Who else struggles with sweater storage? After a long and brutal winter, many people with average-sized closets toss their sweaters into storage even if the warm weather hasn’t caught up yet. If you’re one of these people, this storage guide might be extremely useful for you.
Sweaters can be bulky, thin, tight-knit or loosely woven. With so many types of sweaters, it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all storage recommendation. However, there are some basic guidelines to follow to keep even the most expensive cashmere sweater looking and smelling like-new for decades.
We’ve elaborated on some smart sweater storage ideas and are answering your questions to help transition your closet with ease. But first, a bit of advice.
Before you start storing sweaters in the offseason, consider decluttering your closet. There’s no sense going through these extra steps to preserve sweaters in storage that you no longer wear! As a rule of thumb, get rid of any sweater that fits the following criteria:
- It no longer fits
- The sweater is permanently stained or damaged
- You haven’t worn the sweater in over a year
Should I fold or hang sweaters in storage?
Some people believe that it’s a terrible idea to hang sweaters. Why? Because in many cases, hanging a sweater long term can cause the shoulders to stretch out irreversibly. However, there’s another camp of people who believe that folding sweaters isn’t ideal for space saving purposes. They can hang more sweaters in their closet than they can fit into drawers. Also, thinner sweaters can get wrinkled when folded inside a drawer.
So which is the best option? Most storage experts agree that it’s better to fold a sweater to maintain its shape, especially when the sweater is handknit or prone to stretching. But if you’re short on shelf space and have a lot of hanging storage available, there are some hanging hacks to consider to prevent unwanted stretching.
How to hang sweaters:
- Do not hang sweaters made of delicate fabric like wool, cashmere or angora if at all possible.
- One way to hang a sweater so it doesn’t stretch is to fold the arms and hang the sweater on the bottom wire like you would a pair of pants.
- There are several sweater folding tutorials that explain how to hang a sweater using the arms as an anchor around the hanger’s hook. We’ve linked a video explaining this down below.
How to fold sweaters:
- Consider folding a sweater Konmari-style by creating a long rectangle shape that can stack vertically inside a drawer.
- Fold a sweater so that all sweaters are the same size by neatly folding the arms straight across the back of the sweater. We’ve linked a video demonstrating this method below:
How do I store sweaters safely?
The most important aspect of storing sweaters is the location you choose. Think dry and dark. We recommend not storing sweaters in a basement or garage because the moisture can seep into the fabrics and is difficult to remove.
If you are limited on storage options, there are some tricks you can try to minimize the amount of odor that will get to the sweater in a moist environment. Follow along with these sweater storage tips to learn what to do and what not to do.
Offseason sweater storage tips:
- Launder then dry completely. For expensive sweaters, consider getting them professionally dry cleaned. Even if the sweater seems clean, don’t skip this step. Trace amounts of body oils and dirt can translate into future stains and smells that are very difficult to get out.
- Pick a cool, dry location. If you must store in a basement,
although this option is not ideal, use silica packets or another moisture absorber inside an airtight container.
- Keep sweaters in an airtight container temporarily. This storage method is especially important if you must store sweaters in a basement or damp area for a couple of months. However, if you are storing sweaters long term, it is better if the fabric can breathe in more open container or shelf space. Fabric that is unable to breathe is susceptible to mold, mildew and unwanted odors.
- Sort sweaters by material and store like materials together. Don’t store wool or cashmere sweaters too tightly inside a container because doing so can compromise the fabric and promote moisture build up. It is especially important to allow this fabric to breathe.
- Protect your investment by keeping pests out. Cashmere and other fine materials are expensive but also resilient enough to last many years with the proper care. Invest in solutions to reduce moths naturally, like cedar chips or lavender soap.
Where should I store sweaters for the summer?
If you can carve out space in your closet or dresser for your sweaters, great. Remember, an ideal storage location is out of diect sunlight and room temperature or cooler.
If you must store sweaters in the basement, attic, or offsite in a storage unit, consider some alternative storage options first.
Creative sweater storage ideas:
- Get creative with storage solutions. Does your home have tall ceilings? In the summer, consider storing sweaters on a closet shelf that is installed close to the ceiling.
- Before resorting to the basement, garage or attic storage, see if you have a climate controlled area of your home that is underutilized. Consider storing sweaters in totes underneath the bed or in an interior mudroom cabinet.
How do I eliminate unwanted smells from sweaters?
In the event that you stored some sweaters without reading this advice, you might have some smelly garments on your hands. If a sweater absorbed odors from your basement or attic, there are a few things you can try to correct the problem.
Ways to get rid of unwanted odors:
- Wash and dry the offending knits according to manufacturers instructions, then spray with a Febreze or Lysol spray.
- After laundering, hang the sweaters out to dry on a sunny, dry day. The sunlight will work as a natural deodorizer.
- Make a DIY odor absorber. Take a mason jar and add baking soda and some drops of your favorite essential oil. Poke holes in the lid and place this inside a small, airtight container with the sweater. For added odor absorption, toss in a few dryer sheets as well.
- Hand-wash your garments in a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and water.
- Throw the sweaters in the dryer on a low heat setting with some scented dryer balls.
We hope this guide taught you a thing or two about taking care of cashmere, wool, angora and hand-knit sweaters. If you have one take away from this article, remember that the best way to avoid damage is to fold the sweaters correctly and store them in a dry, dark location.