Friday, February 22, 2013

Safely Packing and Storing Vintage Clothing to Prevent Damage

Cleaning and carefully packing vintage garments for air-tight storage will help keep them fresh and in good condition.

Vintage clothing is not worth much if it gets damaged in storage, but no rule exists saying it has to get damaged. You can protect the value of your vintage clothing through safe packing, storing, and careful handling. Also, when you clean vintage clothing before storing, moths will not find a welcoming nest and inviting food source. Some clothing items can be folded and safely packed away but others will need to be draped over a hanger and stored in a suspended state in a garment bag. Proper packing and storing of vintage clothing is vital to preservation of these items.

Things You will Need When Packing and Storing Vintage Garments
  • washing machine
  • dryer
  • steam iron
  • hanger (optional)
  • garment bag (optional)
  • white tissue paper (optional)
  • clothes box
  • airtight cedar-lined trunk
Steps to Follow When Packing and Storing Vintage Clothes

  1. Examine the vintage garment. Look for signs the garment may be too weak to withstand normal or hand washing. Check the care label for washing instructions.
  2. Wash and dry the garment using your regular laundering technique in the washing machine; if the garment is sturdy enough to withstand washing. If the fabric fibers are weak or you see pinholes do not attempt laundering. If the fabric will not stand up to washing because of condition or fiber content, dry clean the garment or press with a steam iron.
  3. Dry the vintage clothing completely in the dryer or on a clothesline. Make sure the garment is completely dry before packing to prevent mold growth.
  4. Drape the garment over a hanger. Close any zippers or button plackets so it hangs straight.
  5. Slide the vintage clothing into the garment bag, zip the bag shut, and hang the bag in a cool, dry closet. Garment bags are a good option for storing vintage garments, especially dresses.
  6. Zip up or close buttons, if you are storing the clothing in a trunk. Spread the vintage garment out flat on the table and fold neatly. Wrap the folded garment in white tissue paper.
  7. Place the tissue-wrapped vintage clothing in a clothes box, and then place the box inside a cedar-lined trunk. Cedar will help keep moths from eating and nesting in your vintage clothes.
Some debate exists over the value of packing textiles in cedar-lined trunks to prevent moths from dining on the fibers. Using an air-tight container appears to be as important as using cedar lining to keep moths away. For more information about clothes moths and cleaning molds, you can visit the resources listed below.

Clothes Moths
Plant Oils Fact Sheet
Mold Resources
Facts about Mold and Dampness

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