Americans buy a lot of stuff and this stuff comes in cardboard boxes. Box, which typically should be dumped for recycling is often stacked at home, usually to store items. Many even buy new cardboard boxes to store their belonging such as books, toys, and even clothes. On one hand, people keep on stashing stuff into cardboard boxes and on the other hand, it is questionable whether it is safe to store clothes in cardboard boxes.
It is safe to store clothes in cardboard boxes? Although cardboard boxes make for a cheap storage system, it is not advised to store clothes in cardboard boxes. They build up moisture and mold, sometimes infested by termites, critters, spiders, bed bugs and other pests. Storing clothing items in a cardboard box is not safe; however, if you have to, you should take proper measures to prevent your clothes from pests and moisture.
Can You Store Your Clothes Safely in a Cardboard Box?
Corrugated boxes are cheap and you probably already have a bunch of them at home. But storing items especially clothes in a cardboard box is not a good idea. It comes with a lot of shortcomings and brings dangers to your items. They attract a lot of pests such as spiders, cockroaches, bugs and even provides a good source of food for termites. These pests not only damage the box but also the contents insides and is especially damaging to a tender fabric. Moreover, the acidity in the box discolors clothes and leaves a pungent odor on your clothes. You can seal off your box but you can’t prevent it from moisture and mold. Cardboard boxes easily get damaged with a little water. If you happen to stash a mildly moist clothing item in the box, you should expect some damage later when you return to retrieve.
Why Cardboard Boxes are Dangerous to Store Clothes?
Most people store used cardboard boxes which are already damaged to some extent. Next, they store in places away from their sight and become oblivious about it, while the box degrades and becomes a source of damage to the house and your belongings.
People typically store all of their cardboard boxes together on racks, basement, attics, and garage. These boxes were made from paper catches fire easily when dry and it does get dry and degraded over time making it even easier to catch fire. If you have stored it in a shed or loft it will get dry in summer. Keep all boxes together at one place can trigger a major fire hazard if it gets on fire. It would even become impossible to manage. So, it is advised to store a few cardboard boxes and store it at several places in the house instead of keeping it all together.
Even if you seal the flaps with tapes, which most people don’t do while storing clothes in cardboard boxes, you can’t weatherproof your clothes. It would grow mold and fungus in a moist climate and if there’s water seepage, the box would just break down and become mushy. Not just that, it retains water for a long time, calling in for more fungus on your clothes, damage and a nasty smell.
Cardboard boxes are favorite dwelling spots for a lot of bugs. If it’s on the floor, there’s a danger of being damaged by a mouse. If it’s on the shelves, there’s a danger of spider infestation. And it doesn’t even matter for bed bugs and termites where you keep it, they just get uninvited. You can prevent bugs by treating the box with repellents and insecticides, but can’t store your clothes in a box treated with harmful chemicals.
Cardboard boxes are not meant for storing items. It is used for packaging and transporting products, which is why they are made out of recycled material and should be dumped out for recycling. However, if you decide to create some crafts out of the boxes, there’s no harm in that.
If You Must, How to Store Clothes Safely in Cardboard Boxes?
Although storing clothing items in a cardboard box is not a good idea, you can still manage to store it safely, but temporarily. It’s a temporary solution and not all boxes can be used to store clothes.
Store clean garments
If you must, store only clean and spotless clothes. Check for spots and stains on your garment. These protein-based spots and stains could attract moths and other pests, leaving you to discover a hole in your shirt when to take it out. Next, make sure it’s absolutely dry! Even a little moisture could do enough damage to your box as well as the clothes as cardboard boxes don’t provide good ventilation.
Organize your clothes
Store properly folded clothes and don’t just stash it away. Next, make sure you don’t store stashing it up to the lid. Your clothes should get some room to breathe and shouldn’t be busting out the edges of the box.
Select the right box
It is always advised to store any item, be it clothing or books or toys, in a new and clean cardboard box. Do not use boxes that had food items in it. Next, check for stains and spots, which could attract bugs to your box. In fact, it is dangerous to store clothes in a box that has glue stains from ripped off tape, as some moths and bugs feed on the glue and may get to your fabrics.
Use acid-free tissue paper
After you have found a clean box, line the inside with acid-free tissue papers. It will protect your clothing items from leaching. Many cardboard boxes have chemicals that transfer dye on to the clothing items and some make them fade. After you have placed all your clothing, cover the top with a few sheets of acid-free tissue papers. Then close the lid and seal off with flap closures.
How to Make Cardboard Box Weatherproof?
You can use some weatherproofing products to laminate your cardboard box but by no means is it a permanent solution. Here are some ways you can weatherproof the cardboard box if you want to store your clothes in it.
Using elastomeric roof coating
First, paint coat a layer of glue on the surface of the cardboard box; let it dry for some time, then coat a layer of acrylic elastomeric roof coating. This is coat is enough to protect your box from weather damage; however, if you want to give a piano finish to the box you can spend on a can varnish to create a protective layer on the surface.
Using polyethylene films
You could cover all sides of the cardboard box with a low-density polyethylene film. Make sure to seal off on all sides to prevent moisture from getting in.
Waterproof rubberized coating
Get a can or rubberized coating and paint a layer on the outer sides of the cardboard box. However, prep the area where you will apply the paint as these coating can release toxic fumes, so make sure to use proper gear.
You could buy a few self-adhesive laminating sheets. First, vacuum out any dirt or debris from the box and stick a pair of the adhesive laminating sheet on both sides of the box.
Is it safe to store clothes in plastic containers? Storing clothing items in an airtight plastic container is the best way to store clothes and prevent mold and mildew.
Should I vacuum seal my clothes? Fabrics need some air to breath to maintain its structure. It is better to avoid vacuum sealing clothes; however, if you have to, take it as a temporary option.
Should I use mothballs to keep bugs away? Mothballs do protect your clothing items from bugs but they are toxic and dangerous for your children and pets. On the other hand, a cedar block would be a much safe option.
After you have stacked away from your clothes in a cardboard box, don’t be oblivious about it. Check your items every week. If you are storing seasonal clothes, we advise you to opt for a permanent storage box such as an airtight plastic container. Don’t store any food items near your storage and keep the area clean and dry.