Before winter and spring trade places, you might want to think about what to do with all of your beanies, boots and parkas. Once the mercury goes through its seasonal growth spurt, you should keep in mind not only where your winter closet will live but how to store it. The process can be annoying at best, teeth-pulling at worst, but we’re here to make it easier.
The easiest way to be better dresser is to have access to every item you own. That means your closet must rotate, making room for pieces tied to a particular season. So, before winter hits, do three things: launder, edit and organize.
Closet Organizing Essentials
What to Do Before You Store Winter Clothes
Wash Your Clothes
Launder your clothes, dry clean your coats and delicate garments and clean and condition your winter boots. Before you get ahead of yourself, it’s imperative to do some pre-packing prep. If you don’t do the laundry legwork now, damage will happen later in the form of mildew, bugs and odors.
Next winter’s sudden arrival isn’t the moment you want to realize that your coat has a hole in it, or your winter boots need a resole. Do future you a favor and take care of that now.
Donate (or Sell) What You Don't Need
Now is a great time to assess and scrutinize your closet. Edit your wardrobe down by either donating, giving away to friends and/or selling clothes you don’t use anymore. For clothes that are beyond repair, find a local fabric recycling center that will take your clean but damaged goods and properly upcycle or dispose of them.
How to Store Winter Clothes
Pick a Place That's Cool, Dark and Dry
Excessive heat and light can damage your clothes and light exposure can cause colors to fade, so, if you’re using a see-through container, you want to find a space that isn’t too hot or bright. Mildew can form if the space is too humid, so make sure the space is dry, too. If that’s not possible, you can try and regulate your container’s humidity using humidity packs.
This could be under the bed, tucked away in the closet, a commercial storage unit that’s humidity and temperature regulated. Though you can store your winter clothes in the attic, they can get pretty hot in the summer (depending on your location, of course).
Use Storage Containers
Plastic storage containers are great for stacking, and for keeping pests and moisture out. They’re also see-through, which makes it easy to find your stuff come next winter. Wood and cardboard boxes are often coated with materials that contain chemicals that can eventually damage your clothes.
Good plastic containers will stack easily and snap shut. Discreet versions can also fit under the bed. Fabric storage containers are great for longer-term garments that need to breathe such as wool sweaters, though they aren’t as easy to stack.
Put It All Inside Vacuum Bags
These vacuum-sealed bags cut down on the bulk of your favorite winter garments like down jackets and duvets. However, these aren’t ideal for garments with natural fibers like wool and cotton that need to be able to breathe.
Or, Use Garment Bags
These will keep your coats and suits fresh while keeping moths out.
Keep Pests Out with Cedar and Lavender
Cedar and lavender sachets and hangers offer protection from pests and keep your clothes smelling nice. Cedar shoe trees also absorb moisture and help shoes retain their shape.
Prevent Mold with Humidity Packs
Keeping these stored with your winter clothes can help keep the humidity in a healthy zone, preventing mold.
Wrap Delicates in Acid-Free Tissue Paper
Wrapping your delicate garments in acid-free tissue paper can help protect them from other clothes while also preventing creases from folding.
What to Do With Your Expensive Winter Clothes
Folding your long coats and stuffing them into a box can lead to damage, causing it to wrinkle and leaving it exposed to moths. To keep its shape, hang your coat in a garment bag with some cedar or lavender sachets. The garment bag will allow the natural fibers of the coat to breathe and maintain a natural humidity while the cedar or lavender will prevent moths.
Vacuum-sealed plastic bags help save a ton of space on bulky garments like down jackets. And because most down jackets use synthetic fabric shells, they won’t be negatively affected by the non-breathable plastic.
Store your sweaters in plastic containers with cedar/lavender sachets. Plastic containers aren’t totally airtight and will allow your sweaters to breathe. Again, cedar and lavender to keep the critters from noshing on your knits. You’ll also want to store your winter-weight sweaters at the bottom of the containers with lighter clothes on top. This will help prevent your thinner clothes from creasing.
Clean and condition your boots and shoes. Winter’s done its damage to your footwear and before you pack away your stompers, you need to remove the salt stains and clean and condition them.
Cedar shoe trees are the best way to maintain your shoes’s shape, remove moisture and reduce odors. Alternatively, at least stuff them with newspaper. For tall boots, make sure to use boot trees or stuff the newspaper all the way through the shaft of the boot.
Cotton dust bags prevent dust from accumulating on your shoes while still allowing them to breathe. They also help prevent critters from making your shoes a new home. It's best to store them inside one.
Containers with dividers make it easy to pair the myriad of winter accessories like scarves, beanies, socks and gloves. And, as above, stash them in your breathable container of choice with both cedar and lavender.