About Sweater Storage

by Andrea Campbell

Sweater weather, sweater heaven, sweater sets, sweater lover. We love our sweaters, and the best things about knits are how they fit our body because of the stretch and flexibility of the fabric, and their ability to keep us warm. But since the fibers used to make sweaters are twisted, if we want to keep them looking great, we need to know how to best store them.

Function

Closet storage is what most of us gravitate to because we can readily see our collection and make choices. The best way to see individual sweaters is to stack them inside divided shelf space, and one of the easiest tools for doing that are acrylic shelf dividers. Avoid plastic bags as sweaters are made of mostly natural fibers and need to "breathe." An ingenious way to keep sweaters in a drawer is to roll them. Rolling a sweater is easy: Simply lay the sweater on its front, fold in each side including the arms---a couple of inches---making it about 1 foot wide, flip up one third of the bottom and start rolling at this fold point. Place it into the drawer, fold-side up, and nestle with the other sweaters.The optimum technique to prevent moths is by keeping a clean garment and wearing it often.

Misconceptions

People think you cannot hang sweaters, but you can--just not in the conventional way. Using either a padded or friction-style hanger is the answer. Just fold the sweater arms in as you did to roll them, but don't roll the bottom; instead, lay the body of the sweater over the hanger bar. Don't ever hang sweaters by their shoulders or you will get "hanger burn" or pop-up shoulders.

Considerations

Before you store a sweater, it must be clean. The unique twisted fibers provide a great environment for moths and even rodents if stored in cardboard boxes. To begin, sweaters should be lightly brushed to remove hair, dandruff and lint. A soft brush from the baby department in any discount store will do the trick nicely. Also, do not stack unclean sweaters with clean ones to avoid cross-contamination. For long-term storage over summer, sweaters must be washed first, and most sweaters can be carefully washed in a special fabric cold-water wash solution. Rinse thoroughly, gently squeeze most of the water out (do not wring) and roll the sweater in a towel to release most of the moisture. Then re-shape and place on a drying screen to air dry.

Prevention/Solution

To store sweaters away for a season, do not use plastic bags or mothballs. Cedar-lined drawers and closets or chips do not repel moths. The best vehicle to store sweaters in is an airtight container. For optimum protection, wrap in clean tissue and place in a plastic box, which can be vacuum sealed---if possible. Shrink bags are fine, but customers have reported uneven performance with the seal; the fibers of your sweater will get crushed, so avoid this method for sweaters that are delicate or have ornamental trims. With proper cleaning, attention to detail and tight-fast storage, your sweaters should be around for a long time.

Warning

Mothballs made in the United States are pesticides and contain the harmful chemicals naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene; they are also fumigants and release into the air. Their candy-like appearance makes them extremely dangerous to children and animals.

Expert Insight

Mothball odor: If you have used mothballs, add 1 cup of vinegar to the water at the beginning of a wash cycle or hand wash to rid the garment of the smell.

About the Author

Andrea Campbell is the author of 12 nonfiction books on a variety of topics. She is also an e-instructor, editor and columnist who has been writing professionally since 1991. Campbell, the daughter of a builder, writes frequently about home improvement. She uses her degree in criminal justice to write about forensic science and criminal law.