Common Mistakes in Storing Laundry That Ruin Your Clothes

When people talk about caring for clothes, they usually focus on washing them. But storing them properly is just as important. Good storage keeps your clothes looking new and extends their lifespan. However, many of us make simple mistakes without realizing it.

For example, storing clothes in a humid space or hanging heavy items on wire hangers can damage them over time. This can lead to stretched fabric, mold growth, or discoloration, forcing you to replace them sooner than expected.

Understanding these mistakes can help you protect your clothes and save money in the long run. Take a close look at your storage habits and be open to making changes to keep your wardrobe in top condition.

Storing Heavy Clothing With Wire Hangers

Using wire hangers for your heavy coats or suits might seem practical, but it’s actually causing harm. They’re not sturdy enough to support the weight, leading to bulges and stretched shoulders that affect how your clothes fit.

Plus, they can rust and leave marks or poke into the fabric, causing snags or tears. Over time, the pressure from wire hangers weakens the fibers, gradually damaging your clothing without you noticing.

They can also bend under the weight, making them useless for storing heavy items like winter coats, jackets, or denim.

Instead, opt for padded or wooden hangers. Wooden hangers are strong and provide proper support to maintain your clothes’ shape and fit.

They have a wide design that distributes weight evenly, preventing distortion. Padded hangers offer a softer option, ideal for delicate but heavy items, protecting them from damage.

Both types help preserve your clothing’s integrity, ensuring they last longer.

Keeping Clothes in Dry Cleaning Plastic

Leaving your clothes in the plastic bags from the dry cleaners is a big mistake. These bags aren’t meant for long-term storage, so they can trap moisture, increase humidity, and lead to mold or mildew growth.

This can cause a musty smell and weaken the fabric, making your clothes wear out faster. Plus, no air circulation can create permanent creases or discoloration in some fabrics, turning your clean clothes into a breeding ground for odors and bacteria.

To prevent this, take your clothes out of the dry-cleaning bags as soon as you get home and hang them on wooden or padded hangers. This allows them to breathe and prevents moisture buildup.

For added protection against dust, consider using cotton garment bags, which also allow air circulation to keep your clothes dry and mold-free.

Exposing Clothing to Sunlight Directly

Hanging your clothes in direct sunlight is a storage mistake that can cause shrinking and damage. The sun’s UV rays break down the fibers in your clothes, making them prone to tears.

Dark or bright colors may also fade, ruining expensive items. Materials like synthetic fibers or silk can become brittle or lose their elasticity when exposed to direct sunlight, making them uncomfortable to wear.

To protect your clothing, consider where and how you dry and store them. Instead of hanging clothes outside in direct sunlight, choose a shaded spot.

If you must dry clothes outside, do it in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is less intense. Store your clothes in a room that doesn’t get direct sunlight, or use UV-blocking blinds or curtains.

For extra protection, store sensitive items in drawers or garment bags to shield them from light exposure.

Storing Clothes Without Washing Them

According to experts at the University of Arizona, storing dirty clothes can lead to problems like oils, dirt, and hidden stains setting into the fabric, providing a feast for bacteria for weeks.

Oils and sweat from your body can weaken fabric fibers over time, making them more prone to tearing.

Wash your clothes following the care label instructions to remove dirt and body oils, preventing them from bonding to the fibers.

Not Conditioning Leather Items

Storing leather items without conditioning them first can lead to premature wear and tear, as leather needs moisture to remain flexible and strong. Without proper conditioning, leather can become dry and brittle, increasing the risk of cracking.

To extend the lifespan of your leather items, it’s important to clean and condition them before storing. Apply a leather conditioner to replenish natural oils and prevent drying out and cracking.

Store your items in a dry, cool place, preferably in cloth garment bags to protect them from dust and sunlight. This will help keep your leather soft and supple and your clothes clean until you’re ready to wear them again.

Keeping Clothes in Hot Attics or Garages

Storing your clothes in a hot attic or garage can cause damage due to temperature changes. Heat can cause fabrics to warp, shrink, or melt, altering their appearance and fit. Natural fibers like cotton or wool may shrink, while synthetic fibers can melt.

Additionally, heat can set in stains, making them harder to remove. It can also lead to fading or discoloration of fabric dyes. Hot conditions can attract pests like rodents or moths, which can damage your clothes.

To prevent heat damage to your clothing, store them in a dry, cool area of your home with a stable temperature. Interior closets or under-bed storage are good options, as they typically have minimal temperature fluctuations.

Forgetting Pest Control

Pests such as carpet beetles and moths are attracted to stored clothing, especially those made of natural fibers like silk, wool, or cotton.

They lay eggs in your clothes, and when they hatch, the larvae feed on the fabric, causing large holes.

To prevent pest damage, consider placing cedar blocks or chips in your storage space or using a cedar-lined closet wardrobe. Cedar contains natural oils that emit a strong scent disliked by fabric-eating pests, deterring them from your clothes.

This eco-friendly and non-toxic method is preferable to using mothballs. Remember to refresh or replace your cedar blocks or chips monthly to maintain their effectiveness. Additionally, regular cleaning helps deter pests by removing eggs or larvae.

Using Regular Tissue for Delicate Items

Forgetting to use acid-free tissue paper when storing delicate clothing items can lead to damage over time.

The acid in regular tissue paper gradually breaks down the fibers of your clothes, causing yellowing, discoloration, and weak spots that are prone to tearing.

It also sets in stains, making them difficult to remove and deteriorating the quality of your clothing.

Gently wrap your items in acid-free tissue paper and place them in containers or drawers for long-term storage, particularly for heirlooms, bridal gowns, and seasonal clothing.

Neglecting Shoe Stuffing

If you don’t stuff your shoes before storing them, they can lose their shape and develop folds or creases. This is particularly problematic for shoes made of suede or leather, as they need their original shape to be comfortable and look good.

This not only affects the appearance of your shoes but also their fit, making them uncomfortable to wear.

Additionally, shoes that have lost their shape are more susceptible to damage from external pressure, such as items being stacked on them during storage.

These creases can become permanent, shortening the lifespan of your shoes. To maintain the shape of your shoes and prolong their lifespan, you can use soft cloth, acid-free tissue paper, or shoe trees for this purpose. Even old newspapers can be repurposed for stuffing.

For leather shoes, a shoe tree is ideal as it also helps absorb moisture and keeps the leather in good condition.

Storing Clothes in The Attic or Basement

Storing clothes in a places where humidity levels are above 80%, like the attic or basement, creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow.

These tiny organisms thrive in moist conditions and can quickly take hold on your clothing, causing unpleasant smells and eventually leading to fading colors and fabric deterioration.

To prevent mold and mildew growth, store your clothes in a cool, dry location in your home. Choose an area where you can use airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to keep moisture out and protect your clothes.

Adding two or three silica gel packets to each container can help absorb excess moisture. It’s also important to air out the storage space regularly, at least once a month, and check for signs of moisture damage or water buildup to prevent damage.

Rolling Socks Together

When you bundle your socks by folding one over the other to create a ball, it damages the fibers and elasticity. Although it might seem like a space-saving and convenient way to keep pairs together, it’s not ideal.

Bundling stretches the bands, causes shape loss, and results in a loose fit. When the elastic stretches too much, the socks start slipping down inside your shoes while walking.

Instead of bundling, lay your socks flat together and fold them in half or gently roll them without stretching the elastic. This method keeps pairs together without stressing the fabric and helps maintain their shape and elasticity, extending their lifespan.

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