Confession: We haven't stored our winter clothes yet. In our defense, this spring has been unseasonably cold (we mean, c'mon, 40 degrees in May?! That shouldn't be right). But maybe it's a good thing, because as it turns out, we learned that there's a right way to store clothing and a wrong way. Improper storage can lead to bacteria, yellowing, insects, and all sorts of icky things, which can inevitably result in garment deterioration. So if you've been procrastinating, too, read up on these guidelines on how to store your winter clothes properly before you make the cold-to-warm-weather wardrobe switch.
Always Clean Your Clothes Before Storage
"This is probably the number one mistake most people make and it's the most important," says Lisa Adams, the CEO and designer of LA Closet Design. "Even if they don't look dirty or don't smell bad, they can still attract insects and moths."
Eduardo Herrera, the general manager of laundry service Slate NYC, agrees: "By cleaning all garments, people will make sure stains won't cause oxidation, which leads to yellowing, and bacteria, which can create holes." He recommends machine-washing cotton, linen, and polyester; dry-cleaning wool, cashmere, silk, and rayon.
Never Use Plastic Garment Bags from Dry Cleaners
"It's a common misconception that using plastic garment bags from your dry cleaner is protecting your clothes, but it does the opposite," Adams says. "Over time, the plastic traps moisture and it causes the fibers in your garment to deteriorate and yellow." Instead, use cotton garment bags to protect coats, dresses, or tops.
Fold Your Sweaters
Herrera doesn't recommend hanging sweaters, because it could stretch them and bend them out of shape. But if you have enough closet space and you don't want to risk creases, Adams says sweater hangers—ones that are rounded at the shoulders—would work with lightweight knits. But she definitely suggests folding cashmere and bulky sweaters.
Use Acid-Free Tissue Paper to Minimize Wrinkling
Insert the acid-free sheets between folds to prevent creases. That goes for sweaters, pants, and skirts. Adams says loosely folding clothes can help prevent stubborn wrinkles, too. Lay skirts flat whenever you can and fold pants in half once. For heavyweight bottoms, Herrera recommends hanging them with a clip hanger from the waist.
Don't Fold Leather
"Folding leather is tricky, because over time, the folds could eventually turn into a permanent crease," Adams says. "Lay it flat or hang it with a clip hanger, making sure that there's tissue or fabric inside the grab to prevent it from indenting the leather."
Store Clothing in Plastic Storage Bins or Cotton Canvas Bags
"Make sure you don't pack your bins up to the brim," Adams warns. "Doing that can not only create wrinkles, but it also stops airflow." It's why vacuum-sealed bags are frowned upon—they're too sealed, which traps air and prevents any circulation.
Line Your Storage Bins with Lavender, Eucalyptus, or Cedar
Take Care of Winter Accessories
For boots, wipe them down before storing and insert boot trees to keep their shape intact. For scarves, gloves, and beanies, keep them altogether in a box (Adams prefers a leather one for display reasons), or integrate scarves into your closet (pictured below).