You're Storing Your Winter Clothes All Wrong—5 Mistakes to Avoid

These tricks will help your clothing last for longer.

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As the weather begins to warm up, it's time to start thinking about storing winter clothes in the attic, basement, or upper shelves of our closets to make room for spring and summer essentials. While it's tempting to toss every winter sweater and wool coat into a big plastic bin and shove it in the attic for the next six months, taking the time to store your winter clothes the right way will pay off by helping your clothing last for longer. Avoid these common mistakes when storing winter clothes now—and you'll thank yourself in six months when you go to unpack your sweaters and find them fresh and free of moth holes.

Mistake #1: Not Washing Clothing Before You Store It

You're not going to be wearing this clothing for a while, so there's no need to wash it, right? Wrong! Storing clothing with food stains and odors on them not only makes it much harder to remove the stains later, but it can also attract bugs and pests. Instead, wash or dry-clean clothing and treat any stains before storing away your winter clothing. Plus, future you will be thankful when you open bins full of clothing that's ready to wear in the winter.

Mistake #2: Not Protecting Against Moths

If you've ever had a favorite sweater munched on by a hungry moth, than you know how disappointing it is to find moth holes in a beloved piece of clothing. Skip the smelly moth balls and tuck a sprig of lavender or some fragrant pieces of cedar into the storage bin—both scents will deter moths. Follow these care tips to keep the clothing stashed in your closet safe from moths, too.

Mistake #3: Cramming Too Many Items into One Container

While some items, like a puffer jacket, may be fine in a space-saving vacuum-sealed bag, other items will lose their shape if stuffed into a small space. Winter boots and shoes tend to be bulky, but resist the temptation to overfill your bin of shoes, or your boots may come out misshapen in six months. One trick is to use boot shapers ($5, to make sure tall leather boots hold their shape and stash them in sturdy plastic bins so they won't get crushed.

Mistake #4: Storing in the Wrong Spot

When choosing a place to store your winter clothing, select a spot that's cool, dry, and away from sunlight. The attic or basement is a popular choice, but make sure that this area doesn't experience extreme temperature variations, which can be damaging to clothing. Also avoid spots that are humid, as moisture can cause mold and mildew. Finally, be sure to pick a spot that's away from sunlight, which can fade clothing and cause temperature variations between day and night.

If you don't have a temperature-controlled attic or basement, consider storing off-season clothing under the bed, on high shelves in your closet, or in a spare closet in your home.

Mistake #5: Not Using Acid-Free Tissue for Delicates

For those special pieces, like a vintage dresses or delicate hand-knit sweater, you'll want to invest in acid-free paper to wrap it in. Don't try to store natural-fiber delicate or vintage items in plastic—they prefer to breathe. And don't try to use regular old tissue paper—the acid in the paper can actually break down fibers over time. Instead, invest in acid-free tissue paper and an archival box ($45, to help your most cherished clothing items survive the winter in storage.

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