Can Clothing Be Stored in a Basement?
When it comes to storing clothing, the basement is often overlooked as a storage option. However, basements can actually provide an ideal environment for storing many types of garments, as long as some precautions are taken.
The Benefits of Using a Basement for Clothing Storage
There are several potential benefits to using a basement for storing clothing:
- Cool, stable temperatures – Basements tend to stay cooler than upper levels of a home, with temperatures remaining relatively stable year-round. This helps prevent mold, mildew, bacteria growth, and pests that can damage clothing.
- Protection from light damage – Being underground, basements offer protection from sunlight and fluorescent lighting that can fade and degrade fabric over time.
- Added storage space – Basements provide a large, out-of-the-way space to store seasonal clothing or pieces you don’t need regular access to.
- Lower risk of water damage – While basements are vulnerable to flooding, the risk is lower compared to an attic or upper floor which could experience roof and plumbing leaks.
- Lower risk of fire damage – Being underground, basements are less likely to be impacted by a house fire versus an upper level closet or attic.
The Potential Downsides of Storing Clothes in a Basement
However, there are also some potential downsides to consider when using a basement for clothing storage:
- Humidity and dampness – Since basements tend to be more humid, moisture buildup can lead to mildew growth on clothing and fabrics.
- Bugs and pests – Basements are prone to spiders, silverfish, and box elder bugs that can infest and damage stored items.
- Flooding – During heavy rains, basements are at risk for flooding which can irreparably damage clothing and boxes.
- Lack of climate control – Most basements don’t have heating, cooling, or dehumidification systems to regulate temperature and humidity.
- Less convenient access – It’s not as easy to access clothing stored in a basement versus an upstairs closet or dresser.
Tips for Storing Clothes in a Basement
If you do opt to use your basement for storing clothing, there are some tips to follow to protect your garments:
- Use plastic bins or storage containers – Make sure clothing is stored in sealed plastic bins to protect from moisture, pests, dust, and dirt.
- Elevate bins off floor – Place bins on wood pallets or shelves to minimize risk of water damage during flooding.
- Add desiccant packs – Throw in silica gel or clay desiccant packs in bins to absorb excess moisture and prevent mildew growth.
- Clean and dry clothing before storing – Always make sure clothing is fresh and dry before putting away in basement storage.
- Inspect regularly for pests – Periodically check for signs of bugs or silverfish that can infest clothing.
- Consider climate control – If possible, install a dehumidifier, fan, or heating source to regulate basement temperature and humidity.
Ideal Clothing to Store in a Basement
Certain types of clothing are better suited for basement storage than others:
- Seasonal clothing – Winter coats, hats, scarves, and other apparel only needed part of the year are perfect for basement storage.
- Formalwear – Wedding gowns, tuxedos, prom dresses, and other formal attire that you don’t need regular access to.
- Out-of-season sports uniforms – Team jerseys, pads, cleats, and other sports apparel not in current rotation.
- Vintage or collectible clothing – Delicate vintage clothing and collectible garments benefit from the lack of light and ideal temperature.
- Infrequently worn clothing – Clothing you want to keep but don’t wear often can be safely stored.
Clothing to Avoid Storing in a Basement
On the other hand, the following types of clothing are generally not recommended for basement storage:
- Everyday wear – Clothing worn regularly or on a daily basis is better stored in your bedroom or main floor closets.
- Expensive designer pieces – High-end clothing is usually too valuable to risk damage in a basement that could flood.
- Fragile fabrics – Delicate silks, chiffons, and very fine fabrics are prone to tearing and shredding from pests.
- Furs and leather – Natural furs and leather clothing can suffer damage in humid basement environments.
- Clothing prone to mildew – Silk, wool, and other fabrics that easily absorb moisture are at high risk of mildew.
Maintaining Proper Storage Conditions
The key to safely using a basement for storing clothing is maintaining proper storage conditions:
Basements tend to stay cool, with temperatures between 50-70°F being ideal for clothing storage. Make sure your basement doesn’t get overly hot in summer or cold in winter by using fans, space heaters, or basement cooling systems if needed.
Excess humidity is the enemy of clothing stored in basements. Use a dehumidifier to keep relative humidity between 45-55%. Run it continuously during wet months when humidity is highest.
Preventing Moisture Damage
Take precautions to protect clothing from moisture. Use plastic bins on elevated shelves. Place moisture absorbing silica gel packs in bins. Fix any leaks or water intrusion issues.
Use tightly sealed plastic bins to prevent pests from getting to stored clothes. Place sticky traps around basement to control silverfish and spiders. Address any larger pest issues professionally.
Routine Monitoring & Maintenance
Check your stored clothing a few times per year. Look for any signs of water damage, mold, mildew, or pests. Deal with any issues promptly to prevent permanent damage.
Best Practices for Storing Specific Fabrics & Garments
Certain types of clothing may require more care when storing long-term in a basement environment:
Cotton, Linen & Denim
- – Fold neatly and keep dry to prevent mildew
- – Store in breathable boxes to allow airflow and reduce humidity
- – Periodically remove and air out clothing to prevent odor and stiffness
Wool & Cashmere
- – Use cedar boxes or natural fiber storage to repel moths
- – Place fabric-safe moth balls or repellant sachets in bins for added protection
- – Maintain cool, dry conditions to prevent insects and yellowing
Silk & Satin
- – Fold loosely instead of hanging to prevent creasing
- – Keep away from extremes of temperature and humidity
- – Store in acid-free, archival tissue paper if possible
- – Store fur clothing in a cool basement area if possible
- – Use cedar-lined boxes or breathable cloth bags
- – Add cedar blocks, shavings or sachets to repel moths and absorb moisture
- – Periodically air out and brush fur to prevent matting
Leather & Suede
- – Keep leather clothing conditioned with treatments before storing
- – Use breathable garment bags or archival boxes
- – Store suede with a suede brush to revive nap when removed from storage
- – Maintain moderate humidity between 45-55%
When to Consider Professional Storage
For expensive, delicate, or heirloom clothing a professional storage facility may be a better option than your basement. Reasons to consider professional storage include:
- – State-of-the-art climate control and humidity regulation
- – Advanced security and pest control measures
- – Fire and flood prevention systems
- – Museum-quality storage materials and rooms
- – Specialized lighting controls to prevent light damage
- – Experienced staff to properly handle and store fragile items
- – Insurance policies to cover loss or damage
Professional storage provides ideal conditions tailored specifically for clothing preservation. The cost is justified for truly valuable clothing items.
While a basement can provide useful space to store extra clothing, care must be taken to protect garments from humidity, pests, and other environmental threats. For the most part, a basement works best for off-season, infrequently worn, or formal clothing items. More delicate and valuable clothing is likely better off being stored professionally or on upper levels of the home where climate can be more closely controlled.
With some vigilance and preventative measures, however, clothing can successfully be stored short or long-term in a basement environment. Just be sure to take steps to regulate temperature and humidity, control pests, prevent moisture issues, and regularly inspect your stored clothing.