But do you have to? Well, yes, if you want your items to weather the off-season successfully. (No holes!)
Sort and Organize
Pull out all your winter clothes and separate them into three piles: wash, dry-clean, and good to go. Don't forget your hats, scarves, and gloves. While you're at it, ditch anything that's outdated or damaged. This is also a good time to vacuum the closet and wipe down shelves.
Wash, Then Pack, Everything
Yes, this is a drag, but washing and dry-cleaning garments that have been worn is the best way to prevent pests from attacking, says Steve Boorstein, the author of The Clothing Doctor's 99 Secrets to Cleaning and Clothing Care. Moths, silverfish, and other creepy crawlies love munching on the sweat, food residue, and body oils (yum) left on clothes. A thorough laundering can also help to eliminate stains that may be invisible now, but that will appear in six months, when it may be too late to get them out.
Store Knits in Canvas Bins
Clothes, particularly those made from natural fibers, need air circulation, says Stu Bloom, the owner of Rave FabriCare, a garment- and textile-care company in Scottsdale, Arizona. Airtight containers can hold moisture in fabrics, potentially causing mold, mildew, yellowing, or a musty odor. Already own plastic bins? Poke a few holes in them, or cover stacks of sweaters with old, clean cotton pillowcases or sheets to protect them from dust when they're stored on a shelf. Pack the heaviest items on the bottom, the lightest on top.
Hang Tailored Pieces
If you have room in a closet, stow garments such as dresses, coats, and silk or leather items on wooden or padded hangers. Then place them in breathable garment bags or slip a clean cotton sheet over a rack. No hanging space to spare? Fold items with tissue paper inside bins. Never store anything in dry-cleaning bags, which trap chemicals and moisture and cause yellowing.
Pick a Good Spot
Store bins and bags in a cool, dark, dry, and ventilated area—perhaps under a bed or in a guest room. Is the basement your only option? Add silica-gel packets to the bins, use a dehumidifier to absorb moisture, and place bricks under the bins to keep them off the floor. Avoid the attic; high temperatures can cause fibers to become brittle.
Keep Pests Away
Drop cedar blocks, balls, or sachets into the storage containers, and slip cedar rings on hangers. (Be careful that the cedar doesn't touch fabric; it may stain.) Cedar repels insects, but only if its odor is strong. Revive the scent every 6 to 12 months by sanding it lightly. Or opt for sachets filled with lavender; bugs despise its scent.