Can I store clothes in a non climate controlled storage?

Quick Answers

Yes, you can store clothes in a non-climate controlled storage unit, but there are some things you’ll need to do to protect your items:

– Use airtight plastic bins or storage containers to protect clothes from moisture, bugs, and rodents. Avoid cardboard boxes which can disintegrate.

– Put silica gel packs in containers to absorb excess moisture and prevent mildew growth.

– Avoid storing leather, suede, and fur items which are more prone to damage.

– Inspect stored items periodically for pest damage, mold/mildew, and deterioration.

– Consider climate controlled storage for expensive, delicate, or sentimental clothing items. The temperature control helps prevent damage.

How Does Climate Impact Stored Clothes?

Clothing can be impacted by heat, cold, humidity, and pests when stored without climate control. Here’s an overview of the potential risks:


Excessive heat causes several issues for stored clothes:

– Accelerated aging and breakdown of fabrics/fibers

– Off-gassing of dyes and chemicals used in manufacturing

– Warping, shrinking, or melting of synthetic fabrics

– Drying out of leathers and suedes, causing brittleness and cracking

– Softening of glues on shoes, leading to soles separating from uppers

– Damage to embellishments like sequins, beads, etc which can warp or fall off

Cold Temperatures

Freezing temperatures can also damage stored clothing:

– Embrittlement and cracking of leathers, suedes, and rubber

– Increased stiffness in fabrics

– Shrinkage of natural fabrics like cotton and wool

– Cracking and flaking of silk items

– Freezing of any trapped moisture, leading to tearing

Humidity and Moisture

Excess moisture is one of the biggest threats to clothes in storage. Issues that can arise include:

– Growth of mold and mildew, which stains fabrics and weakens fibers

– Musty odors that can be difficult or impossible to remove

– Attraction of insects like carpet beetles and silverfish, which eat natural fabrics

– Corrosion of zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks and other metal fasteners

– Warping and other physical damage from moisture fluctuation


Bugs and rodents pose multiple risks to stored clothing, including:

– Chewing damage from moths, carpet beetles, mice, etc.

– Nesting activities that soil fabrics with feces and debris

– Staining from insect secretions

– Holes chewed through wool, cashmere, silk, cotton, etc.

Tips For Storing Clothes Without Climate Control

You can take steps to mitigate the risks of non-climate controlled storage for clothing:

Use Airtight Plastic Storage Bins

The best containers for clothing storage are plastic bins that seal tightly to block moisture, pests, dust, and odors. Stackable storage totes with snap-shut lids are ideal. Avoid cardboard boxes which degrade easily.

Add Silica Gel Packs

Silica gel absorbs excess moisture, preventing humidity damage. Use packets labeled “indicating” which change color when saturated so you know when to replace them. Add 1 pack per storage bin.

Hang Delicate Items

For delicate clothing like dresses or suits, use breathable garment bags to hang items instead of folding. This prevents creases and damage.

Clean Items Before Storage

Always clean clothes first and allow to fully dry before storing. Leftover body oils, food stains, etc. will attract pests and promote decay.

Avoid Storing Vulnerable Materials

Furs, leather, and suede are very prone to humidity issues, bugs, and mildew. If possible, don’t store these fabrics without climate control.

Inspect Frequently

Every 1-2 months, check stored items for any signs of pest infestation, moisture issues, or other problems. This allows you to address problems quickly.

Use Cedar Blocks/Sachets

The strong aroma of cedar repels moths and other insects. Add cedar blocks or fragrance sachets to bins for added pest protection.

Keep Bins Off Concrete Floors

Place storage bins on wood pallets or shelves to minimize moisture transfer from concrete. Improves air circulation too.

Consider Climate Control For Special Items

For very expensive clothing, select vintage pieces, or items of sentimental value, a climate controlled unit provides optimal protection.

What Should You Avoid Storing Without Climate Control?

Certain fabrics and clothing items are more prone to damage in non-climate controlled conditions. Avoid storing:

– Fur coats and accessories – heat can cause shedding, cold makes fur brittle

– Leather jackets, shoes, purses – susceptible to mold and cracking without temperature/humidity control

– Antique lace or delicate silks – vulnerable to tearing and shattering when frozen

– Heirloom quilts and tapestries – humidity causes faster breakdown of fibers and fabrics

– Suede shoes or jackets – easily water stained and damaged by bugs/rodents

– Rubber boots or shoes – prolonged heat causes rubber to break down

– Wool sweaters – wool is attractive to carpet beetles and can shrink

– Cashmere – extremely delicate, easily damaged by moths and mildew

– Wedding gowns – best preserved long-term with climate control

– High end couture – climate fluctuations hasten deterioration

– Vintage or designer clothing – greater value warrants climate controlled storage

If possible, make other arrangements to store these items securely. Otherwise, inspect frequently for any issues.

What Are The Best Containers For Storing Clothes Without Climate Control?

Rigid plastic storage bins offer the most protection for clothing in non-climate controlled spaces. Features to look for include:

Airtight Lid

A tightly sealing lid prevents entry of moisture, pests, dust, and odors. Gasket seals or snap-lock latches improve the seal.

Acid-Free Plastic

Acid-free, archival-grade plastic helps block humidity damage and prevents chemicals in the plastic from interacting with clothing.

Clear or Translucent Material

Transparent plastic lets you easily see and identify bin contents without fully opening. Opaque bins require you to open to check clothing condition.

Sturdy, Thick Construction

Thicker plastic stands up better to impact, dropping, stacking, and elements like moisture or extreme temperatures. Avoid thin, flexible plastic.

Stackable Design

Stacking bins conserve space while keeping contents up off concrete floors. Nested lids help prevent side-to-side shifting.

Interior Latches

Built-in clamps or straps hold hangers securely in place for garment bag storage. Stops shifting during transport.

Vented Option

Small vent holes allow limited air exchange while still keeping pests out. Helpful for odor and humidity control.

Look for acid-free plastic bins rated for archive/storage use for best results. Avoid cardboard boxes or flimsy containers prone to pest and moisture damage.

What Precautions Should You Take When Storing Clothes Without Climate Control?

Proper preparation is key to protecting clothing stored without climate regulation. Recommended precautions include:

Clean All Items Thoroughly

Remove stains, body oils and debris that attract pests and bacteria. Use gentle cleaners formulated for the fabric type.

Allow Clothes to Fully Dry

Eliminate all moisture before storage. Even small damp areas promote mold/mildew growth.

Mend Any Rips, Tears or Damage

Repair any weak seams, holes or other damage before storage. Otherwise pests can enter or existing damage may worsen.

Treat Clothing with Cedar or Herbal Products

Safe moth repellent sprays add extra pest protection. Avoid harsh chemicals that may damage fabrics.

Fold Bulky Items Flat

Don’t just roll up sweaters and bulky items. Folding them flat minimizes creasing and damage during storage.

Pad Hangers and Fold Vulnerable Items

Pad hangers with felt or twill tape to prevent creasing of shoulders. Don’t hang silk, beaded or fragile items.

Wrap Expensive/Delicate Items in Acid-Free Tissue

Add a tissue paper layer to protect fine fabrics like silk from abrasion damage. Choose acid-free, archival tissue.

Check Items Periodically During Storage

Inspecting clothing once per season allows you to address issues like pests, mildew etc. before extensive damage occurs.

Control Temp/Humidity in Storage Space

Use fans, dehumidifiers or portable ACs to regulate temperature and moisture as much as possible.

Taking preventative steps allows you to maximize the lifespan of clothing and textiles stored without climate control.

How Should You Fold Clothes For Non Climate Controlled Storage?

Proper folding techniques help minimize wrinkling and creasing when clothes don’t have the benefit of climate regulation. Recommendations include:

Button/Zip Up Items

Securing closures prevents strain on fabrics that can lead to misshaping, warped seams and tear development over time.

Fold Along Natural Creases

Follow existing seams and structure for smoother, less stressed folds. Avoid forcing awkward bends.

Fold Bulky Items In Half Lengthwise First

Reduces dimension before making additional folds. Prevents bulky sections from stretching fabrics.

Use Tissue/Acid-Free Paper to Pad Folds

Place paper lightly between layers and folds to absorb pressure and minimize creasing.

Wrap Ties/Drawstrings Separately

Contains messy straps so they don’t catch or strain fabrics during folding.

Fold Lined Items So Lining Faces Out

Prevents imprinting of interior seams onto exterior fabric.

Alternate Direction of Folds

Folding back and forth in opposite ways reduces concentrated creasing and strain.

Avoid Overfilling Storage Containers

Bulging, overpacked bins put more pressure on clothing. Only fill 2/3 to 3/4 full at most.

Pad Bottom of Bins

Line bottom with clean towels or acid-free tissue to pad and cushion items from hard surfaces.

Lie Flat For Maximum Support

Lay bins flat rather than stacking upright to prevent collapsing and weight-related damage.

Taking time to fold properly makes a big difference in preventing wear, tear, and misshaping over time.

How Should You Store Specialty Clothing Items Without Climate Control?

Certain clothing types need specialized storage considerations when kept without climate regulation:


– Stuff toes with acid-free tissue to hold shape
– Pad heels with towel or bubble wrap to prevent scuffing
– Use shoe trees or tubes to absorb moisture and maintain form
– Store in breathable cotton shoe bags


– Stuff crown lightly with tissue to retain shape (no overstuffing)
– Pad brims with a ring of bubble wrap secured with tape
– Store in hat boxes or breathable hat bags
– Alternate direction of stacking to avoid flattened brims

Suits and Dresses

– Hang on well-padded hangers in breathable garment bags
– Insert shaped acid-free paper between folds to prevent creasing
– For long dresses, hang from waist rather than shoulders to evenly distribute weight


– Fold according to structure – side seams match, shoulders pad hanger
– Insert tissue between folds to minimize impressions
– Store flat in shallow bins to prevent compression

Fur Coats

– Seek climate controlled storage if possible – heat damages fur
– Otherwise, hang fully open in garment bag away from other items
– Use cedar blocks in bag to deter moths

Special care allows you to prevent damage and maintain condition of fine clothing items when climate controlled storage isn’t an option.

How Often Should You Inspect Clothes in Non Climate Controlled Storage?

Routinely checking on stored clothes helps catch problems early before extensive damage occurs. Recommended inspection frequency:

– Every 1-2 months during warm or humid seasons when pests and mildew are most active.

– At least once every 3-4 months during cooler seasons.

– After periods of extreme weather – high heat, bitter cold, heavy rains etc. Fluctuations can aggravate issues.

– Anytime you put new items into storage or disturb existing contents. Newly introduced pests may be present.

– After 3-4 days initially when first placing items in storage. Allows you to spot any early pest or moisture issues.

– More frequently for vulnerable items like vintage clothing, furs, heirloom textiles etc. High value warrants closer monitoring.

– Whenever retrieving items from storage. Inspect other contents for signs of problems during access.

What to look for when inspecting:

– Pest damage – small holes, shedding fibers, casings, frass, or actual insect sightings

– Mold or mildew – dark staining, musty odor, texture changes, white fuzz

– Moisture accumulation – clammy feeling, water staining, stiff or crunchy fabrics

– Unusual odors – cigarette smoke, chemicals, stale or dirty smell

– Shifting, slumping, or compression of fabrics – indicates collapsing containers

Promptly address any issues found and consider moving susceptible items to climate controlled storage if problems recur.

What Are Signs Your Clothes Are Damaged From Storage Without Climate Control?

Look for these warning signs of environmental damage to clothing kept without temperature/humidity regulation:


Excess moisture and heat accelerates breakdown of fabric fibers and causes pilling. Check for bald spots or pills on fabric surface.


Humidity and heat exposure over time can cause yellow discoloration, especially along folds and seams.

Fading/Color Loss

Light exposure from transparent bins as well as heat/humidity bleaches out dyes and causes fading.

Mold/Mildew Odor

Musty, sour, or muddy smell signals excess moisture and likely mold growth requiring cleaning or disposal.

Stiff, Brittle Fabric

Extreme cold and dryness from lack of climate control leads to crispy, stiff, cracked fabrics.

Moth Holes

Tiny round holes eaten through wool, silk, cashmere etc point to a moth infestation.

Beetle Damage

Carpet beetles leave behind patches of missing fabric and tiny skeletonized holes.

Tears/Seam Damage

Humidity fluctuations and improperly folded storage stresses fabric at folds and seams.

Shrunken Clothing

Excess heat exposure causes natural fabrics like cotton and wool to shrink up.

Catching and addressing environmental damage quickly is key to salvaging your stored clothes.


Storing clothing without climate control carries risks like pests, mold, and premature breakdown of fabrics. But taking preventative steps like using airtight plastic bins, avoiding problem fabrics, and inspecting items routinely can minimize potential damage. Approach with caution, and consider investing in climate controlled storage for true garment preservation. With smart preparation and diligent monitoring, your clothes can survive storage in non climate controlled spaces.

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