While it’s nice to have a vast selection of clothes at your fingertips, it may not be practical to keep your whole collection in current circulation. This can make it more difficult to find the garments you really need, particularly if your closet is jam-packed with too many clothes. Hence, knowing how to properly store your off-season clothes is a must. It will not only keep things organised, but also make getting dressed a more convenient experience. To help you get started, here are eight effective tips for storing your clothes:

Storing Your Clothes | Pare Down Your Wardrobe

Before you actually get to organising your wardrobe, it’s good to take stock of what’s in it. There may be more than a handful of clothing items that you no longer need. In fact, statistics show that the average American woman has around 550 dollars’ worth of unworn clothing in her closet. If you haven’t worn an item in more than a year, it may be best to give it away. You can choose to sell it to thrift stores, donate it to charities, or give it to an interested friend. Remember, organising becomes much easier when you have far less clutter or unnecessary items to deal with.

Clean Your Clothes before Storing Them

Cleaning your clothes is an essential step in the storage process, as it prevents them from smelling, getting damaged, and acquiring permanent stains. Foul odours can easily spread from one item to another without a good wash. Additionally, insects are attracted to clothes that have food residue, skin oils, perspiration, and other forms of dirt on them.

Be sure to follow the washing instructions on each of your garments. Certain items may need to be dry-cleaned, so do check their tags. If you’re taking clothes to the dry cleaners, avoid having them starched, as starch can also attract pests like moths. Generally, delicate items like women’s tights and lingerie should be washed by hand. If you intend to clean them in the washer, place them in a mesh bag first. Lastly, make sure that clothes are completely dry before storing them to prevent the formation of mildew.

Know What to Hang and What to Fold

In order to keep your clothes in immaculate condition, you’ll need to know which ones to hang and which ones to fold. While this seems inconsequential, it’s actually a core pillar of clothing maintenance. Garments made from knit, synthetic, or delicate materials can easily get damaged or lose their shape when placed on a hanger. Hence, it’s best to fold these kinds of clothes for storage.

As for clothes that can be hung—such as most outerwear—be sure to use quality hangers. Not all hangers are made equal when it comes to keeping your garments in good shape. On that note, try to invest in wooden ones, even if they’re a little pricier than their plastic or metal counterparts. They provide more support, which helps clothes maintain their shape much better. Not to mention, wooden hangers are far sturdier, so you can expect to keep using them in the years to come.

Use Vacuum-Sealed Bags Wisely

If you have very large or bulky clothing items, you can choose to place them in vacuum-sealed bags. These handy pouches let you suction out the air inside them, which compresses your clothes. This keeps garments compact and saves you plenty of storage space. However, avoid using these bags to store fluffy clothes and items made from animal-sourced fibers, as they’re likely to lose their shape and get damaged.

For example, denim jeans and cotton t-shirts can be placed inside a vacuum bag, as they’re hardy enough to withstand the strong level of compression. Plus, plant-sourced fibers tend to react to pressure much better than animal-sourced ones. On the other hand, silk scarves, puffy parkas, and wool sweaters should not be placed under the same conditions. When in doubt, opt to simply fold or hang your clothes unless you really lack space.

Ward off Moths with Cedar or Lavender

Moths can cause irreparable damage to clothes, making them a pain to deal with. Although you can ward them off with moth balls, they aren’t the most ideal repellants. They not only smell unpleasant, but are also quite toxic to humans and pets. Therefore, you should only use them if you have no other solutions available. Thankfully, there are nicer-smelling alternatives that get the job done just as well, if not better. Lavender and cedar might be fragrant to us, but moths detest them. Just place a few sachets of these scents between your clothes or inside your storage space to keep these pesky insects away.

Use The Right Kind of Storage Containers

Where you store your clothes is just as important as how you store them. Storage containers come in different materials, but not all of them provide optimal conditions for off-season storage. Below are three of the most common types to choose from:

Cotton or Linen

Cotton or linen storage units are ideal for most types of clothes since they allow fabrics to breathe. This is why many fashion experts highly recommend this kind of container. Additionally, fabric storage containers can come in a variety of print designs, making them both functional and beautiful.

Plastic

Plastic storage is ideal for stacked or folded clothes. They’re generally good at keeping moisture and bugs away, which leaves you with less to worry about. However, it’s still good to keep some moisture absorbers inside just in case. A clear plastic container works great if you want to be able to easily view its contents. However, darker plastic containers offer better protection from light, which prevents your clothes from fading.

Cardboard

Of the three most common kinds of storage containers, cardboard ones are the least recommended. Their paper-like material isn’t very good at keeping moisture away, making them more prone to mildew. Plus, their natural fibers are a favourite food source for moths. It’s best to avoid using cardboard boxes altogether to avoid these risks. If you really want to store your clothes in cardboard boxes, be sure to keep them in a dry and cool area inside your house. Keep in mind that clothes made from wool or fragile fabrics should never be stored in these kinds of containers.

Arrange Clothes by Season or Activity

Once you find the perfect type of container, it’s time to arrange your clothes. Grouping your garments can make it easier to retrieve them when you need them. Clothing categories will depend on your needs or preferences. Many people find it helpful to sort their items by season or activity. For example, winter outfits can go inside one container while mountain-climbing gear can go inside another. Don’t forget to label your containers accordingly for better accessibility.

Store Your Clothes in A Proper Location

Lastly, you’ll need to search for an appropriate area to keep your storage containers in. The general rule of thumb is to place them in a cool, dark, and dry location. Avoid storing your clothes in basements or attics at all costs. These kinds of areas tend to be humid and musty, making them the perfect breeding grounds for moisture, mould, dust, and insects. Additionally, be sure to keep storage containers in a spot that’s easy to reach. After all, you’ll want to be able to access them when seasons change or the need arises.

As shown in the tips above, storing your clothes involves more than just keeping things neat and organised. It requires you to ensure that your beloved garments are well cared for, even when they’re not in use. This way, they’ll still look and feel great when it’s finally time to wear them again.