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


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!

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