Bringing neatly pressed shirts back from the cleaners may be one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. Picking up the dry cleaning is a mundane task, to be sure, but something feels so fresh about bringing home beautifully clean, picture-perfect clothing items to stash in your closet. It’s the little things in life, it really is.
But as much as I love the ritual of dry cleaning, I utterly and completely dread the plastic bags that everything comes home in. They’re staticky, hot, and always way too long. Nothing makes me cringe more than when my spouse leaves my clothes in their plastic bags hanging in the closet. The thing is, as useful as plastic clothing bags appear to be, they serve one purpose only—and that does not include long-term storage of your wardrobe items. Understanding what these bags are made for will help you get a better grasp of why plastic is actually quite a risky material for clothing storage—and why custom organization systems are a much better way to go.
Why We Use Plastic Bags
Here’s the thing. Dry cleaning companies wouldn’t use plastic bags so religiously if they had no use whatsoever. They serve a good temporary purpose: to keep your clothes in their prime condition until you can get them home from the shop.
In the store, these plastic bags keep textured items from catching on each other while sliding back and forth on the moving racks. They help to group orders of clothing together. They might not keep you from spilling your coffee on yourself in the car, but they will keep your fresh clothes stain-free for the time being. Plastic bags keep your clothes safe from all weather conditions until you can get them home again.
But that’s where the buck stops. When you bring your clothes home in bags, you might naturally think that, to keep your clothes in perfect condition, you should just leave them in the bags they came in until you’re ready to wear them. You’re aiming to keep dust off our clothes, perhaps. Or maybe it’s just too easy to hang your plastic-shrouded clothes right on the rod. Unfortunately, plastic is just not conducive to good clothing storage. In fact...
Plastic May Be the Worst Way to Store Your Clothes
Aside from the acidic, insect-attracting evils of cardboard, plastic could be number one on the “just say no” materials list as far as clothing is concerned. The container industry has convinced us that the only products worth using for long-term storage are variations on plastic. But in reality, there are myriad reasons why that’s a terrible idea:
- Plastic bags from the dry cleaners. These things are sneaky. They trap moisture and dry cleaning chemicals in with your clothing and absolutely refuse to let the air in or out. Put simply, your clothes cannot breathe. This kind of plastic also releases BHT that reacts with moisture (which comes from steam pressing or from the DC-area humidity) and can leave a yellow stain. Not good.
- Vacuum-sealed bags. Nobody loves space-saving more than I do. And while I happily store food items in airtight zipper bags, I have learned from experience that these bags are completely detrimental to my clothes. In addition to the same breathability issues above, vacuum sealing encourages wrinkling like nothing else. Linen items may even crease permanently if you’re not careful.
- Plastic bins. In comparison to cardboard boxes, plastic bins are a better option for moving or long-term storage. But although airtight bins protect from humidity and aren’t insect-attracting like cardboard, they still prevent breathability and encourage your clothes to wrinkle. If you don’t absolutely have to, I would refrain from storing any clothing in plastic bins.
Custom Design: A Better Way to Store Your Clothes
Any way you slice it, plastic is just not meant to store the natural and synthetic fibers that make up a wardrobe. It’s an inexpensive and versatile material, which is why plastic is so popular everywhere and for every purpose. However, if you’re looking for a way to store your in-season and out-of-season clothes in a way that safely keeps them in prime condition, you’re going to want to invest in an organization system that’s actually made for that purpose: a custom closet.
Your existing closet might feel cramped and short on space, but a custom design will be able to maximize the square footage that you already have. Efficiency is the name of the game, and even reach-in closets can benefit from the addition of custom cabinetry. Here’s why:
- A custom closet lets you store all of your clothes in one centralized location, organized by fabric type or season.
- Custom design maximizes your space so clothing items aren’t smashed together. Breathability is the name of the game—and is the number one prevention for wrinkles.
- Wardrobe lifts let you keep seasonal items out of the way until you need them (without putting them in the hot attic or basement).
- LED lighting lets you see everything you have at once. None of your items will be “out of sight, out of mind.”
Getting on Board with Custom Closets
Armed with the proper understanding of those pesky plastic bags, you’ll be able to recycle them when they’ve reached the end of their very brief lifespan. Plastic makes for a great temporary transportation solution but isn’t beneficial at all for long-term storage. Give your clothes the care (and air) that they need by removing the bags as soon as you return home, and hang your items where they belong. A custom closet gives you the space you need to keep your wardrobe in tip-top condition for years to come.
Interested in learning more about how a custom closet design can impact your daily life? Reach out to us today for a free design consultation with one of Closet America’s design experts. We’ll work with you to create a design that’s functional, beautiful, and luxurious—and we’ll make sure that your clothes will never need to be mummified in plastic ever again.
Lead image source: Unsplash user m0851
Second in-text image source: Unsplash user Igor Ovsyannykov