Because you won’t need that tank top when it’s below freezing
Autumn leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and you know what that means—sweater weather is here! Time to pack away your sundresses and tank tops to store them for next year. Here are 12 tips on how to store your summer wardrobe for winter.
1. Sort Your Summer Clothes
The end of a season is a good time to reevaluate your wardrobe and get rid of the things that you don’t wear. When you’re getting ready to pack up for the season, make three piles: one to keep, one to donate, and one to toss.
Any clothing that you wear regularly should go in the keep pile. Usually, these are items that are classics, like khaki shorts and white T-shirts, that'll stay in style year after year.
If you have clothing that you don’t wear but is in good condition, put that in a cardboard box to donate. It can be hard to decide what to get rid of, especially when you have items that you love but don’t wear very often. A good rule is if you didn’t wear it at all this year, it’s time to let go.
Make another cardboard box or use a garbage bag for any clothing you’re getting rid of because it’s damaged, stained, or you’ve had forever and it’s finally time to let it go. Toss this stuff in the trash or keep some items for rags—old T-shirts are great for dusting!
2. Clean Your Clothes
All clothing that you’re putting into storage should be either washed or dry cleaned before packing it away. This will ensure any dirt, odors, or stains are removed before they have time to set for months in storage.
Start by sorting your items based on the cleaning recommendations listed on their care tags. While it might be tempting to toss everything you plan to store in one big load in the washing machine, properly cleaning your clothes ensures they come out of storage looking fresh and ready to wear. Dry clean-only clothing should be dry cleaned, and delicates should be washed on a delicate cycle and hung to dry as indicated.
When it comes to clothing made from cotton, the most common type in most people’s closets, you’ll want to take care to reduce wrinkling while your clothes are in storage. Wash your garments in cold water, hang them dry to prevent wrinkles, and, if you fluff them in the dryer, do so on low heat to reduce shrinkage.
Linen clothing, which is breathable and comfortable during the warmer months of the year, also requires a little extra care to keep smooth and wrinkle-free. Wash your linen items as indicated on their care tags but dry them apart from items made of other materials to reduce drying time and ensure they come out truly dry. You’ll also want to consider ironing your linen clothes before storing them away. To do so properly, turn your items inside-out and use the steam setting as you gently work the iron back and forth over the entire surface of your clothing.
3. Pick Your Containers
You have a couple of options when it comes to boxing up your clothes for the off-season.
If you use cardboard, make sure it’s acid-free. Regular cardboard boxes, like the ones you might grab from the grocery store, are made from wood pulp and can cause clothing stains.
When picking containers for clothing storage, opt for airtight plastic bags or bins to keep out pests and prevent damage. Cast polypropylene is the best type because it’s less flammable and less toxic. You can identify cast polypropylene bins by looking for the #5 or a PP on the bottom of the container.
4. Clean Your Containers
Using a mild detergent and a cloth or a disinfectant cleaner, clean out your plastic containers before putting any clothing inside. This will help prevent any excess dirt or dust from collecting on the clothing and staining it while it’s stored.
5. Line Your Bins With Cotton
Use an old cotton sheet to line your plastic bins before you start placing your clothes. Lining the bins will help ensure that any delicate items like linen or silk don’t get damaged or snagged on any stray plastic edges.
6. Know What to Hang
There are some items of clothing that need to stay on hangers year-round to ensure that they don’t lose their shape, like blazers, some pants or skirts, and silky fabrics.
You should choose sturdy hangers like wood or plastic that won’t discolor fabric and avoid wire hangers. Hang anything silky or delicate on a padded hanger.
Hanging Storage Bags
Once you’ve got everything you want to hang sorted and hung, cover them with a hanging storage bag. Fabric is preferable over plastic because it’s breathable and will allow air circulation while protecting everything from dust and grime. If you don’t have fabric bags, a good hack is to use a cotton sheet or pillowcase to cover your hanging clothing.
7. Make Sure Everything Is Dry
All bathing suits and other clothing must be very dry before packing them up for the summer. Anything that’s packed away damp can grow mold and mildew, and it’ll ruin anything that’s been packed away with it.
8. Roll Your Clothes
Once you’ve cleaned your clothes and chosen the appropriate storage bins, it’s time to start packing. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will prevent hard creases from forming over the winter months.
9. Don’t Overpack
Leave room for lids to lock on firmly and bags to zip up tightly when storing your summer clothes away. Otherwise, you risk letting in air, moisture, and pests. Do yourself a favor and buy the extra storage container instead of trying to stuff everything in—your clothes will thank you.
10. Drop in Some Lavender
Get a lavender sachet or put some dried lavender in a breathable bag and throw it in with your packed clothing. Lavender repels moths and prevents musty smells, and you’ll have the added bonus of your clothes smelling nice when you take them out of storage.
11. Store in a Cool Spot
Heat, sunlight, and moisture can damage clothing, cause colors to fade, and let mold grow. Put your bins, bags, or boxes in a cool, well-ventilated area away from sunlight, like a closet or under the bed. Avoid storing your bins in attics and basements as these areas are prone to moisture.
12. Hire a Professional Organizer
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of getting everything stored away, or just want someone to take charge, hiring a local organizing pro can help you tackle this task. Be sure to get quotes from several pros and ask them to share their organizing philosophy before choosing the best pro for you.