Storing Baby Clothes for the next baby

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Related pages: Getting mildew out of clothing and Protecting clothing from moths

How to avoid stains & spots from storage?

November 2002

My baby has been growing and growing, and rather than giving her old clothes away, I've been saving them in hopes of having another baby in the near (but not too near!) future. I've been doing this in a fairly basic way, neatly folding the clothes and storing them in clean cardboard boxes in my attic. A friend recently told me, however, that when she retrieved her similarly stored baby clothes when her second baby was born, all of the clothes had stains and spots on them. I'm concerned that my baby's hand-me-downs will suffer the same fate. Has anyone successfully stored baby clothes for more than a year? And please don't recommend closets or dressers -- I live in a tiny bungalow, and space is in short supply! Thanks so much. Amy

My baby is currently wearing his older brother's handme downs. They are three years apart. I stored them in my attic just as you mentioned. Washed, folded, packed into clean boxes (Xerox paper boxes). Some of the boxes were packed tight, some were not. I haven't had any problems with spots, stains, discoloration or bugs. Perhaps your friend's attic was damp. Rose

If the clothes developed spots in storage, the cause is probably mildew--caused by dampness. Attics are rarely damp in our clime-- that's more of a basement thing--but if yours is, don't put them there. Make sure everything is scrupulously dry before storage. Or perhaps you could try large quantities of silica gel? virginia

I have successfully stored baby clothes for several years. There are two aspects to it: 1) You must store them properly, in a clean, dry place. If there is dampness (and in California this is unlikely, unless you store them underground) you can get mildew spots: and if they are in a plastic bag and not fully dry when you store them this can happen too. Beware of moths and woolens, too. It sounds like you are doing it exactly right, storing them above ground in clean cardboard boxes. Other than mice or some other pest getting into them you should be fine. 2) I was surprised, when I took out the baby clothes I had saved, at how dirty they were. In my case, the baby had stained her clothes and I had been so out of it I hadn't noticed, so when I came back it was a bit of a shock. Also when you live with a baby/toddler, your expectations of how they look can get pretty low. So don't be surprised if they don't look like you remember them! Heather

Have you thought of using ''space bags''? These are airtight clothing storage bags that are often used in suitcases: you put the clothing in and then roll them up and the air goes out the valve at the bottom. They have the added advantage of making the total storage space required much smaller. Karen

I successfuly stored my son's baby clothes for 4+ years with no ill results. I washed the clothes, folded them neatly, then stored them in those heavy plastic tubs you can buy at Home Depot or other hardware stores. Some were the kind with tight fitting lids, others had two plastic flaps (almost like a cardboard box top) that fit together. It worked really well, and I have not found any new stains, etc. on the clothes or bedding. Good luck! Kim

I stored all my clothes through 3 kids in plastic tupperware- type bins in the attic (Target has sales after Christmas every year). Some of the clothes came out with spots, but mostly just the whites. For those I either used Soilove stain remover or spot bleached them with liquid dishwasher soap and most of it came out. However, unless money is really tight, don't bother storing anything but your favorite clothes, because you probably won't use them by the time you get baby gifts, do a little shopping yourself, and look at clothes you didn't like that much the first time! anon

I have two girls 3& 6 and have stored my older daughters clothes all along the way without a problem. I recommend two things: thoroughly wash the clothes (use stain remover when necessary) and use large plastic storage containers with secure lids (mine have handles on each side that snap down). Cardboard boxes don't seem to preserve clothing real well especially long term. Mary

Storing baby clothes in a suitcase with mothballs?

Feb 2002

Hi Can anyone give me some advice about the best way to store baby clothes so that they will last for a future child? I want to keep things from my first baby for my next, and am currently storing them in a suitcase with mothballs in the garage. Is there any better way? Thanks, Lindy

I have a cedar hope chest that belonged to my greatgrandmother. I have been adding select items to it that i want to save for my children's children. There are some nice ones avavilable and, even though mine was passed down to me, I think it is a good investment. You could start the process of passing down from one generation to the next. email

I store my kids' clothes in my closet in either clear plastic bins with covers, and that has worked well, except that the bins take up a lot of space. I've recently converted to Space Bags - the bags you put things into and then use your vacuum cleaner to remove all the air. These bags are great - you don't need to worry about mothballs and they take up 1/3 of the space of the plastic bins. You can find these bags at Target, or Bed, Bath and Beyond. They go for about $6 each for the large size. Jennifer

Try using those Rubbermaid (or other brand) bins that are plastic and have tight-fitting lids. I have been storing them that way and the clothes stay clean and dry AND the bins stack well on top of each other. You can also label them with the sizes of clothes that are packed inside and only get out what you need when the next baby arrives! Anonymous

Do you have a lot of wool baby clothes? Clothing moths only feed on animal products, not synthetics (like polyester) or plant fibers (like cotton). Pack away any wool items or wool blends separately with mothballs, and put all the rest into cardboard boxes. You might want to wrap the clothes in a plastic bag first so that if the box ever gets wet or dusty (e.g. in your garage) the clothes won't be ruined. Don't pack it all in mothballs--you're going to hate trying to get rid of the smell of naphtha from all that stuff down the road. Yuck! You don't want even a hint of that smell on your baby! a mom

Moth balls contain dangerous chemicals, and are only effective if a complete airtight seal is used. Unless your baby's clothes are wool and you have a known clothes moth problem, I suspect mildew would be a bigger hazard. Here's something from UC Davis on the moth balls: Moth balls, flakes, or crystals containing naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are also available for protecting clothes in storage. These materials are toxic and must be kept away from children and pets. They also leave an unpleasant odor on clothes and other cloth objects. If placed in contact with plastic buttons, hangers, or garment bags, they may cause the plastic to soften and melt into the fabric. As these chemicals evaporate, they produce vapors that, in sufficient concentration, will slowly kill insects. The vapors build up to the required concentration only in an airtight container. If the container is not airtight, the chemicals only weakly repel adults and any larvae already on clothes continue to feed. This was copied from the following website: Charis

Moth balls are known to be toxic, I wouldn't store baby clothes with them. It's also difficult to get that moth ball smell out of clothes. I am storing all of my baby's clothes in plastic storage containers that have lids that clamp on. You can get them at Cost-Co, Target, office supply stores etc. The containers are not cheap (approx. $7 each) but I figure I will always be able to use them for storage of something if not baby clothes. Anonymous

Try using those clear plastic storage bins with a tight fitting lid, that you can nab at Target for about $5-$18 (depending on the size). I saved everything from my first daughter's wardrobe and am I ever glad I did. It was a good thing I used those bins, too because we had a rat invasion in our storage basement area last winter, and they got into everything except the clothes.

Label the outside of the bins with the size you are storing away (it really helps to just put one size in it's own bin and/or label it summer/winter clothes really helps, that way you only bring in what you really needed). My second daughter is growing at a much faster rate than my first did, so even though they were born in different seasons (Jan and April), I am very glad I had stored these clothes in an organized way (unlike the rest of my life!), it makes it much easier to find what I need and really saves on my clothing budget. Kerri

We store baby clothes in heavy-duty zippered plastic bags (the kind made for storing comforters, etc.). If you are concerned about moth damage, put some cedar blocks (avail. at better hardware stores & at closet stores) in with the clothes. Whatever you do, though, immediately remove and safely discard the mothballs! Mothballs have paradichlorobenzene in them, which is VERY nasty (carcinogen & severe eye irritant) and not something you, your first-born, or your potential child should have contact with. -Claudia

- I would really think twice about keeping mothballs in a house with children, let alone putting them anywhere near baby clothes. They are highly toxic, and a common cause of childhood poisonings (about 5,000 poisonings a year of children under the age of six)

Here's what the EPA has to say about mothballs (they have a very useful website that lists many household poisons, including most cleaners:

Mothballs are a distinctive smelling, volatile solid used to repel moths. Mothballs, which are classified as a pesticide, may look like candy to a child. They are poisonous when eaten and seizures can develop in less than one hour. Mothballs contain 100% of either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Both of these ingredients can produce harmful effects when they enter your system through inhalation. Irritation to nose, throat, and lungs, headache, confusion, excitement or depression, and liver and kidney damage can result from exposure to mothball vapors over a long period of time.

Mothballs containing naphthalene are of special concern because naphthalene can promote a breakdown of red blood cells resulting in hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia in mild form may cause only fatigue. In more severe cases, it can cause acute kidney failure. Young children are at particular risk. Poisonings have been reported following dressing infants in clothing that was stored with naphthalene mothballs, suggesting that absorption of naphthalene may occur through the skin.

The warning label on mothball products reads avoid prolonged breathing of vapors. This label is at odds with the normal use of mothballs. By the very nature of their ingredients, mothballs give off strong odors (vapors which you can smell). These vapors tend to fill the entire home, making it nearly impossible to avoid prolonged breathing of vapors unless you live outdoors. The situation is complicated further when mothballs are placed in closets or rooms with poor ventilation, where the vapors build to high concentrations. Vapors are absorbed by clothes, blankets, and sheets resulting in direct exposure when you are around these items.

Toxicology info on mothballs, including what to do in case of exposure, can be found at:

I store outgrown baby clothes in plastic bags inside a cardboard box. If you're really worried about moths (which only eat wool) use cedar chips or a cedar chest. But make sure to give those mothbally clothes a good laundering first!

You can find good info about alternatives to household toxics at:


I've stored clothes in vacuum-seal bags (Space Bags) that are designed for long-term storage of clothes, linens, towels, etc... In the bag they are sealed against moisture, dirt, and creepy crawlies plus its amazing how little space things take up when all the air is taken out of the bag (they come with a one-way valve to attach your vacuum cleaner to create the seal).

They are for sale on TV and at mall stores (As Seen on TV). I bought mine at a store in NewPark Mall. They are not cheap but you can buy a set of four of them for about $20. One word of caution, you do need to be careful of how you handle/store them as puncturing the bag removes its effectiveness (small punctures can be easily repaired with tape). Kelly