Keeping airtight containers of clothes fresh
May 2, 2016 9:17 AM   Subscribe

So I've purchased some good airtight storage containers to keep my winter clothes in during the warm months. I'm confident they will keep the moths/mold/mildew/dust out. But what's the best way to keep the clothes smelling fresh when I open it next year?

Cedar balls and dryer sheets are the two solutions I've seen the most but I'm worried dryer sheets will produce a "chemicalish" smell after awhile and cedar seems to also have issues in airtight spaces?
posted by gwint to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In here we use unopened bar soap.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Little cloth bags of dried lavender flowers.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:30 AM on May 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

I like Mrs. Myers Scented Dryer sheets, they don't smell chemically, and when you first open the box, the fragrance bursts out! Lavender is the way to go!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2016

Just vacuum-seal them in those plastic bags made for vacuum sealing. I not only do this every winter without problem, I sent a lot of my clothing and all my expensive cotton and woolen bedding by ship from NZ to Ireland inside vacuum sealed bags. Despite spending about four months at sea in a container ship, traveling through the tropics and everything, every thing both smelled and felt fresh straight out of the bag at the other end. There was nothing else there to add artificial scents (I'm allergic to perfume and very sensitive to weird smells) and the vacuum bags were just inside cardboard boxes.

So basically, stop musty smells getting into the clothing in the first place and you don't need to add extra crap to try and cover the smell.
posted by shelleycat at 9:42 AM on May 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Red Cedar.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:04 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, wash everything before storage. For coats and sweaters (and mittens, hats, etc) that is not a foregone conclusion at my house.
posted by aimedwander at 10:11 AM on May 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

I store clothing for years (everyone should try it if there's space; Marie Kondo is a kook, opening a box of stuff you haven't seen for five years is like getting a present...) and have never had an issue with smells if everything was put away clean in a clean box. If you have something very fancy/delicate, wrap it in tissue and put it on the top layer.
posted by kmennie at 10:13 AM on May 2, 2016

Soap here as well, often lavender soap -- only I learned from a friend to take a veggie peeler and PEEL your soap, folding the peelings up in a paper towel, and then put the paper towel in a plastic baggie (that you don't seal) so it doesn't get soap bits on your clothes.

Just an unopened bar actually sounds a lot easier, and then you could just use the bars when you unpack the clothes, only I like fancier-smelling clothes-storage soap than I'd like to actually bathe with so I guess my way still works! (And only uses up like a quarter bar every year.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:15 AM on May 2, 2016

We use vacuum bags, but those alone don't cut the musty smell of long storage. We hot water wash and high temperature dry items before immediately sealing them up. Much of a delay and omnipresent dust mites make themselves at home. Then, when you open up the bag a few months later, they smell musty and sneezy. I'm incredibly allergic to dust mites, but also cedar, so we're tried the bagged soap shavings (ok but distinctly soapy smell stuck around after washing), bagged linen potpourri (overpowering), lavender sachets (a little nice, but kinda vegetal smelling after a long time), etc. to no avail. If anything worked, it was a spritz of cologne on one of the garments before baggine them up and vacuuming them closed. We've tried this twice in the last couple years. First was with a spray of a nice cologne, one with some leathery notes (Givenchy's Gentleman, if you're interested). It mellowed really nicely and was detectable but not strong when we opened the bag. Then last year I put some summer beach towels in a bag with a splash of dirt-cheap Florida water on them. I love this stuff, it's very old fashioned and like $6 a bottle. Opening up the bag a couple weeks ago was a nice surprise, just a vague citrus waft that dissipated almost immediately. We'll definitely be doing that one again.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2016

I'm a little surprised no one has suggested baking soda. If it works in refrigerators, it seems like it should work in a sealed plastic box. (I haven't tried it myself.)
posted by Bruce H. at 6:02 PM on May 2, 2016

Baking soda is corrosive. Over a very long term it could damage cloth.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:44 PM on May 2, 2016

Nthing bar soap, still in the paper. The clothes smell nice when you open up the bin, but you definitely want to wash them again when you take them out, so you don't feel like you smell weird.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:16 PM on May 2, 2016

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