Are you looking for ways to keep your clothes smelling fresh while tucked away in storage? The last thing you want to happen when you open that trunk or bin is for a musty smell to meet you, whether you have garments stored in the attic or packed away for the winter.
Here are 10 simple tips on how to keep clothes smelling fresh in drawers like springtime, no matter how long they’ve been packed away. From natural deodorizers you already have at home to storage containers designed specifically for keeping odors at bay, you’ll be pulling out those favourite pieces of clothing and being transported right back to the memories of when you first wore them. Your clothes may be out of sight, but they don’t have to be out of mind—or out of smell!
Follow These Tips, And You’ll Be Keeping Your Clothes Smelling Like New.
To keep stored clothing smelling fresh, start by laundering and drying everything before packing it away. Make sure everything is completely clean; any food, sweat, or dirt that gets stuck can lead to musty odors over time.
Next, seal stored clothes in airtight containers like plastic bins or zippered storage bags. This prevents dust and bugs from getting in, which can damage fabrics and cause odors. Use containers specifically meant for clothing storage for the best protection.
Include charcoal air-purifying bags, cedar blocks, or sachets of dried lavender with the stored clothing. These natural fresheners absorb and eliminate odors to keep everything smelling fresh. Replace or rejuvenate the fresheners every few months.
Finally, store clothing in a cool area away from extreme heat or moisture. Attics, basements, and garages often experience temperature and humidity fluctuations that can promote the growth of mould, mildew, and odors. A closet, under bed area, or shelving unit in a spare room is ideal.
With proper laundering, sealing, freshening, and temperature control, your clothing will smell its best until you unpack it again. Following these simple tips for ideal storage conditions can save you from unpleasant surprises when you retrieve your favourite out-of-season pieces.
- Use Cedar Blocks Or Lavender Sachets.
To keep your stored clothes smelling as fresh as the day you packed them away, try using cedar blocks or sachets of dried lavender.
Cedar naturally repels moths and other insects that can damage fabrics. Place a few cedar blocks or planks in with your stored clothing, especially woollen. The pleasant cedar aroma will permeate the fabric and last for months.
Dried lavender flowers give off a wonderful fragrance that deters insects and leaves clothes smelling sweet. Make your own lavender sachets by filling little cloth pouches with dried lavender buds. Pop one or two in with your stored clothes.
Every few months, refresh the cedar blocks or replace the lavender sachets. Your clothes will thank you when you unpack them, as fresh as the day you stored them. Using natural repellents is an easy, eco-friendly way to keep your stored clothing smelling its best.
- Store Clothes Properly Folded Or Hung.
To keep your clothes smelling fresh while in storage, proper folding and hanging are key.
Fold clothes neatly and place them in an airtight storage bin or drawer. This prevents dust and moisture from accumulating on the fabric and causing musty odors. For extra protection, you can add moisture-absorbing silica gel packets, cedar blocks, or lavender sachets to the storage container.
When it’s time to swap your wardrobe for the season, your clothes will emerge wrinkle-free and smell as fresh as the day you stored them. Storing folded clothes properly is one of the easiest ways to keep them smelling their best during long stretches in storage. With some simple prep work, you’ll open that storage bin to find your favourite top or pants ready to wear again.
- Clean Out Your Closet Regularly.
Go through your closet and drawers at least once a season and remove anything you do not wear anymore. Get rid of stained, torn, or ill-fitting clothes. Donate or throw away anything that is too worn out, damaged, or simply out of style.
A cluttered closet prevents air circulation and can harbour musty smells. Regular cleaning also allows you to reorganize your storage space efficiently. Group similar garments together: all shirts, blouses, and tops in one section, pants and skirts in another, and dresses, suits, and formal wear in a separate area. This makes it easier to find what you need and prevents mixing clean clothes with dirty ones after wearing and washing them.
- Use Airtight Storage Containers.
How to keep clothes fresh in storage containers To keep your clothes smelling fresh in storage, use airtight containers.
Airtight storage bins create an impenetrable barrier between your clothes and the surrounding air. This prevents musty smells from seeping in and the pleasant scent of dryer sheets or sachets from escaping. Look for bins specifically designed for clothing storage that seal tightly when the lid is on.
Under-bed boxes, trunks, and chests also make great airtight options if they have an airtight seal or gasket. For smaller items like socks, gloves, or delicates, use smaller, sealable plastic or metal containers. Label each container so you know exactly what’s inside without having to open it.
Regularly check all your airtight storage to make sure the seal is still intact. Replace or repair any containers with broken or damaged seals to maintain maximum freshness. Using airtight storage is one of the best ways to keep your clothes smelling their best until you unpack them again.
- Allow Clothes To Fully Dry Before Storing.
Before putting your clothes into storage, it’s important to make sure they are completely dry. Any moisture left in the fabric can lead to musty odors over time.
After washing and drying your clothes as usual, give them an extra day or two to air out before folding and packing them away. Hang or lay items flat so air can circulate on all sides. This allows any remaining humidity to dissipate and helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mildew, which can cause unpleasant odors. For delicates that can’t be machine-dried, air drying is the only option. Make sure silk, rayon, and wool pieces are completely dry to the touch before storing.
Giving your clothes adequate time to dry out will help keep them fresh until the next time you unpack them. Storing damp clothing, even slightly humid pieces, is asking for trouble. Taking this extra step to fully air dry everything first is well worth it to keep your stored clothes smelling their best.
- Use Natural Odor Absorbers.
Place natural odor absorbers in sealed storage containers with your clothes. Things like activated charcoal, baking soda, coffee grounds, and silica gel packets can help absorb and reduce unwanted smells in storage. Replace the odor absorbers every few months to keep them effective.
- Buy A Dehumidifier.
A dehumidifier is best to keep your clothes smelling fresh by purging the air in your storage area of extra water vapour. The atmosphere becomes less hospitable for the bacteria that produce scents when the humidity is low.
Aim to keep the relative humidity below 50% in your storage area. Check the specs of any dehumidifier you buy to make sure it can properly handle the size of your space. Run the dehumidifier continuously during the warmer, more humid months, and check on it regularly to empty the water reservoir and ensure proper function.
Using a dehumidifier, along with other tips like cleaning, sealing, and ventilating your storage area, will help create the perfect environment to keep clothes fresh in drawers until the next season.
- Store With Baking Soda.
Place an open box or container of baking soda with the stored clothing. Baking soda naturally absorbs odors and will help keep your clothes smelling fresh. Replace the baking soda every 30–60 days to make sure it’s still effective. You can also create baking soda sachets by filling small cloth pouches with the powder. Tie off the pouches and toss a few in with your stored clothing.
- Hang Some Activated Charcoal.
Hang some activated charcoal in your closet to help absorb musty smells from the air. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms. These pores help the charcoal work like a sponge, absorbing odors and moisture.
You can find activated charcoal bags or loose charcoal at many hardware stores. Hang the bags or place open containers of loose charcoal on shelves in your closet. Replace the charcoal every few months to keep it effective. The charcoal will help prevent musty smells from building up, especially in humid weather. It’s a natural and fragrance-free solution for keeping clothes smelling fresh in drawers.
- Use Moisture-absorbing Products.
Since moisture is the main culprit for musty smells in stored clothing, using desiccants or moisture absorbers is key. Place some silica gel packets, activated charcoal bags, or bowls of baking soda in with your stored clothing. These naturally absorb excess moisture and odors in the air to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
Replace or recharge these products every few months to ensure maximum effectiveness. Silica gel packets can often be recharged by drying them out in the oven, while activated charcoal and baking soda may need to be replaced. Using multiple types of these moisture-absorbing materials together will provide the best protection for your stored clothes smell.
Should You Wash Clothes That Have Been In Storage?
Yes, it is a good idea to wash clothes that have been in storage before wearing them.
Why Wash Stored Clothes?
- Clothes can still collect dust, dirt, and odors even when packed away. Give them a quick wash to freshen them up and remove any musty smells they may have absorbed.
- Bacteria and germs that can cause skin irritation or illness may build up over time. Washing stored clothes eliminates this risk and gives you peace of mind.
- The fabrics and dyes in clothes can break down gradually when stored, causing discolouration or damage. A wash cycle helps determine if anything needs to be repaired or replaced before wearing.
Washing stored clothes is an easy step to take before putting them back into your wardrobe rotation. Make it a habit each time you unpack clothes from storage to keep them clean, odor-free, and in good condition.
Freshen Up Clothing After Removing It From Storage.
To keep stored clothing smelling fresh, it’s important to properly prepare and pack the items before storing them away.
Once you remove clothing from fabric storage boxes, smell, launder, or dry-clean the items before wearing them. This removes any musty smells that may have built up over time and freshens up the fabrics. For delicates that can’t be machine washed, hang them outside in fresh air or sprinkle them with water and let them sit before gently brushing them off. Air out and spot-clean any stains before the next wear. Your clothing will be clean and rejuvenated, ready for the new season.
Additional Tips for Storing Clothes
How to keep clothes fresh in storage For some additional tips to keep your stored clothes smelling fresh for as long as possible, follow these extra tips:
- Consider using cedar blocks, lavender sachets, or mothballs. Their natural oils and fragrances will naturally repel moths and mildew, keeping clothes fresh in storage and smelling pleasant.
- Store out-of-season clothes in breathable containers like cardboard boxes, canvas bins, or mesh bags. This allows airflow and prevents excess moisture buildup. Plastic bins can make odours worse over time.
- Add baking soda, activated charcoal, or silica gel packets to help absorb and neutralize odours. Replace every few months to keep working effectively.
- Clean clothes before storing and repair any stains or damage. Dirt and debris can attract pests and worsen smells.
- Label and date the containers so you know exactly what’s inside and how to stop clothes from smelling musty in drawers where they are stored for a long time.
- This makes rotating and organizing your storage more efficient.
So there you have it: 10 simple ways to keep stored clothes smelling fresh. By taking some basic precautions like washing and drying clothes before storing them, using breathable storage containers, adding absorbent materials, keeping the storage area clean and pest-free, and using natural fragrances or essential oils, you’ll open up that storage closet in a few months to clothes that smell as fresh as the day you put them away.
Staying on top of these storage best practices may require a little time and effort, but when you slip into that favourite outfit again, you’ll be glad you did.