Packing away your winter clothes? Here are 10 practical tips.

Packing away your winter clothes? Here are 10 practical tips.

Days are getting brighter and longer, beautiful flowers are popping up and temperatures are slowly inching upwards. It’s only natural that after the end of a long winter, spring is on everybody’s minds.

I love the feeling of renewal this season embodies, and there’s something deeply gratifying to me in swapping out my winter clothes into lighter spring/summer ones, especially those humungous knit jumpers/sweaters!

Still, you might think it might be a little too early to start the old, familiar winter to spring closet turn-over. But the sooner you start giving it some thought and putting your plan into action, the sooner it will be all done and you can be free to enjoy the great outdoors when spring is finally in full swing! That’s right, now’s the right time to turn your attention to those crammed cupboards, drawers and wardrobes.

Here are 10 really easy, yet useful, tips to get you on your way:

1. Re-assess clothes: Spring is the ideal time for you to get some de-cluttering done and clear out clothes you no longer want or need. I know I’m always surprised at the items I discover during this process that I didn’t even remember I had! As you think about each clothing item, try to remember the last time you actually wore it. I usually go a step further and try to reflect on how I felt when I last wore something. Was it comfortable? Did I feel confident and overall good in it? That helps me to determine if that piece of clothing and I are meant to be and is a good way of nudging me to let go of stuff I might be tempted to put away in my just-in-case pile, which, let’s face it, is usually filled with things we will never go back to. Also, if I haven’t worn something in over a year, and it’s not special fancy dress which I don’t have regular need to wear, I get rid of it.

2. Clean your clothes: Sorry folks, but the “sniff-test” is not the way here. The rule of thumb is, before packing it away for the next 8 or so months, it’s best to launder everything. Even if you don’t remember wearing it recently, even if there aren’t any obvious splodges of food on the fabric. The reason?  There are some hard to spot creatures (think moth larvae and silverfish) that love to munch on your clothing’s fibres and before you know it, you’re going to have some mighty fine holes all over your precious garments. Even the tiniest food remnants as well as dried skin and other indiscernible things create a feeding ground for these pests. So get those delicates dry cleaned and toss everything else in the machine wash- you’ll be thankful you put in this extra effort later.

3. Clean the storage area: Remember those nasty pests we just spoke about? Well, it’s best to try and eliminate as many as we can. Besides, our squeaky clean clothes deserve to be stored in a nice, clean place. After moving the things we’re going to put into storage, it’s a great time to do a thorough clean of the area- closets, cupboards, furniture and the entire bedroom. A good sweeping, wiping and hoovering is what we need to rid our space of the undesirables often lurking at the backs of wardrobes, the bottom of boxes, underneath rugs, or in dark corners.

4. Invest in proper storage containers: They may cost a bit more than just bog-standard plastic bags, but don’t skimp on storage containers. There are many storage solutions available on the market these days. I tend to opt for the vacuum-sealed bags and clear storage boxes with snug-fitting lids. If you’re limited on space, these are your friends – they’re space-saving and easy to stack. For the purpose of winter storage, I know some say an unused suitcase, lined with acid free tissues will suffice, but personally, I support the not-too-packed storage boxes and zippered bags theory, for freshness plus the added organisation and space related benefits these bring.

5. Avoid hanging clothes: Especially ones prone to losing shape, don't hang clothes in storage. So that includes things like jumpers, knitwear and anything made of heavy, stretchy material. You may be surprised but coats that are gently folded and put in storage boxes are kept in better shape than they are hung up (just remember to remove everything from pockets and do up all the fasteners). If it’s unavoidable to hang something, use all the features of the hanger as much as possible, including any nooks or loops you might otherwise not utilise. Also, hangers made of cedar are a durable and beneficial choice. To protect these items from dust and dirt, put breathable material over them; never use the plastic dry cleaning wrap which traps moisture and can contribute to discolouration of the fabric.

6. Use fresh, pest-deterrent scents: No longer are we limited to the traditional mothballs, which have been found to be toxic (I’ve never liked those things!). Nowadays we have great smelling, natural alternatives readily available at very reasonable costs. Try popping cedar balls into your storage containers. Cedar has been proven to be an effective means of absorbing dampness, dispelling unpleasant odours, protecting textiles against mildew and repelling many types of insects. If you don’t like the cedar scent, try lavender sachets which have several of the same beneficial properties.

7. Fold properly and pack heavy things at the bottom: Don’t fall for the temptation of not folding items carefully. Putting crumpled up garments into storage bags or boxes will only create unnecessary work for you when you’re ready to take them. Endless future hours of unnecessary ironing is not my kind of thing, so I take the time to carefully fold each item and place neatly in my storage container of choice. Also, put the heaviest things at the bottom and the lighter ones on top, which will ensure the shape and fit of items are not ruined. Similarly, avoid stacking plastic boxes on top of bags.

8. Sort clothes by type or colour: Organising your clothes by use or type is really useful when it’s time to pull them out again when colder weather strikes. The plastic boxes work great for coats, scarves, gloves and hats. I like to use vacuum sealed bags to store my store my tops, heavy jumpers, thick trousers/professional suits, and long-sleeved dresses separately. When they’re compressed like this, it’s easy for me to sling them under the bed. I also like to do a bit of colour organisation where I can just so I can better keep track of and identify my items.

9. Use shoe trees and tissue paper: I treat my boots, especially leather and suede ones, as long-term investments and try to maintain them as best as I can so as not to have to replace them every winter. When it comes to packing away winter boots, shoe trees are great to allow your boots to be stored without being misshaped and creased, especially for tall boots. If you’re extra short on space like me, shoe trees also allow you to stack boots laid on their sides in a plastic box- be sure to put something like an old t-shirt in between each. For shorter boots or shoes you don’t wear in warmer weather, after wiping the shoes, stuffing these with clean tissue paper will help retain their shape before loosely packing them in a storage box.

10. Choose the right storage area: CCDD is the acronym to remember here: Clean, Cool, Dark & Dry. To prevent fading, mildew and other damage, it’s important that the area you store your things in be dirt-free, cool, dry, well-ventilated and free from all types of light.

Cath Kidston (UK) Avenue USA