How to Store Your Winter Clothes (So You Don’t Have to Wash or Re-Buy Them Next Year)
As temperatures finally begin turning, it’s time to put away those winter clothes that needlessly take up space in your closet as it gets warmer. Tossing all your cold-weather clothing in a bin or space bag might be a quick fix, but improper storage could mean having to re-purchase moth-eaten staples or work hard to (hopefully) get a funky smell out of your expensive coat.
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Putting in the work now to make sure that your winter coats, scarves, hats, boots, and gloves are washed, fully dried, and properly stored ensures that your cold weather gear is ready to keep you warm when you need it to.
How to Prepare Winter Clothes for Storage
The very first step when you go to put your winter clothes in storage is culling through them. There’s no sense putting time and energy into preparing items for storage and then consuming valuable space when you won’t wear the items next winter season (just like you didn’t this season). Donate what you didn’t wear while your preferences are fresh in your memory.
Next, make sure you’re putting away your winter clothing in its very best condition. Storing clothing with any odors, or stains (even if they aren’t noticeable) will only set them in further, maybe permanently. Not only that, but moths and other pests are more attracted to food and perspiration stains than to the fabric itself.
So hand-wash your wool scarves and send your winter dress coat to the dry cleaner. Wash everything you’re going to store unless you know for sure that you haven’t worn it since you last washed it.
Another note about pests: They’re also attracted to fabric softeners, bleach, and starch, so stick to basic laundry detergent. In addition to making sure your clothing is clean, you can also de-pill your sweaters and clean and polish your boots. (Give them ample time to dry before you pack them away.)
When you’re done preparing your winter clothes, the only things that will get put away for next winter are the items you use and love, and each of them will be clean and as close to new-looking as possible.
Should I Hang or Fold Winter Clothing?
The guidelines about what to store and what to fold are the same for storing over the summer as they are for regular use. In general, fold anything that could stretch or lose its shape when hung and hang anything that would wrinkle when folded. Specifically, as it applies to winter clothing, if closet space allows, hang things like down coats and cold-weather pleated skirts. Otherwise, fold them but don’t put them in vacuum-sealed bags or overstuff your containers.
When folding, use acid-free tissue paper to add an extra layer of protection to vintage, delicate, or special items. Tissue paper also prevents color transfer and snagging if some of your clothing has embellishments.
What is the Best Way to Store Winter Clothes?
When deciding how to store your winter clothing, the main consideration is how to keep your clothes as protected as possible within your particular space limitations and the needs of your various types of clothing.
Start with vacuum-sealed bags and plastic bins with secure lids because these are the most straightforward storage options and, in combination, take up the least amount of space. Sealed bags and bins are also the best way to make sure pests don’t make a feast out of your clothing. Put everything you can into vacuum bags and then airtight storage bins. This is an especially good choice for bulky items like ski pants or poly-filled winter coats.
Feather- and down-filled winter wear, however, could get damaged in vacuum-sealed bags. Hang your filled garments if you have the space, or pack them directly into plastic bins, but not so tightly that they’re excessively squished.
Whether you hang or put in bins, make sure all buttons are fastened, and all zippers are pulled up to help garments keep their shape and prevent snagging. If you have the space to hang some winter clothes while they’re in storage, take them out of any plastic dry cleaner bags, then encase them in full-protection garment bags.
Delicate sweaters may also be best stored outside of vacuum bags. If you’re worried about them being stored compressed together, fold your delicates and place them directly into plastic storage bins with the heaviest knits on the bottom. Anything that you folded with tissue paper should go directly into storage containers as well.
Shoes and boots are also best stored in plastic containers. Make sure they are clean and dry, and don’t try to stuff too many into one bin. Use tissue paper or shoe shapers to help your shoes keep their shape and boot shapers for your boots.
However you store your clothing, place pest deterrents with them to protect them from getting eaten. Skip moth balls and opt instead for lavender sachets or cedar balls to repel pests. Charcoal bags can also help absorb odors while your clothes and shoes are stored, making sure everything smells fresh and clean when you unpack everything next year.
Can Winter Clothes be Stored in a Garage or Attic?
Short answer: probably not. You want to store your winter clothing in a cool, dry, dark location. Keeping your clothing in a temperature-controlled environment probably means keeping them in your house. Top shelves in the closet or under the bed are ideal out-of-the way options.
12 Clever Tips for Storing Winter Clothes
If you’re tight on space or just love a good hack, here are some clever ideas for winter clothing storage:
- Stuff your shoes or boots with newspaper or tissue paper to keep their shape.
- Store your clothing in your luggage. If you rarely use your luggage and you’re storing it on the top shelf of the closet anyway, it’s the perfect spot for stashing those full vacuum bags.
- If you prefer to use vertical space in your closet, check out these hanging vacuum-sealed bags.
- Refresh lavender sachets by squeezing the bags or placing them out in the sun.
- Refresh cedar by lightly sanding it.
- Inflatable boot shapers take up little space when not in use.
- Underbed bins allow you to take advantage of the often underutilized space beneath the bed. A rolling one is particularly user-friendly.
- Clear bins allow you to see what’s inside them.
- Labeling bins makes quick work of grabbing what you need when you need it (and knowing where to put any errant winter clothing items away when they turn up).
- Put deodorizing sachets in winter shoes before storing them.
- Add desiccant packs to bins to ensure that any lingering moisture is absorbed and won’t harm your clothing or create a musty smell.
- Put sweaters in Ziploc bags and freeze them for a few days to kill any un-hatched pests.