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Wardrobe Transition Like a Pro! Tips for Storing Clothes Right Season after Season

With cooler temperatures on the way have you taken the time to swap over your wardrobe yet?  The temperatures haven’t taken a nosedive yet so there is still time to pack up your summer clothing to make room for sweater weather!  Learn some easy tips for doing it right…

Fall leaf toss

Photo: Jakob Owens,

It’s time to say goodbye to your carefree summertime clothing.  Not to worry!  Transitioning your wardrobe in preparation for colder temps shouldn’t be a chore!  Learning to keep clothing properly stored (whether Summer or Winter!) will keep them looking great longer and you ready to jump into a new season with ease!

To Store or Not to Store

That really is the question!  For starters you should take a really good look at what is hanging in your closet and folded in your drawers.  Don’t store that mini skirt that you wore in 1980’s (or from the 60’s for that matter!).  And, while we are at it, if that summer blouse is a little too tight around your bust you must, you must, you must give it up!   Anything hopelessly stained or worn out should be purged and any item that needs repair (missing buttons, broken zippers etc.) should have its own pile. When you’re finished looking over your wardrobe you should have an organized chaos of donations, clothes that need repairs and a (much smaller!) “keeper” pile of clothes to store.

sweaters folded on chair

Photo: Sarah Dorweiler,

Wash and repair before storing

Taking the time to wash (or dry-clean) your “keeper” pile now will make it that much quicker to put on once summer returns!  Plus, body oils attract insects!  Ewww, we know!  So, making sure to wash and clean before storing will keep moths and other pests out of your clothing.

Any clothes that need repairs should be tended to before storing.  Missing button?  Sew it on before packing it away!  An interesting poll done in the UK focused on sewing and clothing repair revealed that 23% of people surveyed didn’t know how to sew on a button and 16% of those people said that they would buy a new item of clothing instead of fixing it!  What?!  Are you one of the 23% that can’t sew on a button?  Check out how Martha Stewart does it here.  More complicated fixes can be sent to a tailor.

Choose the right storage spot and the right containers

When your clothing is ready to store picking the right containers is an important part of the equation.  Opaque plastic containers with well sealing lids are best.  By all means, keep your wardrobe out of cardboard boxes.  Insects love the glue that holds cardboard boxes together so if you want to keep your clothing pest free for next season skip the cardboard.

Another practice to skip?  Keeping dry-cleaned garments in the plastic bag and wire hanger.  Sure, it seems like a good idea, but those plastic bags can trap moisture and mildew while the wire hangers will stretch out shoulders and poke holes into delicate garments.

Use the same type of hangers for storage that you do for hanging in your closet!  And, transfer dry-cleaned items to cotton fabric garment bags to keep out dust. No cotton fabric garment bags? Cut a hole in a cotton sheet and hang over hanger and garment to allow for air circulation.  Loosely fold items and resist the urge to tightly pack to prevent creases.

wooden hangers on rack

Choose wood over wire! Photo: Christian Fregnan,

Where you store your clothes is also important.  A cool and dry area in the house with good ventilation should be your first choice.  And, stay away from windows with sunlight. Finally, it’s an expense but investing in a cedar chest will do wonders for keeping clothing in good shape.

Just say NO to mothballs

Let’s face it mothballs are toxic and since our clothing is close to our skin putting toxic material on our clothing should be a NO-NO!  If you are concerned about moths or other pests, there are better ways to preserve your garments. Besides choosing plastic containers for storage you can put cedar chips or blocks in with your clothing items (store them in sachets first). And, did you know that dried lavender will deter moths and mice?  You can also easily make your own natural pest-deterrent herbal sachets, we love these from the Gardenista.

natural moth sachets filled with herbs and cinnamon

Natural moth sachets filled with herbs and cinnamon. Photo:

And don’t forget…

  • Empty suitcases are great for storing clothes, put a note in one of the outer pockets about what’s inside.  Also be mindful of any upcoming trips where suitcase storage may not be ideal.
  • Too many hangers?  Most donation centers will take plastic hangers but check with them first.  If you dry clean a lot ask your cleaner if they will take back the hangers otherwise, metal can be recycled.
  • Donate your clothing. The average North American disposes of 70 pounds of textiles annually and while they decompose they also release greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.  Donating your items is not only a good idea for charity but kinder to the environment.  But if you think your items are too worn out to be worn again then check your town for a textile-recycling program or your favorite store (Eileen Fisher is one) may even take back used textiles to make new items!
  • If you are storing shoes, brush off loose dirt and sprinkle some baking soda in each shoe to absorb odors, dryer sheets also work well!
  • When storing silk items, lie them flat if possible and slip into cotton pillow cases.  Silk needs to breath because it is a natural fiber so stay away from plastic bags.  If hanging, use a padded hanger.
  • Ironing your cotton garments before storing will kill any eggs laid by opportunistic moths.
  • Fabric storage bags should be washed from time to time to keep dust and mold spores away from stored clothing.
  • The scent in older cedar chests will dissipate over time, sanding will revive the smell.
  • Store your swimsuit last, flat and on top of other garments.
  • When packing storage bins, packing the heaviest items on the bottom and lightest on top will help minimize wrinkles when ready to wear again.

And that’s it!  Investing in the time it takes to correctly store your seasonal clothing will keep them fresh for years to come.  Do you have a good idea for storing your clothing?  Share it with us in the comment section…