We’ve all experienced pulling clothing or bedding out of storage and getting a whiff of a strong, musty odor. Many people think this is just what happens when you put clothing in storage for months on end, but there are ways to prevent this — and to get rid of the musty smell if it is already too late to take preventative measures!

At Chapel Hill Self Storage Centre, we can only do so much to help prevent this. As a self-storage facility, we can provide you with a clean and secure storage unit and offer climate-controlled storage in Akron, but it is up to you to decide how to actually store your items. In today’s blog, we are going to offer some tips on how to prevent musty odors before they happen, and what to do if all of your preventative actions don’t work and you still end up with stinky storage.

Prevention Is Key

Refreshing clothes after a long stay in a storage facility is a lot easier when you take preventative measures to avoid musty smells in the first place. Below we have outlined a list of ways to prevent musty surprises when you open up those old boxes of clothing. Of course, be sure to use your best judgment and follow the manufacturing label to ensure you won’t accidentally ruin your special clothing.

Start With Clean Clothes

Wash all clothes before storing them. If any items need to be dry cleaned, such as a wedding dress, a tuxedo, or a wool winter coat, make sure to do this. It can be easy to wonder, “Why would I pay money to have these dry cleaned before I put them into storage? Can’t I just dry clean them after I take them out?” Unfortunately, if items are not clean and free of dirt and sweat before they go into storage, bacteria can fester and cause mold growth on these items. Just like how one bad apple spoils the bunch, one dirty, sweaty ski mask will spoil the whole box of winter clothing.

Make Sure Items Are Completely Dry

Before putting the items into storage, make sure they are all completely dry. Moisture is the main element that causes bad, musty smells to develop, so starting off on the right foot with dry clothing is essential to opening a box six months later to fresh, nice smelling items.

Keep Your Storage Unit Clean

Make sure your storage unit is clean before you put your clothing in it. Give it a good sweep to get rid of any dirt or debris that has blown in. Even though your clothing will be stored in boxes, starting with a clean canvas is a great preventative measure.

Use The Right Storage Container

Bugs and mice can chew through cardboard, so we recommend putting folded clothes in plastic tubs. This will also help keep out dust and moisture better than cardboard. For hanging garments, you can use a garment box or a wardrobe box. These are available at most places where you can buy boxes and feature a bar on which you can hang up your clothing.

Know How To Store Your Clothes

Some items are meant to be stored hanging, whereas others need to be folded. If you’ve ever thought you were doing yourself a favor by hanging your favorite knit sweater only to put it on and have weird shoulder lumps permanently stretched in the fabric, you will know this is true. Your items should have a label that tells you how to hang them, but the general rule is to fold all knitwear should be folded, as well as any casual pants like jeans, corduroys, and khakis. Nice shirts and blouses, suits, dresses, skirts, and dress pants should be hung. The exception to this rule is long evening dresses with heavy beading or ornamentation. The weight of the dress can distort it if it is on a hanger. The best way to store these dresses is to place it in a garment bag and gently fold it or lay it flat. Because your hung items will most likely be in a cardboard container and not an air-tight plastic container, leave an inch or two of space between garments to allow air to circulate.

Use Moisture Absorbers

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ll already know three ways to make DIY moisture absorbers for your storage unit. This includes placing an open box of kitty litter in your storage unit, making your own silica gel packets, and using charcoal briquettes to absorb moisture. Even if you try your best to ensure that everything you put in your storage unit is dry, moisture and humidity can still get trapped in your storage unit.

Sprinkle Baking Soda Into Shoes

We’ve talked a lot about clothing, but most likely you cannot throw your expensive winter boots in the washing machine. For shoes, sprinkle some baking soda or baby powder inside of your shoes to absorb any moisture.

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After You Take Your Items Out Of Storage

If you have done all of the above and your clothing still comes out of storage smelling stale and musty — or if you didn’t take any preventative action and are now dealing with especially musty clothes — don’t worry. There are a few tricks you can try to get rid of this smell.

Fresh Air: Sometimes fresh air is all that your clothing needs. Allow the clothes to “air out” by spreading them out in the sun on a warm day. If you come back after a few hours to still-smelly clothing, then keep moving down the list.

Vodka: No, don’t drink vodka to cope with the fact that all of your clothing is seemingly ruined. Buy some cheap, high-proof vodka and put it into a spray bottle. Spritz the vodka on your musty clothing. It will help to kill bacteria and will dry odorless, lifting the musty smell as it does.

Vinegar And Baking Soda: We’ll prelude this by saying don’t use both of these products at the same time or else you’ll get some middle school science fair volcano action going on. Add a cup of either vinegar or baking soda to your washing machine and use the hottest water possible for those items to send your musty clothes through a round in the washing machine. Do not use laundry detergent for this, as detergent residue can trap leftover moisture and odors.

Keep Your Clothing Safe At Our Storage Facility

If you want to take extra precautions to keep humidity away from your clothing, utilizing one of our affordable climate-controlled storage units can help. These units have both temperature and humidity control to keep your items fresher than if they were in regular storage. However, if you follow the steps above, your clothing should do just fine in a regular storage unit as well.

Whether you are choosing climate-controlled self-storage or not, we know you will be impressed with our storage facilities. As a newer storage facility in Akron, our units are clean and our premises are secure with an electronic gate and video recording. Find out more about storing your belongings at Chapel Hill when you get in touch with our storage facility!