Clothes need to breath, especially knits and leathers. Avoid overcrowding your closets. Crowded closets with minimal airflow and dark spaces can promote mildew growth and create nesting places for insect larvae to feed on fabric. Worn and stained clothing provide a homing signal for insects. Consider donating, reselling or utilizing off-site storage such as Garde Robe, to free up space in your closet, as discussed in the “Long-Term Storage” section in this newsletter.
It is doubly important that items be stain-free before returning them to the closet. Recent or fresh stains may be easy to remove, however soiled items returned to the closet may not be discovered for months. This makes stain removal difficult and sometimes impossible. Carefully inspect the item for soil in good lighting before storing. Be sure to have stained garments cleaned before returning them to the closet.
Hang all recently worn items to dry before placing them back into your closet. Fabrics retain moisture and it may take a day or two for them to dry to the relative humidity in the house. Leather and suede garments can retain excessive amounts of moisture and can take up to three days to dry out. However, do not accelerate the drying process with a hairdryer or by placing in a dryer. Let the garment give up its moisture naturally. Do not expose items to direct sunlight as excessive exposure to UV light can be detrimental to the garment as well.
Fold and shelve knits to help them keep their shape. This is particularly important for seasonal and long-term storage. Knits hung under their own weight suffer from the unequal distribution of support by hangers. This can cause distortion and result in a garment that no longer retains its original fit.
We recommend the breathable sweater bag (pictured), first introduced to the dry cleaning industry by Margaret’s Cleaners. This unique invention provides a breathable environment for knits and also creates a barrier to prevent insect damage. The bag has a window for quick identification of the garment.
Use the proper hanger for knits that are hung for short-term storage. A padded or broad shoulder hanger will prevent the telltale “rabbit’s ear” signature of a wire hanger. Clip hangers for skirts provide better support than safety pins. Folding a long dress at the waist over a suit strut hanger may be easier on the knit than hanging from the shoulder.
Never store clothing in plastic bags. The poly bags from the dry cleaner are great for packing in wardrobe bags for travel and the vinyl zip-up bags from department stores are convenient for travel. However, neither provide breathability, and plastics can outgas, resulting in fume fading or yellowing of the garment. Store all your finest garments in zip or snap-closure breathable bags. A variety of bags perfectly suited for storage is available from Margaret’s Boutique Wardrobe Products. The ideal storage bag is breathable, has no digestible protein for insect consumption, has a zipper or snap closure, and a transparent window, so that the contents can be seen without opening the bag. As previously discussed in the “Wearing” section of this newsletter, be absolutely sure leather and suede items are completely dry before placing them in the closet for seasonal or long-term storage.
For more information and tips on sweater and knit care, download our free “Guide to Knit Care.”