Living in a cold climate means having a larger wardrobe than someone living where the temperature barely changes.
Unlike a Floridian, wearing shorts outside in the middle of January simply isn’t an option for Canadians.
Or should I say most Canadians. There are those strange people, after all, who you occasionally see at the local Tim Hortons on a frigid winter day bundled up with a thick coat, toque, and…wearing their shorts. We don’t get it.
The bi-annual ritual of seasonal clothes storage
For the rest of us who stick to weather-appropriate attire, the perpetual seasonal clothes storage cycle is a fact of life.
At least twice a year in the spring and fall, it’s time to carry out the ritual of swapping your seasonal clothing for whichever apparel is best suited to the coming season.
Whether it’s packing away your swimwear or shorts in the autumn or your mitts and sweaters when springtime arrives, there’s a right way and a wrong way to store your seasonal clothes.
It’s well worth it to take the time to do things properly when it comes to seasonal clothes storage.
You’ll extend the life of your clothing. And when your organized seasonal apparel emerges from its hibernation months from now, you’ll have fewer headaches to deal with.
Use these nine seasonal clothes storage tips whenever you’re changing over your wardrobe.
1. Pare down your wardrobe
Switching out your wardrobe when seasons change presents the perfect opportunity to take stock of what you own and “thin the herd” a little.
An MSN.com poll found that 63% of those surveyed planned to get rid of outdated clothing in the next year. However, life tends to get in the way sometimes. We don’t always follow through on those well-intentioned plans, unfortunately.
That’s one reason so many of us have so much unworn or barely worn clothing in our closets. One study by PR agency 10 Yetis estimated that the closets of U.S. women contain an average of $550 worth of unworn clothing.
Undoubtedly, seasonal clothing that doesn’t fit, is out of fashion, is damaged beyond repair, or was bought on sale but never worn will comprise some of that closet clutter.
While you’re going through your clothing collection, spend a little extra time to pare down your wardrobe.
Getting rid of clothing you never wear will create much-needed closet and drawer space. You’ll save a good amount of time every year by having fewer non-essential things to go through when you’re looking for something to wear.
2. Wash and repair your clothes before storage
Any seasonal clothing should be properly washed and folded before being packed away for several months. For your more delicate items, round everything up for a visit to your dry cleaner.
Leaving an untreated stain on an item of clothing that’s being stored for awhile will usually create more problems for you later on. The stain will only set in further and cause a worse discolouration of the fabric.
The smells of body odours, perfumes, and colognes left on unwashed seasonal clothes will be more difficult to get rid of the longer you don’t deal with them. Clean clothes will also be much less likely to attract pests like closet moths.
Always be sure that your washed seasonal clothes are completely dry before they’re put into storage containers. Damp clothes being stored in a sealed space with no airflow is a recipe for mould and mildew problems.
Take care of any sweater de-pilling or necessary mending tasks, such as fixing broken zippers or replacing missing buttons on your seasonal clothes.
Invest a little extra time to make all of the seasonal clothes you’re storing fresh and ready-to-go as soon as you need them the following year. Your future self will thank you.
3. Stick with plastic storage containers
Always use clean plastic storage containers/bins with secure lids instead of cardboard boxes for your seasonal clothes storage. Be sure to label them in order to make finding things easier.
Even a thicker cardboard box will eventually fall apart and they’re harder to move around. Cardboard boxes are also susceptible to infiltration from rodents and insects.
Clothing stored in cardboard boxes for lengthy periods of time may also develop white or yellow stains.
Don’t overstuff your plastic storage containers, as you’ll cause tough-to-remove creases and wrinkling.
Loosely storing things in your containers and leaving a bit of space in them will also allow air to circulate.
4. Use mothballs properly for seasonal clothes storage
Wait, there’s a wrong way to use mothballs?
Well, as much as mothballs are indeed an effective solution to prevent insects from feasting on your clothes, remember that they are, in fact, a pesticide.
That means there’s a certain level of toxicity in the product, which makes them a hazard to pets, children, and you if you’re using them improperly. Toxicologists recommend that anyone handling mothballs wear gloves.
To eliminate any safety worries, you could spend a little extra and get chemical-free mothballs. Cedar blocks and cedar-lined chests are another safer option.
Also keep this in mind: mothballs need to be used in an airtight container or bag to be most effective. You also need to use the right amount of them. And remember that after awhile, mothballs lose their potency and will need to be replaced.
5. More ideas for where to store seasonal clothes
Not all of your stored seasonal clothing will be folded up and put in storage bins. You’ll want to hang some things, so try creating more storage space in your closet by adding a closet organizer and some helpful accessories, like extra hanging rods.
Adding an extra shelf to your closet’s upper reaches can also provide the perfect space to keep items you won’t need for some time.
Just don’t overcrowd your closets with so much of your stored seasonal clothing that it ends up restricting your everyday use of the space.
To free up closet space, here are a few more places you can use for seasonal clothes storage in your home:
- larger walk-in closet/dressing room
- bed surround with underbed storage
- laundry room or mudroom with extra cabinet storage space (but be mindful of high moisture levels)
6. Store things in a climate-controlled space
Wherever you plan to store your seasonal clothing, ensure it’s in a climate-controlled area of your home.
Stable storage conditions with consistent temperatures (preferably cool) are recommended to keep your clothes as well-preserved as possible.
Only use your basement if it’s not too damp and don’t store your clothes too close to your furnace. Avoid using your garage unless it’s climate-controlled.
Your storage space should also be clean. Considering how hot and dusty most attics are, that might rule them out as a seasonal clothes storage space for you.
It’s also a good idea to store your things in a darker space, especially if you’re using clear storage containers. This will prevent your clothes being stored for long periods of time from fading.
Some of your seasonal clothes may be packed away for a particularly long time without being used. If so, check in on them once a year to make sure there’s no storage issues.
7. Don’t hang certain items
Even if you have plenty of available hanging space in your closets (lucky you), some of your seasonal clothing won’t take kindly to being hung for months at a time.
Sweaters or any of your more delicate knit items will lose their shape when hung for lengthy periods of time.
Prevent the stretching of your favourite sweaters by always folding them away in a drawer or plastic storage container.
For long-term storage of delicates (including things like quilts or a wedding dress), wrapping the items in acid-free tissue can also be beneficial.
And if you are using hangers for something being stored, use high quality padded or wood hangers. They provide better support for your garments than wire hangers.
8. Don’t use plastic bags for seasonal clothes storage
It’s not common knowledge that long-term storage of anything in a dry cleaning bag isn’t advisable.
The “dry” in “dry cleaning” is somewhat misleading. There’s no water being used in the process, but liquid solvents are.
And if those liquids aren’t thoroughly dried by your dry cleaner, moisture trapped inside that cheap plastic bag can cause yellowing and mildew problems on the fabric.
Even if your dry cleaned items were fully dried when you brought them home, the plastic covering just doesn’t give your more delicate clothing the chance to breathe, which it needs.
Get some breathable garment bags for long-term storage of your winter coats, suits, and formal wear that only gets used sporadically.
9. Not everything should be vacuum sealed
Using a vacuum sealing process with a vacuum attachment or hand pump for your seasonal clothes storage items might seem like a good idea.
While you may be able to save storage space, not everything you’re storing should be vacuum sealed, however.
When the natural fibres in some types of clothing are tightly compressed, the material can take months to return to its natural form (which it just might not).
As we’ve mentioned, clothes made from natural fibres benefit from having some air circulation so they can breathe. Vacuum sealing obviously eliminates that completely.
Delicates and any clothing or textiles you own that might be described as “puffy” or “fluffy” should be off-limits from vacuum sealing. Here are some examples:
- bulky winter coats and down jackets
- winter gloves
- leather products
- sleeping bags
- anything made from wool, cashmere, or silk
Find better ways to store your seasonal clothes
Schedule a free in-home design consultation with us to help you find better ways to store and organize your seasonal clothes, everyday clothes, and just about anything else in your home.
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