1. Marie Kondo Your Clothes
First things first: With every major season switch, it’s the perfect time to review your wardrobe and purge what you no longer wear or want. We all know we have more than a few clothing items that never see the light of day. But would you guess that a majority of your wardrobe goes unused? A survey by FashionUnited reveals that the average American hasn’t worn 82% of their clothes in the past year. Just imagine how much space that would free up! A good rule of thumb is to take any clothes you haven’t worn for a year and pass them on to another life. Donate what’s in good condition to charity, or if your own clothing budget is tight, trade in items for cash or credit at local thrift stores. You can even take stained or torn items to be recycled and qualify for discounts at stores like H&M, Eileen Fisher, Levi’s, and Columbia. Once you’ve done your due diligence of sorting through everything, you’ll be better prepared to organize and store your off-season clothes.
2. Organize and Clean Clothes Before Storing
Now that you’ve slimmed down your wardrobe, it’s a lot easier to sort your clothes by season. Think about what types of clothes you own and what you need them for, then group them together based on both season and activity. Pair all winter recreational clothes together, like ski jackets, heavy-duty down coats, mittens, and hats. For summer groupings, pair your sun hats, swimsuits, shorts, and summery dresses together. While sorting, empty out pockets and check for items that need to be washed, dry cleaned, or repaired. Before you stow away clothes for months, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re all clean so you avoid odors spreading between items. Try to remove any stains, and if you can’t, consider adding the item to the clothing recycling pile.
3. Choose containers based on contents and location.
For clothing storage, determining the best containers depends on what you’re storing and where. Plastic bins are a practical choice for storing clothes because they’re easy to handle, stack well, and are good at keeping moisture and bugs out (for more on that, see our next step). While clear bins are great because it’s easier to see what’s inside, if they’ll be exposed to sunlight it’s best to use dark-colored bins to avoid fading. Since cardboard boxes can attract insects and offer no protection against moisture, these should only be used for storing clothes inside your home or indoor storage unit. Avoid using cardboard if you’re storing clothes in a garage or an unfinished basement or attic. Any clothing made from delicate or wool fabric should not be stored in cardboard boxes.
In addition to plastic bins, fabric or canvas bins are another alternative favored by organization specialists because the material is breathable. Though more expensive, they make a good option for clothing made from delicate fabrics such as silk or cashmere. They also create an attractive choice for closet storage, especially if you use stylish fabric boxes with clear windows so you can easily see what’s tucked away inside.
Pack clothes together by season and activity and label the bins. That way, you can easily pull out what you need when chillier weather hits or you’re heading out on a trip to the mountains – or even a mid-winter escape to the Caribbean. If you’re organizing off-season clothes for the whole family, try consolidating everyone’s clothes into the same bins, since you’ll most likely need them all at the same time anyway. Place each person’s clothes in a smaller labeled bag, then store them all in the same bin together.
4. Keep Bugs and Moisture Out
Moisture and insects are the top enemies when you’re storing clothes. Avoid mold and mildew by making sure all items are 100% dry before packing up. To be on the safe side, toss in some moisture absorbers, which you can find online or at a local store. Keeping the bugs out starts with a thorough cleaning and inspection to ensure your clothes are free of any insect-attracting food residue. For wool or cashmere items, it’s important to take extra measures by using a moth-repellant. Instead of toxic, smelly mothballs, use cedar or lavender sachets. You’ll find plenty of options at Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
5. Save Space with Vacuum-Sealed Bags
If you’re limited on space or want to consolidate bulky clothes, try putting them in vacuum-sealable storage bags. You can find them at your local storage and organization store or on Amazon. Simply fold up each item of clothing, put it in the bag, close the zipper, then use the small pump attachment to suction out all the air. The result is a much more compact bag that you can easily stack with others in a large bin or on an upper shelf. It’s especially convenient for bulky down jackets that can take up a lot of space.
6. Find the Right Storage Spot
The best conditions for clothing storage are cool, dark, and dry. Depending on your climate, the attic or garage may not be the best option because of extreme heat. If you’re using a basement, make sure it’s not prone to flooding or excessive moisture. Since you’ll need to access these clothes when each season rolls around, they need to be in a spot that’s easy to get to. Whatever storage space you use, whether it’s in your attic or an indoor storage unit, don’t place your clothes behind piles of other stuff, where it will be hard to find them when you need them. Place off-season clothes in an empty closet in a less-used area of your home, high up on a shelf in your current closet, or on a rack toward the front of your storage area. Another favorite spot for storage-challenged homes is under the bed. You can create more room by using bed risers, and then shop from a wide selection of storage containers made specifically for fitting under the bed like these at Walmart or Amazon. Don’t forget to label everything! You don’t need a fancy labeling machine — just some masking tape with a Sharpie will do.
Storing your off-season clothes will make your everyday closet and drawers much easier to navigate. After sorting through your wardrobe, organizing it into bins, and storing everything properly, you can pull out what you need with ease when each season arrives.
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