Tips For Storing Winter Clothing

After a long, brutal winter, one of the best feelings in the world is to finally put away those heavy coats, sweaters and thick pants knowing you won't need them for months. But "out of sight, out of mind" only truly works if you store your clothing correctly. We spoke with professional organizer John Trosko, who runs the blog Organizing LA and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), for his best practices for storing your winter clothes for what is - hopefully - a long, warm spring and summer.

What is the first step you recommend when getting ready to store winter clothes for the spring and summer?
John: First step I always recommend is to review your clothes, take an inventory of what you have (or need) and perform all the necessary maintenance so the clothes you’re keeping are ready to go for next season in clean and fresh condition. You want to use seasonal clothes change-overs to cut the cord and phase out the things you’re not going to wear anymore.

The most effective way to access your seasonal clothes is to use (or borrow) a garment rack on wheels. You pull out as much of a clothes category as possible and access it in brighter daylight for wear and tear, styling and fit, cleaning, repair and whether or not to consign or donate. If you can’t utilize a clothing rack, use a flat surface like a bed, or just work in small chunks in your closet. The items you’re keeping you should store in sealed and labeled lidded bins or cotton muslin garment bags in areas of your home like a basement, attic, guest room - or commandeer one half of your kid’s closets. Ideally, any hidden, out of the way storage that is dark and dry and cool, but far way from heat vents or sunny windows. Most of my clients generate a gigantic dry cleaning pile, so make sure you’ve made adequate storage plans for the things returning from the cleaners and don’t forget to collect clothes from the laundry room and all through the house. If you’re boxing and wrapping clothes or sweaters, use acid-free tissue or (at the very least) plain packing paper from your local box/shipping store. Do not forget your shoes. These too need may need to be professionally water-proofed, shined and heels checked--protect your investment in these items.

There is a great value in swapping out your seasonal clothes even if you don’t live in a cold-weather environment. Heavier coats can be dry-cleaned and protected for the next year and you can dedicate a closed bin on the very top shelf of your closet for heavier scarves, gloves, hats and ski wear. While you’re at it, lose those single gloves and de-attachable coat hoods if you don’t need them or don’t have the coat anymore.

Do you have any space-saving techniques for people in apartments or without a lot of storage space?
John: Best way to save time with seasonal clothes is to plan your wardrobe so your entire closet space and dresser serve as a “boundary” marker that you can’t cross over and overflow. With this method, you’re not going to need to cycle season to season, you simply lose the items you’re not using and replace/purchase new items with the constant flow of the one-in/one-out guideline. It also provides awareness of the types of things you may prefer wearing, and things you don't. This method won’t work different size clothing; those may have to be stored elsewhere.

How do you feel about vaccuum-compressed storage bags?
John: If you don’t have room for large plastic bins, plastic vacuumed compressed storage bags are a great option because once they’re shrunk down, you can sneak them into just about anywhere like cabinet nooks and the tight space under your bed. Be aware that clothes may wrinkle inside the bags, the bags don’t sit square and they slide off each other if stacked on a shelf. They’re prone to “pop” open, too. In that case, use some heavy duty tape to seal the zippers so you won’t have the popping issue. Check the bags in the first few days of the summer for sweat or beads of water under the plastic surface.

When storing clothes, specifically, do you need to take any extra steps or precautions?
John: I no longer fuss with cedar balls, or specialty cedar hangers for clients because the cedar effect wears off and you have to sandpaper and oil the cedar—too much work for anyone and some people are allergic to the cedar dust. Instead, I toss in a few packets of absorbent desiccant, also known as Silica Gel, in with the clothing and shoes and they’re protected from humidity.

Make sure your clothes are completely dry when you place them into storage. Make sure you don’t have fine leathers touching each other in the storage bins or colors may fade, or worse, sweat and stick to each other in the bin (particularly the case with patent leather).

Labels are a must. Once your clothes are all boxed up for storage, it’s not a bad idea to label the bins with the contents, and put numbers on the bins. “1 of XX, 2 of XX” is a good way to make sure you don’t push a bin to the back of your closet, forget about it, and rebuy the clothes you thought you had but cannot find. This is especially important if you’ve got numerous people in your household; lugging around a lot of bins can be very time consuming a year later when you’re trying to remember what’s in each bin and how many you have. Plus with labels, if you experience unseasonably cool temperatures, you can find something in the boxes.

Check all plastic lidded bins after the first few hot days of spring or summer to make sure there is no moisture under the lid.

When do you think it's worth it to look into services that store clothes for you, like a Box Butler?
John: In some higher humidity climates, storing clothes in attics and basements is just too potentially damaging to fine clothes, plus tight quarters in high-rise downtown apartments or lofts have seriously limited storage space. Services like Box Butler and Garde Robe act like an extension of your closet. These valet storage services are a trend in space-crunched metropolitan areas that is new idea and increasing in value. Each offers a different level of service, from simple pick up/drop off storage of 10 boxes to a full-service valet clothing storage and shipping in laboratory-like environments to perfectly to pamper your precious winter Pradas. Garde Robe even offers an on-call seamstress to repair, mend and clean your couture.


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Men's Magazine: Tips For Storing Winter Clothing
Tips For Storing Winter Clothing
Men's Magazine
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