When fall and winter are right around the corner, it means it’s almost time to break out those heavy coats and sweaters you squirreled away in March. Here’s hoping you stored them in the right container.

Picking the right container to store your seasonal clothing can make or break your chances of wearing them again next year. Just like choosing the proper environment to store items, choosing the best container for your long-term storage needs is essential to the longevity of your clothes.

Keep these five tips in mind the next time you put away your seasonal wardrobe.

1. Choose a Container That’s Airtight

If you’re storing your clothes for an extended period of time, you’ll want to make sure that they’re properly protected from moisture, insects, and direct light. Plastic bags and cardboard boxes are cheap and relatively easy to source, but they aren’t ideal for storing clothes long-term. Plus, both plastic bags and cardboard boxes degrade after continuous use, which means you’ll need to replace them frequently.

Do it right the first time and store your garments in airtight plastic containers. Airtight containers for clothes are a fairly inexpensive investment that will ensure your garments are protected and come out looking the same as they did when you put them away.

How do you know if a plastic storage bin is air tight? Check for latching lids with a rubber seal. Without these features, your plastic storage containers are not 100% air-tight.

2. Colored or Clear?

If you’re storing lots of different seasonal items in one area, color coordinating your storage bins by season or holiday can make life a lot easier. For instance, you can use red or green containers for Christmas-related attire, and another color container for regular everyday household items. Just be diligent in keeping the theme up as you store different seasonal items so you don’t play the guessing game when you need to find something.

If you’re storing your clothing in a dark area, such as a self-storage unit, clear plastic containers provide the added benefit of instantly seeing which items are inside. Direct sunlight can cause fading, so if you are storing your items in a naturally lit area (like a garage), you’ll want to make sure that you don’t find any surprises the next time you want to wear your favorite coat. Play it safe and opt for opaque plastic boxes for your clothing storage instead of translucent

3. Say No to Vacuum or “Space” Bags

Seeing your giant winter coat turn into a thin plastic wrapped packet is always enjoyable, but if you’re planning on storing your clothes long-term, leave the vacuum bags behind. As a storage solution vacuum bags are great a saving space, but they might leave your duds a little worse for year. All fabrics, whether they’re natural or synthetic, need to breathe. This is especially true with leather, suede, wool and down-filled garments. Removing the ability for fabric and threads to breathe can deteriorate and permanently damage a garment. Space-saving bags may also permanently wrinkle or crease your clothing.

4. Don’t Cram Clothes into Containers

Typically, storing items means being as efficient as possible with the space that you have, but storing clothes for an extended period of time comes with different rules. Here’s how to pack them the right way:

  • Tightly packing fabric inside a storage box can create permanent creases and damage, so it’s best to use more containers with less items in each.
  • Choose stackable containers, which will allow you to save space inside your closet or storage unit.
  • For the best results, wrap your garments in acid-free paper, lightly fold, and stack the pieces starting with the heaviest items at the bottom.

5. Make Sure Everything is Clean, Dry, and Cool

Before storing any clothing or linens, make sure that they’ve been thoroughly cleaned. It’s best to professional dry clean and launder expensive items to ensure they aren’t damaged during storage. Any stains left on your garments will worsen and darken during their time in storage.

Your garage seems like a great place to store items, but the fluctuating temperature and lack of ventilation can quickly damage garments. If you live in a wet or high humidity climate, opting for a climate-controlled storage unit will help minimize the chance for mold and mildew to appear if you are storing clothing for an extended period of time.

Best Storage Containers for Storing Clothes

Moving crates

Looking to buy plastic storage containers for your clothes? We’ve rounded up a few of the best storage bins available below:

  • Clear Weathertight Totes from The Container StoreThese bins come in a range in sizes and provide air-tight protection for your clothes. These storage totes are also stackable.
  • Sterilite Gasket Box: Sterilite is one of the most well-known storage tote brands—this particular model features an air-tight gasket that will help keep your clothes pest and moisture free. Available in a range of sizes from 12 quarts on up to 120 quarts.
  • IKEA Samla: While not air-tight, these clear bins from IKEA are strong yet affordable. Coming in a variety of sizes, including an under the bed storage size, these storage bins are suitable for dry, climate-controlled environments. Pack your clothes with silica gel packs or cedar blocks to provide additional protection without an air-tight seal.
  • Rubbermaid ActionPackerThese heavy-duty storage containers can withstand the roughest of handling. While they are not totally air tight, the thick walls and lockable latching lid provide superior protection.

Clothes Storage Options

With your seasonal clothing packed away, you can now enjoy additional storage space in your home or closet. Keep your packed clothing bins in a cool, dry area such as a closet shelf or storage unit. Enjoy easy access to your extra clothes whenever you need them, and know they will be in tip-top condition with the right storage containers.

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Jake Lane