Living Space: How to store winter clothes safely

To deter bugs, make sure clothing is clean prior to storage.

With cold weather finally out of the way in most parts of the country, it's time to rotate the clothes in your closet. In fact, regardless of whether you live in a seasonal climate or a temperate one, cramming all your clothes in the closet all the time makes it harder to find what you want.

Also, leaving your wool, cashmere and specialty fabric clothing out during the summer - when bugs are more prevalent - could leave you with moth holes when you pull those garments out later in the year.



The clothing 'bug'

Many fabrics are edible and can attract bugs. Wool, linen, rayon, cotton and cashmere are all favorites. And it's not just moths that will chew on your clothes; they're just the most common culprits. Beetles, silverfish, termites and cockroaches may all find your wardrobe tasty. Putting away seasonal clothes keeps these pests away.



Store it right

But out of sight shouldn't mean out of mind. As tempting as it is to put plastic dry cleaning bags over your clothes and call it a day, or stuff them all into a space-saving bag, hold off. The best place to start is your closet. Start with a thorough cleaning. Begin by removing old clothes you no longer wear or want to thin out your wardrobe and create more space. Then vacuum the closet thoroughly.

Make sure clothing is clean prior to storage, with all stains removed. This will deter bugs and keep stains from becoming set in. Drawers are an option for storage, but they need cedar liners and should close tight. Store cashmere and other expensive fabrics in clear plastic locking tubs, which give the fabrics room to breathe.

To keep garments fresh, use cedar blocks or lavender sachets. Avoid unnatural products like moth balls or dryer sheets. If you live in a humid area and worry that stored sweaters might mold, drop silica crystal packets like those that come in so many products today into your storage boxes.

Avoid storing sweaters and other hanging garments right after they come from the dry cleaners. The wire hangers can damage delicate fabrics and the plastic covering isn't effective enough at keeping insects from working their way inside and eating your garments.

If you have an extensive collection of cashmere items, it's best to wrap each item in acid-free tissue to keep it dry and protected, and then store in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

Avoid moving your cold-weather clothing out of the closet, though. Storing clothes under the bed, in the basement, attic, or garage is unwise, because these are places where bugs are more likely to be found and where temperature variations can damage your clothes.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.