Laundry

The Four Basic Steps of Winter Clothing Storage

Welcome spring by packing up those winter garments.

Winter Clothing Storage Credit:

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Spring may feel like it's months away, but it's really right around the corner. And, of course, with spring comes warm weather, which means a change of wardrobe. If you don't have the closet space to handle everything year-round, here are some tips for making your seasonal clothing swap a little easier.

Cut Back

This is the best time to get rid of old, stretched out, or unflattering garments. Everything is laid out in front of you, and by the end of the season you should know what you simply don’t wear anymore. Instead of throwing them out, however, consider donating pieces still in good shape to a local homeless shelter or Goodwill. For the craft-oriented consumer, you could even repurpose some old favorites. Pants with interesting patterns can make cool lamp covers, and an old sweater can easily be repurposed as a mitten and scarf set.

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A variety of donation bins are readily available in most communities for gently used clothes. [Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, "Deedeebee"]

Scrub Down

We can’t stress this enough: Wash everything! Even clothes that seem clean should be put through the laundry. Unseen bits of food can attract bugs, while subtle spills that you might miss can set in and be harder to remove next season. As if stains aren't horrifying enough... insect eggs that would normally come out through regular cleaning can hatch if they’re locked away for six months.

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You should clean everything before storing it, even if you haven't worn something since you last washed it.

Wash everything in water that’s as hot as the fabric type will allow, and take everything else to the dry cleaner. Avoid fabric softener and starch: The emulsifiers can attract beetles and moths. Make sure to thoroughly dry everything, too; you don’t want mold to build up. Here are some tips on how to deal with harder-to-clean winter accessories, like leather gloves and loose-knit scarves.

Freshen Up

Mothballs are stinky relics of the past. They smell bad, contain pesticides, and are just a little bit toxic. These days, you can turn to bags of lavender or blocks of cedar. They smell better, and the cedar can repel bugs just as well as mothballs. Don’t over do it, though—unless you like the idea of smelling like a forest all winter.

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Cedar blocks are a more aromatic and healthier alternative to mothballs. [Image Credit: Cedar Green]

Put Away

If you want to preserve the quality of your clothes, you need to find an appropriate receptacle. Clean, new cardboard boxes can work, but aren’t recommended if you’re worried at all about insects or humidity. Plastic containers are better, especially if you can get something with a good seal. If you’ve got some extra luggage, consider using it as a cost-effective alternative. Lining the inside with acid-free tissue paper is a must: That will help reduce the risk of mold and discoloration. My personal method (and perhaps the most entertaining, especially if you’ve got a house pet) is to use vacuum seal bags. They take up less space, and you can stick the bag inside a bin for double protection!

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No more wire hangers! Stick to wood or plastic, depending on the weight of the garment. [Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, "Keeonb2012"]

When organizing your clothes, use common sense. Store like with like (sweaters with sweaters, pants with pants, etc.) to make it easier to unpack next year. Also, store the heaviest items at the bottom. It’ll avoid unnecessary creasing and keep your clothes in better shape. For jackets, coats, or anything else that’ll do better on a hanger, keep these tips in mind: No more wire hangers! They can distort the shape of a heavy garment over time. Also, consider purchasing designated zip-up garment bags to combat bugs and mold. If you've got a lot of coats, you can even get a zip-up portable closet.

Hero Image: Wikimedia Commons, "Keeonb2012" (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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