Unexpected Storage Mistakes That Are Causing Your Clothes To Shrink On The Shelf

It's common knowledge that the wrong setting in the washing machine or throwing something in the dryer can cause clothes to shrink. However, there are also ways for your clothes to steadily shrink outside of the dryer. You may have hand washed that sweater with care, but, if you're storing it incorrectly, you could find it still fits smaller the next time you go to put it on. This normally happens when an item is stored in a place with too high of a temperature in an area with lots of humidity.

If you're suddenly panicking about all of your stored seasonal clothes, don't worry. While clothes that are stored incorrectly can shrink, they won't if put away in the right conditions. You may have clothes tucked away in an attic, a basement, or even just shoved under your bed. Wherever you keep your off-season clothes, it's important to ensure they're being stored in the best possible place so you don't get a small surprise (literally) when you go to wear your favorite piece again.

Shrinking can occur for several reasons

If you're guilty of stuffing your winter clothes in the attic when the first hint of summer weather arrives, you could be doing them a major disservice. Heat (or, more specifically, hot air) rises, and the attic is the space at the very top of your house. Heat often comes along with humidity, which will be especially prominent in an area that has poor insulation and ventilation.

This is bad for your clothes — it's the equivalent of leaving them in a bathroom with the shower steaming for days. If stored in a high-humidity space for a long period, your clothes could come out looking a size smaller than they were when you first put them up in storage. Putting your clothes in secure bags may help, but avoid vacuum seal storage bags if you can. While these types of bags are useful for short-term storage, they can make your clothes lose their shape and become permanently compressed over time.

Keep your clothes in good condition by avoiding these mistakes

In addition to keeping your clothes out of spaces that are overly hot and humid, exposing your clothes to sunlight is also a bad idea. It's unlikely that you're hanging your clothes up in full view of the sun, but even just keeping your clothes in a space that gets regular sunlight is enough to potentially shrink them. Plus, sunshine will not only fade your clothes, but cause yellowing, too.

Now that you know where not to store your clothes, you may be wondering what you should do to keep them fresh. To keep your clothes looking their best and to stop them from shrinking, you should aim to store them in an environment with a controlled temperature (not too hot or too cold). They should be put into a secure storage bag — not so tight that the clothes will become compressed, but not so loose that moths and other insects could potentially get in. This way, you won't be in for a shock when you go to swap out your seasonal wardrobe and find clothes that don't look the same as when you first put them away.