The Dos and Don'ts of Storing Clothing

Whether you look after your own independent fashion boutique, you have an online apparel retail store, or you have a neighbourhood vintage clothing shop, you always want to make sure that you have ample space to store the most valuable possessions in your business – the clothes you are going to sell.

The simple reason that you need commercial storage for your clothes is that a rented storage space is going to be cheaper than investing in a shop space with lots of storage. In the winter season, you might want to store summer clothes (and vice versa), and if you are a vintage collector, you may want to keep your stock together but only carefully select certain items to put in your store at any one time.

But commercial storage of clothing is not as simple as boxing up the clothes and pulling them out of their containers when you need them. There are certain dos and don'ts you should be aware of for keeping your stock in the best possible condition.

Do keep clothes ventilated. Moisture is the enemy of clothes. Unless you want mould, fungus, and damp to destroy the delicate quality of fabric, you need to ensure that you keep your clothing well ventilated. This means that if you are going to put clothes in boxes, they should at the very least be unsealed. Where appropriate, hang clothes up so that air can move between the fabric and moisture doesn't have a chance to take hold. You should also contact the storage unit to ensure that the storage space itself is well ventilated with a flow of oxygen.

Don't pack clothes in cardboard boxes. If you must keep some clothes in boxes, you should be aware that cardboard boxes are a definite no-no. Have you ever wondered why paper and card discolours over time? It is because the card has an acidic element. Of course, you don't want clothing, especially gentle fabrics such as silk, exposed to acid and potential discolouration. It is possible to find acid-free boxes on the market that are designed specifically for storage purposes. Otherwise, plastic containers will work best.

Do keep clothing in a dark space. If you have ever worn a pair of shorts in the summer months and noticed how different the colour is by the end of the summer season, you'll know the effect that sunlight can have on clothes. Fortunately, most commercial storage spaces are enclosed without windows so this shouldn't present an issue for you, but do check out the space before committing to it so you can ensure it is dark enough to keep the clothes in optimal colour saturation.

Don't make excessive folds in clothing. There are some clothes that can't be hung up from a rail and simply have to be laid flat. For example, wool garments will become misshapen if they are hung up, and any dresses with excessive beading work or ornamentation should also be folded so that the bead work doesn't weight the dress down. You should, however, make as few folds in the clothing as possible so that creases do not appear, particularly if you expect the garments to be stored away for a long time.

Do invest in mothballs. Critters such as moths and insects will be attracted to your clothes, and you should be particularly wary of this if the storage space has carpet. But to deter moths and other pests, you can pack the clothes with mothballs. The toxic fumes that emanate from mothballs will kill moths and their larvae and keep your clothes safe from harm.

Follow these tips as you seek out commercial storage, and you'll be able to invest in stock with the peace of mind that you can keep it stored in pristine condition until the day it is ready to hit the shop floor.