-lock bag which can accommodate several sweaters, a fluffy blanket, or smaller items. They come in various sizes. Some of them come with a hole to suck the air out with your vacuum cleaner hose. (I don’t like those; I find them awkward to use, and the hole usually has a hard plastic bump on the outside which makes them take up more space than a flat bag.) I like the ones that are like large freezer storage bags. I put my article of clothing or blanket in one, and roll it up to get most of the air out, then zip the lock shut. Alternatively, I sit on it if it is large, because rolling it up tends to make it curly and hard to stack. These bags will effectively keep out moisture from the humid summer air and prevent mold. The disadvantage of vacuum bags is that some of the fluffier articles will come out not quite as fluffy next winter.
Put bar soap in the drawers
Image courtesy of Pixabay: soap
I don’t remember where I originally read this tip, but it has seen me through at least ten winters. Take a bar of soap in its original wrapping, make a small tear or hole in the wrapping but leave the soap inside so it does not touch any of your clothes, and put it in a drawer where you are storing things. Make sure you pick a soap with a smell that you like. I have a bar of lavender soap in my underwear drawer, but for long-term storage I use either deodorant soap like Dial (we don’t have that here, but have a similar type of soap) or white solid soap. For smaller drawers I have used those little hotel bar soaps, for larger ones I use a regular size bar, and in my closet I have four bars spread out on the bottom of the closet. I just pulled out all my spring clothes, and there is no need to air them; they smell great! Bonus: after a year, use this soap as soap, and buy another bar for storage. The soap has “cured” or hardened slightly, and will last longer.
Mothballs are not where it’s at. Mothballs are poisonous. Not only that, but they require airing the clothes after you pull them out of storage. Cedar is nice, but expensive. I would recommend cedar, however, for keeping moths out of your clothes. I don’t have any moths in my clothes which I have stored every year for the past ten years with soap and/or in vacuum bags, but I don’t know if that is due to the soap or just luck.
Wash your clothes before storing them
This may seem obvious to most people, but sometimes at the end of winter I am too lazy to wash coats or blankets before putting them away. This year I learned that putting a blanket away without having washed it causes more trouble than it saves. The blankets that I stored, clean, in vacuum bags, or with soap in the drawers, didn’t need to be washed or even aired. So this week I am washing all the deep-winter stuff I have and then putting it away while the weather is still dry.
Sort for thrift sales
When you are putting away any season’s clothing, you may find things you didn’t use for the whole season. Now is the time to put them in a special place so that next year when winter (or summer) rolls around, you can sell those clothes at a rummage sale or donate them to Goodwill or another similar charity. I have a couple of drawers that I keep “empty” (well, usually they aren’t empty because I’m always finding things to put there) that are designated for our school’s Thrift Shop, which happens only twice a year. Getting rid of things to a good cause helps both your storage area and the people who might find that your old unwanted clothes are just what they have been needing!
Enjoy storing your off-season clothing, and then enjoy its freshness when you pull it out next year!