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How to properly store your winter clothes now that spring is here

woman carrying folded winter sweaters
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Warmer weather means it is time to put away the heavy sweaters and coats. For many, that means freeing up space in your closet and storing them elsewhere. Sure, you can jam them into a bin and call it a day, but that translates into having more on your plate next winter when you need them again. By storing them methodically and efficiently, they will stay fresh and be ready to wear as soon as the air turns cold. This year, follow our clothing storage ideas to keep your winter clothes in tip-top shape.

Clean start

Before you pack clothes away, now is the perfect time to sort through them—no point in storing something you simply don’t wear anymore. Rule of thumb—if you have not worn something in the past year, it is time to pass it on. Make piles—keep, donate, or toss. This way, you will be ahead of the game next winter and have a more streamlined closet.

Next, you will want to ensure all the items you are storing are clean. Remove any stains and odors because months in storage will only set them in. Moths are also more attracted to soiled clothing. When cleaning, stay away from fabric softeners, starch, and bleach, as pests are also drawn to the smell. Simply use basic detergent or get items dry cleaned.

To fold or to hang?

When deciding how to keep items when they are stowed away, it is best to follow how you regularly store the clothing when it is in your closet. Hang clothes that will get wrinkled if they are folded like coats and pleated pants or skirts. Fold items such as sweaters that could lose their shape or stretch if they were hung. For delicate or embellished pieces, use acid-free tissue paper to protect them.

How to store

The way you store items is often dictated by the amount of space you have. In general, plastic bins are an economical option for storing folded clothes, and since you can stack them vertically, they take up very little floor space. Labeling them will make it easier if you ever need to retrieve something quickly.

If you need more space, try vacuum-sealed bags. There are hanging ones that you can store vertically if they need to be kept in a closet. Both these options will also keep pests at bay. Keep in mind that down-filled items are not good candidates for vacuum sealing because they can get damaged.

When loading clothing storage bins, add the bulkiest, heavy knits on the bottom and any more delicate items to the top. Make sure not to overstuff bins and leave room so the lid can be properly closed. The more orderly you pack items in, the better shape they will be in next winter when you take them out again.

For items you will be hanging, take them out of dry-cleaning bags and put them into a fully sealed garment bag. Some are even made with moth protection if that is an issue in your storage spot. Make sure buttons and zippers are secured, so the garment hangs neatly and retains its shape.

three storage bins
Mike Flippo/Shutterstock

Shoes and boots

You should thoroughly clean winter footwear and ensure they are in good condition for storage. They are best kept in plastic bins. These can be individual or with multiple shoes in one larger bin. Just make sure not to overstuff. You can use tissue paper, newspaper, or shoe and boot shapers to maintain their shape.

Keep pests away

Now that you have your clothes and shoes packed, you should take measures to ensure pests will stay clear of them. Instead of using foul-smelling mothballs, use lavender satchels or cedar balls. You can also use charcoal bags to absorb moisture and ensure items remain fresh.

Where to store

Although many times the place that is the most used for storage is a basement or garage, these may not be the most ideal place to keep clothes. The problem? Moisture. It is best to find a cool, dry, and dark location. If that just isn’t possible, consider under-the-bed storage bins or a top shelf in your closet. If you rarely use luggage and keep it in an indoor location, why not use it for extra storage?

Just remember, when you take the time to store your winter clothes properly, you will save valuable time later. By following our tips, they will stay in good condition and be ready to wear for next year.

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