It’s Spring Outside, But is it Still Winter in Your Closet?
We are in full on Spring season here, complete with sunny skies, warmer temperatures, and a not-so-light dusting of pollen. It’s like Winter wasn’t even here just a scant few weeks ago. The question is: do you know where your winter clothes are? Did you put them away properly so they’ll be ready for you to wear them 5 months from now?
What does it mean to put your winter clothes away properly? Much like putting favorite toys away, you’ve got to put clothes, including scarves, coats, boots, etc. back after you play with them. If not you run the risk of them not being where you thought you put them and they could be damaged, ruining an investment you made in your wardrobe.
This happened to me several years ago. The drawer where I had stored my sweaters had a moth infestation so I had to throw away just about every sweater (goodbye, favorite 2 ply cashmere turtleneck purchased on major SFA sale 😢) I owned.
- Clean your clothes. I wash my wool and cashmere sweaters and scarves in mesh bags on the gentle cycle in my washing machine with The Laundress Cashmere and Wool Shampoo (get a complete how-to here). After they dry on every flat surface in my bedroom, I fold them and put them away in a dresser. Do NOT, repeat, DO NOT store them in plastic bags. Leaving them on hangers in bags from the dry cleaners is bad for a couple of reasons. One is they are creased on the hanger and gravity can cause them to stretch. Two is they are natural fibers and need to breathe. Store in cotton zip up bags if you need to but just don’t leave them in plastic.
- Don’t forget to clean your scarves and shawls. These sometimes get overlooked in the coat closet but the same applies: they need to be cleaned before putting away.
- Dry clean winter coats and hats that can’t go in the wash. If you wore it, clean it.
- Evaluate your winter wardrobe. While you’re cleaning, this is the perfect time to evaluate if you want to keep these winter clothes. Did you wear everything? If not, why? If it doesn’t fit or flatter, think if there is something you can do to alter it to make it work. If not, it’s time to pass it on to someone else. What’s the point of letting it take up valuable real estate in your closet if you don’t wear it or love it? Others benefit from you discarding clothes that you no longer wear or need. Give to a friend or donate to charity.
- Match up gloves and mittens. I can’t tell you how many hall closets I’ve worked on that had a bin of single mittens and gloves. Make a concerted effort to find the mates and then get rid of any remaining singles. Add “new gloves” to your Autumn shopping list if necessary.
- Clean your boots and other winter shoes. This is so important, especially if you live where salt is put on the ground in icy weather, to extend their life. Depending on the condition of the boots or shoes, you may have to get them professionally cleaned but you can at least get all of the dirt off the heels and soles. Now is also a good time to evaluate if they need repair like new tips or soles.
- Store away. All of these clothes that you’re not going to wear for a while can now be placed in a less convenient location in your closet or home. Everything that you’re currently using and wearing should be at eye level or have the easiest access. Again, I wouldn’t suggest using plastic bins because clothes need to breathe. Don’t hang sweaters so they don’t get permanent creases on the shoulders; folding is better. I like using lavender or cedar sachets in the drawers or fabric bins to keep them smelling nice and to ward off bugs. I’m not a fan of mothballs but they are great for warding of squirrels in your garden or attic.
Sure, it seems like a lot to do at once but if you put winter clothes away properly, they’ll be ready to wear when cooler temps return. Plus you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is so you’re not running around looking for sweaters or scarves which is a major time and sanity saver.