How To Store Your Winter Clothes

Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
It's been quite some time since you've really worried about monsters in your closet, but — don't look now — you've got a few creatures stuffed in there that are scarier than any five-eyed, horn-nosed gremlin. They're your winter clothes. And, despite your best intentions, you still haven't put them away for the season. Spring is in full swing, and it's time to finally get your act together, schedule a trip to the dry cleaner, and do that closet refresh you've been putting off.
Finally getting to see all your sundresses lined up in a row without a terrifying puffer jacket to interrupt the flow should be reason enough, but organization expert Jeffrey Phillip warns that improperly storing your winter clothes can create a whole host of problems. Think bug-eaten holes, permanent salt stains, and un-ironable wrinkles. So, in penance for all those vintage wool coats, cashmere sweaters, and leather boots you may have accidentally ruined in the past when cutting corners, Phillip is here to answer your last-minute clothes-storage quandaries and tell you when a lazy-girl move is actually just a stupid move.
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
How do I pack away bulky coats without ruining them?
"The simplest way to store a bulky coat, like puffer, ski jacket, or fleece, is to use a vacuum-sealed space bag. (These are now available in both hanging or lay-flat styles.) However, I don't recommend this type of storage for more structured coats — such as an overcoat — as it may destroy the form and fit. I suggest keeping those on more supportive hangers that properly fit the shoulders, and covering them with a garment bag."
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
I don't have ANY storage space in my apartment. Is there another solution?
"Yes! Many dry cleaners will store your items during the summer at no additional cost. (Just be sure to let them know you will be leaving the items there for several months.) Or, MakeSpace, Box Butler, and Manhattan Mini Storage all offer reasonably priced storage spaces for temporary rental. If you have very valuable items, such as furs or gowns, there is also Garde Robe, which offers the most supreme care in wardrobe storage."
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
What's the best way to store winter shoes and boots?
"Just like clothing, shoes should always be cleaned before storing. It not only helps make sure you're ready come fall, but it removes any dirt that could set in over the summer months and cause staining. Wipe down snow boots to remove any salt, chemical ice melt, and dirt. Clean leather boots with a leather cleaner, and have suede boots professionally cleaned. Use acid-free tissue paper and boot shapers to help your shoes keep their shape. Place them in individual boxes or plastic bins if you've got the room, but if space is tight, you can also store several pairs in one large box — just be sure to wrap each pair in acid-free tissue paper or place them in a duster bag for protection."
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
What's the best use of under-the-bed space?
"Since there's often about a 7-inch height restriction under a bed, this space is typically best suited for off-season shoe storage. It can also be a great place to store pants and other items that don’t require a lot of space when folded, since they can easily fit into under-the-bed storage bins."
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
How do you store sweaters without fear of moth holes?
"As I learned from my textiles professor at FIT, Ingrid Johnson: The first step is to make sure you clean the item before storage. Once clean, store wool and cashmere (even if they are only part of a blended material) in sealed plastic bags and place in a plastic container or bin. During the warm, humid summer months, make sure your clothes are kept in a spot in your home that is cool, dry, and away from sunlight. You can use repellents like cedar, lavender, or mothballs/crystals, but since they can quickly lose their potency or require sealed environments to work properly, they don't always work. But, do your research! Mothballs are considered a pesticide and come with many chemical downfalls and can be potentially dangerous to have around children and pets. If you like to use cedar or herbs to keep your clothing smelling fresh while in storage, just be sure to place acid-free paper between the garment and the repellent. The fine fibers used in today's clothing can easily absorb oils from cedar or herbs and leave a stain. In the end, the most important thing is to make sure the garments are clean and stored in sealed plastic."
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Illustrated by Daniel Koppich.
Are you supposed to dry clean clothes before storing them? Is there a way around that process for us lazy folk?
"Yes, you should, and there’s not really a way around it. (Sorry, folks!) I don't look forward to this process, either, but it’s important if you want to make sure your clothes will come out hole-free in the fall. Cleaning the garment will eliminate any chance that a critter has already moved in since you last wore it, and it will also remove any bodily oils, stains, food particles, etc. that could set in during the off-season or may provide more reason for the pest to call your sweater home."