How to Store Your Seasonal Clothes

Women zipping up clothing in an under the bed storage container

Ivan Ozerov / Stocksy

When the seasons start to change, people's clothing choices typically change as well. For instance, sweaters, coats, hats, and gloves are pushed aside for lightweight clothing when the weather warms. And that winter clothing reappears once the temperature drops again. To make sure your seasonal clothing stays in good shape during its off-season, storing clothes properly is important. Follow these tips for storing seasonal clothing. A little effort when storing clothing can make a big difference when it comes time to unpack for a new season.

Clean All Seasonal Clothing Before Packing

Just prior to packing your seasonal clothing for the off-season is the best time to thoroughly clean the clothes. Any stains left on the clothing will only darken and become worse in storage. Clean clothes are also less likely to attract insects in storage. So wash all of your garments according to tag instructions, including taking items to the dry cleaners before storing clothing.

Use the Right Storage

Both plastic storage containers and cardboard boxes can be used for storing clothing, though it's important to make sure the boxes are clean to avoid staining and insects. Even then, be aware that cardboard boxes can attract bugs. And if there is any moisture trapped in a plastic container it can cause mold and mildew on your clothes. One of the best containers for storing clothes is an empty suitcase that has been thoroughly cleaned. Use acid-free tissue paper if you want to wrap your clothing within the container.

Be Careful With Mothballs

Mothballs can be effective against insects, but keep in mind that they contain a toxic pesticide that can be deadly to children and pets. A healthier option to deter insects while storing clothes is packing with cedar blocks or in a cedar-lined container, though remember that no deterrent is a guarantee you won't have bug problems. Always use any chemicals according to label instructions, and store them carefully.

Properly Hang Items

For items that are suitable to hang for storage, such as a coat, use all of the hanging loops to keep the clothing from becoming misshapen. Also, wrap the clothing in something breathable (e.g., a fabric garment bag). And make sure the clothing has enough room for air circulation. This will lower the risk of mildew and mold while storing clothing, as well as prevent the clothing from creasing. Storing clothes in plastic bags is not recommended, as the bags don't breathe enough.

Don't Hang Everything

Don't hang sweaters or other knit items that can become misshapen from long-term hanging. Instead, carefully fold the items, and place them into a storage container. Stack your folded items starting with the heaviest pieces on the bottom to the lightest pieces on top. And don't cram items into a container, which can cause difficult-to-remove wrinkles during long-term clothing storage.

Select a Clean, Cool, Dark, and Dry Space

The area where you are storing clothing must be clean, cool, dark, and dry to protect your items. So clean any area thoroughly before using it for storage. Choose a place that isn't likely to be exposed to high heat; avoid areas near heating sources. A dark spot will prevent fading. And a dry spot is ideal because wetness can attract insects and cause mold growth.

Check on Your Storage

Don't abandon your stored clothing into oblivion. Regularly check on items to make sure there are no issues. When you are ready to pull clothing out of storage, clean all items before wearing them. Also, inspect your storage containers to make sure they are free from cracks, stains, or other damage.