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Best methods of storing clothes seasonally
I’ll let you in on a secret to living in a small space – storage is key. Not sexy? Meh, agree to disagree. In my last article, The Top 5 Tricks to organizing seasonal clothing, I explained that by organizing clothes seasonally, you were able to maximize closet space and simplify your morning routine. In this follow up article, we’ll talk about the best methods of storing clothes seasonally.
Over the past 10 years, I have lived in 300 sq ft or less. I have been fortunate to be blessed with healthy-sized closets in most of my spaces, but that doesn’t mean all my clothes could fit! I was lucky while living in Australia, that I was able to wear the majority of my clothing year-round, however, there were still seasonal swaps I needed to make to maximize my storage space. This article breaks down some of my favourite methods of storing clothes seasonally, and some of the products I find most helpful in doing so.
START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Before you even think about storing seasonal clothes, you need to make sure they are all clean and in good condition. Wash everything, remove any stains, take items to the dry cleaners and anything that needs fixing to the tailor. By doing this at the end of the season, it means you will start the next season off fresh and ready to go. Keep in mind that one dirty item can contaminate your entire method of storing clothing, so getting everything cleaned prior to storage is a must.
For warmer clothing items made of wool, it will also reduce the possibility of potential moth infestation, by removing any human odour and oils from your pieces.
METHODS OF STORING CLOTHES DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF ITEMS
You’ve obviously already read my article on The top 5 tricks to organizing seasonal clothing (obviously), and so you have already organized your seasonal clothing into the designated seasons. Haven’t read it yet? That’s okay, we’ll wait …
OK, now it’s time to work on the best methods for storing clothes. These will depend on the items themselves – their quality, their size, and to be honest, probably their cost. You’re not going to chuck an expensive wool coat into a plastic grocery bag … right? (Please say right, please say right – who even still uses plastic grocery bags?)
The quality of your clothing will directly relate to the method of storing clothes. For each season, divide your items into pieces which can be folded and don’t require as much love, and a second pile for those that will require more attention (think hanging, and specific air/humidity conditions).
TOP TIP: Keep like items together – shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, you get the drill. To be honest, if you don’t mind mixing and matching and that works for you, go for it. It makes me itchy as hell to think about it, but to each their own. Do what works for your brain.
AIR QUALITY MATTERS WHEN STORING CLOTHING
Depending on your region, and your storage opportunities, your method for storing clothes may need to consider temperature and humidity. Take it from a girl who had mould infest a brand-new down comforter she left in a plastic bag and a pair of jeans she left at the bottom of a drawer – humidity sucks.
If you’re in a location where humidity is an issue, you will want to consider airflow. Some items will benefit from being stored loosely, and not tightly packed. You will want to include moisture absorbers within the space. I love these renewable moisture absorbers, or something like these Damp Rid buckets (note: these will both need to be checked & either renewed or changed)
Air sealed bags also work well, although it always seems like I’m getting ready to freeze my clothes! These bags are great for keeping the air out & also for compressing to get as many items in as possible. WARNING: You will need to be a weapon with an iron when you take your clothes out the next season – they will be the most wrinkled clothes you have ever seen! But how satisfying is it to turn the vacuum on & suck the air out?!
TOP TIP: Put a few dryer sheets in before I seal them up, just to ward off stale smells.
Have wool items you’re storing? Make sure you throw in a piece of cedar to act as a moth repellant. You may not have a moth problem, but better safe than wearing a sweater full of holes next season.
USE WHAT YOU’VE ALREADY GOT
You don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of storage systems to get started. You probably have some options around the house that will work for storing some items seasonally. A simple dry-cleaning bag can go around some grouped hanging items to provide division, but still give you a visual of what’s stored.
One of my favorite methods for storing clothes is using suitcases and travel bags. You have to store them somewhere, so until you need them, they may as well be useful! I had one friend who went to Las Vegas so often, she kept a “Vegas wardrobe” packed in a suitcase like a “go bag” all year round (we were much younger then!) Of course, within the suitcase, there will be additional methods of storing clothes – like a Russian doll of organization. By utilizing your suitcases, you will get your seasonal clothes you don’t need out of your closet and keep only what you do need in it.
You can get creative with methods of storing clothes. I found that I had too many canvas shopping bags (trying to be sustainable, I ended up with more bags than I needed). I used the canvas shopping bags to group like items for storing. There were a few where only one item would fit in, but it made the item easier to pack into a larger storage bin as it was a more uniform shape than just a folded-up sweater.
Another method of storing clothes that I’m a bit of a bandit for is the air-tight tub. They keep moisture out, they are uniform in size and depending on which ones you get, they can last a lifetime (going on 20 years with some of my tubs and they look like new!). I always throw in a couple of moisture absorbers in the tubs just for good luck.
LABEL MAKER FOR THE WIN
It’s great that you’ve found a method of storing clothes that works for you – but now that it’s all out of your closet, how do you know what it is? By labelling it all!
Okay, so maybe we don’t all have label makers (I had to cut ties with mine because it was getting out of control. Going on 15 years clean from my habit!). I may not have a label maker, but I am a firm believer in labelling. If it looks pretty, that’s amazing. If it looks like you just ripped a piece of paper up, scribbled some words on it & used whatever random tape you had to attach it, that works too. I’m more the latter of those two, with a strong use of Post It notes thrown in the mix. It’s one of the only messy things I do!
However you decide to label, do it so it makes sense for your brain (a recurring suggestion if you read my posts). You could label each little package with what’s inside, or you could just label the bigger container. Whatever you do, label it. In the long run, months down the line when you’re trying to figure out what clothes to bring out for the next season, you’ll be glad you did.
STORING SEASONAL CLOTHING
Whatever the method of storing clothes that works for you, make sure that you store like items together, and group them by season. You may end up with all your coats in one closet, so make sure you have them grouped, wrapped and labelled by season. If you are able to store all your items together, having them separated within that space by season works well. If you have one tub/suitcase/etc with all your summer clothes in it, then you’ll have an easier swap when it comes to changing out seasonal clothing.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
With storage space at a premium in small spaces, you may have to think outside the box with your method of storing clothes around your space. Just because you keep your shoe collection in your kitchen doesn’t make you a bad person! Any few inches that you can find to make sneaky storage will help. Under the bed, behind the couch, in the kitchen (the shoe example may have been from experience) – wherever you find space that works, take it. It’s all fair game in a small space!
Keep moisture and humidity in mind when you’re coming up with a location for your items. If you’re lucky enough to have a storage locker, think about what items are going into it.
Whatever your method for storing clothes seasonally that you find works for you, do it. Once you have your closet down to just the essentials for this season, you’ll find that getting ready every day becomes less of a depressing scavenger hunt and more of a simple process. For me, one of the benefits of living in a small space has always been that I can live with less and I can live simply. When I’m battling summer dresses next to wool sweaters, my mind feels as confused as my closet.
Ready for a full closet overhaul? Download my free e-book How to Organize your closet in a day for an easy step by step guide to tame your closet.