By Molly Hammond, Storage.com

As much as we hate to admit it, warm days of sun and swimming are gone for the year. As the wind kicks up and winter approaches, it’s time to consider what to do with all of the clothing you won’t need until spring!

It might be tempting to shove shorts and swimsuits to the back of a closet as you make room for snow pants and scarf collections, but the truth is your closet is already cluttered this time of year with layers upon layers of clothing and holiday gifts. Fortunately, moving your summer wardrobe into a self storage unit is an affordable way to save yourself the headache of stumbling over sandals you won’t need for months.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much room they can create in their homes by putting their out-of-season clothing into storage, but it really does give you a lot of space,” says Jeff Banks, Business Development Manager with BiG Storage in the United Kingdom.

Before moving your summer clothes to a storage unit, be sure to clean them, pack them well, organize them, and find a climate-controlled storage unit.

Clean Your Clothes Before Storage

Christian Marcen, facility manager at Affordable Storage Solutions in Pueblo, Colo., explains that a thorough washing (or dry cleaning, dependent on the clothing) is the first step to good storage. She recommends using fabric softener “to give [garments] a nice, fresh smell before storing.”

Banks explains that cleaning keeps important items in pristine condition. “We advise our customers to think how they would want to see their clothes when they’d be taking them back out [of storage].”

If garments appear clean, but it’s been a while since their last wash, it’s safest to give them a quick cleaning before storage. Particularly with white clothing, yellowing and other stains can develop over time if clothes aren’t well-laundered before they’re packed away.

“You don’t want to put dirty clothing away for several months.”

George Adbow, CFO of ezStorage

“You don’t want to put dirty clothing away for several months,” says George Adbow, CFO of ezStorage in Columbia, Md. “This could cause stains that will be difficult to remove when the warm weather returns.”

Adbow adds that “the same [cleaning advice] goes for summer footwear. Before storing, you’ll want to wipe sandals and other footwear down to remove any dirt and debris.” Since shoes aren’t always known to smell fresh in the first place, this step is particularly important—odors won’t just dissipate sitting in storage.

If a quick wipedown doesn’t do much for your shoes, you can always stick a dryer sheet into individual shoes or into the container you’re using to store footwear.

Pack Your Clothes Properly

Clothing storage doesn’t have to be difficult, but it requires a little more care than filling up laundry baskets. Marcen explains that renters sometimes make the mistake of throwing clothes in garbage bags and leaving them in a storage unit or “simply placing them in a unit without any protection.”

Banks says that “a lack of care in packing” is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, especially when you have to deal with the consequences when you pull your wardrobe out again. “The last thing you’d want to do is to have to take lots and lots of creases out, or even worse, have [snagged] the clothing on something else going into storage.”

“The last thing you’d want to do is to have to take lots and lots of creases out, or even worse, have [snagged] the clothing on something else going into storage.”

Jeff Banks, Business Development Manager with BiG Storage

Adbow and Marcen have found that vacuum-sealed bags are a popular way to store clothing and save space. Once the garments are sealed in space-saving bags, they can easily be stacked in plastic bins, like Rubbermaid containers. These plastic bins are easy to carry and stack and provide an environment for your clothing that won’t be breached by moisture or curious critters.

“If you’re using plastic containers,” Adbow explains, “clean the inside with a disinfectant. To keep fragile items from touching the plastic container, you can line the container with a clean 100% cotton sheet or acid-free tissue paper.”

Banks favors large wardrobe boxes, which BiG Storage provides to customers storing clothing. “A number of clothes will go into [these] boxes and will remain nice and dry whilst in one of our storage rooms.”

FIND A STORAGE UNIT FOR YOUR SUMMER CLOTHING

Organize Your Summer Wardrobe

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when storing part of your wardrobe is to organize it. If everything is packed sensibly when it’s put into the unit, then finding what you need when it’s time to retrieve your clothes will be a breeze.

Adbow, Banks, and Marcen all agree that organization is a vital part of making the most of your storage unit. “Grouping like objects together will help save space and make unpacking easier,” says Adbow.

Label your boxes and arrange them in the unit so the boxes you’ll want first are closest to the front. Banks recommends that renters consider which items they’ll want access to first when the weather warms up. “We encourage people to always put the items they think they would need the most toward the front. That way, it’s easy to grab boxes that contain transitional clothing when the seasons start to change.”

“We encourage people to always put the items they think they would need the most toward the front.”

Jeff Banks, Business Development Manager with BiG Storage

Shelves are a great way to utilize the space in a unit, too, and some facilities will even provide shelving. Even if your facility doesn’t, most will be perfectly amenable to you using portable shelving.

By packing bags and boxes with similar articles of clothing and arranging those containers so that you have access to what you’ll need first, your storage unit can be like the walk-in closet you’ve always wanted.

Choose Climate-Controlled Storage

Climate control is a storage amenity that keeps the temperature and humidity of a unit within a comfortable range, which helps protect sensitive items in storage. Units that aren’t climate-controlled are often at the mercy of temperatures and weather conditions outside, which can spell trouble for fabrics.

If moisture manages to get inside your storage boxes or bins, it won’t be long before clothes begin to develop mold and mildew. This can leave clothes with a musty, undesirable smell (especially after months in a sealed container) and even damage them permanently.

“Indoor climate-controlled [storage] is much like storing at home. Being indoors protects the units from dirt, dust, and moisture.”

Christian Marcen, facility manager at Affordable Storage Solutions

“Indoor climate-controlled [storage] is much like storing at home,” says Marcen. “Being indoors protects the units from dirt, dust, and moisture.” If you’re taking the time to clean and organize your clothes for storage, the least you can do is invest in a unit that will make them feel at home.

It might be hard to part with some of your summer clothing, but you can take comfort in knowing that as long as you store them correctly, your clothes will be waiting for you in pristine condition. Make room at home for your winter items and get excited to reunite with your wardrobe as soon as spring has sprung!

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Molly Hammond is a member of the content team at Storage.com. An equal opportunity storage enthusiast, Molly writes about everything, from where to store your extra boat to turning your storage unit into a custom cosplay workshop. When she’s not learning about the evils of plastic bags for clothing storage, she’s eating french fries, watching HBO, and wishing for snow.