Updated on 5/31/17 from an article originally published 7/8/2015.
Anyone that’s short on closet space knows the never-ending struggle of the rotating wardrobe. Winter ends and then comes the time to joyfully pull out all your family’s shorts and t-shirts.
However, you quickly realize you have no room for anything, let alone that new bathing suit you wanted. Your bulky winter clothes will inevitably need to be stored someplace else so that you can make room for your summer wardrobe.
But where and how? Properly storing winter clothes takes a little more effort than tossing them into the back of your closet. Make sure your clothes look (and smell) pristine next winter by following this winter clothing storage advice.
1. Clean and Protect Your Garments
Step one: launder everything! Even if they don’t look dirty, make it a point to clean your winter clothes before you store them. And this means everything—even items that need to be hand washed or dry cleaned.
You may have never had that cashmere sweater dry cleaned, but it’s important that you do. Dirty clothes can deteriorate while they’re in storage because even subtle body oils on clothing can attract moths and also create an odor that can be nearly impossible to remove.
No matter where you store your clothes, there’s a chance that things can start smelling a little musty over the warm summer months. Include a few drops of lavender essential oil or dryer sheets in each container or garment rack
2. Fold or Hang Accordingly
Should you hang your clothes or should you fold them for best results? As a general rule, natural fiber fabrics should be folded. Fold synthetic fabrics with acid-free tissue in between the folded areas. More specifically, consider the following:
- Sweaters – Fold and place in plastic bins or fabric storage bags. Don’t cram lots of sweaters in one container or mold and mildew could form.
- Winter coats – Zip up zippers, button the buttons, and gently fold coats made of leather, wool, or faux fur so they keep their shape. If you have a coat of real animal fur, hang it up.
- Delicates – Remove from plastic dry-cleaning bags, wrap in acid-free tissue paper, and store in cotton garment bags.
- Shoes – Pack with tissue paper to help them hold their shape and store them in plastic bins.
- Boots – Put a boot form in each boot to help it hold its shape; store boots on their sides in plastic bins with a pillowcase or an old shirt in between each pair.
- Casual shirts and jeans – Fold or roll and store in a plastic storage bin.
Read Also: 3 Different Ways to Store Tall Boots
3. Pack Folded Clothes in Clear Plastic Bins
It’s tempting to use cardboard boxes to store your winter clothes. They’re cheap (or even free), and they fold up flat when you’re not using them.
But cardboard is acidic and is susceptible to water damage. It also contains glue and crevices that can attract insects and pests. Instead, opt for sealed plastic totes that will store your winter clothing without getting water damaged or worse.
Consider purchasing clear bins instead of opaque ones. This way you can see exactly what you’re storing. Pack like clothes together and use a label maker to further organize each bin by type. Categories for individual bins might include sweaters, coats, or accessories.
Storage Hack: Utilize plastic zipper comforter bags to store winter clothing underneath your bed.
4. Store Hanging Clothes on Rolling Garment Rack
For clothes that need to be hung, consider an enclosed rolling garment rack. You can hang your clothes on the rack and quickly roll it into your storage area. If your rack doesn’t include an enclosure, cover it with a cotton sheet so that the clothes won’t become dusty.
Make sure you’re deliberate about how you pack up your winter clothes on the rack. Hang like items together and coordinate each item by color or family member. Make hanging labels using thick ribbon and a sharpie. Tie the ribbon label directly to the rack or on hangers to separate categories.
5. Get Creative With Small Spaces
When deciding where to store your winter clothes, keep the acronym CCDD in mind. Always store your winter clothing in a cool, clean, dry and dark location. Cool and dry are probably the two more important factors in storage, but ignoring any of these factors could damage clothing.
Look beyond your garage or your attic because the temperatures in those areas can be too extreme. However, there are many options for storing your winter clothes, even when you don’t have an extra closet. Carve out extra space under a bed or stack old suitcases to create a makeshift table.
If your clothing collection is valuable (perhaps you’re storing a large vintage coat collection), consider renting a climate controlled storage unit in the offseason.
Use these tips to be confident that your winter clothes will be protected during the offseason. But before you store everything away, remember to keep a few winter outfits in the rotation (or at least in a spot where you can quickly access them) in case Mother Nature throws you a curveball.