In Melbourne Australia, autumn has well and truly arrived and it’s time to do a closet switcheroo – out with Summer clothes and in with Winter’s.  For you, it may be the other way round.

I both love and hate this task. I love the fact that I’m changing my closet as I’m usually sick of my present wardrobe, but I HATE performing the task. I only have myself to blame, since I’m the one who demands to store away my out-of-season clothes but, there’s a very good reason why. I really like having a closet full of only this seasons clothes as it makes things so much easier to find and the coordinates more obvious. 

So if you’re like me, now is the time to get cracking with the task – yes, this weekend. Storing your clothes should involve more than simply stuffing them in boxes. If you want your clothes last and look good next season, you need to take some care and store them away the right way.

Proper storage and a little organization will maintain the quality and integrity of each item so it can be worn again next season. The first thing in the process is to get rid of any items that you’ve hardly worn, for whatever reason and give them to charity if they are still in good condition. Then before restocking your closet give it a good clean and wipe the shelves. You’ll be surprized at hoe much dust can gather over a season. 

Wash and dry every single item prior to storage

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people just throw clothes in storage containers without a wash. There is a huge difference between storing clean clothes and worn ones. Ensuring every piece of clothing is clean will prevent odor, mildew, mold, and other damage. Unwashed clothes may be harboring residues of oil, perfumes, or sweat that may cause discoloration or stains. Also, make sure that clothes are completely dry before storing them, especially if they are in a container of some sort. Moisture will cause a musty odor and even mildew.Woman Doing Laundry Reaching Inside Washing Machine Determine your storage vessels and pest control method

While there are a number of ways and places you can store your clothes I prefer a spare closet, I use the one in our spare bedroom. The main reason is I like to be able to go back in and get an item if necessary. Other ideal places are airtight vessels such as storage containers and vacuum bags, which are easily found in most supermarkets or old suitcases.

Pros and Cons

Plastic or airtight containers Plastic isn’t good for storing clothes. Clothes need to breathe, and plastic doesn’t allow that, so you’ll need to add in a humidity control desiccant packet for good measure to prevent mold along with a few cedar balls to kill any bugs.

Closets and breathable containers Bugs are your biggest threat. Bugs need air to breathe and dislike cedar oil in high concentrations. So, those cedar balls are a must. If your wardrobe is near a bathroom or tends to be damp, also place a few humidity pots as well but depending on the level of damp they may need changing at least once during the season.  To prevent you forgetting to add the task it into your diary. 

Cardboard Cardboard containers aren’t a good idea because they have a reputation for causing clothing to go yellowish and smell sale. 

For those of you who prefer more natural pest and humidity preventatives, you can try Lavender for the pests and you’ll get the added benefit of having nice smelling clothes and chalk for wicking the humidity. Neither however, are as effective.

Use mothballs with caution. Avoid mothballs as much as possible, since there are many effective natural options available. However, if this is your preferred storage protectant, place the mothballs inside socks so that it doesn’t damage the clothes. This is also an extra safety measure, if you have children in the house as well. Secure the mothballs within the socks with tape or a rubber band. Mothballs are VERY poisonous.  I personally know of a toddler who grew very ill suddenly and died, who was later found to have had part of a mothball up his nose which had poisoned him. 

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Clean storage containers thoroughly before using

If you’re using storage containers be sure to give them a thorough wipe down and spray with disinfectant and toss in a handful of cedar balls into each box to deter pests.  Also, check the container for damage like holes, splits or cracks, etc. Replace containers, if needed.

Storage isn’t a one-size-fits-all task

Store each item accordingly. Don’t just blindly fold or hang anything and everything. Proper storage means your clothing will retain their original shape.

  • Sweaters: fold to prevent stretching and distortion.
  • Dresses: hang.
  • Pants: hang or fold
  • Trousers: hang to maintain their crease.

While it might be tempting to store your dry cleaning in the plastic bags they came in, resist the urge because these plastic bags can cause mildew and mold.

Pants or Trousers

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Clean your shoes

During your seasonal closet exchange, you might overlook caring for your shoes. Footwear actually incurs the most abuse, especially during the winter season where there’s salt everywhere if you live in a place that gets snow. Before storing away your footwear, clean and disinfect them. Clorox wipes should do the trick for salt stains though it is not advisable for use on leather.

Shoes hold a lot of moisture so plastic boxes can be bad for shoes. If you have their original boxes, that’s perfect. Stuff them with scrap paper to help with moisture wicking and maintain their shape. For boots add boot inserts.  

Storing shoes

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Always store items in a clean and dry place

Cool, clean, dark and dry: these are the 4 important words you need to remember when storing clothing. Avoid places that have extreme heat or cold as it will affect the clothing negatively. Also, avoid sunlight since it can discolor clothing.

Clean dry place

Check on your stored clothes periodically

Don’t just store it and forget it. Check on your clothes every 5 weeks or so, just to make sure that everything is in order. Best practice when you want to wear the clothes again is too give them a wash so that when you wear them they are free of any dust or cedar odor. 

check your clothesSource

Invest in proper hangers

Weather hanging your clothes away for storage or in your ‘to-wear’ closet, the right hangers will make all the difference. Return wire hangers to the dry cleaners.  They look crappy in your closet and don’t do your clothes any favors. Invest in wooden, no slip hangers with wide shoulders for coats and heavy dresses that work wonders in securing clothes and maintaining the shape of the clothing.

Click here for a complete guide to all hangers, their uses and where you can purchase them from.

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Ann Reinten AICI CIP
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6 Comments

  • Natasha says:

    I had no idea how many clothes offences I was committing in my aim to make my clothes last forever. Learned many things from your article today. I’ll be telling my mum and my friends to sign up. Better go and resort out my storage!

    • pretastyler says:

      Thank you Natasha. I’m glad you found it useful! :)

    • pretastyler says:

      Glad to be of assistance Jenn.
      BTW: If you are storing garments long term I suggest you wrap them in acid-free paper; this will prevent deterioration.

  • jenn says:

    I now live in a tropical country so, it’s just rain and shine here. But, your article just gave me really helpful ideas on storing clothes that I rarely wear but I can’t throw away yet. Thanks for the great tips as always!

  • Jill Swanson says:

    Nice Job Ann! You are one of the few newlsletters in the business I enjoy reading – keep up the good work :) Jill

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