Fixit: What's wrong with storing clothes in plastic bags?

  • Updated: October 9, 2002 - 11:00 PM

QI've been putting seasonal clothing away in plastic hanging bags for 30 years. It has worked well. Now you say you shouldn't use plastic. Why not?

AIt's hard to argue with something that has been working well for 30 years. But, in general, storing garments in plastic bags should be avoided.

Clothes can't breathe in plastic and trapped moisture can create mildew.

Some plastics, such as dry cleaner bags, release gases over time that can stain or yellow fabrics. Dry cleaner bags are for short-term use, such as for transporting clothing.

For the best storage of winter garments:

• Make sure all your garments are freshly cleaned before you put them away. Some stains are "invisible" and will darken with age if they are left unattended. Another reason to have them cleaned is that dirt and food invite insects.

• If clothes are stored in a wooden chest, wrap them in white tissue paper to avoid excessive creasing. Cedar chests are recommended because moths are repelled by their scent. However, cedar will not kill moths or their larvae. Make sure your chest is insect-free and place only cleaned clothes in the chest. Other good containers are cloth clothes bags and cardboard boxes.

• Store clothes in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Don't store clothes in a hot attic or damp basement. A garage isn't a good choice, either, because garments can be exposed to fumes, dust and insects.

• Do not store padded rubberized garments (padded bras, rubberized perspiration shields) with your clothes. The rubber can break down, leaving permanent stains on the garments adjacent to them.

• Store clothes away from sunlight and artificial light. Prolonged exposure can cause color fading.

• If you store your clothes in a closet, drape a cloth sheet over them to protect them from dust and light. If clothes will be hung up, use a padded hanger and fold sweaters over the crossbar to avoid shoulder stretches.

-- State Energy Office, Minnesota Department of Commerce

-- Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-9033, or e-mail columns are available at, Fixit cannot supply individual replies. Fixit appears every day except Friday.

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