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How to Store Suits in Closets

Close-up of long term suit storage in closet

The business suit is rarely seen in this era of casual dress and work-from-home offices. Depending on your job, it may be something you rarely wear. But no other clothing can equal the look of a well-tailored suit. That's why suits are still needed to handle those formal occasions like weddings, funerals, job interviews — or any occasion where you want to look your best. Although you may not don them often, when you do, it means you're pretty serious about your appearance. And because suits are so expensive, proper long-term suit storage between wearing's is vital. You can't just stick it on a hook like your bathrobe. Your suits must be properly cleaned and protected from damage to the fabric. Otherwise, problems can occur including moths, mildew, and more! Save yourself some money by spending a few minutes learning how to store suits in closets so they always to look fresh when you need them.

Best Practices for Long Term Suit Storage

Suit storage strategies center around cleaning, proper hanging, and other protective measures to prevent exposure to excess humidity, dust, or damage from UV rays. Always follow best practices if you want your suits to last. This means taking the time to care for your suit before putting it away. It makes no difference whether you wear suits a lot and only need to put the out-of-season ones away, or if you go for months at a time without using your suit. When you aren't going to wear it for 30 days or more, follow these long-term suit storage guidelines.

Clean your suits before putting them away.

All suit storage begins with proper cleaning. Lint removal is, of course, important. But we don't just mean visible dirt. Oils from your body can get onto the fabric and cause permanent damage. Since suits are often made of wool, wool blends, or other natural fibers, you need to take extra care to prevent staining or insect damage. That's because clothes moths prefer natural fibers when they lay their eggs. They're also attracted to body oils on fabrics in addition to food residue and dirt. The unprotected, previously worn suit makes the perfect environment for their nursery.

Suit in plastic wrapping being taken from the dry cleaning rack
This suit is being retrieved from the dry cleaner before putting it away for long-term suit storage. The plastic bag and wire hangers will need to be removed before storage.

If you're going to wear your suit again soon, you can probably get by with a light brushing or just pressing it to get out the wrinkles. But always dry clean your suits before you put them away for months at a time, even if they don't look particularly dirty.

Hang rather than fold your suits.

Always hang your suits, blazers, and sport coats. This usually means hanging them in a closet. Never fold suits or store them in a drawer. Hanging allows them to retain their shape and prevents wrinkling. Some people like to store their rarely worn suits in a cedar chest, but this is not a good idea. Although protected from dust, light, and insects, the suits can lose their shape or become oddly creased. If your bedroom closet lacks space, it is better to find or build a secondary closet elsewhere in the home to store your suits and rarely worn formal clothes. An extra wardrobe closet or armoire can provide a safe place to keep your suits when the main closet is full.

Suits on hangers in corner of closet
These suits are kept in an out-of-the-way corner of the closet. Because of the way the doors slide together, this back corner of the closet is less than ideal for grabbing everyday clothes. It's perfect, however, for long-term suit storage.

If you insist on folding up your suit for storage, take it to a professional dry cleaner and have it boxed up like a wedding dress. They will line it with acid free tissue paper and seal out the air so that the suit will continue to look it's best for the next 50 years. You may need to let the suit air for a few days after opening the sealed box because it can be left with a bit of an unpleasant, chemical smell. But the odor fades quickly. This boxing method is inconvenient and best left to garments you want to save but don't expect to wear again even occasionally. Unfortunately, once you open the box you can't just put it back. You'll have to return it to the cleaners to be resealed.

Don't skimp on the quality of your hangers.

Never use wire hangers for long-term suit storage because it can lead to permanent shoulder puckering. Use high-quality wooden hangers with broad, rounded shoulder support. This will help your jacket keep its shape. Pants can be gently folded over the bar and lightly clamped in place or suspended from the waistband or cuff using clips. Hangers with clips require more space in the closet because the hung garment will end up being longer than if the pants were folded over a hanger bar. Wood suit hangers with clips are preferred for women's skirted suits.

Wooden suit hanger
Use a hanger like this one for your expensive suits that include trousers or slacks. The hanger is rounded and slightly flared at the shoulders. The pants go over the bar which locks in place. Women's skirted suits require a wooden hanger like this one with clips to secure the waist of the skirt rather than a bar.

Cover your suits with a breathable garment bag.

Should you keep suits in garment bags? Yes! Suits don't get worn a lot in our informal society. That's why it's a good idea to hang and cover your suits with a fabric or breathable garment bag to eliminate the possibility of dust settling on the garment. Do not use a plastic garment bag or the plastic wrappers from the dry cleaner. Dry cleaning wrappers are meant as a temporary protective measure to keep your cleaned clothes fresh while they are waiting to be picked up, and for general transport to your home. The plastic, non-breathable covers can trap moisture next to the garment. Over time, the fabric will develop mold and mildew. That's why you need a breathable bag for your suits. Cloth bags are best. Canvas is the old standby with a proven track record as a breathable garment bag, but there are a few synthetic materials that can manage also. Be sure to read the full description of the bag before making a purchase. Some are even transparent, but still breathable, allowing full view of the clothes inside. This can be a fine choice in closets where damage from UV lights/windows are not a concern. But no matter which material you choose, always use a clean, full, zippered garment bag for best results. It will help keep away moths and mildew as well as dust.

Suits in garment bags and on hangers in a closet
The suits in this image are kept in garment bags because they are only worn on special occasions while the more frequently used sport coats are hung next to them on open hangers.

Keep out the bugs.

Moths avoid bright light, so they rarely attack frequently worn clothing. However, your suits may be fair game. That's why you need to take measures to protect them. Part of the problem is that expensive suits are commonly made from wool or wool blends. These natural fibers wear well and are comfortable because they breath. Unfortunately, they also top candidates for attracting insects who leave big holes in your garments where their larvae have fed. The bugs feed exclusively on animal fibers containing keratin, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt, and leather. Years ago, moth balls were commonly placed among suits in long-term storage. however, concerns about the safety of this product around childen and pets have lessened its popularity. Use cedar and lavender to naturally repel insects instead. Entire cedar closets work well to keep out critters. But unless your problem is severe, it probably isn't necessary. Inexpensive sachets are available as well as small blocks of cedar wood made for use in closets. Put them near your suits and woolens to discourage pests.

Find a spot away from windows and UV light.

When considering how to store suits in closets, choose an out-of-the-way area preferably away from any windows. That's because exposing your suits to the sun can negatively affect the fabric quality due to ultraviolet (UV) rays. While UV rays from the sun are a natural disinfectant, too much, as with anything, can lead to problems. The same UV light that prevents bacteria reproduction can break down fabric bonds. It also causes fading of color in fabrics. The textiles most at risk are your natural materials — wool, silk, and cotton. That's why long-term exposure to sunlight and heat can result in irreversible damages to your suits.

When considering how to store suits in closets, choose a location away from any sunny windows. If this isn't possible, use a dark-colored, breathable garment bag to block the light. A good choice can involve doubling or even tripling up your hanging space by installing an extra closet rod close to the ceiling. This rod will be higher than the standard 89-inch-height of the top closet shelf. Although difficult to reach, this area is fine for long-term storage of suits. It's out of the way and usually hidden from any windows. The higher your ceiling, the higher this suit storage can be. Consider a pull-down closet rod for convenience. It will make your high ceiling closet storage solution more accessible.

Top shelf of closet organizer system with suitcases and suit tower
The suits in this image are elevated above the rest of the closet storage. The rod pulls down with a handle for convenience.

Prevent excess humidity.

Too much humidity is the bane of all fabrics. A tightly packed closet with excess moisture is a recipe for mold and mildew growth. The fabric absorbs the water droplets and retains them. Anything from leaky pipes and roofs to a location next to the bathroom or in a basement can cause your closet to develop a mold problem. Even if your fabrics aren't affected by visible mildew growth, they can pick up a musty smell that can be hard to get out. But you can fix this easily. Repair any leaks in your roof or plumbing if this is the issue. Increase air circulation in the closet by replacing solid closet doors with louvered ones that allow air to pass freely and leave the door open sometimes. Use a moisture absorbing desiccant like silica gel or baking soda on your closet shelves. A little package goes a long way but be sure to change it every six months or so. Install an exhaust fan in any adjacent bathrooms that might be causing the moisture build up. If this still doesn't work and your clothes smell musty, purchase a dehumidifier, and place it near the closet.

Ready to try these practical ideas on how to store suits in closets?

Long-term storage for suits means 30 days or more. Most suits will fall into this category at least part of the year. That's why it's important to pay attention to how and where you store them. Keep these seven tips in mind when storing your suits:

  1. Clean your suits before putting them away.
  2. Hang rather than fold your suits.
  3. Don't skimp on the quality of your hangers.
  4. Cover each suit with a breathable, fabric garment bag.
  5. Keep out the bugs.
  6. Find a spot in the closet to hang suits away from windows and UV light.
  7. Prevent excess humidity from building up in the closet.

Storing suits isn't difficult. All it takes is a little effort and thought before putting the garments away. But the extra effort will pay off by giving you more years to wear and enjoy your suits and special clothing.