Is It OK to Store Clothes in the Basement?

You have a great many clothes in your closet, and several dressers to store them in. Does it matter if you keep those clothes in the basement instead of in your bedroom?

When it comes to basement storage, there are a lot of discussions on what you should and shouldn’t store there. The basement exposes your items to a higher risk of moisture, humidity, and pests. However, if you take the proper precautions, there are still many things you can store there.

Clothes are often one of the items on the list of things you shouldn’t store in your basement. The main reason for this is that basements are prone to dampness and humidity, which can ruin your clothes.

But it’s okay to store clothes in the basement as long as you do it the correct way. You have to take proper precautions such as cleaning and drying your clothes, packing correctly, storing them in plastic boxes, and ensuring moisture doesn’t get to them. 

How to Store Clothes in the Basement

Here are a few things you need to do if you store your clothes in the basement.

Clean and Dry Before Storage

Never store dirty clothes in the basement.  They will just attract pests and get musty. Wash and dry all of your clothes before putting them into storage.  You can consider taking them to a dry cleaner for proper cleaning and drying.

A woman holding a folded clothes.
Wash and dry all of your clothes before putting them into storage. 

Make sure no dirt or foods bit can attract pests. You should also get rid of oils and stains that will attract bugs. Once you do all these, air dry the clothes and make sure there’s no moisture left before storage.

Pack Clothes Properly

If you are going to store clothes in boxes, pack them tightly so that they don’t get squished. You can also use vacuum-sealed bags to help protect them from pests and humidity.

You can consider using plastic bags to store most of your clothes. This will help protect them from humidity and dampness. The plastic bags will also make it easy for you to see what clothes are inside, so you easily find what you’re looking for.

Use Cedar Balls or Mothballs

Cedar balls or mothballs are a great way to keep pests away from your clothes. Simply put a few of these in the storage area, and they will help keep bugs away.

But before you go for mothballs, you should consider preventing moths from attacking your clothes in the first place. Put the clothes where moths won’t be able to access them.  Clothes that are hung up are less likely to be eaten by moths than clothes lying in a drawer or on a shelf.

You can also buy moth-proof storage bags or containers. These usually contain a special chemical that repels moths.

Pick the Right Spot

Not every spot in your basement is right for storing clothes. You need a spot not prone to conditions such as excess moisture that can expose your clothes to further damage. Look for a spot that is:

  • Dry: A damp basement is a perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow on your clothes.
  • Cool: Storing clothes in a hot spot can cause them to fade.
  • Well-ventilated: Good airflow will help prevent musty odors from developing on your clothes.

If you don’t have a basement, you can look for other spots in your home that fit these criteria. A closet near an air conditioner or in a room with good ventilation is a good option. 

Consider Temperature Control

If you’re going to store your clothes for quite a long time, you should consider investing in a temperature control system.  This will help keep your clothes from becoming damaged by fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Hand calibrating the thermostat.
This will help keep your clothes from becoming damaged by fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

A climate control system is a wonderful option if you have the money to spend. However, you can also create your own system using a dehumidifier and a space heater. Simply place the dehumidifier in the room with your clothes and set it to run frequently. Then, use the space heater to keep the room at a consistent temperature.

Use Baking Soda to Keep Away Odors

When you store clothes for some time, the chances are that they’ll begin to smell bad over time. But you don’t have to worry about this if you have some baking soda at your disposal. Just put some baking soda in a dish and place it in the room with your clothes. The baking soda will absorb the bad odors, leaving your clothes smelling fresh.

You can also use cedar chips to keep away insects and pests. Simply place a few cedar chips in a dish and place them in the room with your clothes. The cedar chips will keep insects and pests away while also freshening the air.

Organize Your Clothes According to Season and Materials

If you have those seasonal clothes, you have to organize them in the closet. If you don’t have that much space in your closet, you can use other materials to store your clothes. You can use vacuum storage bags to store your clothes. 

These bags work by sucking the air out of the bag, leaving very little room for the clothes to move. This will help keep them from getting wrinkled. You can also use bins to store your clothes. Ensure that the bins are made from a breathable material like canvas so that your clothes don’t get musty.

For materials such as leather, you have to be careful about how you store them. You don’t want to store them in a place where they will be exposed to sunlight or heat, as this can cause the leather to crack. The best way to store the leather is in a cool, dark place like a closet. You can also use cedar balls to help keep the leather looking its best.

Woman organizing clothes.
If you don’t have much space in your closet, you can use other materials to store your clothes.

How to Prepare the Basement for Storing Clothes

Aside from preparing your clothes for storage, you also need to take care of the storage location. So, how do you prepare for the basement so it can store clothes? It’s a lot simpler than you think.

Clean It

The first thing you need to do is clean the space. Ensure there is no dirt or debris on the floor and that all of the walls are free from any moisture damage. You don’t want to clean your clothes, only for them to get dirty again just because you didn’t clean the basement.

Add Some Shelves and Racks

Once the space is clean, it’s time to start adding shelves and racks. This will give you a place to store your clothes and keep them organized. You may want to consider adding a clothing rack too, so you can air out your clothes before putting them away.

Built in storage for clothes.
Shelves and racks will give you a place to store your clothes and keep them organized.

Prevent Moisture Damage

The basement area is prone to moisture that can get into your clothes and cause damage. So, to prepare the basement for clothes storage, you want to ensure that moisture can’t get inside. To do this,  you can install a moisture barrier on the walls and the floor.

Add Lighting

If you’re going to be storing clothes in the basement, you’ll need some good lighting. Without it, you’ll have a hard time seeing what you’re doing. Add some light fixtures or, even better, a window to give yourself plenty of light to work with. 

Ensure Proper Ventilation

A well-ventilated basement is a key to keeping your clothes from getting musty. Make sure there’s plenty of airflow by opening up windows or using a fan. This will help keep the air moving and prevent moisture from building up.

Related Questions

How long can you store clothes in the basement?

It really depends on the climate and the type of clothing. In general, you can store clothes in the basement for anywhere from a few months to a year. However, if you’re storing them in an unfinished basement, you may want to check on them every once in a while to make sure they’re still in good condition.

What’s the best way to store clothes in the basement?

You can do a few things to make sure your clothes stay in good condition while they’re stored in the basement. First, make sure there’s plenty of airflow by opening up windows or using a fan. You should also avoid stacking clothes too high and use acid-free boxes or bags to store them in. 

Using vacuum bags for storing clothes.
These bags work by sucking the air out of the bag, leaving very little room for the clothes to move.

What types of fabrics should I keep away from the basement?

You should avoid storing anything made of natural fibers like wool, cotton, and linen in the basement. These fabrics are more susceptible to mold and mildew. You should also avoid storing leather or suede in the basement for a long time because it can dry out and crack. 

What if I don’t have a lot of space in my basement?

If you don’t have a lot of space in your basement, you can try using storage cubes or shelves. You can also use vacuum sealing to store your clothes in smaller spaces. Proper organization is key to small basement storage.

Final Word

Storing clothes in the basement can pose potential risks if you don’t take proper precautions. It needs preparation and the right environment to ensure your clothes stay in good condition. But if you do it right, you can create a great storage space for your clothes that will keep them looking their best. Don’t rush. Take your time to learn how to store your clothes the right way.

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