How to Store Vintage Clothing

Basic Storage Do's and Don'ts


Do keep items with thin or fragile shoulder areas folded over by the waist or shelved. Gravity pulls on hung items, eventually causing hanger humps.
See Save Your Sweaters! 
How To Prevent Pilling & Pulling

Do keep clothes away from light if they're not being worn. Ultraviolet light deteriorates fabric over time.

Do stay alert to fabric pests. If you see an unknown pest in your house (especially in closets or carpets and other warm, dark areas), find out what it is. Silverfish, clothes moths, and carpet beetles are likely culprits. Pests are best deterred by cleanliness of garments and their environment.
See Preventing & Eliminating Silverfish

Don't ever store vintage items in plastic bags or containers. Natural fibers naturally expand and contract with changing temperatures, and if they are trapped in plastic, they can't breathe.

Don't hang knits because they're stretchy. Gravity has a greater effect on them. Fold them and place them on shelves.

Don't let worn clothes sit unwashed. Even invisible stains (like perspiration) will show up after many years. If you don't allow the stain to set, it won't leave any trace.

Don't wear a vintage item that is too fragile. Chances are, if it's that fragile, it is pretty rare and not worth the risk of damaging. If you have an item that isn't as rare and could be worn for an important event, think about the activity you will be doing while wearing the item first and be prepared for accidents.



Storage Do's and Don'ts for Collectors

Do monitor the temperature and humidity and keep it steady.

Do check on storage every three to four months. Refold items, because creases set and fabric will weaken along the crease. Inspect area for pests: fabric holes, insect parts, fecal matter, and webs or cases.

Do put moth balls in a close-by location. You can place them between folds of muslin in the storage box, but they should not touch the clothes themselves.

Do keep the storage area tight and inaccessible to pests.

Do check a health food store for deodorant that does not contain aluminum salts. Most deodorant / anti-perspirants do, and this type of chemical is harsh on fabrics and hard to remove. Aluminum salts are stated in two words as aluminum ______, such as aluminum chloride.

Don't store fragile collectibles in regular cardboard boxes. Regular paper products have acid in them, which deteriorates most fabrics. A cheap alternative is unbleached muslin (a cotton fabric); just softly fold items into the muslin. You can use a cardboard box if it is well-lined in muslin.

Don't stack piece upon piece; folds will crease faster from the weight. Remember to place the lightest items on top.

Don't skip the moth balls - or if you do, use a reliable substitute.  Even though moth balls are smelly, they are also effective.  This chemical repels other insects besides moths and is a proven pest deterrent. Herbal aromas like cedar may help, but may need more frequent application and preventive checks.

Don't carpet the storage area if possible. Carpets harbor dirt and pests