Why You Should Keep Your Clothes in the Freezer

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

It would be great if we could solve all our clothing problems with a quick spin through the washer and dryer. But some items wouldn’t withstand their rigors — and some problems just can’t be solved with the washer and dryer. There’s another ubiquitous household appliance, though, that addresses some common clothing conundrums. Here are some occasions for sticking clothes in the freezer instead.

Refresh leather clothing

If you have a leather jacket, skirt, or pants that could you a little freshening up, put them in a sealed plastic bag and place them in the freezer overnight. Lyndsey Butler, owner of leather shop Veda, confirmed to Glamour that the freezer trick really works to eliminate bacteria and odor.

Keep cashmere and other natural fiber clothing from pilling and shedding

Putting your sweater in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for at least a couple hours will shrink the fibers and help to minimize both pilling and shedding.

Make your tights last longer

Similar to the way the freezer tightens the fibers in natural fiber sweaters, tights can get a boost in their longevity by spending some time in the freezer. This Refinery29 piece describes the process: Run them under water, squeeze out the excess, and then put them in a bag and in the freezer overnight.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Get another wear or two before having to wash your jeans

While we don’t recommend foregoing the washer altogether, sticking your worn jeans in the freezer (again, in a sealed bag) overnight will combat general un-freshness so you can stretch your time between washes.

De-stink your shoes

Bacteria causes odors. When your shoes get stinky, killing the bacteria gets at the root of the problem. Put odorous footwear in a bag in the freezer for a while, and you’ll get to pull out a stink-free pair.

Kill wool-eating moth larvae

Little known fact: It’s moth larvae, not adult moths that eat those ever-so-disheartening tiny holes in your clothing. (Of course, if you see adult moths, you’re likely to have a problem with larvae, too.) Your usual moth balls are a solution to the problem — but they stink, are possible carcinogens, and have to be used with your clothing in a sealed container. And natural “moth balls” don’t really work at all. But guess what? The freezer does! It kills moth larvae without any negative repercussions for you. In a New York Times article, University of Arizona’s professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Bruce Walsh heartily recommends the freezer for dealing with clothes-eating moths: “It’s bulletproof. The best thing you can do is put [the clothing] in a plastic bag and freeze it.” In this case, a two week freezer-stint is in order.

Break in new shoes

Instead of sacrificing your feet to make that stiff new pair of shoes comfortable, let the freezer do the work. Wonder How To suggests filling Ziplocs with water and stuffing them into the tight parts of your shoes. When the water expands as it freezes, it will gently stretch your shoes.