By the time the temperatures rise and the sun begins to set later in the evening, one thing is true: You’re about this close to chucking your winter coat out a window. After months of putting it on, taking it off, and essentially lugging it everywhere, you’re more than ready to not lay eyes on it again until Thanksgiving. And while no one would blame you if it somehow went missing, there’s a better way to go about transitioning out of your cold-weather wardrobe: proper storage.
“If you live in a climate that has big seasonal shifts, storing out-of-season clothing will create more breathing room in your closet and make it easy to get dressed with ease—who wants to wrestle through an avalanche of heavy coats and sweaters to find their favorite summer dress?,” says Shira Gill, organizing expert and author of Minimalista. “Relocating out-of-season clothing and accessories will enable you to get dressed in a snap without hunting for the items you need for the current climate.”
Bailey Carson, the Home Care Expert at Angi, agrees. Besides the peace of mind that comes with properly getting these types of clothes out of the way, she also adds that doing so comes with the streamlining benefits of spring cleaning. “It forces you to take inventory of your clothes at least once a season, so you know what you have and what you wear, versus what you don’t wear and can get rid of,” she says.
Now that spring has arrived, and you’re itching to shake off your heavy coat, Gill and Carson are sharing the four steps you should take to properly store winter clothes until they’re needed again. (Don’t worry, it’s not for a long time.) Read on to get their advice.
Besides that aforementioned winter coat, you’ve probably been wearing a steady rotation of sweaters, turtlenecks, scarves, and mittens recently, none of which will be in such demand soon. So to get started, Carson recommends going through your inventory: What do you have that still works, and what needs to be either trashed or donated?
“From there, determine what should stay in your main closet as more transitional pieces, and what should be stored away,” she says. Create four piles as you move through your closet: keep, donate, toss, and store.
“A seasonal rotation is a great opportunity to reevaluate the items you own,” Gill notes. “Organized clutter is still clutter, so make sure to sell or donate any items that no longer fit, flatter, or feel good before you begin the next step.” If you need some time to decide on one item, no rush! Put it aside and make sure you’re comfortable with a decision after a day or two—no one wants you to give away a stained, holey, but beloved scarf.
Clean Everything Accordingly
Once you have your “store” pile ready, throw everything in the laundry. Sure, this might be the most time-intensive part of the process, but it’s important. After all, dust mites and moths are attracted to dirt, and you won’t know they’ve potentially eaten through your clothes until you need to wear them.
The washing stage also gives you the chance to either purchase or repurpose containers for these items (which also need to be washed). “You can use any container that works for you, but my favorites are cast-polypropylene plastic containers because they aren’t flammable or toxic, and they’re easy to keep clean,” Carson says. As for heavy-duty items like boots and snow gear, Gill thinks “weatherproof bins” are ideal.
How to Store Your Clothes
Now that your clothes are clean and you have containers to store them in, you can begin to put everything away. Start by lining your containers with an old cotton sheet, Carson says, to keep clothes from snagging on any rough surfaces. Then, roll your long-sleeves, long underwear, sweaters, and the like. “This prevents hard creases from forming over time while saving space,” Carson says. “Be sure to leave a little bit of extra room in your containers, too. You should be able to easily close them without cramming your clothes in too tightly.”
Another option Gill recommends is to store items that lose their shape easily, like knit sweaters, in breathable cotton or linen bags inside the containers. “You can separate items with acid-free tissue,” she says. “Outerwear, like long coats, and formalwear, like cocktail dresses or suits, should be hung on wooden hangers and stored in breathable cotton garment bags.” She doesn’t suggest using wire hangers, since they can potentially discolor or catch on the clothes.
Finally, add a tightly-sealed lavender sachet to each container before placing the lid on top. “Lavender repels moths and prevents musty smells, which will help your clothes feel good as new when you unpack them next season,” Carson says.
Where to Store Your Clothes
Now that you’ve done all of the work to get your winter coat and its associates out of the way, you’re probably wondering where to put everything. “All seasonal clothing should be stored in a cool, dry place in your home,” Gill says. “If you’re tight on space, you can opt for a high shelf in your existing closet. Garment bags can also be hung in the far back recesses of your closet, and even spare suitcases can be a great option for pulling double-duty.”
Make sure where you store your clothes is in a well-ventilated area that isn’t in direct sunlight, too. Keeping these items under a bed is another idea, Carson says, as is storing them in a trunk that can also act as an everyday bench. “Remember, you’re going to want to get these back out the next time the weather changes, so keep them somewhere accessible enough that you won’t have to dig to find them when it’s time,” she says. But for right now, you can at least relish in the fact that your winter coat is safely stored away. Out of sight, and out of mind.
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