There’s no better day than the one when you realize you won’t be needing your heavy sweaters, coats, and boots again this year. This particular winter has been—in a word—excruciating—so it’s a given that most of us are looking forward to hauling away our cold-weather gear and breaking out spring-ready jackets, skirts, and sandals.
However, even though you’re probably cursing your winter clothes right about now, it’s a bad idea to just ball them up and chuck ’em in the back of your closet, where they’ll sit for months on end. After all, you probably put a lot of thought into your coat, boot and sweater selection this winter, and the last thing you want is for everything to look like a hot mess when the weather cools down again.
Here, we’ve outlined how to store winter clothes properly, and spotlighted 10 useful tips to try when transitioning your wardrobe.
1. Clean everything first.
The biggest and most effective tip is to machine wash or dry clean everything you plan to store before packing it up for the season. It’s icky, but moths and insects are naturally attracted to our everyday scents, such as perfume, food, deodorant, and smoke—even if the scents are fairly imperceptible to you.
2. Remove all plastic from your garments.
Never store anything—we repeat, anything—in the dry cleaning plastic it came in. The plastic seriously traps moisture, which can cause fibers to dry out and can cause yellowing of fabric
3. Invest in plastic bins.
Those as-seen-on-TV plastic vacuum bags might be hot right now, but most experts warn against them since you use a vacuum to suck out all the air—again, drying out garments. Clothes need to breathe, so plastic bins are fine for non-delicate items like t-shirts, jeans, wool sweaters, or polyester. Just be sure you pack things loosely to maximize air flow.
4. Pack delicates differently.
For delicate items like silk, organza, or cashmere, or anything that’s special to you, remove them from protective plastic immediately, wrap them in acid-free tissue paper and place in 100% cotton-canvas storage bags.
5. Don’t hang sweaters …
If you have a spare storage closet (lucky!) resist the urge to hang sweaters, as they can became grossly misshapen beyond repair. Instead, fold them and place them in your plastic bins or your fabric storage bags, with the heaviest garments at the bottom. One thing to remember: Don’t shove every sweater in one bin—air needs to circulate, otherwise mold and mildew could form. You also may want to add cedar-scented panels to keep pests away.
6. …Or most coats.
Believe it or not, coat storage is actually much more effective when each piece is gently folded, as opposed to hung if the coats are wool, leather, faux fur or down. First, remove everything from pockets and fasten all snaps, buttons or zippers and gently fold the coat. From there, loosely stack them into boxes, storage bags, or plastic bins. This will help retain the shape of your coats.
7. Keep real fur hung, though.
If your coat is real fur, however, you might want to think about getting it professionally stored during the summer months, since real fur needs to be kept in climate-controlled spaces. According to Wiki How, fur needs constant 50˚F temperatures and 50% humidity to maintain the proper moisture levels.
8. Commit “CCDD” to memory.
This means cool, clean, dry and dark. The last thing you want is your storage environment to be is too damp , too hot, too bright, or too dusty.
9. Invest in boot trees.
The last thing you want is to break out your favorite leather or suede boots in the fall only to find them slouchy, misshapen, and creased from being shoved in the back of your closet all summer. Buying a few boot forms can do wonders when it comes to maintaining the shape of taller styles. While it’s always better to keep your boot standing upright, space is often at a premium, so you can lay them flat on their sides in your plastic bins—just make sure to condition them first, and lay some cotton (an old shirt, a pillowcase, a muslin shoe bag) over each pair.
10. Pack shoes with tissue paper.
If your cold-weather shoes aren’t tall boots, but rather things like ankle booties, pumps, or loafers, loosely packing them with clean tissue paper before storing will help maintain their shape whole they sit in storage. Just make sure to wipe them down first.