Storing Winter Clothing Over the Summer Months

Hi All — I published this last year, but wanted to repost because I know many of you are starting to put away your winter gear for the summer.  Here are some tips for how to ensure that your winter wardrobe will be fresh and ready come October.   ~Enjoy!

HOW TO STORE WINTER CLOTHING OVER THE SUMMER

Despite the cool early morning and evening temperatures of spring, it’s clear warmer temps are around the corner. That means we can put away sweaters and winter coats for good. I know many of you are doing your happy dance at the mere thought!

While you might be tempted to just throw all your winter items into a big garbage bag and forget about them, properly cleaning and storing off-season clothing is important. Taking an hour or two this spring to launder and properly store your clothes will ensure their longevity and integrity, and help prevent stains from setting. This is particularly important for wardrobe investment pieces you’ve spent good money on.

Below are some useful guidelines about how, where and in what to store clothing over the warm, summer months. When October rolls around and you are once again reaching for those cashmere sweaters, you’ll be happy you took the time to properly store them. Here goes…

  • 200px-goodwill_industries_logo-svgReducing is a good thing. Use this as an opportunity to gauge what you really used this winter and determine if it’s time to donate some unused items to Goodwill. There’s no point in storing clothing items you haven’t worn in two or three years. Be honest with yourself about what you really want to hold on to. If you’re going to go through the trouble of cleaning, folding and storing something, it should be because you love and use it, not because it cost a lot, or you might need it some day.
  • Clean clothing BEFORE storing. I can’t stress this enough. Over time, stains settle into fibers, making them impossible to remove. Laundering or professional dry cleaning ensures that these stains will not settle into fabrics over four or five months of storage. Also, clean clothes protect against moths and other such critters.
  • Clean, resole (if necessary) and polish shoes and boots. Take a look at your boots and shoes and you’ll probably notice the winter weather has taken a toll on them. If you have invested in great boots and shoes, it’s worth resoling them and having them professionally polished at your local shoe repair store prior to winter storage. Ugg boots can be dry cleaned at many dry cleaners, too. For all suede items, use a suede shoe brush to loosen dirt and reset fibers. To store your boots, use either a boot shaper or stuff them with acid-free tissue paper to prevent them from losing their shape. Shoes should be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and then placed in clear, plastic shoeboxes. (My absolute FAVORITES are from The Container Store.)  Cardboard boxes contain moisture and are not ideal for storage. The glue also attracts moths and other critters.Boot_Shapers_x-210008759gOurBoxes_600
  • Dry clean wool and down coats. Avoid storing them on plastic or wire hangers and do not store them in the plastic you get from the drycleaners. The plastic can cause yellowing and doesn’t allow airflow. Use strong wooden or quilted hangers to maintain their shape and store in cotton garment bags that will allow airflow.CottonHangBags_x
  • Use clear plastic bins for storing all clean and folded clothing. Cardboard boxes trap moisture and attract bugs. Invest in 3 or 4 plastic bins and use them year after year. I’ve been using the same bins for over 7 years. You can purchase them at Target, Walmart or online.  General guidelines:
  • Don’t overstuff bins. Pack things loosely to allow air circulation.
  • Fold sweaters into thirds and place the heaviest ones on the bottom.
  • Store like with like and it will make for easier unpacking in the fall.
  • Wrap silk and cashmere items in acid-free tissue and store in bins.
  • Place cedar blocks or lavender packets in the bins to prevent moths and other critters from feasting on your clothes.

Where should you store your items once they’re packed away? Store in a space that is cool, dry and dark. Avoid your attic, which in most homes is not temperature controlled. Don’t have an extra closet? Consider maximizing the vertical space in your existing closet and using a vertical, wire storage rack. You can also buy thin bins for clothing that can roll under beds.

Here’s a cheat sheet to reference as you clean and store:

Clothing Item Recommended Cleaning Storage / Container Recommendations
Wool Coats Dry Clean
  • Store on sturdy wooden or quilted hangers
  • Store in cotton garment bag or cover in cotton sheets to prevent dust accumulation.
Wool / Cashmere Sweaters Dry Clean
  • Discard dry cleaning plastic
  • Don’t store on hangers
  • Fold Neatly (thirds)
  • Wrap Cashmere in acid-free tissue
  • Store loosely in plastic bins

 

Wool / Dress pants Dry Clean
  • Hang by hem or cuff on wooden hangers
Jeans Machine wash, then dry low
  • Fold in half and lay flat in plastic bin (under-the-bed kinds are nice size & shape for pants)
Silk Dry Clean
  • Discard Dry Cleaning plastic
  • Fold Neatly (thirds)
  • Wrap in acid-free tissue
  • Store loosely in plastic bins
Cotton Read labels and wash accordingly, but most can be machine-washed in cold water
  • Fold neatly
  • Store loosely in plastic bins or cotton canvas bags