How Are You Making Room for Spring Buys? Follow These Tips to Store Winter Gear the Right Way

sweaters in a storage box


Most of us just push our sweaters, coats and boots to the back of the closet when temps rise, only to be disappointed when we pull out hole-filled wool, ruined cashmere and dusty kicks when it's time to wear them again. That's why storing your favorite fall/winter gear is an absolute must when you're ready to break out your warm weather clothes. 

"But I don't have any cedar chests and I hate the smell of mothballs," you say. Don't worry, those are actually old storage myths. What you can do is take our tips on how to make your clothes last and last—not just through the season, but over the years. Store them right and they'll last longer than any of your boyfriends in college ever did.

Be Selective 

Streamline your efforts by choosing to store your favorite or priciest items. That way you're not spending six days on the chore. What to do with the rest? Donate it! 

Clean, De-pill and Repair

When it comes to your sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves, de-pill them. For your leather goods, give them a clean and a polish. Suede should be brushed using a suede brush, available at many home goods and convenience stores. This is the time to replace buttons and spruce up your garments after a season of wear. If you don't have the time, most dry cleaners will be happy to do small repairs along with the cleaning. 

Fold or Hang

What should you fold? What should you hang? Items that can stretch out (like sweaters) should be folded. Items that will easily wrinkle should be hung. Oh, and it's true what they say about wire hangers: they'll stretch and ruin the shape of a garment faster than anything else. Go for velvet-covered hangers instead.

Stuff and Line

Before you gently place items in their designated storage containers and areas, help them keep their shape and their condition. Stuff the toes of shoes and place tissue paper between each folded garment. What type of paper? Acid free, of course. It helps preserve and repel extra moisture.

The Right Way to Contain

So, here comes the part most of us aren't sure about and don't really want to deal with, the part where you have to buy storage bags and boxes. Which goes with what, exactly? You're always going to be on the right track using cloth garment bags to store your hanging items. You can also slip folded garments into them and then place that in a plastic box with a lid. No garment bags? Cotton sheets work. Just be careful, if the sheets have been used for a period of time, human oils and dead skin cling even after cleaning, which can attract bugs. Inexpensive cotton sheets fresh out of the package are best. 

Avoid plastic dry cleaning bags. They trap moisture, they suffocate clothes and they don't block light. In fact, they only protect from dust. And forget mothballs, you really only need them if you already have a bug infestation. As for cedar chests, it's a far too expensive way to repel would-be clothing-eaters. 

If you don't have the room or the dough to go to the Container Store for plastic boxes, your next best alternative is heavy duty garbage bags. Once sealed, they're air tight. 

It's All About Lavender

Lavender is a fantastic way to repel moths and bugs. It smells good to humans (unlike moth balls) and it's inexpensive. You can sprinkle containers with actual lavender or you can dip cotton balls in lavender essential oil and place them with your darlings. 

Make Space

Never pack clothing together like sardines in a can. Clothes need to breathe and air needs to be allowed to flow through for maximum preservation potential. Leave some room at the top of a plastic box or in between your hanging threads. 

Let There Be No Light

You've heard this before, but it bears repeating: keep clothes in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Sunlight fades colors.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about storing your clothes to make room for your newest spring and summer acquisitions.