Pack Up That Winter Wardrobe

Winter is having an extended stay this year. March’s bluster is going strong into April in many northern states, and snow is lingering on the ground in parts of the Northeast. But most of the nation is gradually warming up, and soon enough, it will be warm and sunny again.

That means that you won’t need to wear those many sweaters, flannels, corduroys, boots and parkas to stay warm much longer. In fact, you’ll soon forget all about winterwear as you don linens, shorts and swimwear for your summer vacation. So do yourself a favor, and start storing your winter clothes now.

Not only does storing winter clothing prolong its life, it gets it out of your way when you don’t need it. With a closet and dresser that’s uncluttered by off-season garments, you’ll be able to find what you want when you want it — fast. You can always keep a go-to sweater, hoodie or jacket accessible in case of an unusually chilly day, Insider says.

Before you store winter clothes, wash or dry-clean them according to label instructions to get rid of any dirt, odors and stains. If any items aren’t worth saving due to damage, grime or general dinginess, take this golden opportunity to trash it rather than store it. Worn-out basics such as T-shirts can go directly to the rag bag or trash.

Better items that you just didn’t wear over the winter can go into a donation pile. Whether they were off-trend or no longer fit right, there’s no reason to waste your space storing them if they don’t get worn. Put them in boxes or bags and contact for a donation pickup. Someone else might be looking for just such an item before long.

Finally, place the “keepers” — the winter clothing that you know you will want to wear when the weather turns cold again — into airtight fabric garment bags and plastic bins for storage. Put the bags and bins in a dry area of your home, far from what is fast becoming your everyday spring clothing.

Getting winter clothing out of the way will make it easier to find the clothing you will actually be wearing in the spring and summer, making for an uncluttered closet and easy morning routine. And it will give you the chance to edit your wardrobe for the winters ahead, making for an uncluttered life!

How to Store Seasonal Clothing

Before storing summer clothes, be sure each garment is clean and free of stains. If not, wash or dry-clean anything you’ll want to wear next year. If you plan to hang stored clothing, use plastic or wood hangers that won’t rust. If you plan to fold and box items, invest in quality plastic storage bins to keep moisture and vermin away from fine fabrics; polypropylene (stamped “PP”) is best. And while you’re sorting and rearranging your clothing, Garde Robe says, take advantage of the time to clean and dust drawers, shelves and closets to ensure that bugs such as clothes moths won’t get at your fashions.

Keep Summer Whites Their Whitest

While the planets won’t align for the summer solstice for another three weeks, Memorial Day is traditionally the “official” start to summer. With schools letting out for the season, the first steady stretches of warm weather and a three-day weekend that celebrates those who gave their lives in service, the May holiday is a natural bookend to the season.

As such, Memorial Day is also the calendar marker that tells people when it’s okay to wear white. White clothing doesn’t absorb as much of the sun’s heat, making it a natural choice to wear in the summer sun. And while the rule dictating that one should only wear white through Labor Day — likely the creation of wealthy industrialists’ wives in the late 1800s — has relaxed, you’ll have more whites to keep clean in the summertime.

To keep your whites sparkling, the first rule is to separate them from all other colors in the wash. “Queen of Clean” Linda Cobb says that even light colors can transfer dyes and dirt to whites in the wash, so they should have their own dedicated cycle. Also, don’t use excess detergent or softener in any wash load; they can coat fibers and attract dirt in use. Then, dry white clothing on low heat, so it doesn’t yellow or scorch from heat.

There are any number of laundry additives that can keep whites bright. Chlorine bleach should only be used on cottons, though, while borax, hydrogen peroxide and even lemon juice can boost the cleaning power of regular detergents and remove stains on most fibers. There are also optical brighteners (or bluings) that will keep whites at near-fluorescent levels.

Vinegar proved to be the most effective treatment for dingy whites and summer stains like grass and mud, according to in-home tests performed by a columnist at Britain’s Daily Mail. “Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning agent, and has all manner of domestic uses,” laundry expert Stephen Anderton said. “It’s acidic, so it neutralizes alkaline food stains, and is antibacterial.” Dishwashing powder was also a good option.

Strictures against wearing white during other seasons are easing, but that makes it even more important to keep them their brightest. Try some of these laundry tricks, and you’ll be able to wear whites confidently for the summer months and — if you’re bold enough to buck tradition — throughout the year!