How to Store Summer Clothes

Leandro Crespi / Stocksy United

When it’s time to bring out fall and winter clothes, it’s important to store your summer clothing correctly so it will be ready to go when warm weather comes around again.

Before You Store Summer Clothes

It can be scary, but the best way to get started is to take all of your summer clothes out of the closet and dresser drawers and place them on the bed or large table. By emptying your closet, you can work more efficiently and actually see all of the clothes at once.

Start by sorting the clothes into categories - shirts, pants, dresses - and don't forget accessories. Then tackle each stack again, be ruthless, and sort it into save, donate and discard piles. If you didn’t wear it during the past season, you won’t wear it next year. Have boxes or bags handy for the donation and discard piles so you can move them out of your home promptly.

For kids' clothing that will be too small next year, prepare a bag of clothes to hand down, give them to charity or consign the clothing for sale.

Of the clothes you plan to keep until next year, carefully inspect each piece to make sure the item is clean and stain free. All clothing should be washed or dry cleaned. There could be small amounts of food or soil that is not be visible but can become difficult to remove stains after a winter in storage. Don’t use starch or sizing on items about to be stored because that can also attract insects that damage clothes.

If you have clothes dry cleaned, always remove them from the dry cleaner's thin plastic bags. These bags trap moisture that can lead to mildew and even discoloration.

Clothes Storage Supplies

Whether you plan to store off-season clothes in a closet or packed away, you must have the right supplies.

Hangers: If you plan to hang clothes for storage, select sturdy hangers that will not rust or discolor fabrics.

Avoid the thin wire hangers provided by cleaners. Structured items like jackets should be hung on shaped hangers to support the shoulders. Skirts and pants should be hung by the waistbands on skirt hangers to avoid creases. Silky fabrics should be hung on padded or flocked hangers to avoid slipping off during storage.

Clothing Storage Bags: If you have fabric storage bags, give them a quick run through the washing machine to remove dust and mold spores before using again for storage. Fabric hanging bags are a better option than plastic so that air can circulate to prevent moisture build-up and damage. You can also use a 100 percent cotton sheet or pillowcase to cover hanging clothes. Simply cut a small opening for the hangers to slip through. This will prevent dust from settling on your clothes and still allow them to breathe during storage. 

Storage Boxes: Many clothes, like knits, should be folded rather than hung. Whether you prefer cardboard or plastic storage boxes, it is very important to choose the correct type to avoid damage to your clothing investment. 

If you are using plastic containers for storage, they must be made of cast polypropylene to be safe for clothing storage. Look for the #5 within the recycling triangle on the bottom of the container or the letters “PP” to be sure that you have the correct type of box.

First, clean the inside with a disinfectant cleaner. Line the container with a clean 100 percent cotton sheet or acid-free tissue paper to keep fragile items from touching the plastic container.

If you prefer cardboard boxes, they should be acid-free containers. The cardboard boxes you grab from the grocery or liquor store are not safe for clothing storage. The box is made from wood pulp that can leach acids that can cause yellowing and stains on clothes. Plus, the glue used to hold these boxes together can attract insects.

Clothes Storage Areas

If you are simply transferring summer clothes to another closet in your home, now is the perfect time to clean the closet or storage area you’ll be using. Carefully vacuum the closet to remove dust, dirt and insects. If you suspect mold, mildew or insect infestation, take steps to kill the mold with a bleach solution and do some pest control.

An easy way to complete a seasonal transfer to another closet is to use a rolling clothes rack that be moved from room to room.

Store the clothing in a cool, even temperature, well-ventilated area away from artificial or natural light. Avoid attics, damp basements and garages.

Clothes Storage Tips

  • It is best to roll the clothing rather than fold it. Rolling will prevent hard creases from forming - especially if you stuff the box full!
  • Always label each box so that you can easily pull the correct container if you need an item.
  • Use luggage for off-season storage. I keep summer beach wear and accessories in a large tote so they are ready for next summer. Just be sure to label the bag with what's inside.

When that first warm day hits next spring, you’ll be glad you took some time now to store summer clothes correctly.