How I Clean & Store My Winter Clothes & Boots

clothing storage tips

After a lot of time spent indoors and the arrival of warmer weather (although what’s this I hear about snow tonight?!), I started doing my seasonal storage swap. Twice a year, in early spring and again in the fall, I rotate out / in larger items that are particularly seasonal like boots, scarves, coats and thick sweaters. Living in a small city condo, this has been important for making the most of my accessible closet space. Below is my usual process and products used!

See my other posts on small space home organization: 5 Small Space Tips: Clothing Storage & Organization & Pt. 2: Shoes + Handbags.

1. Preparing Items for Storage

Clean

Removing dirt, food and oils from your skin will help prevent stains settling in and also prevent attracting bugs while in storage.

  • For delicate pieces, I previously shared how you can wash silk at home and I do similar for wool/cashmere.
  • For my suede boots and shoes, I:
    1. Wipe the soles / heels clean using a slightly damp paper towel or rag.
    2. Use a suede brush to gently brush off any large patches of dirt or stains.
    3. Lint roll off smaller specks of dirt or dust. I don’t currently have a lint roller on hand so very gently used a piece of tape to blot dirty / dusty spots.

Stuff Boots + Shoes

Footwear can become misshapen over time if not stored properly, and suede / leather in particular can crease easily. I make sure to stuff the toes and around the ankle area of boots, repurposing old cotton tees and newspapers as boot fillers.

tips for cleaning boots

Shacke suede brush, newspapers and old tees used to stuff shoes

2. Tackling Moths, Odors, Humidity

Deter Moths & Pests

There’s few things worse than pulling out a favorite sweater, only to find that moths have been munching on it over the summer! Cedar and lavender are natural moth repellants, so using either one should keep insects away and keep your clothes smelling fresh!

Note that once cedar scents start to fade, you can use sandpaper on larger blocks to help rejuvenate them a bit. I’ve read that cedar oil can sometimes seep into fabrics, but these particular blocks don’t seem to have much oil.

Absorb Excess Humidity & Odors

After cleaning, make sure that each garment is completely dry before storing to prevent mildew. To absorb excess moisture during storage, some people recommend adding silica packs, like the ones that come with a new pair of shoes. With a toddler around though I usually toss those right away, so here are some alternatives:

    • Charcoal bags are known to help absorb odors and excess moisture
    • Not for storage bins, but these hanging moisture-eliminating bags (also on Amazon) for closets are highly rated. I haven’t tried them (as excess humidity hasn’t been an issue in our home), but be sure to get the fragrance free ones as most negative reviews were of the fragranced version.
    • These moisture eliminating pouches are a positively reviewed option suitable for storage bins, but again, I haven’t personally used these.

the best clothing storage bags and bins

3. Choosing a Storage Vessel

I pick different storage vessels depending on the item type as well as the storage space – for example, I prefer softer / less structured bags for harder-to-access nooks so that I can stuff them in, but shoes definitely need durable hard containers. Be mindful to not over-pack storage bins and try to place the heaviest items on the bottom.

Storage Bins

  • I love overhead / underbed storage bins (also at Wayfair or Walmart) – the ones pictured here for my boots are the 40 quart size. They feel durable but not too heavy, are easy to see inside of, are stackable, and have carpet glider pads on the bottom if you’re using these for under-bed storage.
  • See more IRIS brand storage bins in different sizes at Target, Wayfair & Home Depot.

how to store boots and shoes

IRIS store & slide bins (also at Wayfair or Walmart) in the 28″ wide / 40 quart size

Storage Bags

Canvas or other breathable bags are often recommended for storing fibers like wool and cashmere.

  • I bought these clear vinyl bags last year and like the size (great for guest bedding, towels, larges scarves etc), the carrying “handle” and durability. On the downside, mine arrived with a strong odor so I gave them a good wipe down and aired them out under the sun before using to get rid of that.
  • I also have the Wayfair Basics Under the Bed Bag – these are very non structured. You get what you pay for with the under $10 price tag but it gets the job done. The top is clear so you can see into it and the material is listed as breathable so I keep my sweaters in this. Note this is fairly large and long in length, so below is a smaller option…
  • Canvas zippered bag: 2-Pack sweater bag with a semi see through top.

Petite-Friendly Hangers + Garment Bags

Winter coats can be hung on sturdy wooden hangers and placed in a hanging garment bag. Make sure to use the right width hangers and not thin flimsy ones in order to maintain the shoulder shape of coats – I’ve been using these petite-friendly Only Hangers 14″ wide junior wooden hangers for years!

I use garment bags that came with my purchases, but a peeve is some are too long and I can’t see what’s inside without opening them up. These garment bags on Amazon come in various lengths (shorter ones should be petite friendly) and a semi-opaque white so you can easily see what’s inside.

how to store winter clothes

Clockwise from top left: boot storage bins, vinyl bag (full of scarves), underbed bag, cedar pieces

4. Where to Store

Even though our condo is quite small, we’re lucky to have some out-of-sight storage space high up at the top of our closets. I keep seasonal shoe bins above my bedroom closet, with softer storage bags stacked on top.

Coats are a little tricker as I like to keep them laying flat or hanging – I keep my most favorite coats in my closet year-round, just dry cleaned and zippered up in garment bags. My other, less precious coats go to offsite storage during warmer seasons (more info below).

  • Under & Over: Store clothing in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, like under the bed for easy access (remember “bed risers” from college? Well they don’t have to be hideous! i.e. these)
  • Monitor humidity: Basements and garages are usually popular storage spots, but they can be damp so be sure to read the tips for absorbing excess humidity above!
  • Offsite storage: If you live in a very small space like us, you might consider a storage facility. I’ve been using MakeSpace for the last year ($100 off referral link works on desktop only) – note they have mixed reviews across different cities, but I’ve honestly been very pleased with our experience. It’s a full-service storage company that brings you storage bags, then picks them up, puts them into hard bins, them drops them back off at your door where requested. As someone who lives on a fourth floor WALKUP, this aspect alone has been worth it for us. They also take images of what’s inside your bins, and uploads them to an online dashboard to help you keep track of stored items.

preparing winter clothes for storage

Do you rotate your items out seasonally or keep everything in your closet year-round? Would love to hear any storage tips or favorite products!

Leave a Comment

31 Comments

  1. Veronica wrote:

    Hi Jean, thank you so much for creating this thorough post! I was wondering if you have another post that talks about how you fold your clothes that you store in drawers? Not sure if that’s going to be part of your next post, but just figured I’d ask because I’m definitely loving how neat everything is stored in your drawers!

    Again, thank you for sharing your secrets with us, you’re truly a style and organization inspiration! 🙂

    Posted 5.21.20 Reply
  2. Your closet is a dream!! Thank you for sharing these helpful storage tips. I regret not taking better care of some of my older boots from when we used to live in Boston!

    Posted 4.24.20 Reply
  3. miki wrote:

    Thank you for sharing, I’m staring to store my winter items and I’m so stressed out ahahah it is not as easy as it seems!
    Miki x

    littletasteofbeauty.com

    Posted 4.21.20 Reply
  4. elena wrote:

    hi jean! how do you store boots like the 50/50s?

    Posted 4.21.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Elena! I actually store my OTK boots in the same way. I’ve found that if the storage container isn’t quite long enough for the boots you can just stuff the lower portion and carefully fold down the top part. I hope this helps! x Jean

      Posted 5.4.20 Reply
  5. Mireia wrote:

    So important to store them the right way so they’re perfect the next year!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  6. Keilexandra wrote:

    I’ve heard too many stories about cedar and lavender NOT working to deter moths, that I no longer trust them. One friend recently related a grisly story about finding moth larvae INSIDE a lavender sachet…

    The best way to deter moths is to prevent them from getting to the woolens. I store my sweaters off-season in an air-tight plastic bin (the kind with snap-down handles and advertised as airtight/watertight, not just a normal lid) after hand-washing and air-drying them to get rid of any body oils or potential moth eggs. I’ve never had any problems in the 5 years since I started doing this. Moths don’t seem to be too much of a problem during winter when the sweaters are in regular rotation, because they’re disturbed frequently, so it’s just storage that’s the issue.

    Posted 4.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      That’s a good tip, thanks for sharing! x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  7. MaryInMaryland wrote:

    Several years ago, you wrote of buying petite size wooden hangers from Only Hangers and offered a discount code. I bought some, love them and need more. Please try to offer another Only Hangers discount code, so I can buy more.

    Posted 4.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Mary, Only Hangers isn’t providing discounts. Prices change regularly but the best price I have recently seen, including shipping, is on Wayfair. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  8. Amanda wrote:

    Long time reader, first time commenting- Thank you so much for this post! I just poured over it, and loved all the advice for storing seasonal items in a small space. I second the comments asking for more of these storage posts! Your tips and product recommendations were wonderful, as always.

    Posted 4.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Amanda, thank you for being a long time reader! I’m so glad you found this helpful, I’m working on another post to share how I store pants etc. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  9. Beverly MacPherson wrote:

    I luv your ideas, and I luv pic of your closet as it bears a close resemblance to how I organize my wardrobe. Neat and easy when selecting your daily wardrobe.

    Posted 4.19.20 Reply
  10. Ghulam Mohyudin wrote:

    Good to know that works too! I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
  11. Lynn wrote:

    Hi Jean! Thanks for sharing! Do you have any tips for storing away wedding dresses (not preserved)?

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Lynn! I don’t have any wedding dress storage tips as I parted with mine but maybe others have some tips they can share. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  12. Demi Bang wrote:

    Your closet is absolutely gorgeous!

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
  13. Di wrote:

    I would have never thought to put multiple booties in one of the large boot cases from The Container Store! This is a great idea. While I have plenty of closet space, I have been having trouble trying to decide how to best utilize the vertical space that I can’t reach. I’ve toyed with the idea of installing more hanging rods to rotate items out by the seasons or to try and install bins. Luckily, we have a lot of free time to ponder these decisions. Ha! Hope y’all are well! Take care!

    Di

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
  14. Kristen wrote:

    More storage posts please! Would love to see how your other clothing/shoes are organized!

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
  15. Tatum wrote:

    Thank you for this blog post! I just started rotating my seasonal items, I’m trying to de clutter and organize my closet and spare room closet and use both.

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Tatum wrote:

      Jean, my apologies, my point is to thank you and I wish I could have mine so visually beautiful like yours! I am also curious how you store jeans and athletic wear? I get overwhelmed I find.

      Posted 4.18.20 Reply
  16. Jean wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been waiting for a storage post from you for years, and I really appreciate it!

    How easy was it to install the Cloestmaid system?

    Also, did you consider the Elfa storage system? The cost difference is pretty substantial, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you very much!

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Jean! We did consider the Elfa system but were planning on moving again so went for the budget friendly option – but 6 years later we’re still here and have been very happy with the durability! We bought both the drawers and big board across the separately.

      As for installation, it was fairly easy for my husband to do and he isn’t the most handy person. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  17. Emily Rose wrote:

    Thank you for these helpful tips! I just ordered the cedar block set you recommend!

    One question, how do you store your OTK boots like the lowland or 50/50 from SW? I’ve been keeping them stuffed with the foam it came with in the closet but would like to store over the summer out of sight.

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Emily Rose – I store my OTK boots the same way, if your container isn’t long enough you can stuff the lower portion and gently fold the top part down. I also keep my boots in an ikea billy glass bookcase. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  18. Jane wrote:

    That’s the most beautifully organized closet I’ve ever seen! Just one question — where/how do you sotre your pants? I don’t see them hanging. Are they folded in drawers?

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you, Jane! I’m working on another post to share about how I store my other items – stay tuned. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  19. Tiffany wrote:

    Hey Jean,

    Where did you get your black booties from? Hope to hear from you! 🙂

    Posted 4.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Tiffany! The black booties pictured are Sam Edelman but unfortunately are old. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  20. Helena wrote:

    Thank you jean! Need help with my boots and high heels, prob didn’t wear them for more than a year!

    Posted 4.17.20 Reply

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