It’s time to switch out the winter coats for lightweight jackets, snow boots for sandals. If you’re careful about storing your winter gear, you won’t need to replace it quite as soon–and when you do need it next winter, it’ll be ready to wear. Here are some tips:
1. Wool Sweaters–you can save the planet and some money by ignoring the “Dry Clean Only” labels, but you still need to wash them because dirty clothes attract bugs. Hand wash in cold water with a gentle detergent, lay flat on a towel to dry. Easy-peasy. Your wool can then be folded and stored in a safe spot–with a cedar block if you’re concerned about moths doing damage. (NO MOTH BALLS–they are very toxic! For more specifics on clothing moths, click here. )
2. Wool coats/blazers probably need a trip to the cleaners, but do not store them wrapped in that plastic bag from the drycleaners. The plastic bag will retain moisture and eventually create more problems than you may have staved off by getting your stuff cleaned. Remove from bag and hang up or store as you normally would. Take those giant plastic bags, tie off the ends and repurpose them as garbage bags.
3. Boots can get scrubbed with a soft brush and some laundry detergent–except for leather. Enviro Girl makes sure the family’s boots are dry before stuffing them with old newspapers (to absorb any moisture/odors) and storing on a closet shelf.
4. Leather boots need to be wiped down with leather cleaner–Enviro Girl likes old-fashioned Saddle Soap, and plenty of eco-friendly brands of leather cleaner can be found in stores and online. She then stuffs boots with newspapers (to absorb moisture/odors) and stores them in a closet.
5. Hats, mittens and scarves should get run through the wash and dried well before storing. If you store dirty clothing, not only will you end up with a potentially funky smell, you increase the risk of pests. Enviro Girl gathers all of her family’s hats, mittens and scarves into an old pillowcase, adds a cedar block and shoves the whole works into a cupboard.
Where to store all of your winter things? Someplace dry and well-ventilated. Enviro Girl has a cedar chest in her bedroom for sweaters and such, but she hangs jackets and coats in a closet and sets the boots on a closet shelf. Her family has enough closet space to use for all of their seasonal clothes, so Enviro Girl simply makes sure things are clean before hanging them up again. If you’re pressed for closet space, storing clothes in airtight containers for the short term is okay, but she wouldn’t suggest it for longer than a year. If you want to counteract musty smells when you unzip/unpack/unwrap your winter clothes next season, Enviro Girl recommends a bar of scented soap, a few sprigs of dry lavender or cedar blocks. Lavender and cedar blocks help prevent pests, like moths, too. You can stave off pests and preserve your wardrobe without resorting to chemicals if you take the time to store things right.