The Dos and Don’ts of Yarn Storage

Storing your yarn stash takes some thought to make sure your yarn is in good shape and ready to use for your next project.

pile of yarn

Here are some tips:

  • Do not store yarn in plastic bags. Yarn needs to breathe and depending on the fiber can hold up to 30% it’s weight in moisture without feeling wet. I have seen cotton yarn mold because it was stored in plastic bags in a humid climate!
  • Store all yarn in a climate controlled environment, not in a damp basement or hot attic.
  • Store yarn in an extra closet (hanging shoe holders work great for this) or in plastic tubs out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not store yarn in baskets on rugs. Carpet beetles love to eat yarn!
  • The best way to store yarn for a long period of time is to place it in old pillowcases in a closet (a linen closet is perfect!) in the main living area of your home or on open shelving out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not store unlaundered garments, the buggies love them!
  • Store all washed crocheted wearables folded on a closet shelf or in a dresser. Hanging garments stretches them out of shape.
  • Moths like undisturbed dark places, so if you leave your crocheted garments out all year in a closet or dresser you use daily, they are less likely to take up residence!
  • Cedar, lavender and other herbal remedies to prevent moths or bugs works because of the smell. If you can no longer smell the fragrance, it is not working.
  • Moth balls may work, but the off-gas emitted can actually damage your yarn. If you use moth balls, make sure they do not come in direct contact with your yarn.
  • Got moths?! If you see moths, throw out the offending yarn immediately! It is not worth taking any chances with the rest of your stash. Some say you can put the yarn in the freezer for a month or two to kill the moths, but that doesn’t kill any eggs that may be present. The best thing is to get rid of the yarn and thoroughly clean the area.
  • It may be a bargain, but do not buy yarn at garage sales unless you know what to look for! If it smells musty or breaks when you pull on it, do not buy it! It has been stored incorrectly. And you may bring home some uninvited critters in the bargain!

Deb Arch and her yarn stash

Designer and Annie’s video instructor, Deb Arch stores her yarn on open shelving in her craft room.

Have you figured out a great way to store your yarn stash? Send a photo to so we can share it with our readers.

32 responses to “The Dos and Don’ts of Yarn Storage”

  1. I recently found a couple metal hope chest stored in a attic in Phoenix Az where temperature I am sure reach well over 130 degrees in the summer. They were probably stored up there for at least 15 years or so. Would the yarn still be any good?

    • Mick, I would not take any chances working with this yarn. Since most fiber crafts take so much of our precious time, it would be a shame to use it and find out the fiber is compromised. More than likely, this yarn will show signs of damage. Take a length of yarn, and tug on it. If it breaks, it has suffered irreversible damage due to the high temperatures in the attic.

  2. Hi I leave in CA and I believe I have stored my yarns correctly, but they are 2-3 years old. Are they still good to give it a try ? I appreciate your opinion!

    • Eunmi, If stored properly yarn can be kept for a very long time. Here are a few things to check:
      1) Smell the yarn, does it smell musty? If so, it may have molded and I would toss it out.
      2) Take a length of yarn, about 12 inches, and tug it gently. Does it break? If so, that is dry rot and should not be used.
      3) Look the yarn over and check for bugs or moth damage. If you find broken or weak areas, that is a sign of an infestation and the yarn should be thrown away.

      If your yarn passes all of these tests, you are safe to use it for your projects.

  3. Hi I keep my yarn in a shelf (no plastic bags) with plenty of space between each drawer but its kept on an enclosed balcony. I am wondering about humidity and should I bring it inside now when autumn is here?
    I get very different answers from different friends, they are super worried about mold, but my yarn is never directly exposed to rain since the windows on the balcony protect them.

    • Ella, all yarn is best stored in a climate controlled environment such as your home. Not the basement, attic or porch. Also, yarn should not be stored in plastic bags or tubs for very long as all yarn holds moisture and when it is in a plastic bag, the yarn cannot breathe and can mildew, rot or mold.

      They very best way to store yarn is on shelves in a closet in the main living area of your home. If you are worried about dust, yarn can be placed in pillow cases to keep it clean.

  4. I have my yarn organized by fiber in plastic bins. Would it be best to take a drill and put some small air holes in each one? Or would that allow moths in? The room is in the main part of the house, climate controlled.

    • Mary, as long as your house is not too humid, storing in covered plastic containers should work. I have tried drilling holes in plastic unsuccessfully, so I don’t bother with that. As far as moths, if your house if pest free now, that should not be a problem.

  5. If yarn should not be stored in plastic bags, why is it acceptable to be stored in plastic tubs or containers. Isn’t it the same philosophy?

    • Lynn, thanks for your question. Storing yarn in plastic containers is not ideal, but is acceptable if the they are stored in your climate-controlled home (not the attic or basement). Plastic bags, especially if tightly closed, tend to trap moisture.

    • Ellen, I suppose you could. I assume it would be moisture free if vacuum-sealed. Just make sure you store it in a climate-controlled environment – not an attic or basement.

  6. I have started making baby blankets for my future great-grandchildren. My oldest grandchild is 17, still in high school and planning to go to college. The youngest is 2, so great grandchildren are still a long way off. What’s the best way to store them so they can be used that far into the future?

    • Megan, What a sweet thing to do! Since you need to store your heirloom crochet for such a long period of time, I would invest in acid-free boxes and tissue paper and store them in your climate-controlled home – not the basement or attic. You can search online for acid-free boxes and tissue paper.

  7. Do you have any suggestions how to rejuvenate 3 hanks I purchased sight unseen to complete a project? They are a roving style thick and thin yarn and my guess is they were packed too tightly in storage for too long a time as the yarn was discontinued many years ago. The strands are more compressed than my original hanks. Thinking I’d put them in a laundry bag briefly in the dryer on “no heat” to see if that helps plump them up. Thank you.

    • Susan, that is a tough question! Partly it depends on fiber content. Not knowing more about your yarn, I would soak the hanks in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes, squeeze out excess water, roll in a towel to remove as much water as possible, gently shake them and lay the hanks on a dry towel to finish drying. That should revive them. But depending how long and under what conditions they were “compressed” it may not help much. Good luck!

    • Teauna, storing yarn in the main part of your house is fine. Just remember, cardboard boxes contain chemicals that can discolor yarn if stored for many years.

    • Jill, first check the yarn to see if it smells musty. Take a strand and tug at it to make sure it does not break easily. Look for signs of damaged or broken fibers. If your new treasure doesn’t pass any of these tests, toss it out! If the fibers seem sound, sticking it in the freezer for a few days is not a bad idea. Once you are sure your new yarn is bug fee, store it in fabric bags (old pillow cases work great!) in the main part of your house for long term storage or in plastic bins if you live in an area that experiences low humidity.

  8. I have those canvas hanging storage units that are sold by Mary Maxim that have 6 open compartments to put the yarn in. I then place the yarn by color. My biggest problem is that I am running out of room in the closet!!!

  9. I have two large dark plastic bags of yarn that has been in my attic for at least 9 years. How does the extreme heat affect acrylic yarn?

    • Pam, look over your yarn very carefully. Give it a tug to see if the fibers have dry-rot. Smell it to make sure it does not have a musty smell. And last but not least, make sure the yarn is bug and critter free. If your yarn passes these 3 tests, feel free to use it, but get that yarn out of your attic!

  10. Hello,
    I have many yarn afghans I need to store in plastic totes.
    My question is how many cedar blocks(2 3/4 × 1 3/4) should I include for safeguarding?
    Also, can the cedar touch the yarn in storage?
    Thank you,
    Julie Kalinowski

    • Julie, 2-3 blocks will do the trick. Wrap them in some fabric and place them strategically throughout the box. Remember cedar blocks only help if you can smell the cedar fragrance and only work for projects made in natural animal fibers such as wool, alpaca and mohair.

  11. I have a few storage bins with acrylic yarn in them. I plan on moving them to an actual storage unit that will be housed inside of the building. Will that be ok for prolonged times for the yarn? Do I need to add dryer sheets to keep it fresh or do any kind of prep work? Thanks!

    • I have stored yarn in sealable rubber tubs for years at a time with no dryer sheets or additional prep. I just toss them in and dig through and find them when I want to use them. You could always put them in sealable plastic bags and then in the rubber tub if concerned.

  12. Do you feel the same about plastic zip vac storage bags if I don’t live in a damp climate? I live in NM the southwest of the USA
    Thank you

    • To me it is better to be safe than sorry. Plastic storage bags keep bugs out of your yarn and keeps smells away. So to me they are always a good idea or the big rubber tubs, which is how I store my yarn.

  13. Baking wool yarn at the lowest setting in the oven will kill moth and carpet beetle eggs. The inside of the ball should reach 120 degrees for 1/2 hr to kill the eggs. In the summer this could even be accomplished in a hot car. even when there is some damage to the outside of a skein, there is often lots of usable wool inside. Don’t throw it out!

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