Our heavy-duty elite performance outerwear and apparel has served us well all season long. These threads have warmed our bones when we needed them most and earned a comfortable retirement. Taking extra care to store your winter gear the right way will protect you from the heartbreak of pulling out a once-favorite item, now soiled and damaged, come late fall. In addition to tips and tricks for protecting your bulky items in the off-season, we’ll also give you a few practical storage ideas when you want to do the right thing, but you’re dealing with space restrictions.
Before storing winter clothes, clean everything first.
Washing your items is the first step in properly storing winter clothes. Even if you think the items “look clean,” wash them. Seventy percent of laundry soil is invisible, according to Tide & Downy principal scientist Mary Johnson. You may feel clean yourself, but each day, you produce about a liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease, 10 grams of skin cell flakes. When combined with lingering oils from deodorants, perfumes, and body creams can discolor our clothing in storage, attract pests, and produce an odor like you wouldn’t believe.
Here are a few tips for cleaning:
- Dry-clean wool, cashmere, and other expensive or vintage items, but machine-wash the rest.
- Use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent shrinkage.
- Add tennis balls when drying puffy jackets to preserve their look.
Use durable winter clothes boxes and garment bags in collapsible wardrobes.
Now the big question: where to store winter clothes?
Plastic storage bins: Tops made of special fabrics like wool, cashmere, and specialty synthetics should be stored in durable clothing boxes, rather than on hangers (which tends to stretch them out or distort their shapes.) Many of these clothing boxes are designed to go under beds or stack flat on storage shelves. Pack acid-free tissue paper between layers to prevent condensation and dye color transfer that occurs with humidity. Pack heavier items on bottom and lighter items on top to prevent wrinkles and damage.
Vacuum-seal bags: Puffy coats, thick socks, and blanket scarves take up a lot of space in storage. You can vacuum-seal them for better compaction. Choose items that can survive without getting too wrinkled.
Fabric storage bags: Certain fabrics – like leather, suede, and down-filled jackets – need to breathe. Choosing fabric storage bags like muslin or cotton are preferable, especially if you live in a warmer climate. Plastic garment bags can emit gas and staining oils when exposed to high summer heats.
- Hangers: Hang your furs and leathers, so they don’t dry out in storage.
The ideal storage zone is a dry, dark place that stays a comfortable 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Attics and basements offer the most unused space, but they are also the worst locations for storage due to the temperature fluctuations. If you absolutely must, you can add silica-gel packets, use a dehumidifier, and place bricks under the bins to keep them off the floor. Collapsible cloth wardrobes can be assembled anywhere you have extra space. Under the bed, in the back of the closet, and behind the sofa are all common hiding spots for off-season clothes. Apartment Therapy recommends using vintage suitcases, crates, and wicker baskets to stash clothes and add décor to a particularly small space. You may also consider beds that offer undercarriage storage, or calling in the pros to transform unused wall space or a beneath-the-stairs / beneath-the-windows nook into extra storage.
Keep pests out of your winter gear.
Creatures like moths, carpet beetles, and silverfish are the worst! As Martha Stewart put it: “No one wants beetle eggs as their next winter accessory.” Fortunately, natural scents like lavender and cinnamon are enough to keep most pests at bay. Cedar can work, too, but it tends to dehydrate, so you particularly don’t want to use cedar near materials that can crack (like leather). In olden times, moth balls were all the rage, but the fumigant gas they release has come under scrutiny as a health risk in recent years.
If you’ve had trouble with “Mothra” in the past – with tell-tale holes, white rice-like cocoons, and fluttering menaces – you can use a natural chrysanthemum moth spray in the affected rooms. Spray under furniture, behind curtains, and along the edges of the carpeting, as well as inside your empty drawers. Wait four hours before opening the door and another four hours before putting your clothes back in the drawers. You may need to set pheromone-based traps or call in an exterminator if conservative measures do not work.
Are You Ready for Warmer Weather?
Now that you know how to pack away your winter clothes, you can experience the joy of unpacking all your favorite warm-weather athletic wear again. Don’t forget to keep a few transitional pieces out of storage. You never know when the evening temperatures will dip or a cool wind will send a chill down your spine. Classic outerwear staples like a softshell jacket or a vest, a sport fleece, or a windbreaker work great for that!
- She Finds – How to store winter coats during spring and summer, https://www.shefinds.com/how-to-store-winter-coats-during-spring-and-summer/
- Huffington Post – Winter clothing storage tips, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/10/winter-clothing-storage-tips_n_6996060.html
- Housewife How Tos – How to store winter clothing, https://housewifehowtos.com/get-organized/how-to-store-winter-clothing/
- Apartment Therapy – Ideas and products for storing offseason clothes, https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ideas-products-for-storing-offseason-clothes-home-remedies-200711
- Country Living – Prevent moths when storing winter clothes, https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/interiors/a19870144/prevent-moths-storing-winter-clothes/
- Martha Stewart – The basics of moth-proofing, https://www.marthastewart.com/264609/the-basics-of-mothproofing