7 Creative Ways to Use Vacuum-Seal Bags for Storage

Save significant space in your home with these simple and inexpensive airtight bags.

vacuum seal bag storing seasonal clothes

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While the technology for food-saving vacuum sealers is far from new, having been around since at least the 1940s, today's vacuum-seal bags aren't always the first thing homeowners grab when it comes to storage. As a professional organizer, I've received lots of questions over the years about how they work, what should be stored in them, and if vacuum-seal bags are actually worth the purchase. Learn all about ways to use this genius invention to cut down on clutter around the house and create more space.

Guide to Vacuum-Seal Bags

Most vacuum sealer bags are made of polypropylene, which is a type of plastic that’s flexible yet durable, making it ideal for storing soft items for an extended period. While they’re fairly tough, avoid using vacuum-sealed bags to contain anything hard or with sharp edges as they can perforate the plastic. Many bags also come equipped with a max-fill line that is important to abide by to avoid an improper seal or the bag popping back open after being shut.

How to Fill and Compress a Vacuum-Seal Bag

Once you've filled the bag up to the line, seal it with the sliding zip tab. Press the hose of your vacuum (you may need to utilize an attachment) firmly against the valve opening on the bag and turn on your vacuum. You’ll most likely need only a few seconds to a minute depending on the size of the bag to suck out all of the excess air. This will compress the bag and your things to a fraction of the size they once were. Use your free hand to gently press on the outside of the bag as the vacuum is working its magic so that it stays as flat as possible for storage.

Keep all vacuum sealer bags in a cool, dry place so they stay in top condition. It’s also recommended to let the air out and reseal the bags every few months if you’re storing things long-term.

Storage Uses for Vacuum-Seal Bags

Below are several household items you can safely and effectively seal in vacuum bags.

1. Off-Season Clothing

Small-apartment living in New York, where the seasons can be extreme, first caused me to consider vacuum-seal bags and get smart about my space. Long before I started organizing as a profession, I was obsessed with how to maximize storage. But as much as I decluttered, I still didn’t have the room or the need for all four seasons of clothing at once. Twice each year, once in spring and once in fall, I would stuff away my winter or summer clothes into these space-saving bags and open up considerable closet and dresser space.

Keep like items together, such as swimsuits in one, sweaters together, and so on. Create piles before stuffing items into bags so you can determine the necessary size or, if you don’t have enough items to fill a bag, combine categories. Label the outside even if it’s clear so you know exactly what’s inside. If you tend to take a tropical trip during the cold months, pack a bag with vacation clothes so you can reach for it when it’s time to pack.

Once flattened, the bags can slide under the bed, inside a storage bench, or stack on top of a shelf in the closet.

2. Extra Linens

Another reason to get your hands on these space-saving bags is if your linen closet is stuffed to the max. Bulky bedding like comforters, quilts, and pillows can all fit comfortably in extra-large vacuum bags. Similarly to storing off-season clothing, try packing away heavy or holiday-theme blankets and flannel sheets during the hot summer months.

Have a pullout couch or air mattress that only gets used once in a while? Bag up the sheets and pillows used with them. While they can stack horizontally on a linen closet shelf, consider concealing clutter by placing them in a large fabric basket with a label so you can find spare linens easily when hosting guests.

3. Soft Sentimental Items

Another category for vacuum sealers is the dozen of T-shirts, special occasion attire, or costumes compiled over the years from nostalgic life events. Because vacuum-sealed bags take up so little space, holding on to items you don't wear often doesn’t have to be a stressor. A baby blanket or stuffed teddy bear from your childhood can easily be preserved. A special dress that you’ll never wear again but can be passed down can go into a bag rather than hang in your closet. Remember to label the bags once sealed, keep away from heat and humidity, and reseal them every now and then.

4. Hand-Me-Downs

Airtight bags can also be used to store items that kids have grown out of but you might want to hang onto for children or grandchildren in the future. Whether you’re currently expecting or plan to be, it’s an excellent way to save money on outfits and other soft items like bibs and baby blankets down the line. Label the bags or pile them in a labeled tote and size them from newborn up until 4T and beyond.

5. Stuffed Animals

While stuffed animals can fall into either the sentimental or hand-me-down category, sometimes kids have just a few too many for their space. If you like the idea of a toy rotation (swapping items in and out on a regular basis to save room or to maintain excitement), a vacuum sealer bag is an easy solution. Take about half of the stuffed animals and place them into a bag, squeeze out the air, and hide it away on a shelf in the playroom or the child's bedroom. If you have multiple kids and a plethora of plush toys, make a bag for each child and label the outside with their corresponding names.

A few words of caution: Avoid placing any stuffed animals with lots of hard features inside the sealer bags as they can puncture them. While you should stick with soft stuffies, the plastic on the nose or eyes of a stuffed animal shouldn’t be an issue. Secondly, if you’re rotating toys, don’t forget about the ones hidden away. Set a calendar reminder for a month or so to take out the animals and tuck more away in the bag for the next swap.

6. Traveling

Cheaper and possibly more effective in saving space than packing cubes, small vacuum sealer bags can be used when traveling. Use them to sort outfits or tops from bottoms and pajamas, then lay them flat inside your suitcase, leaving plenty of room for the multiple pairs of shoes you need for your trip.

One thing to note ahead of your trip is that while vacuum bags are allowed on flights according to TSA, if they set off the security alarm, they will have to open the bag in question and they won’t be as easy to close up again once you’re cleared.

7. Moving

Yet another effective way to get clothing from point A to point B is to use vacuum-seal bags. Lay them in suitcases or totes, or look for options with hangers to mount in garment boxes when it’s time to move. If you’re moving yourself, or paying a company by the pound or box, this could potentially save you trips and money. When you get to your new home, reuse the bags for storing any of the above items or neatly fold them and store with related items, such as moving blankets and leftover packing paper. Found your forever home? Donate the bags to a friend who is getting ready for their big move.

What to Look for When Buying Vacuum Sealers

Read reviews before trying a new brand of space-saving bags. Quality is important so that they last long, but how you handle them and where you store them play a role in their lifespan as well. Knowing the volume of things you’re hoping to store in them will determine what size vacuum-seal bags you need. Many come in variety packs, allowing you to fit everything from onesies to bedspreads. They’re fairly inexpensive, but if you need a good amount, consider buying them in bulk.

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