The longer warmer days make us eager to put away our heavy winter clothes for lighter garb. Now is the perfect time to use this spring energy to tackle your winter wardrobe.
Here are some helpful hints for cleaning, arranging, packing, and storing your winter wardrobe so that it will be secure, clean, and ready for you when winter returns, maybe for years.
How to organize and store your winter wardrobe
Remove your winter clothing from closets, racks, and drawers.
Examine your winter clothes and sort it into three categories: keep, donate, and items that are stained or need to be tailored/repaired
Keepers: Items that you wear frequently, that fit well, and make you feel good. These are the pieces that make up the foundation of your winter outfit.
Donate/Sell: Items that no longer fit you or your lifestyle or are worn but still have some useful life remaining in them.
Tailor/repair: If you don't want to or can't perhaps it's time to let them go.
#Do Clean and repair clothes before storing them
Wash or dry clean garments.
Patch any holes, buttons, zippers, or rips.
Remove lint from clothing before storing it.
Steaming garments is an effective method of eliminating smells (it also kills dust mites). When steaming fragile textiles, take care not to use too high a steam iron setting.
What happens if you don't clean them
Bacteria are present in unwashed clothes.
If the clothing are not laundered, germs, mildew, and mould can grow on them. Because of bacterial reproduction, they may generate a big stain in six months.
They will smell if they are not thoroughly washed and dried owing to perspiration or body odour trapped in the cloth.
If they are left dirty, pest infestations are more likely to arise. Therefore, it is necessary to clean them. Before storing your winter clothing, remove any stains.
#Do Clean and dry your shoes and boots before storing:
Brush off dust.
Remove dirt with a damp cloth.
Fill shoes with acid-free tissue paper to maintain their shape.
Polish leather shoes before storing to keep the color from fading.
Use original shoe boxes or fabric bags (like these) for storage. (be careful cardboard and paper can introduce unwanted moisture that can damage shoes in the long term)
#Do Remove odors from winter clothing you can't wash such as sneakers, cashmere scarves, leather gloves
If your item is not washable or you'd rather use a gentler method than the washer, try placing dryer sheets or a bag of baking soda in it overnight to absorb odors, then air out in a sunny spot before storing away.
Dryer sheets can also be placed inside shoes, like sneakers and boots, for the same effect.
For leather gloves that cannot be laundered conventionally, place in a sealed zipped plastic pouch and leave in the freezer for 24 - 48 hours. It will kill bacteria without the item absorbing humidity. Make sure everything is 100% dry before you put the pieces into storage.
You may use this freezer method for cashmere sweaters (or other wool items), sneakers, leather gloves as well.
#Don't Forget to Protect against Moths, Light and Scents
Winter clothing should be store in a way that protects it from insects, scents and light. Store it in bags rather than hanging it up. Sort fabrics by weight. Separate fabrics that are very different from each other. Leave plenty of space to let the clothes breathe. Place little lavender bags inside the big bags.
Use proper storage. To store your sweaters and jackets, choose large fabric bags/boxes that allow the garments to breathe, are robust and protective, and can be easily closed with a zipper or drawstrings.
Don't use hangers for sweaters. Often people leave some extra space in their wardrobe by putting off-season clothing on hangers in the back of their closet. This is not recommended—hangers can leave creases that ruin delicate fabrics, cashmere or woolens.
Try cedar or cedar oil. Place cedar blocks or line a storage area with cedar healthier to deter moths. It's healthier. Plus, cedar won’t make your clothes smell.
Line metal boxes and drawers with breathable fabric. This will prevent sharp edges tearing your garments.
Avoid hard fold lines or creases. Place your textiles in their storage box in a way that doesn’t require many folds or sharp creases.
Sort the fabrics by their weight. When putting pieces together for storage, it's important to consider how heavy or delicate the materials of your clothing items are—for example, don't put a wool coat directly on top of a cashmere sweater; instead, sort your clothes into categories based on how heavy they are, with heavier items supporting lighter ones.
Separate fabrics that are very different from each other ( a sequined top next to a knitted wool cardigan will likely damage the sweater.)
Leave space for clothes to breathe. Pack your clothes loosely. Textiles need circulating air for longevity.
#Don't Store in the Wrong Place
Store Winter clothes in dark, cool, dry place.
Store clothing in a dry, cool place with plenty of ventilation.
Keep garments away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
Avoid the attic and garage. Throughout the year, areas like these fluctuate in temperature. Excess heat can break down clothing fibers.
The basement is a good area to store winter clothing if there are no bug or moisture issues. For added peace of mind, run a dehumidifier in the basement in whichever room your seasonal apparel is stored in. Maintain a humidity level of 30 to 50 percent at all times.
#Do Continue improving your storage system so you can get a fresh start next fall when you unpack winter clothing again.
Set up a storage system that works for you.
Use containers that are clear or color-coded. Labels can also help if you tend to forget what's in each box.
Make sure you know what you have in storage before buying new. And save some space for new purchases!
Set up a reminder in your calendar for when it's time to pack things away again next year.
Storing your winter wardrobe properly will protect and help them last longer. And make life so much easier in the fall when it's time to bring them out again!
Spring is a fantastic time to establish organization goals. If clutter is getting in the way of your plans, let's talk.
Brad and Cathy Borg are siblings and professional home organizers serving the Greater Toronto Area.