When the weather finally starts warming up, it’s tempting to simply toss bulky sweaters into bins in favor of lighter-weight clothes, but taking time to think about how to store winter clothing can save you frustration next year when the temperatures plunge. Personally, I make winter clothing storage part of my closet Spring Cleaning routine by sorting winter clothes into their own pile, but it’s just as easily done as a separate task. What’s most important: taking the time to do it properly, which is probably easier than you think.
1. Decide on a few transitional pieces to keep out of storage. Unless you’re waiting until the middle of summer to put your winter clothing away, it’s risky to stash all of your warmer clothing. I’ve learned this the hard way, living in Kansas where it’s not unheard of for the temperatures to reach 80+ during the day, only to plunge back into the low 30’s when the sun sets. After shivering through one particularly wild Spring followed by a strange summer where we had more than a few chilly nights, too, I now keep a lightweight pullover sweater and a heavier cardigan in my closet year-round.
2. Clean everything, even if you don’t think it’s dirty. Left untreated, stains you can’t see now will set in your clothes while they’re in storage, and it’s a sure bet you’ll see them when you pull them out next winter. Cleaning deprives cloth-eating insects (moths, silverfish, etc.) of a reason to burrow into your duds. Take natural fiber clothing to the dry-cleaners, and wash everything else in the hottest setting allowed according to the manufacturer’s label. Skip the starch and fabric softener, too, since the tallow and emulsifiers in fabric softeners attract bugs.
3. Repair damaged items before storage. Many dry-cleaners will be happy to repair zippers and sew buttons back on, so be sure to point out any items that need extra care. Perform minor repairs yourself, or find a local tailor who can fix them at a reasonable cost.
4. Choose the appropriate storage method. Never store clothing in the plastic bags from the dry-cleaner, which don’t allow fabrics to breathe and promote humid environments that contribute to mildew. Bulky coats and jackets should be hung on sturdy clothes hangers, preferably wood but certainly not wire. Sweaters, shirts, pants and delicates should be folded carefully and can be stashed in plastic storage containers with tight-fitting lids that will help deter pests. Add a lavender or cedar sachet to keep items smelling fresh; their scent will deter bugs as well. If you live in a humid area, consider adding anti-dessicant packets (the kind you find in shoeboxes at the store) to absorb moisture, too.
5. Pick the right place to store everything. Try to avoid storing clothes in the attic, garage or basement. These places tend to be more humid, and less temperature-controlled, than other areas in the home. As a result, they’re havens for the very cloth-gnawing bugs we’re trying to avoid. Under the bed, in the back of the closet, even behind the sofa are all better locations.
Giving how to store winter clothing a little effort now is a great way to say goodbye to the cold, dreary days of winter. Not only will you make more room in your closet so you can find your favorite Spring and Summer outfits, you’ll also be paying yourself forward by ensuring your favorite cold-weather clothes are in great shape when winter rolls around again.
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