Should You Use Dry Cleaning Bags For Clothing Storage?

Barbie B., a Malibu Realtor wrote us the following question recently and agreed to have us feature her on the OrganizingLA “Organizing Emergency” section.

“Is it okay to store clothing garments in dry cleaner bags? And for garments that aren’t worn often and are prone to dust or are delicate and need some TLC, what type of bags do you prefer? I would love to use something clear.”

Plastic bags from the dry cleaner are placed on the clothes at cleaner’s facilities for protection ONLY.

  1. To keep them in “cleaned” condition when they’re at the plant
  2. As an inexpensive protector when the consumer transports them home.

Clothes should be taken out of the bag and placed in the closet, or into COTTON garment covers/zippered bags if you need protection. You can keep the paper covers on the garments if you want to keep dust off the garment while being stored.

Garments need to breathe
Plastic dry cleaning bags can collect humidity from the sun, a room or your closet. That humidity can encourage the growth of mold, and in certain fine fabrics (or colored fabrics) the plastic in the bag can leach colors off the garment… leaving freshly dry cleaned laundry in the plastic dry cleaner bag can cause them to yellow.. that yellowing is caused by BHT (butylated hydroxyl tolune) an anti-oxidant in the plastic bag. When BHT comes in contact with impurities in the air and with moisture it forms a yellow pigment that transfers to your fabric.

Use cotton covers

When I work with our Los Angeles-area professional organizer clients, I use shoulder covers for jackets and suits. For finer items like fancy beaded dresses, I use cotton zippered full size garment bags. I try to locate bags with windows so clients can see what is in the garment bag. I also put labels on the garment bag, or snap and laminate a picture of the garment, hole punch the garment tag, and hang with a string or ribbon to identify the piece. I try to only store one garment per bag so fabrics do not leach onto each other.