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How To Pack Away Seasonal Clothing Properly

Learn the right way to pack away your seasonal wardrobe so your clothes stay fresh and safe in storage during their off-season.

Oh hey there, Owner Of A Small Closet! I see you over there smushing your clothes in as tight as you can even though you’ve purged three times already this year. Sometimes the problem isn’t that you have too many clothes, but you really just don’t have enough space. I’ve been there, and I know how frustrating it is. So between my experience as a professional organizer and my own personal history with small closets, I want to share these quick and easy tips for freeing up some space in your closet this season.

Deciding What You Can Pack Away

You probably put away your holiday sweaters and big winter coats once the last frost has come and gone, but when you have a small closet, sometimes you should take it a step further and downsize your current wardrobe by a lot. The biggest way to make space in a closet is to take out the things you wear infrequently and put them somewhere else. Here’s a quick list of everything you can potentially pack up during the off-season.

Pack Up These Clothing Items During Spring And Summer:

  • Sweaters and chunky knits (leave out one cardigan for chilly evenings)
  • Big coats (leave out a light jacket and rain coat)
  • Winter hats, gloves, and scarves
  • Thick socks and tights
  • Holiday clothing
  • Colors you don’t typically wear in the summer
  • Heavy materials like leather, fur, and suede
  • Boots, booties, and other winter shoes
  • Extra warm pajamas and thick robes

Pack Up These Clothing Items During Fall And Winter:

  • Bathing suits (leave one out in case you visit a hotel with an indoor pool)
  • Shorts and skirts (except athletic shorts)
  • Sleeveless shirts (except layering pieces)
  • Large sun hats, woven hats, and other summer accessories
  • Sandals and open toed shoes/heels
  • Bright colored clothing you rarely want to wear in cold seasons
  • Thin pajamas and kimono-style house robes
how to pack up winter clothes

Pack Up Your Out-Of-Season Clothing

First, wash and dry anything you plan to pack up that hasn’t already been laundered. This includes scarves, hats, gloves, and other accessories. You want everything you pack away to be clean and free of any outside ickies.

Now get yourself some really good quality storage bins. I like these from Sterilite because they have a gasket around the lid and super tight latches. That gasket is a total superhero, because it keeps air, dust, bugs, and even smells from getting inside the container.

Carefully fold the seasonal clothes and accessories and stack them inside the containers by category. All the sweaters together, all the dresses, all the accessories, and all the pants. It’s a good idea to store your winter boots and shoes in their own container away from clothing. You can also stuff the inside of wide-brimmed hats with leggings or scarves so they don’t get crushed.

Label each bin and store them somewhere out of the way, like a guest bedroom closet, a garage, or even on shelves in your laundry room. Avoid attics and outdoor storage buildings if possible, and if space is really tight, consider a storage building or making a deal with a nearby family member or friend who has extra storage space to spare. Maybe you could trade a batch of your famous cheesecake bites for a few square feet of storage space in her heated and cooled garage.

Making Room For What’s Leftover

Now that you’ve packed up all the clothes you won’t be wearing over the next few months, here are a few more tips for maximizing the space in your tiny closet.

  1. Swap chunky hangers for super slim ones. They take up less space on the rod.
  2. Consider updating your closet systems to an adjustable one to use more wall space.
  3. Fold t-shirts and jeans. Store them in your dresser or on shelves.
  4. No shelves? Add a cheap cube shelving unit to the floor of your closet.
  5. Don’t forget about the space under your bed. Shallow pull-out containers are great for shoes, accessories, and workout clothing.
organized small closet with pink hangers

Want More Closet Tips?

I just realized I’ve written quite a few posts about closets, clothing, wardrobes, and accessory storage. To scroll all that I’ve got, just click here and see them all right in a tidy little row to scroll through. And if you have any specific closet storage or organization questions, you can schedule a virtual organizing consultation call and I’ll be happy to help.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Lela! What hangers do you recommend. I especially have a love/hate relationship with skirt hangers. I need strong clips but hate how they always catch on each other. Any recommendations??

    • Lela Burris

      Hi Andrea! I typically avoid hangers with clips because they’re terrible for the life of your clothes and the space of your closet. It’s actually better for your skirts to fold them over the hanger bottom like you would a pair of pants.

      As far as hangers, I suggest thin nonslip hangers for most articles of clothing. The BHG collection at Walmart is really good, as well as the ones at The Container Store.

      Put shirts on the hangers from the bottom up instead of through the neck so you don’t stretch the collars. And for heavy coats, wooden hangers are your best bet.

      Hope that helps!

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