5 Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Winter Clothes

These tricks—like using a winter coat storage bag—will help clothing last longer.

cream pullover knitted sweater on a light blue background with illustrated moths spread all over the image
Photo: Getty Images

When the weather warms up, it's time to start thinking about storing winter apparel 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 time to store winter clothes the right way will pay off by helping your clothing last longer. Avoid these common mistakes when storing winter clothes—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 Storing 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—from warm tights to sweaters—with food stains and odors on them not only makes it harder to remove the stains later but 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 clothes that are 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, then 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.

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 ($6, containerstore.com) 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 damage clothing. Also avoid humid spots, as moisture can cause mold and mildew. Finally, pick a spot 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 or in the drawers of your storage bed, on high shelves in your closet, or in a spare closet in your home. You can even stash some of it in storage furniture, such as inside an upholstered bench in your bedroom.

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

For those special pieces, like vintage dresses or delicate hand-knit sweaters, you'll want to invest in acid-free paper to wrap them 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 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 ($54, containerstore.com) to help your most cherished clothing items survive the winter in storage.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles