Expert Tips on the Best Way to Store Your Clothes

Expert Tips on the Best Way to Store Your Clothes

How to Store Clothes Properly

Simply put, storing your clothes properly is a guaranteed return on your investment.

You worked hard to earn that suit, those selvedge jeans and that GORE-TEX snow jacket, right? A little bit of care and knowledge goes a long way towards increasing the longevity of your gear.

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If you don’t know where to begin on your storage journey, don’t fret. We asked pros at some of our favorite brands about how they store their clothes and how you can adapt all of this advice at home.

Which Clothes You Should Fold

Folding is a highly subjective business, but there are a few key guidelines to follow, no matter how you do it.

“In general, sweaters should be stored folded, rather than hung,” Lauren Duckworth of the materials and development team at Marine Layer. “Hanging a sweater will stretch it out in length and distort the shoulder shaping.”

As a company that specializes in natural and sustainable fabrics, she adds that those materials shouldn’t be stored in direct sunlight since sustainable or recycled content acts very similarly to its original version. This is important considering the broader industry shift to using fibers and textiles that are better for the environment.

“For example, organic cotton and regular cotton can be cared for in the same way. When in doubt, check the care label.”

It’s also worth noting that in the laundry, recycled synthetics still shed microplastics, so Duckworth recommends a Guppyfriend Washing Bag to limit what enters your local water supply.

Clothes Folding Tips

Like above, there’s a lot of variety in folding techniques. “The best way to fold a T-shirt is the method that works for you,” says Erin Strasen, an organizational expert for new über-aesthetic home organization brand Open Spaces.

“One popular technique is folding your shirts so they stand upright in your drawer like a filing system,” she says.

Since consulting a Youtube video every time you’re folding your laundry isn’t sustainable, she notes that consistency is the name of the game. She recommends picking a technique that feels comfortable and sticking to it so your shirts don’t end up jumbled.

Good Housekeeping also has some great technique ideas. They suggest folding your t-shirt in such a way that it can stay upright in a drawer, condensing the volume of the shirt and allowing you to make the most of your space.

They also offer advice on the most controversial topic in the folding world: socks. They cite the Marie Kondo method, in which a pair of socks ends up as a square, neatly piled in a drawer. (We also like a simpler option, in which you fold socks into themselves into a ball.)

Which Clothes You Should Hang

Let’s start with your formalwear — the nice suits, shirts and pants you may not wear every week, but need to be fresh and pristine when you do.

First, store your suit in a garment bag. There are hundreds of options out there, so you can find one that fits your unique style. It simply keeps your suit away from the elements — including moisture and moths — during months in your closet and can be used for travel. Bonus points if you get it monogrammed.

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“High maintenance items that are prone to wrinkling (like button-up shirts) should always be on hangers,” Strasen adds.

Don’t underestimate the power of a full set of uniform hangers. When everything is on a matching hanger, you can focus on your clothes. This is more of a visual trick to create space but if you hang your items by length, and you have matching hangers suddenly everything feels more tidy and easier to find.

Lastly, pants (sans belt) should be folded along their natural creases so the legs lie flush against one another. A clamp hanger, trouser rod or regular hanger will do.

Clothes Hanging Tips

Much of the value of hanging is in keeping the shape and form of your most important items. However, Imogene + Willie Creative Director Jonathan Krohn found some added aesthetic value in a rather simple approach.

“When Imogene + Willie started, we had a pattern-maker and seamstress team that helped us both with the development and production of our goods,” he tells us. “The pattern hook was an extremely efficient way to store patterns and, being that we were storing them in our shop, it wasn’t long before we started to use them to also hang our jeans.”

The nice thing about the Imogene + Willie method is that it’s unique and looks really good if you have a collection of a certain type of clothing you’re proud of. If you think of some of your favorite independent clothing shops, they’re probably handsomely designed and laid out and we’d bet there’s a pattern hook or two in there.

“[This works] simply because it is so much faster (and looks better) than using hangers or folding them and putting them in a drawer,” he adds.

How to Store Winter Jackets and Pants

As winter winds down, one of the most important storage exercises you’ll do is putting away your heavy, technical cold-season gear. In this case, some extra care and attention is required to ensure that there are no surprises when you bring your jackets and snow pants back out next season.

RELATED: How to Use the Konmari Method to Refresh Your Closet

Upkeep is critical Brent Sandor, vice president of marketing at 686 Technical Apparel, tells us. “If you wait too long between washings, grime and dirt can get between the fabric and membrane and cause it to fail. This is why you should wash your gear at the end of the season before you put it away, but probably mid-season, or earlier, as well.”

“Enemy number one in the gear storage business is mold and mildew,” adds Marmot Director of Brand Chris Harges

Mold and mildew causes fabric coatings to delaminate, break down waterproofing treatments and create some awful odors. Before you put away your gear for the season, consider a Durable Waterproof Repellent (DWR) refresher by washing in NikWax, G-Wash or Gear Aid. That way, you’ll have a renewed waterproof cover ready for the next run.

“[Before you store] check the pockets of pants and jackets for half-eaten sports bars or other goodies,” Harges adds.

Above all, it’s vital that your gear is bone dry and every zip and opening is closed before it goes into storage. Whether it’s folded or hung, make sure that every bit of moisture is gone.

Shoe and Accessory Storage

Your shoes and sneakers can benefit from some optimal storage too.

Mark Kohlenberg, founder and CEO of shoe company Moral Code, says that leather shoes should always be stored in a way that they can breathe and never in plastic or direct sunlight.

“If shoes or boots are wet or covered with snow, it is important to let them dry naturally (blow dryers or artificial heat will destroy the shoes),” he adds.

Moisture is leather, suede and other high-end materials’ worst enemy, so keeping both the outside and inside dry is paramount. The inside is easily dried and shaped with crumpled newspaper. A shoe tree after drying is an additional, but worthwhile step to keep that classic boot shape intact.

Strasen also notes to not underestimate the value of a shoe rack. “In the space underneath your hanging clothes helps to add vertical storage and prevents things from getting dusty by keeping them off the floor,” she says.

Best Organizing Storage Products

Guppyfriend Washing Bag

If you’re environmentally conscious (and why wouldn’t you be?!), then you might already know that every time you wash your clothes, microplastic particles from your clothes eventually make their way into the world’s oceans, doing terrible damage to our planet and the ocean ecosystems. This clever washing bag from Guppyfriend traps small fibers and microplastics, preventing them from entering the oceans. If we all do our part, we can help preserve our planet for the future.

$34.95 at Guppyfriend.com

Zilink Breathable Garment Bags

Zilink Breathable Garment Bags

If you’re a frequent traveler, especially for work, consider picking up this breathable storage bag from Zilink. Apart from offering a handy way to store and transport your clothes, minimizing wrinkles, it also keeps your personal effects close at hand, minimizing search time for accessories like ties, scarves and shoes. Ditch the dry cleaner plastic bag and tissue paper (although tissue paper is a great trick for preventing wrinkles too) and protect summer clothes, winter clothes, seasonal clothing, or even delicate fabric in something other than a cheap plastic garment bag.

$14.99 at Amazon.com

AmazonBasics Under Bed Storage Containers

AmazonBasics Under Bed Storage Containers

Unless you’re one of those lucky souls who has so much room, you literally don’t know what to do with it all, you’re likely using the hidden away space under your bed for some solid off-season storage for those specific seasonal clothes. Yes, you could go the route of those Rubbermaid plastic containers, but should any of that coveted space see the light of day, you might as well keep it looking nice. This simple storage container has a clear vinyl top so you can see what’s in there, but only when you need to. It has fabric sides with sturdy handles to make access really easy. This is certainly better than a cardboard box or a plastic bin (or even a storage unit … but we don’t judge).

$17.16 at Amazon.com

Open Spaces Set of 10 Clothes Hangers

Open Spaces Set of 10 Clothes Hangers

Everyone needs clothes hangers, but most people buy the cheapest, worst-built options available. Your clothing (and your closet) deserves better. Opt for wooden hangers or, even better, this closet space-saving, crease-stopping model from Open Spaces, and you can rest assured that your clothes will be kept in good shape in your closet. “No wire hanger” doesn’t apply here. 

$36 at GetOpenSpaces.com

RuiLing Set of 6 Brushed Stainless S Hooks

RuiLing Set of 6 Brushed Stainless S Hooks

Chances are good that, wherever you’re living, closet space is limited, and you might not have enough hooks for your needs. That’s where this 6-pack of “extra large” S-shaped hooks comes in, expanding your storage potential and helping minimize the need to waste precious clothes hanger space for jeans. This is closet organization at its best. 

$7.87 at Amazon.com

Cedar Space Cedar Blocks for Closet Storage

Cedar Space Cedar Blocks for Closet Storage

No matter which way you ask how to store clothes properly, it will always lead you to cedar. Winter clothing is the most susceptible to moths — they do love a good wool sweater — but these potent placket protectors should be a part of any clothing storage area. Gone are the days of mothballs (and the moth balls smell associated with them) because the scent of cedar effectively does the same thing.  

$15.60 at Amazon.com

Open Spaces Entryway Rack

Open Spaces Entryway Rack

Whether you have a large shoe collection or regularly host guests, you need some kind of shoe rack at the entrance of your apartment, and the more stylish and functional it is, the better. This little shoe, or nicknack, storage unit from Open Spaces ticks both boxes, tripling your shoe storage space while looking cool, to boot.

$138 at GetOpenSpaces.com

With just a few easy organizational strategies, you can get your clothes off the floor, in the closet and make room for more of your favorites on your next shopping trip.Spend wisely, and you might just be able to ditch that storage unit bill. 

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