Long term storage of clothes

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Caduceus
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Long term storage of clothes

Post by Caduceus » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:05 am

I need to put some bins of clothing into long term storage. Internet searches suggest that placing them in airtight plastic containers are bad because clothing needs to "breathe" - this does not really make sense to me. Why would fabric need circulating air? I was thinking that if I could buy good polypropylene plastic airtight bins (no offgassing or pollutants) and place my clothing inside them with some good sized packets of silica gel, I should be good to go. The silica gel should keep the humidity low enough so that mold cannot grow.

Does anyone have experience with long term storage of clothes?

KT785
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by KT785 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:31 am

How long is "long term"?

I'm wondering if you could use those large vacuum bags and layer them inside the plastic bins (added layer of protection)?

KT785

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dm200
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:09 am

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:05 am
I need to put some bins of clothing into long term storage. Internet searches suggest that placing them in airtight plastic containers are bad because clothing needs to "breathe" - this does not really make sense to me. Why would fabric need circulating air? I was thinking that if I could buy good polypropylene plastic airtight bins (no offgassing or pollutants) and place my clothing inside them with some good sized packets of silica gel, I should be good to go. The silica gel should keep the humidity low enough so that mold cannot grow.

Does anyone have experience with long term storage of clothes?
No experience - but my guess is that it depends on what the specific clothes are.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:19 am

DW and I have done this at various durations.
Depends on fabric and type of clothing.

How long is "long term"?
10 years?

j :happy
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Katietsu
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by Katietsu » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:23 am

I have no expertise. I have heard the breath thing.

I do have experience with my own clothing. So I keep a bins of different sized clothes. Some have been unused for over a decade. Degradation of “elastic” is the only issue I have had. I have noticed no difference between those stored in plastic bins and those in cardboard. Temperature range probably between 50 and 110 F and humidity probably averages 30% in winter and 75% in summer.

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Watty
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by Watty » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:32 am

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:05 am
Does anyone have experience with long term storage of clothes?
Whenever I have taken out any clothing that has been stored for more than a few year they have mysteriously shrunk and no longer fit. :D

If you are looking at more than a year or maybe two the odds of the clothing fitting are pretty slim so I would consider selling the better stuff at a consignment shop and having a garage sale to sell the rest of it.

jpelder
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by jpelder » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:04 am

The air circulation is probably helpful for preventing mold if humid air is trapped in the box. I haven't had any issues with this having stored clothes in the plastic "under-bed" bins. But I tend to go into the bins a few times per year to add or remove things.

badger42
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by badger42 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:08 am

Unless we're talking some sort of irreplaceable heirloom, why bother? Donate it, write it off, and re-buy what you actually want when you want it.

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lthenderson
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by lthenderson » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:25 am

Watty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:32 am
If you are looking at more than a year or maybe two the odds of the clothing fitting are pretty slim so I would consider selling the better stuff at a consignment shop and having a garage sale to sell the rest of it.
+1

Not to mention that styles change too.

The only clothing I have hung onto is my old high school letter jacket. It just hangs in the back of my closet. The only thing my wife has hung onto was her wedding dress. It was professionally dry cleaned and stored in a sealed special box that they provided just for wedding dresses. It remains on the top shelf of her closet.

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LilyFleur
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by LilyFleur » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:13 am

I just helped someone downsize. Donated a HUGE amount of clothing. (about ten years' worth had accumulated). Yes, things were falling apart and that left a mess and stirred up allergies.

It confirmed my minimalist lifestyle. I curate everything I bring into my small home.

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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by 123 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:14 am

Watty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:32 am
...Whenever I have taken out any clothing that has been stored for more than a few year they have mysteriously shrunk and no longer fit...
+1 This happens in our home as well. Doesn't seem to make a difference whether the clothes are stored folded neatly in a dresser drawer or on hangers in a closet.
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dm200
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:05 pm

123 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:14 am
Watty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:32 am
...Whenever I have taken out any clothing that has been stored for more than a few year they have mysteriously shrunk and no longer fit...
+1 This happens in our home as well. Doesn't seem to make a difference whether the clothes are stored folded neatly in a dresser drawer or on hangers in a closet.
:) In my case, though, depending on the "era" of the clothing that has been in the back of the closet, it is sometimes too big - from when I weighed 50 pounds more than now.

My wife, however, is adamant that her old things have "shrunk". I know better.

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vineviz
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by vineviz » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:23 pm

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:05 am
I need to put some bins of clothing into long term storage. Internet searches suggest that placing them in airtight plastic containers are bad because clothing needs to "breathe" - this does not really make sense to me. Why would fabric need circulating air? I was thinking that if I could buy good polypropylene plastic airtight bins (no offgassing or pollutants) and place my clothing inside them with some good sized packets of silica gel, I should be good to go. The silica gel should keep the humidity low enough so that mold cannot grow.
Natural fabrics (e.g. wool and cotton) do in fact need to "breathe", which is a euphemism for absorbing and exuding moisture as temperatures fluctuate. Sealing such fabrics in any airtight container is asking for trouble, since too little moisture will damage them as much or more than too much moisture.

Non-airtight plastic containers (or acid-free cardboard, though this can be very expensive) in a climate-controlled space are definitely the best way forward.

100% synthetic fabrics can likely be safely sealed in a plastic vacuum bags with a silica packet to conserve on space, but I don't recommend this for natural fibers.
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DanMahowny
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by DanMahowny » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:33 pm

The items must not be wanted very badly if you're gonna put them in a box and store them "long term". When I think "long term storage", I think landfill. Throw them in the trash and free yourself.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:55 pm

Why store them? Wear them until they wear out or get rid of them unless you think they'll come back into style in some day. (And that's not impossible. I read someplace that old clothes from the hippie generation are being scarfed up by today's younger folks.)

Personally, I wear them until they wear out. I'm retired and if some folks don't like my apparel choices they can go _______.
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DaftInvestor
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:19 pm

I, like others, know of no legitimate reason to store clothes long term. They are likely not to be used by whoever or for whatever they are being stored for.
But - if you must - most dry cleaners will vacuum seal them for you in boxes - for a price of course. I suppose you could try this yourself as someone else mentioned in vacuum seal bags.
My wife's wedding dress was so professionally packed (probably only to be thrown away some day - kids will want to choose their own).
My childhood clothes were stored in plastic bags inside cardboard boxes by my parents and given to us for our kids. They had seemed to have held up. Of course we didn't want any of them so they were discarded anyway after a couple of decades of storage. Chances are - whatever clothes you are storing for whatever purpose you are storing them for will see a similar fate. I don't mean to sound harsh - but I really can't see a use case for storing clothing for any purpose long-term.

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dm200
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:25 am

DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:19 pm
I, like others, know of no legitimate reason to store clothes long term. They are likely not to be used by whoever or for whatever they are being stored for.
I am sure there may be very legitimate reasons.

Family sentimental history - such as Baptismal "dress" used by family members for many generations.

For the Smithsonian - when the wearer of such clothes is a noted historical figure

To be used when the deceased dies and is in the casket for "Viewing"

Might be valuable collectibles

:sharebeer

Elena
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by Elena » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:34 am

LilyFleur wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:13 am
I just helped someone downsize. Donated a HUGE amount of clothing. (about ten years' worth had accumulated). Yes, things were falling apart and that left a mess and stirred up allergies.

It confirmed my minimalist lifestyle. I curate everything I bring into my small home.
+1 :happy

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whodidntante
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by whodidntante » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:32 pm

A level 2 stasis field would be sufficient for up to 42 years.

Ybsybs
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by Ybsybs » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:46 pm

Off season clothes can be fine in the back of a closet or in a box in the basement.

Wedding dress storage has a small industry around it. Many drycleaners will give it a cleaning and return it to you in a box that ought to help it last twenty or forty years until the next generation can politely decline make any use of it.

Baby clothes are nice to have kept if you reuse them within five years. Much beyond that and you'd probably have been better off getting the pennies of the dollar available through Once Upon a Child resale or Facebook Marketplace resale.

Favorite hand made items like wool knits do really well in a cedar chest if you have one.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:49 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:05 pm
123 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:14 am
Watty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:32 am
...Whenever I have taken out any clothing that has been stored for more than a few year they have mysteriously shrunk and no longer fit...
+1 This happens in our home as well. Doesn't seem to make a difference whether the clothes are stored folded neatly in a dresser drawer or on hangers in a closet.
:) In my case, though, depending on the "era" of the clothing that has been in the back of the closet, it is sometimes too big - from when I weighed 50 pounds more than now.

My wife, however, is adamant that her old things have "shrunk". I know better.
You may have been on this forum for 12+ years, and be older and wiser, but based on the statement that you know better than your wife about her clothes having shrunk, you've now cast doubt on your credibility on this forum... :twisted: :D
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IMO
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Re: Long term storage of clothes

Post by IMO » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:42 am

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:05 am
I need to put some bins of clothing into long term storage. Internet searches suggest that placing them in airtight plastic containers are bad because clothing needs to "breathe" - this does not really make sense to me. Why would fabric need circulating air? I was thinking that if I could buy good polypropylene plastic airtight bins (no offgassing or pollutants) and place my clothing inside them with some good sized packets of silica gel, I should be good to go. The silica gel should keep the humidity low enough so that mold cannot grow.

Does anyone have experience with long term storage of clothes?
Define long term.

I've stored clothing/sheets/etc for 1 year in an 4 season location within a non-temperature storage unit. Some where in cardboard boxes, some were in plastic containers. There was not rodent issues in the storage unit so there was no mice or other insects getting into the cardboard boxes which were taped shut. They were all fine. Heck had been a few plastic boxes of stored clothes in my closet that have managed to just get stored for extremely long periods of time (as in maybe a decade+) that only recently got around to looking into and things seemed fine (both natural fabrics and man-made fabrics).

I don't get the "breathe" issue with storing clothing that is thoroughly dry. I get it if clothes are stored and were not dry that could create a mold issue. However, sealing up the clothes protects them from the outside air/humidity so it would be pretty hard for the sealed storage container to be sucking up humidity from the outside. Just doesn't make sense.

I think your plan sounds just fine.

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