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5 Tips for Preparing Clothing, Bedding & Linens for Long Term Storage

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Sometimes moving into a new home can mean down-sizing – and this shouldn’t be interpreted as a bad thing! Down-sizing is a hugely satisfying practice that leads to increased space, less clutter and a perceived sense of having a clean slate.

Down-sizing can be accomplished in many ways, notably by selling your stuff, buying a smaller house in general, or putting your belongings in storage. For most stuff, it’s as simple as boxing it up and locking the door behind you, but other more delicate belongings like bedding, linens and clothing may require some extra care.

 

Wash Before You Store

Be sure to wash and store all of your clothing linens and bedding before you put them in long term storage. Dirty, smelly clothing can attract mice, rats and bugs over time, and they can do serious damage to your belongings.

Further, take the time to do an addition rinse cycle to rid your clothes of any potentially lingering bleaches, detergents or cleaning agents’ leftover from the first cycle. These chemicals and solvents can damage your materials over time as well, and you’ll appreciate having clean clothes when the times comes to pull them out of storage.

 

Vacuum Sealing – Yay or Nay?

There are many ways to vacuum seal your belongings to save a huge amount of space. But this form of storage comes with its own set of rules and practices – there is speculation regarding its ability to keep your clothes in their best form, as some studies note that many fabrics and materials actually require airflow to maintain their structural integrity.

When you compress the bags and remove all of the air, you’re effectively isolating the garments in a hermetically sealed environment. For family heirloom laces, quilts, linens or your wedding dress, vacuum sealing probably isn’t the best way to go. However, for polyesters, leathers and more durable materials, you’re likely OK to go this route. Just be sure to decompress the sealed bags every so often to give your belongings a chance to breathe.

 

Keep Your Tote Game Strong

The containers you choose to store your linens and clothing in are just as important as cleaning them beforehand. Say no to plastic garbage bags and cardboard boxes – using good quality airtight plastic tote bins is your best bet for storing your belongings well and keeping them safe from the elements, however protected you may think they are.

Plastic bags and cardboard boxes can harbor moisture that turns to mildew and can yellow fabrics over time. Further, plastic bins can protect your things from mice and rats that can easily chew through a cardboard box or plastic bag.

Further, if money isn’t an issue, seek out acid-free tissue papers and boxes to separate your belongings within these plastic bins. Some plastic bins can release chemicals over time that could so damage to your stuff. And say no mothballs – they make your clothes smell terrible and can be dangerous if found and eaten by children or pets when you’re busy unpacking your stuff after long term storage.

 

Atmosphere

A clean, cool, dark and dry place is best for long terms storage. Inspect the space before to moving your stuff in for any wet spots on the floor, gaps under the doors, moisture in the air, etc. Make sure the space you’re renting is well ventilated, and even temperature controlled.

It’s suggested that temperatures shouldn’t exceed 23 degrees Celsius with relative humidity of 55%. However, as long as your stuff is clean and well packed, heat and humidity shouldn’t be a huge issue.

As well, if there is water on the floor following a good rain, go the extra mile and place some palettes beneath your plastic tote bins to get your stuff up and out of the wetness. Going the extra mile will allow airflow under the palettes and will help to dry up any minor flooding or moisture that gets into your storage space.

 

Check in!

It’s important to check in on your belongings as time passes. If you can get to your storage facility once or twice per year ideally, you’ll help to reduce the likelihood of your items being damaged, or infested by pests.

If you’re a vacuum packer, this gives you some time to let your stuff breathe and reassess your storage situation for potential improvements or maintenance.

Most storage facilities will also be happy to let you in on a few storage tips and tricks specific to that particular facility. Take advantage of this insider information, and of what they recommend you do in terms of storage practices.

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