Wardrobe Boxes, Suitcases, Vacuum Seal, and Everything in Between
Wardrobe boxes and storage is shaped by numerous factors that determine which type of storage container is right for your project. Length of time is often a great place to start. Depending on whether you need to store clothes for a week, a month, or a year, you’ll likely end up choosing one of the following methods.
A week—Choose a suitcase. This option is perfect for moving and traveling. This short period eliminates the need for hangers for most articles of clothing. Additionally, larger suitcases can store dozens of items and make for easy transport. However, if your needs require more than three weeks of storage, a suitcase won’t work. They are poorly insulated, and the fabric can expedite mold and mildew buildup. See below for wrinkle-free storage tips to help streamline your packing process.
A month—Choose a wardrobe box. Most options have an easily-removed front panel for quick and convenient access. Though not the best for long-term projects, cardboard is durable enough for many months of storage, especially in a climate-controlled and well-ventilated space. These boxes also include a bar for hangers and are easily transported from one place to another. For clothes you fold and don’t need easy access to, a simple cardboard box will do. For more delicate items, a wardrobe box is worth the extra cost. You can purchase these supplies at Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, and packing supply retailers. You can buy individual boxes, or opt for a wardrobe storage box kit.
A year or longer—Opt for a high-quality, heavy-duty storage wardrobe. This durable option provides space to both fold and hang clothes, and the plastic casing protects items from dangers that may exist inside a basement or storage unit. Though this option is significantly more expensive, you can rest assured that your clothing will be in great condition. Before using a plastic container for wardrobe storage, know that many of these containers release chemicals that degrade the quality of the fabric.
Tips for Clothing and Wardrobe Storage
Deciding on a storage container is one thing, but preparing clothing for storage takes some know-how as well. Below is a step-by-step guide that aims to preserve your wardrobe—whether you’re packing for a quick move or long-term storage:
- Wash your clothes before storing. This is an often-overlooked step in the storage process. Though they may be invisible, surface stains and dirt exist on your clothing. These stains will set into garments over time, making removal difficult. Washing clothes before storage ensures the fabric is in good condition. Additionally, ensure that all items are completely dry before storing. This prevents mold, stain, and mildew buildup. Another plus? You’ll be able to wear your clothes as soon as they’re taken out of storage.
- Decide to hang or fold. Sweaters, shirts, and pants should be folded to reduce pulling and wrinkling. Heavier garments, such as winter coats and suits, should be hung. However, don’t settle for cheap wire hangers. These may stretch the clothing and ruin the shape over time. Opt for sturdier plastic or metal hangers for long-term storage.
- Say no to moths. Mothballs are a great resource for long-term storage. They prevent moths from eating and damaging stored clothing, while being safe for the garments themselves. However, some chemicals used to repel moths can be hazardous, particularly to children and pets. Looking for a safe, natural option? Use cedar chips or lavender as a replacement.
- Choose an appropriate storage venue. Your storage environment can affect clothing more than anything else. For expensive and delicate items, the recommended storage temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, as long as your storage space is clean and protected from the elements, your wardrobe should be fine. Avoid storing clothing in the garage or basement, as your items may be subjected to fuels, grease, and vermin. Likewise, there’s a big difference between cheap self-storage units and a warehouse facility.
Wardrobe Protection and Wrinkle-Free Storage
If you choose to pack clothes into a suitcase or other container that doesn’t permit hanging, consider these quick tips:
- Roll, Don’t Fold: In long-term storage situations, folding can cause pesky wrinkles and creases. Though this is easily remedied with a quick swipe of an iron, save yourself the trouble: Roll your clothes. You’ll save space, reduce wrinkles, and make unpacking quick and easy.
- Use Plastic or Tissue Paper: When you buy clothing from the store, many places will wrap your garments in tissue paper. Ever wonder why? This step serves a very important purpose: It reduces wrinkles. Friction causes wrinkling, but a layer of plastic or thin paper reduces this potentially harmful friction. Dry-cleaner bags and tissue paper work best, but if you have some extra plastic bags, paper towels, or even plush toilet paper, go ahead and use them. You’ll thank yourself later.
Want more wrinkle-free packing tips? This online guide provides more details on rolling and plastic packing, but includes a few extra tricks to make your wardrobe storage experience as easy as possible.
What’s the Deal with Vacuum Sealing?
If you’ve taken on wardrobe storage in the past, you may have used vacuum sealing. Vacuum seal bags are great space savers if you’re storing a large quantity of clothing or fabric. However, research suggests that, over a long period of time, these bags could damage your clothes. Most fiber cloth needs air to maintain is structure. By removing the air from a bag, you compress the garment fibers. When removed from these bags, clothing could take weeks to regain its original structure and shape. Many natural fabrics may be permanently damaged. Our advice? Use vacuum seal bags only for casual clothes and short-term moving and traveling. For longer storage projects or delicate fabrics, opt for boxes.