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November 30, 2015



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Fabric Care Center
Fabric Care Center | Storing Garments | Long-Term Storing of Garments

Storing Garments


Long-term storage can be used for heirloom/keepsake garments or for clothes in which the time in between wearings can range from one year to several years in length. Some examples of these items include: wedding dresses, maternity clothes, baby clothes, holiday garments, and costumes.

The Preservation Station sells products for preserving your apparel, fabrics, wedding gowns, antique linens, and collectibles. Visit their web site.

  • Garments should be completely cleaned (laundered or dry cleaned) before storing. Use only appropriate laundry detergents for washing. Avoid using soap, chlorine bleach, starch, garment sizing, or fabric softeners. Rinse all washed garments thoroughly.
  • Carefully select the method of storing (hanging or flat). Use Only Acid-Free and Archival-Safe Packing Materials for storing these items. Acid-free boxes and tissue paper can be purchased from office supply stores, Internet resources, and dry cleaners that specialize in the cleaning and preserving of heirloom fabrics.
  • Wrap the fabrics in the Acid-Free Tissue Before Folding. The tissue paper cushions the fabric and helps to guard against sharp creases, which can break and damage individual fibers of the fabric. Bodices or other curved areas of a garment should be stuffed with acid-free tissue paper. Heirlooms and keepsakes should be stored by themselves, not with other garments.
  • Carefully select the storage container that will provide the garments inside with the best protection. Lightweight plastic boxes that sturdy, waterproof, and vented is a good choice for garments made from fibers, other than wool, wool blends, and specialty hair fibers.
  • Store woolen items in a tightly sealed cedar chest or cedar enclosed trunk in which the cedar is at least 3/4" (2 cm.) thick.
  • Line the chest with a clean white sheet that has been laundered several times to totally rid the fabric of all chlorine bleach, soap and detergent residue, and fabric softeners.
  • Use the acid-free tissue paper or the freshly laundered white muslin sheeting as packing material. Do not use plastic bags, as these can trap moisture and cause mildew to form or cause the yellowing of fabrics.
  • Carefully label all storage containers with a list of the contents and the date.
  • Carefully select a storage area where there are no extreme temperature or atmospheric conditions. Storage in basements, attics, and garages can expose the stored items to extreme temperatures, dampness and humidity, and grease and undesirable fumes. (The ideal storage conditions are a temperature of about 75 degrees F, and a relative humidity of 55 percent.)
  • When items are removed from storage, air out the clothes for several days before using. Garments can be freshened up by laundering or dry cleaning. Heirloom items that have been stored for a number of years may need to be lightly vacuumed through a mesh screen, and then aired out.
  • Often unwanted wrinkles can be easily removed from stored items made from wool, wool blends, or specialty hair fibers, by hanging them in the bathroom and allowing the steam from a shower to relax the wrinkles. After steaming, allow the items to hang overnight. Any unwanted creases that remain can be gently pressed out.
The Preservation Station sells products for preserving your apparel, fabrics, wedding gowns, antique linens, and collectibles. Visit their web site.

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