7 Things to Know Before Storing Heirloom Baby Clothes—So You Don’t Accidentally Ruin Them
If not done properly, they could be lost forever.
In the South, we don’t like to throw things away. It's a fact we can back up with every one of our storage spaces busting at the seams. The linen closet? Open at your own risk. At times, we can’t necessarily justify the compulsion, like how Mama refuses to let go of her retro collection of jazzercise VHS tapes (though she retired the legwarmers long ago). But mostly, we’re not in the wrong here. Items like passed-down china, heirloom jewelry, or special-occasion outfits like a communion dress are practically a sin not to save, in our humblest of opinions.
Baby clothes? Definitely one of those things. These sweet garment pieces are the perfect candidates to store and pass down to little cousins, nieces, nephews, or the next generation. Special as it is, this keepsake clothing needs to be stored with the utmost care, especially if white or lightly colored. Considering the sentimental value of these items can’t be replaced, we’re advocates of the “doing it once, doing it right” mindset. What do we NOT want? Yellowing, staining, or permanent fabric issues.
Before you grab those giant Ziploc bags or that old cardboard box—no! stop now!—learn everything you need to know about how to store heirloom baby clothes. Here are 7 things that will help guide you through the process:
1. Make sure every piece is laundered or dry cleaned and completely dry before storing. Remove any metal safety pins from dry cleaning tickets or metal buttons that may corrode and cause subsequent staining.
2. Use plastic storage containers made of polypropylene. These are best for keeping moisture at bay. Repeat after us: Moisture is NOT your friend. Avoid plastic bags, which are more likely to trap moisture and foster mildew.
3. Make sure to use the right kind of tissue paper, which should be acid-free and lignin-free. To make it easy, look for acid-free archival tissue paper.
4. Line the box with the acid-free tissue paper; if desired, start first by lining the box with a white flat sheet before layering with tissue paper.
5. To keep things easy and organized, wrap each piece as if it's fresh from the department store. (This is also a great hack when packing a suitcase to prevent wrinkles!) Layer all of the pieces into the plastic container as you go, using tissue paper inside the clothing’s folds to prevent permanent creasing. Stuff any hats or puffy sleeves to keep the shape.
6. Finish with an old homemaker’s trick: lavender. Leave a lavender sachet on top of the final layers of tissue to keep clothes moths at bay and leave a nice scent behind for whoever opens the box next.
7. Clearly label the boxes and store in a mild-temperature area, such as under a bed or in a closet. Don’t store in attics, basements, or garages unless climate-controlled. We recommend checking on the clothing once a year to make sure no staining has occurred. Add it to the spring cleaning list!
If you do happen to catch yellowing or staining after storing, try this laundry hack to help recover your heirloom clothing. (But, really, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional when this happens.)
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Now, you’re set with the tools needed to store your keepsake clothing in the safest and most foolproof way. Go forth, and preserve!