How to transition your closet from winter to spring

By Kim Wong-Shing
Mar 25, 2020
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Unless you’re lucky enough to be able to fit all of your clothes in the closet at one time, the transition from winter to spring wardrobes can be a little challenging. Before you can break out your fun new spring clothes, you have to find a place for all your bulky winter gear. But if you take your time and use a few smart techniques, transitioning your closet for spring won’t be quite so tedious. Also, your clothes will thank you for it!

1. Clear your schedule … and some space.

Properly storing your winter gear is a process. Start as early in the season as you can, so you don’t have to rush. It takes a couple of hours if done properly, so set aside enough time to finish — one Sunday morning is perfect. Put on some music or a podcast, and get ready to dive in.

In addition to clearing your schedule, you’ll also want to clear some space. Make room on your bed to sort through your clothes, and keep a hamper (for laundry) and a cardboard box (for donations) on standby.

2. Sort through your items.

Time for the big moment: take out all the winter clothes and accessories from your closet, and celebrate the fact that you don’t have to wear 70 billion layers outside anymore!

You might be a little stunned at just how many winter clothes you really have. But this is the perfect time to sort through everything and get rid of the items that you haven’t worn all season. Divide your stack into two piles: things to keep, and things to donate.

3. Wash everything (yes, everything).

Next, throw the entire “keep” pile into the washing machine and set aside what needs to go to the dry cleaner (even better: bag those items and put them in your car ASAP). Clean garments are far less attractive to moths and insects, so this step will help maintain the integrity of your winter items while they’re in storage. Plus, it’s much nicer to unpack clean, ready-to-wear clothes in the fall.

4. Use smart storage techniques.

Use plastic bins to store your winter coats, sweaters, scarves and pants. Sealed plastic bins help protect your clothes from the elements and bugs. Also, they’re easily stackable!

It may seem tempting to just stuff as much as possible into one bin and forget about it. But your clothes need to breathe, so it’s important to maintain some airflow. The plastic bins should be large enough to hold a good portion of your items without any cramping, but not too big to fit in your storage space of choice (more on that below). Make sure to put the heaviest items on the bottom.

Clothes made from natural fibers such as wool, leather, or silk need even more airflow, so skip the plastic bin. Instead, wrap the items in acid-free tissue paper, then put them in a cotton fabric bin or hang them in a breathable garment bag. Avoid hanging up knit sweaters or cardigans, as they’ll lose their shape.

There are other uses for tissue paper and cotton, too. Cotton is helpful for preventing condensation in humid climates, while tissue paper helps prevent color transfer between items.

Now, what about your shoes and accessories? Tall winter boots can be stored either standing up or lying flat. For hats, boots, and any other winter shoes, stuff them with newspaper or tissue paper to maintain the shape. To keep gloves and other easy-to-lose accessories organized, put them in a shoebox within the plastic bin, or in a hanging shoe organizer in a spare closet.

Lastly, add some lavender or cedar sachets to help keep pests away.

5. Get clever with storage space.

Store your winter gear in the driest, coolest, darkest place available. If you have a spare closet, that’s easy. If not, you may have to get creative. Make extra space under the bed with bed risers, add a shelf system to your closet, or use the top shelf of the closet. If you have large pieces of luggage that barely ever get used, these can also be used for temporary storage.

Basements and attics are an option, but they’re not ideal. These spaces tend to be some of the hottest and most humid of all. If you must use them, dehumidify the space by adding silica gel packets to your bins, DampRid moisture absorbers, or a dehumidifier if there’s an outlet available. Consider paying for temperature-controlled storage space if you have enough items to warrant it.

Transitioning your closet takes some time. But doing so properly is worth it. Afterward, you can finally sit back, relax, and enjoy springtime, knowing that your winter clothes are well-taken-care-of.