How To Properly Store Your Clothes In A Storage Unit

For the most part, storing clothes in commercial storage units is a simple activity and really does not require much thought. However, there are some tips which will guide you into packing and storing your clothes properly.

Last Updated on June 3, 2022 by Jude Robert Caratao

Is your treadmill pulling double duty as a landing zone for clothes that don’t fit in your closet anymore? Are you saving certain clothes for when you lose weight again? Or maybe you are saving baby clothes for future little ones that may come along. f this common affliction affects you, then you may be wondering how to properly store your clothes in a storage unit. 

Whether you are a connoisseur of clothing with a wardrobe like one of the Kardashians’ or just need some extra space for storing your seasonal duds, this guide will unveil the best ways to preserve your prized threads while they are being stored. 

Why Clothes Should be Stored in a Storage Unit

There are many reasons as to why someone may need to store their clothes in a storage unit. Perhaps you are in the military or college and move around a lot, or maybe you have simply run out of available space at home to store your impressive collection of clothing or seasonal wear. 

Reasons May Vary, but the Ultimate Goal is the Same

Whatever your reasons may be, if you are like most people, you probably suffer from a shortage of storage space. We all have those items that aren’t used very often, but you aren’t ready to part with yet. Whatever your reasons are for storing your clothes in a storage unit, there are steps to consider before doing so. 

Basic Steps on How to Store Clothes Long Term 

The following are basic steps that will be elaborated upon throughout this article:

Step 1: Wash and dry all clothing thoroughly. The reason for this step is to reduce the chance of bacteria growing on your garments while they are in the storage containers. 

Step 2: Sort, categorize, and inventory. The items that you wish to store should be organized in a way, so it is easy for you to find things once they are in storage. Be sure that you separate the items that will need to be hung versus those that will need to be stored in plastic boxes. 

Step 3: Pest and moisture control. Be sure that you have a plan in place for reducing pests like moths and rodents. It is also important to have a climate-controlled space to reduce moisture.  

Step 4: Find the right storage unit. Renting the first storage space you find can end up costing you more money than it should and cause damage to your clothing if the facility is not up to snuff. 

Choosing the Right Storage Unit for Your Needs

Establish a plan before you go full swing into organizing and boxing up your clothes. If you have a good plan before you begin to sort your items, it will make the entire process easier. 

By having a plan in place, you will be happier in the long run because you will have saved money and space and will have preserved your clothing in the best way for future use. There are many options when renting a storage unit. 

A storage unit facility.
Prior to renting a storage unit, consider the factors you might need to keep your clothes safe and intact.

Consider the following questions before renting the first storage unit you see listed: 

  • Is there weekly or monthly rental options? Can you pay for long-term storage in advance? 
  • Find out if you can go to this unit 24/7 or if there are only certain hours that you can access your belongings?
  • Do the storage unit facilities keep their properties well maintained and insect/pest-free? 
  • Do their storage units offer climate-controlled options?
  • Do they offer insurance or replacement options for your belongings in the event of a natural emergency or theft?
  • How much will it cost to store your items
  • Read reviews of the storage units that you are looking at to be sure they have a good reputation. Does the company you are considering have positive reviews? 
  • What kind of security is offered? Is there security on site, or is the location being monitored by video surveillance? 
  • What size unit will I need to store my items comfortably? 
  • Where is the unit located? Can I access it easily?

Now that you have researched your storage options and know what kind of storage facilities you are working with, it is time to get organized. 

Inventory Your Items for Better Organization

Creating an organizational system for locating your clothes once they are in storage will greatly benefit you when the time comes to locate that certain item that you need for a special occasion or when the seasons change and you are ready to get back into your favorite pair of shorts.

A woman folding the clothes.
Categorize your clothes by color, season, or type to make it easier to locate them when needed.

Categories for Sorting Your Clothing

Consider separating your clothes into the following categories so you can locate them more easily when you are looking for specific items later on down the road:

  • Color
  • Season
  • Size 
  • Type of clothing:
  • Business attire
  • Dresses
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Special occasions 

Suppose you are storing clothing for multiple members of a household. In that case, it is also a very good idea to label or color code the boxes or containers for each individual so you can easily find their things. This method will save you from having to tear your whole storage unit apart when you need to find a specific piece of clothing. 

You will also want to describe which specific items are in each of the boxes, particularly what colors and sizes, and where the box is located in the storage area. Including as much detail as possible when labeling your storage containers will make finding that special piece all the easier and, thereby, will reduce frustration. 

Should You Store, Donate, Sell, or Toss?

Ask yourself, am I going to need this item within a year? Do I really need to keep it? If it is not something of sentimental value and you know that you will not use it, get rid of it! The key to a happier life is simplification and organization. 

Keep in mind that if you have less to store, you will not need such a large storage unit; therefore, you will ultimately be saving money by having a smaller monthly bill. Why pay to store something that you aren’t going to use when you can take the money you save and buy more clothes! 

Donate to Those Who Can Benefit From Your Extras

The best way to reduce the amount of clothing that you are putting into storage is to donate unwanted and unused items. There is no point in keeping a bunch of clothing that you never plan on wearing again. 

Kids "peace sign" and smiling.
Keep in mind that you can help the poor by donating the clothes you no longer need.

If You Decide To Sell Unwanted Clothing

You have finally sorted through your clothes and decided what you want to donate, sell, store and toss. How should you sell your unwanted duds? There are many options that you can choose. The first and most common is to host a yard or garage sale. 

If a yard or garage sale sounds like too much work or you don’t live in an area where that is a reasonable option, then there are multitudes of online platforms that will help you sell your gently used clothing. The following websites are great options for selling your items:

Some sites will take a portion of your sales as a commission. Some sites offer trading options where you can swap your old clothing with other people for some of their pieces that you like. 

Wash and Dry Your Clothes Before Storing

Here’s a little more detail about Step 1 we discussed above. 

Even if you have only worn something one time and there are no visible stains, everything we touch leaves organic material behind, which in return can grow into bacteria, mold, and mildew in the right (or wrong) conditions. 

This is why it is so important to wash your garments before placing them in a storage unit for a long period of time. 

A clothes hanging.
You should always wash and dry your clothes before storing, even if there are no visible stains on them.

The following brands have been recommended for keeping your clothing in the best condition possible: 

In the event that you have a large item or something that cannot be washed, the best practice is to place a piece of mesh or screen over the item and use a vacuum to remove any dust/debris before placing it in storage. The mesh or screen will help to protect the item you are cleaning from getting damaged or sucked into the vacuum during use. 

Best Storage Options for Safely Preserving Clothes

There are many options available for storing your clothes. Below are 15 popular options:

Storage OptionAverage CostQuantityOther Information
CX™ 27 Gal. Tough Storage Containers$85.004 Boxes4 LidsWeather-resistant snap-tight lids
Iris 19qt. Clear Storage Boxes$40.006 Boxes6 LidsEasy ViewingStackable
Iris 74qt. Weathertight Storage Boxes$100.004 Boxes4 LidsReinforced weather tight lidsStackable
Iris™ 53qt. Clear Storage Tote$27.001 Box1 LidStackableEasy Viewing
KOUSI™ Clear Portable Storage Cubes$75.0012 CubesDustproofWaterproof
Rubbermaid™  20 Gal. Brute Tote$35.001 Box1 LidHeavy-dutySnap-tight lid
Sterilite 18 Gal. Tote with Lid$60.008 Boxes8 LidsDurable Snap-on lid
Sterilite 35 Gal.  Tote with Soft-Fern Latches$125.004 Totes4 LidsExtra strong for stacking
Sterilite 40 Gal. Tote with Wheels $60.002 Boxes2 LidsWheels for easy moving
Sterilite 64qt. Clear Storage Box with Lid$54.0012 Boxes12 LidsEasy ViewingStackable
Sterilite 66qt. Clearview Latch Boxes$110.006 Boxes6 LidsEasy viewingStackable
Sterelite™ 16qt Clear Storage Box $70.0012 Boxes 12 LidsEasy viewingStackable
VENO™ Over-sized Polypropylene Bag$32.006 Bags3 Sided zipperCollapsible
Vieshful™ Clear Storage Bag with Zipper$25.003 BagsHeavy-duty zippersSturdy handles
Ziploc™ Jumbo Plastic Storage Bags$7.008 Jumbo BagsExpandable bottom for easy storage

To Hang or Not to Hang in Storage 

To hang your clothes or not to hang your clothes. That is the question you may have on your mind when sorting through the piles of clothing on your bed. Which clothing should you hang in long-term storage? 

Clothes hanging on the hanger,
When storing your clothes, it is better to hang items dresses, skirts, suits, and other items made with fur, silk, leather, or satin.

Many people have different ideas on this subject, but a good basic rule of thumb is to hang the following types of clothing to preserve them the best since storing them in storage boxes or bags can crush and damage the fabric and ruin the integrity of the piece:

  • Any items with fur (real or artificial)  
  • Any material that wrinkles easily
  • Dresses
  • Lace
  • Leather
  • Satin
  • Silk
  • Skirts
  • Suits

There may be some instances where hanging a particular item is not a feasible option due to the garment’s weight, shape, or size. It is recommended that you store these items in a cedar-lined box and gently fold them as few times as possible. 

What Items You Should Avoid Hanging in Storage 

You do not want to hang certain items because it can cause them to stretch or become misshapen. Avoid damaging your beloved pieces by folding or rolling them and storing them in weather-resistant containers with some of the natural options listed in this article. 

A woman carrying the folded sweaters.
When storing your clothes, avoid hanging heavy items and stretchy or fluffy sweaters.

Items that should never be hung are:

  • Any item that has a knit weave
  • Any item that is heavy enough to bend or break a hanger should not be hung, with the exception of certain items that were mentioned in the section above. 
  • Slinky or stretchy materials
  • Sweaters of any fabric

How to Keep Your Clothes Smelling Fresh In Storage

Gone are the days of storing your clothes with mothballs only to end up smelling like your Aunt Betty’s basement. In addition to the foul odor that mothballs put off, they are also potentially harmful to your clothing. 

Say Goodbye to Stinky Mothballs

Over time mothballs can break down and leave stains on your clothing if not properly stored. There are better options for keeping your clothes smelling fresh while they are being stored. Say bye-bye to Ol’ Betty and say hello to better freshness. 

Another reason to ditch the old method of using mothballs is that they are poisonous. If you can smell a mothball, then that means that you are breathing in potentially harmful toxic gasses that are being released when the mothball breaks down or is cracked. 

Common side effects of breathing in fumes from mothballs include:

  • Breathing issues
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Irritation of the nose and eyes
  • Nausea

Naphthalene is one of the ingredients in mothballs and is known to be a carcinogen. Extended exposure to mothballs can also cause liver and kidney issues. 

Save Money with All-Natural Repellents

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or use super harsh chemicals that can potentially damage your clothes to keep pests away. There are many completely natural ways to deter pests from moving into your storage unit and containers. 

A lavender.
To keep your clothes smelling fresh, consider using lavender satchels or other natural repellents.

Here are some of the most popular and effective options for keeping your storage unit and containers pest-free:

  • Cedar balls or blocks
  • Cedar chips in a pouch
  • Clove, Rosemary, and Thyme satchels
  • Dried mint satchels
  • Lavender satchels
  • Peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls

You can also create your own satchels by purchasing the ingredients online or at any local natural health store. Put your ingredients in a breathable cotton sack. This will allow the aroma to escape without the clothing being damaged by direct contact. 

Prevent Damage by Frequently Monitoring Your Unit

Check on your garments periodically throughout the year and re-position them so as not to get creases. Items that may need to be stored in this way include things such as:

  • Costumes 
  • Formal party attire 
  • Large fur coats
  • Wedding dresses 

How Geographic Location Affects Clothing Storage

Moisture can also be an issue when storing clothing for long periods of time. This is where your geographic location can be a factor when deciding where and how to store your items. In addition to the issue of soiled clothing, increased humidity can also cause bacteria to grow on your clothes. 

Reducing Humidity Reduces Risk of Damage

If you live in a climate with high humidity levels, it is important to take precautions to reduce the risk of damage to your clothes from growing mold and mildew spores. In addition to damaging your clothes, it is also a health risk to breathe in these harmful organic irritants. 

Pre-treating for Moisture and Pest Control

Misting your clothing with water-resistant spray before storing is another option you can take to ensure your threads stay in top shape. The table below offers some suggestions as to what you can use to mist your clothing before storing it for a long time.  

BrandAverage PriceSize
Scotchgard™ Fabric Water Shield$13.0013.5oz. Spray can
Gard-More™ Water and Stain Repellent$13.005oz. Spray can
StarBrite™ Low-odor Waterproofing Spray$22.0022oz.  Spray can
CarbonPro™ Waterproofing Spray$20.00400mL Spray bottle
NIKWAX™ Fabric and Leather Waterproofing Spray$11.00300mL Spray bottle

Using silica packets in your storage bags and boxes also ensures that your clothes remain moisture-free, which also helps keep them smelling more fresh in the long run. 

Use a Dehumidifier in Units Without Climate Control

Using a dehumidifier in your storage space is a great way to reduce the humidity. Keep in mind that most dehumidifiers need to be emptied on a fairly regular basis. 

A thermostat.
If your storage unit does not offer climate control and you leave in a humid climate, do not forget to use a dehumidifier.

If you live in a humid climate, it would be a good idea to choose a storage facility that is close to where you live. This allows you to frequently visit it without having to drive a hundred miles every time you want to check on things. Therefore, remain close to avoid having to do unnecessary extra driving.

Other Helpful Products for Reducing Moisture

Once your garments have been washed and thoroughly dried, it is time to store them. The following 13 products will help to eliminate moisture in your storage unit and storage containers. 

ProductAverage PriceQuantityOther Information
INTERTECK™ Rechargeable Silica Gel Packets$15.0050 Gel PacksChange color when need to be chargedLast for approximately 60 days before need to be recharged
Dry & Dry™ Silica Gel Packets$11.0050 Gel PacksDo not change color when they need to be recharged
Aquapapa™ Silica Gel Packets$8.00100 Gel PacksGood for short term use. Non-rechargeable
Orimit™ Silica Gel Packets$9.00120 Gel PacksNon-rechargeable
Colzer™ Large Capacity Commercial Dehumidifier$600.001 UnitDesigned for storage areas, basements, warehouses, etc.
Yogi Brand™ Hanging Humidity Packs$17.005 Hanging PacksIt also traps odors caused by moist conditions.
Midea™ Dehumidifier with Reusable filter$228.001 UnitAuto-start feature in the case of power outages. 
VacPlus™  Moisture Absorbing Boxes$13.006 BoxesFragrance-free, so no unpleasant odor. 
DampRid™ Refillable Moisture Absorber$20.004 ContainersIt lasts for up to 60 daysRefillable
Camco™ Large Capacity Moisture Absorbing Bucket$14.001 BucketLasts up to six months
Caframo Ltd.™ Dehumidifier Warm Air Circulator Fan$75.001 UnitBattery or Electric plugNo water bucket to empty
Lonove™ Dehumidifier$90.001 Unit2 Auto modes for different settings
Honeywell™ Smart Wi-Fi Dehumidifier$300.001 UnitSmart Wi-Fi communicates with an app on your smartphone

What to Avoid if Storing Clothes for Long Periods

If you wish to preserve your clothing for a long period of time, the following things should be avoided if possible: 

  • Do not use vacuum seal bags when storing your clothes. The use of these bags removes all air from the container, which can cause your garments to mold or mildew. Having such a tight seal on the vacuum bag can also cause permanent creases and damage to the clothes’ structure.  
  • Avoid basements and attic spaces as they typically are not climate controlled. In the instance that you have no other storage space, follow the guide on how to reduce humidity in spaces that are not climate controlled
  • Keep items stored in a dark area. Ultraviolet light can cause your duds to fade after long periods of exposure to this type of light. 
  • Avoid hanging clothes on wire hangers. Instead, use padded, plastic, or wooden hangers. Wire hangers can damage the garment’s structural integrity and wear a permanent crease in the item. They can also leave tarnish or paint on your clothing over time.

How Long Will Clothing Last When Properly Stored?

If you plan on storing your clothing for longer than a year, it is recommended that you take them out of storage annually to wash and re-fold items to prevent crushing, creasing, and other issues that may arise from storing for a long period of time. 

When a Storage Unit is Not Feasible

In some circumstances renting a storage unit is not always a feasible option. You may not have the funds available in your budget to rent a storage unit, or maybe you already have an area at your home that can be transformed into a storage unit. 

Alternate Locations for Storing Your Clothing

The use of shed style storage buildings and garages is a good way to store things that you don’t need all of the time. Whichever way you decide to go, the same rules apply if you wish to preserve your clothes for a long time properly. 

A shed with a vehicle and goat outside.
If you cannot afford renting a storage unit, you can also store clothes in your shed or garage.

How to Store Different Types of Fabrics

The following fabrics should be given a little extra care when storing for long periods of time. In addition to using the moisture reducing products that have been previously mentioned, it is recommended that you also separate the following fabrics with acid-free tissue paper to prevent damage and discoloration to the garment: 

Leather Velour/Velvet

Self Storage Facilities Available Nationwide

The following list gives information on five of the most well-known storage facilities in the nation: 

Company NameClimateControlledSecurity or Surveillance24/7 AccessMultiple size unitsavailableOther
Public Storage™XXXNo long-term contracts
Extra Space™XXXXInsurance required to rent a unit
U-Haul™XXXXOffer portable storage solutions
CubeSmart™XXXInsurance required to rent a unit
LifeStorage™XXXNo long-term contracts

Storing Your Clothes Like You are a Celebrity

If the process of storing your clothing as mentioned above seems like too much work or you just don’t have the time in your day to sort through your multitudes of clothing, there is another option for storing your garments. 

A group of persons unloading the boxes.
If you do not have enough time to organize and store clothes yourself, you can hire a clothing storage service crew instead.

Get your wallet out, because this is not going to be an inexpensive option; however, for those of you who are able to afford this service, it is well worth it. If you want to feel like a celebrity then you need to hire a luxury clothing storage service. 

They will come to your home to inventory your wardrobe and discuss what you wish to keep and what needs to be stored. Once you have decided what is going into storage, each item will be thoroughly inspected and photographed. When everything has been catalogued, any items that need cleaning will be taken to the cleaning facility prior to storage. 

Once the collection of items is in the storage facility, the client has the option to log-in to their “virtual closet” to view what they have stored and may pull pieces out as they are needed. The client can then arrange for the garments to be delivered at their date of choice. These high-class clothing storage facilities are also climate controlled and pest free. 

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Storage Results

We all need a little help with organizing our personal belongings from time-to-time. By following this guide on preparing and storing your clothes in a storage unit properly, you will be able to maintain a more organized storage unit and keep your garments in top condition for future use.

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