Most of us in the northern hemisphere are experiencing longer days, warmer weather, and fewer opportunities to wear our winter clothing. One of my favorite things to do when spring takes hold is to pack up my cold weather clothing and swap it out of storage with my warmer weather things. It sounds silly, but I really do enjoy this process. Opening a box of summer clothes is like finding a forgotten five dollar bill in the pocket of a pair of pants.
Before I open up the warmer weather clothing, though, I make sure that I have properly prepared my cooler weather clothing for storage. Storing dirty clothes for six months can do a lot of damage and attract bugs, so the first step in the process is to clean everything you plan to store. **Dry clean your natural fiber and delicate clothing, and run the rest through the washing machine. Be sure not to starch anything, though, as bugs love to gnaw on starch, and remove everything from flimsy plastic dry cleaning bags. Also, now is the time to have damaged items repaired, and to find new homes for anything you no longer wish to keep. If you’re someone who likes to shop, then consider decreasing your winter wardrobe by half or more so that when you bring new items in during the fall you’ll have space in your closet.
My storage system for out of season clothing is very basic. I have clear plastic boxes with lids and I toss a handful of cedar balls into each box to deter pests. I also throw a humidity control desiccant packet into each container for good measure. I have one large box for coats, scarves, and hats, and another large box for business professional clothing like winter suits, dresses, and heavy slacks (they’re called underbed boxes on the Container Store website). Then, I have five smaller plastic sweater boxes organized by color: black, grey, blue, white/brown, and red/green. In case you’re curious, those are the only colors in my whole wardrobe — it’s oddly void of orange, purple, and yellow.
There are a number of different ways to safely store clothing for the season. The basics are this: Bugs need air to breathe and dislike cedar oil in high concentrations. So, either store your clothing in an air-tight container or store it in a nearly perfect air-tight container and introduce cedar oil into the environment to deter pests. Cedar chests are fantastic if they’re air tight. Heavy-duty sweater bags are fine, and you can put tape over the zipper if you’re afraid of air getting into it. My local dry cleaner sells cedar-scented bags that are good for coats you might leave hanging in a closet.
**Note: The reason I recommend dry cleaning your natural fiber clothing before putting them into storage for the season is because the dry cleaning process kills moth larvae and adult moths. If you don’t want to dry clean your items, then you need to freeze your clothing for two to three days before putting it in storage. Freezing your clothes will kill the pests the same way dry cleaning will.