How to Store Winter Clothing and Accessories

hats and scarves hanging from a coat rack

Luisa Brimble / Unsplash

No matter your home's size, storing winter clothing has its challenges. To conserve space, as you go through your winter items, donate unmatched socks, well-worn gloves, and any sweaters that are beyond repair to a local textile recycling center.

Here are some expert storage tips you can try when switching your wardrobe for the next season.

How to Prepare Your Winter Clothing for Storing

Storing winter clothing can feel like a daunting task. But with a little prep, you can channel your inner Marie Kondo, says NYC-based organization expert, Maureen Murphy. Here is how to get started:

  • Edit: Are you holding on to sweaters and coats you have not worn in years? Do you have a collection of mismatched gloves and leaky boots? If the answer is yes to any of the above, it is time to let go. Wearable items that are in gently worn condition should be donated.
  • Clean: Winter gear takes a beating and can become coated with salt, snow, and mud. Clean these items before storing them. Soiled items that cannot be tossed in the washer or dry cleaned like winter shoes and boots should be wiped or brushed.
  • Protect: Prevent moths from munching on your stored sweaters with an eco-friendly moth repellent. Cedar, lavender, or cinnamon sachets will also work.

Storing Winter Clothing

Once you've cleaned your winter gear and removed any snow, salt, and dirt that can stain or damage clothing, it's time to store them so they are still in pristine shape for next winter.  

  • Put empty luggage to work: Empty suitcases (not duffel bags) are great for storing offseason items, especially if you do not travel more than a couple of times per year. After you pack away your belongings, keep your luggage in a cool, dry place. Choose a place other than damp basements, unheated garages, or outdoor sheds as these are not the best for keeping your belongings in tiptop condition.
  • Vacuum-pack big bulky Items: For storing things like puffy jackets and snow pants in the offseason, Cathleen Pezzano, owner of C & C Organizing, likes to use vacuum-sealed storage bags as they take up less storage space. Large plastic bins work, too, as you can press a lot into these containers.
  • Invest in a specific type of vacuum seal bag: Ben Soreff, a professional organizer from House to Home Organizing based in Norwalk, Connecticut, says the best ones to use are long and flat bags because even stuffed they can easily fit under a bed. 
  • Use humidity packs: If you are packing your things in vacuum bags, Kate Har, the cleaning expert at U.K.-based Fantastic Removals, says you should throw some humidity packs in between or around the stored bags to keep humidity out.
  • Rethink closet space: There is a large assortment of hanging storage caddies available for everything from sweaters to scarves. The collapsible, hanging shelving can give you the biggest bang for your organizing dollars because they easily double your closet's capacity. Invest in an option with cedar panel inserts, which will freshen and protect clothing. Best of all, a collapsible storage solution does not take up much room when not in use. Just fold and put it in a drawer or on a shelf until needed.

Storing Winter Accessories

An excellent way to store and organize hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves is a closet-door organizer with lots of pockets. It is a smart storage solution that will help you match gloves and mittens while keeping hats and mufflers easily accessible but out of the way. Consider these additional storage options:

  • Show off winter hats: If you are proud of your winter hat collection, then don't have it collecting dust at the top of your closet. Show it off. Leanne Stapf, Chief Operating Officer at The Cleaning Authority, suggests hanging your hats with clothespins on a cord or chain attached to the wall.
  • Hang scarves: Head to your nearest home improvement store and pick up a cheap towel rack and voilà, you have a scarf organizer. Secure the towel rack to the back of your closet and knot each scarf over the bar. If you have more scarves than can fit, secure an additional towel rack underneath the original. 
  • Use shoe organizers: Over-the-door shoe organizers are perfect for storing small items like mittens. Unlike a drawer or basket, the individual pockets keep coordinating accessories together so you do not have to dig around to find matching gloves or mittens.

Storing Winter Boots and Shoes

For boots and winter shoes, it's best to dry them off, wipe them down and keep them in clear storage bins during the warmer months. Since winter shoes are bulky, keep them out of the way in an attic, garage, or closet. Or try these other creative storage solutions:

  • Repurpose one-liter bottles: Susan Santoro, the professional organizer and blogger behind Organized 31, stuffs them inside boots to keep them in shape. This allows you to repurpose empty bottles, then recycle them when it is time to wear or get rid of your footwear.
  • Turn wine boxes into shoe storage. The cardboard sleeves inside make them perfect for shoe and boot storage. For wide shoes, you can bend or remove the cardboard slots. Santoro says this storage trick has worked particularly well for her college-aged daughters.
  • Eliminate humidity: After giving winter shoes a good cleaning, apply a layer of wax to leather footwear. Let the wax soak in for several days before putting your boots away. Hart also suggests putting humidity packs inside your boots just in case, and then stuff your boots with newspaper, so they stay in shape when stored. Tall boots should always be stored upright.
  • Use charcoal to combat odor: When storing these items, Hart suggests stuffing them with charcoal odor busters made for shoes. It's one of the most effective ways to banish funky smells.