How to Keep Moisture Out of Your Clothes Storage

Keep clothes dry and fresh-smelling in storage.
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As the seasons change, short-sleeved, lightweight clothing gets swapped for thicker and warmer garments. Putting clothes in storage keeps them safe until you're ready to wear them again. Some storage units, though, suffer from too much moisture -- especially if you live in a humid and warm location. Excess humidity can cause mold and mildew growth, so it pays to keep moisture away from your storage area and off your clothes.

Use an appropriate storage area for your clothes. An indoor closet in your home works well. Alternatively, rent a climate-controlled storage unit. Don't store garments in an outdoor closet, basement or attic.

Inspect the storage area before renting or storing clothing in it. Check the area for leaks in the walls, floor or ceiling. Even if a leak is very small, you shouldn't store clothes in the area. Water damage can build up over time.

Wash and dry clothing thoroughly before storing. Clothes that are stored damp will likely develop mildew and a musty odor.

Mist garments with a water-repellant spray; look for a spray that also wards off mildew, moths and bacteria.

Put clothing in a plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid. Plastic helps keep moisture away from clothes. Do not use a cardboard box or paper bag for clothing storage. Water can easily seep through cardboard and ruin your clothes.

Check the humidity level in the storage area with a hygrometer. The humidity should remain below 50 percent to prevent mold and mildew growth. You can buy a hygrometer at hardware stores.

Place silica gel packets in the container with your clothes. The silica crystals absorb up to 40 percent of their weight in moisture. Once the crystals have absorbed a large amount of moisture, you need to dry them out to use them again. Lay the packets on a foil-lined baking sheet, then set them in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the packets cool before using them.

Fill a plastic bag-lined basket with charcoal briquettes. Charcoal absorbs moisture and odors. Replace the briquettes with fresh ones every one to two months. Do not use charcoal that's been pre-soaked in lighter fluid; it has a strong chemical odor. Charcoal can stain clothing, so keep it away from your garments.

Run a fan in the storage area if moisture gets inside. Set the fan on "high" to dry up the moisture quickly. If possible, open a window in the room, too.

Keep a dehumidifier running in the storage area when the humidity is high. These devices take in moist air, dry it, and then push it back out.

  • If mildew develops on your clothes, you can remove it with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and salt. Rub the mixture into the stain, then rinse with cool water. Chlorine bleach may work too, but make sure it's safe to use on a garment before applying it.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.