Do Vacuum Seal Storage Bags Ruin Clothes?
There seem to be as many myths as there are facts about your best options for storing clothes long term. Vacuum storage bags are no exception to this and they endure an interesting reputation for the place they hold in the world of organization and closet design.
There seem to be as many myths as there are facts about your best options for storing clothes long term. Vacuum storage bags are no exception to this and they endure an interesting reputation for the place they hold in the world of closet organization and design. Let’s explore all those details and nuances so we can get to the facts at the heart of the matter: do vacuum seal bags ruin clothes?
What Are Vacuum Storage Bags?
Surprisingly, this question holds more philosophical weight than you’d think for what appears to be a pretty straightforward topic. Is it still a vacuum storage bag if all you did was stuff your things in a garbage bag and hoovered out the air? Well - technically, it fits the definition, but you definitely don’t want to try this hack if you actually care about protecting your clothes!
Proper vacuum-seal storage bags for clothes should be made of a material substantially more durable than the kind of trash bag you pick up while shopping. This is a slightly thicker, sturdier type of plastic in most cases, but you might find that less expensive brands aren’t offering much of an improvement on that trash bag hack.
You’ll also encounter a variety of methods for removing the air from a storage bag. In this use, the term vacuum here refers to the absence of air in the bag - not the household appliance you might use to achieve that lack of air. So, you can find storage bags that you can fill with clothing, flatten and roll to push out air and create a vacuum seal.
Storage bags that do have a valve for use with a vacuum machine will feature a special zippered opening that allows you to fill the bag up with your garments. Either style can be found in a variety of sizes, but you’re more likely to find extra-large sizes in those with valves compared to roll-up style storage bags.
If you’re concerned about any impact thatlight exposure might have on your clothes while they’re in vacuum-sealed storage, you can choose brands that make bags from more opaque plastics. It stands to reason, of course that if anyone’s packing up clothes for vacuum-sealing, it’s not because they’ll be leaving them out in sunlight anywhere any time soon!
Why Use Vacuum Storage Bags?
When vacuum storage bags first showed up on the market, you can imagine they might be a pretty big hit. It’s hard to argue against the benefit of shrinking the space bulky clothes and linens took up all while protecting them from the elements. And, vacuum storage bags deliver on their promises more often than not. After all, using a household garbage bag may not be a great idea, but it’s an idea that still works - it’s not exactly rocket science, right?
The problems that come with using vacuum storage bags have to do with why people think they should be using them, and what they’re actually effective at doing. Here’s the thing - yes, sucking out all the air from around a bundle of clothing does shrink how much space they take up. And yes, a durable, completely sealed plastic covering absolutely protects textiles from external sources of damage.
But, what does that level of compression do to the individual fibers of each piece of fabric? And what happens to clothes that actually need to “breathe” in the first place if they’re left in storage like this for too long?
Well, if you’re storing a piece of cashmere or silk, that level of compression can damage those natural fibers permanently. In fact, you could be lucky to escape a long term vacuum-sealed storage debacle with just a few stubborn creases in some of your naturally made textiles and products. Leather is known for being tough and in some cases actually welcomes a bit of rough handling in order to season it and break it in, but compression can cause it to crack and wreak irrevocable damage.
Answers like these might seem to prove without a doubt that you have more reasons to chuck vacuum storage bags out rather than make any sort of use of them, but they aren’t a bad choice for all types of clothing. Of the textiles made from natural fibers, plant-based ones tend to fare far better than animal-sourced fibers. Cotton and linen, although they wrinkle easily, can withstand enough of the heat and steam necessary for the fibers to straighten again.
The same holds true for many synthetic or synthetic blend fabrics (such as blended cashmere). But, keep in mind that while you might find wool blends that have a significant volume of synthetic material woven into them, thus making them more wrinkle-resistant than their 100% wool counterparts, they’re not guaranteed to stand up to long term vacuum storage.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but vacuum seal bags aren’t a good fit for big puffy items, like ski jackets or sleeping bags, even if they’re made of fibers that won’t break down under pressure. That’s because the air that’s caught between these fibers during the manufacturing process is necessary for all that stuff inside to get its fluff. It may surprise you how long it takes for the airy puffiness to return to items like that, if at all.
It’s worth considering vacuum seal storage bags as a solid choice for shorter periods of storage, however, even if some of those items are made of wool or silk. A good wash-and-dry afterward ought to release any wrinkles in most cases like these, just remember to unpack them and get that taken care of sooner than later to avoid any risk of damage!
How Do You Pack Clothes In A Vacuum Bag?
When you do choose vacuum storage bags for clothes, you’re better off choosing them to store a lot of clothing rather than those single, big pieces of clothing. And, they’re usually only worth all the trouble when you’re looking to take up as little space as possible due to moving or needing long term storage.
In any case, the basic steps behind packing items for storage in a vacuum-sealed bag are all the same:
- Step 1: Sort all the items you want to store together
- Step 2: Look over each item for necessary repairs and tend to them
- Step 3: Remove stains, thoroughly wash and fully dry according to each item’s care instructions
- Step 4: Fold or roll each item neatly; avoid stretching or twisting anything out of shape
- Step 5: Stack or store items together in as uniform a manner as possible
- Step 6: Follow manufacturer’s instructions for removing air from the vacuum bags
You may be wondering, how long do vacuum sealed bags last? Criticisms of plastic products center on the fact that they never biodegrade, or if they do, it’s only partially - but does that mean you can expect your vacuum-sealed clothing to last for an eternity? Sadly, no.
Plastic may not biodegrade, but it can melt due to heat or a reaction with another material, even the same kind of plastic. If you’ve ever used vacuum seal bags for long term storage before, you may be familiar with the sort of bond one plastic storage bag will make with its neighbor during the long, dark months of hibernation. If they’ve sat for too long and in too much heat, they can become so stuck together that peeling them apart rips them both open.
You can mitigate this dreadful phenomenon to some degree by following the usual rules of long term storage of any type of clothing - keep it climate-controlled as much as possible. If you’re particularly concerned about any adverse reactions between storage bags, you can slip some acid-free tissue paper between each bag to prevent it from getting too chummy with its neighbor.
Even clothes that can stand up to a long time under vacuum-sealed compression should be given some fresh air every now and then. Pencil it into your schedule alongside other big seasonal cleaning tasks, like airing out your natural fiber clothes from their less-restrictive but still vulnerable storage cycle. Extra steps like these can feel like they’re huge time-sinks, but you’ll be rewarding with longer-lasting textiles both natural and otherwise.
Do Vacuum Storage Bags Wrinkle Clothes?
Wrinkles are an inevitability when storing clothes in vacuum bags, so it’s better to understand how you can minimize the time it takes you to work the creases out of your clothing. A lot of this comes down to preparing your clothes for storage properly, but the type of vacuum bag you use can also play a role in how deeply creased you’ll find your clothes once you bring them up for air.
Not all vacuum storage bags and brands are created equal, there’s not always a clear-cut winner in the battle of the brands, but most trusted manufacturers know that consumers want as few wrinkles as possible when their clothes are in storage. A good strategy for minimizing the chance of huge wrinkles showing up in your clothes is to pick vacuum storage bags made of a thick plastic instead of thin - the stiffness of the bag means the bag itself will crinkle up less, which can help a little.
So much can still depend on how a person ends up using this type of storage - and how well they maintain it over time. While this doesn’t excuse brands from making a quality product that should stand up to the rigors of time, it does mean that how you use a vacuum storage bag can cause problems that no amount of quality manufacturing could prevent.
As long as you’re following the steps we shared above, you’re already doing as much as you can to keep your clothes wrinkle-free, but don’t be surprised when some show up, anyway. Instead, be prepared. Here are some easy-to-follow tips for getting stubborn wrinkles out of clothes that have been in long term, vacuum-sealed storage:
Check for damage on clothing that might have happened during storage
Wrinkles shouldn’t be your only worry. If you stick to conventional wisdom and leave the natural animal fiber textiles out of the vacuum-sealing storage process, you’re not as likely to deal with a clothes moth problem possibly showing up in your vacuum storage bags - but that doesn’t mean they or something else can’t create a problem that lurks in the dark of long term storage. Look for any signs of creepy-crawlies, and also check for pulled seams or broken buttons and other things like that. It's never a bad idea to have clothing moth traps hanging in your clothing storage areas - these may provide you with the first signs of clothes moths in your closet. Find out more about our odorless, non-toxic and refillable clothes moth traps here.
Wash and dry everything immediately
Most wrinkles should work themselves out in the wash. If the care instructions allow for it, a good hot wash and dry can really do the trick. Saturation will already relax bent-up fibers for the most part, but the emulsified soaps and conditioners in most laundry detergents go one step beyond. For bonus wrinkle-releasing points, you can look for special spot-treatments and sprays to help you really smooth things out.
Hang or lay clothing flat to air everything out
More than anything, your wrinkled clothes need time to relax in order to release all those creases. Even if they’re smooth-looking, they might still seem a little lifeless and flat if they’ve been in a vacuum-sealed bag for a while. So long as they won’t be stretched out of shape by it, hang your items up with plenty of room to breathe or lay them out flat where they can stay undisturbed for a while.
Use an iron or iron-alternative for remaining creases
If you’re feeling particularly confident about how you want to handle your vacuum-sealed items, you may be tempted to skip to this step. Try to resist - unless you are facing an ultimate fashion emergency and need that one signature piece you’ve had in storage to save the day in a flash. Your garment’s care label, or your iron’s manual, will tell you which settings work best for that fabric type. When in doubt, you can try a steamer or other wrinkle-releasing tricks to get everything looking in top shape again.
Now you know everything you need to consider for the answer to this often asked question, does vacuum packing clothes ruin them?
As you can see, it’s only certain types of clothes and fibers that are more prone to damage using this method, but most clothes will be affected if they’re vacuum-sealed for several months or more. The trouble is, vacuum storage bag brands typically market the product as a long-term storage solution that’s one-size-fits all, when the reality is that it depends a great deal on what type of clothes wind up in the bag.
Overall, your best bet is to use vacuum storage bags strategically rather than as a catch-all solution for long term storage of every type of clothing or household textile. Just remember that no matter what your clothes are made of, nothing should stay under that amount of pressure for more than a few months without a break for air!
Is it time to whip out your warm clothes for fall again? Check out our tips for fall wardrobe turnoverand switching out your spring closet!
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Hooray, after the disappointing weather the last few weeks, it seems things are finally on the turn and we are going to get a proper summer after all. So, touch wood, that means we can finally start digging out our little skirts and floaty tops from the back of the wardrobe – and put away our wintery woolies for another eight months. After all, there's no point in losing precious wardrobe real estate on clothes you know you're not going to be using for ages – you're never going to reach for yourheavy faux-fur coat in July.
But if you're worried about keeping your beloved cashmere sweater dirt and dust (and moth hole) free until next season, don't worry – there are plenty of other ways to keep your clothes fresh and clean throughout their hibernation, so they'll be good as new once it's time to wrap up warm again. Just remember to put them away freshly laundered and ironed to keep them in tip top condition.
Here are some of our favourite clothes storage ideas so you can leave your wardrobe free for your new summer dress collection.
Stacks of wintery clothes, like piles of thick, woolly jumpers, can take up a lot of space. A vacuum bag will help shrink them down so they're more manageable to store. These are reusable and can be repurposed too – I always use one when I'm going on holiday to ensure I can squeeze in as many just-in-case outfits into my case as possible.
Be warned that clothes do tend to be a little wrinkly when you take them out of the bags – but all in all, the space they save makes it worth it. Once you've sucked the air out of the packages (and marvelled at how much smaller the piles of clothes look) pack them neatly away into a storage box or bag and pop it under your bed or at the top of your wardrobe.
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Dust Proof Clothes & Duvet Storage Bag, 52L
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Vacuum Storage Bags - Pack of 20
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Bag them up
Clothes storage bags will keep everything neat and tidy while protecting your clothes from dust (especially useful if you're keeping them in the attic) and any dreaded moth attacks. If you're short on built-in cupboard space, opt for more brightly coloured options to tuck on top of the wardrobe to turn your storage into an attractive feature that's worthy of display.
Large Clothes Storage Bag, 3 Pack
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Waterproof Anti-Bacterial Under-Bed Jumbo Bag, 3 Pack
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Enormous Storage Bag
Over Wardrobe Storage Bag
Set of 2 Fabric Storage Trunks
Vacuum Clothes and Duvet Storage Tote Bag
Large Storage Bags Set of 3
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Use your bed
The space under your bed is the perfect place to keep your high-tog duvet and cold weather outfits safe while they're unneeded. Some under-bed boxes come with segmented compartments, which is handy in case you do need to dig something out without destroying your diligently folded piles. Others have clear panels, so you can check what's in each case at a glance.
Cotton storage bags, 2 pack
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3 Pack Underbed Storage Bags
5L Underbed Storage Boxes, pack of 2
Set of 2 Underbed Storage Bags
Water Hyacinth Underbed Storage Basket
Set of 2 Fabric Underbed Storage Trunks
Wicker Underbed Storage
Hatherop Underbed Storage Bag
Protective Clothes & Duvet Zip Storage Bag
Make a display
So many homes lack appropriate storage, so it's worth investing in something that looks good to remedy this. A blanket box or trunk can be kept at the end of your bed and used to house those items that you don't need to hand at the moment. Smaller trunks or boxes can also double up as a side table, should you need your furniture to work harder or you're short on space.
Large white storage trunks. set of 2
Oversized metal storage trunk with orange Interior
Oslo grey foldable ottoman
Set of 3 Extra Large Metal Storage Trunks, Tonal Pink
Hammered Gold Metal Storage Trunks Set of Two
Country Water Hyacinth Trunk
Faux Shagreen Trunk
Mosby Storage Box
Denise Metal Trunk
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Always wash items before storing to prevent mystery stains from appearing later. Use
Use Wool & Cashmere Shampoo when caring for woolens and down. For cotton, linen, and durable synthetics, use Signature Detergent.
Do not store items that are starched; moths love starch.
Pack items in a breathable cotton Storage Bag with a zip closure to best protect the fabric’s integrity. The thick cotton barrier shields items from dust and prevents moth breeding, bug infestation, and silverfish.
To avoid yellowing, mold, and mildew during long-term storage, do not use plastic, cardboard, drawer liners, or contact paper.
Seasonally vacuum drawers, closets, and shelves. Wipe down with Surface Cleaner and a Lint-Free Cleaning Cloth.
Take this time to launder and reorganize clothing to keep things fresh and orderly!
Store items in a space that is clean, cool, dark, and dry.
Avoid storing in attics or basements, as humid areas are optimal environments for insect breeding as well as mold and mildew growth.
Areas of extreme temperature or direct sunlight lead to deterioration of textiles over time and should be avoided.
Canvas Medium Zip Storage Bag
- Ideal for long-term storage and helps prevent yellowing and dust build-up
- 16” x 12” x 8”
- Cotton canvas
- Made in India
Our canvas Storage Bags are designed to protect their contents, preventing yellowing over time and keeping bugs and moths away. This medium size is perfect for organizing that closet clutter—from shoes to sweaters. Organize and personalize with monogramming.
International shipping, duties, taxes and other fees will be applied at checkout.
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