You Can Have the Perfect Closet (for your clothes)!

If you are like me, you have a significant investment in our wardrobe and you have a few pieces that you expect to hold onto for many seasons. How and where we store our garments has a huge effect on their life expectacy. A well designed closet should keep your items organized and keep them in good condition. It is astounding the damage that can be done to garments by a poorly designed closet - from insect damage to mildew, sun fading and more. Below are some tips on creating the perfect closet (from a garment storage perspective:-).

Use low wattage lights in your closet - AND NO DIRECT SUNLIGHT! I am amazed at how many sky lights or windows I see in closets. Windows are not for your closet. The sun will bleach your clothes the same way it will bleach your hair. I have also seen ultraviolet lights being sold for closets. These lights do an excellent job at controlling mildew but serious sun fading can result!

If you have a bright closet, or blocking the window is not an option, put clean white sheets over items you don't wear frequently. You can poke a hole in the middle of the sheet to put over the hanger.

Closets that have one (or heaven forbid more than one) exterior wall should not be used for long term storage of garments. Closets with exterior walls tend to have higher humidity. Anything stored next to an outside wall will be effected by both the changes in temperature and the absorption of moisture. Guest room closets with are infrequently opened should also be avoided or as a minimum leave the doors ajar periodically to air them out.

Closet tip . . . when you are away on a trip, open all your closet doors to allow air to circulate. This will reduce humidity and control mildew growth. Also insects cause the most damage when they are isolated and un-bothered.

Closet dryers are available such as the crystalline type for small storage areas. You can find them and better hardware stores. Larger closets require electric dryers.

Do no pack clothes tightly into a closet -- they need room to breath

Cedar lining of a closet can help reduce insect damage. The cedar requires rejuvenation YEARLY by scuffing up the surface as the cedar will reseal itself. I do no recommend moth balls! The moth ball odor is often impossible to remove from garments. For long term storage I recommend a cedar chest.

Some tips that even the perfect closet would appreciate:
Cedar closet lining can be cut to length and laid on shelves or placed in drawers. This is much more effective and less costly than purchasing cedar blocks.

Never put garments away for the season (or an extended period) without cleaning them. Invisible stains (fruit juice, champagne, white wine, etc) will oxidize (picture how an apple turns brown after you take a bite and set it aside). Oxidized stains are very difficult to remove. Also, it is the soils in the clothes that insects love. So putting worn garments in your closet will be an invitation to bugs.

Room dry all damp clothes and leather and suedes after each wear, BEFORE returning them to the closet. Fabrics and especially leather and suede are hygroscopic and will retain moisture when worn.

Store knits flat! Gravity can do great damage over time to many garments. Knits are especially prone because they are constructed to move and stretch. Always store knits flat on a shelf or in a drawer. I have seen fine knits that have stretched several inches from hanging in the closet.

Heavy and beaded garments should be stored on padded hangers, with pin supports and using the provided straps for further support. If there are none, you can pin a strap to each side at the waist. This helps remove some of the weight and retain the garment's shape.

Never store clothing in plastic bags provided by the drycleaner. Those bags are intended to protect your items on the trip home from the cleaner. The bags catch gasses given off by the atmosphere, garments and that come out of the plastic. When contained in the bags such gases can build up in concentrations to damaging levels.

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