How to Prepare Your Closet for a New Season

Follow these tips to seamlessly transition your wardrobe from warm weather to cold and back again.

white walk-in closet with pastel-colored clothes hanging
Photo: Bryan Gardner

The colder seasons are coming, which means that plush sweaters, puffer coats, and bulky boots are about to take over your closet. To make room for your seasonal wardrobe, you'll need to put away your shorts, sandals, and sundresses. However, this does not mean cramming stained or unloved items into a box and stowing them away under your bed. For clothes to look their best—and to ensure they last for seasons to come—it's important to prep and store them the right way. Here, we've rounded up a few tips for sorting out the items you don't want, cleaning the ones you do, storing them in a way that won't ruin them, and unpacking your in-season wardrobe no matter what time of year it is.

Wash Clothing and Attend to Stains

You don't want to pull a sundress out next year only to realize that it still has a grease stain. Summer is the season of stains, so give each and every item a thorough once-over to make sure that it's clean before putting it away. Running a load of wash with oxygen bleach should eliminate most stains, but you should also consult our handy chart for specifics. Another reason to wash your clothes before storing them away is to avoid bugs, as household pests feed on sweat, body oil, and perfume.

Spruce Up Your Shoes

Be vigilant with your shoes. Mucky sandals will rub off on other items and packing away smelly sneakers is a recipe for disaster. Use a soft bristle brush to rub off any caked on dirt, then clean the shoes with detergent and water, baby wipes, or with a cleaner made specifically for the material. Check the brand's website as most provide detailed cleaning instructions.

Donate, Recycle, or Resell Unwanted Items

While it's still fresh in your mind, sort out the old or unwanted items. Not loving that shirt or bathing suit anymore? Find a new home for it. Clothing free of stains, holes, or rips can be donated or sold. "I am very passionate about peer-to-peer resale markets such as OfferUp that allow you to sell the items you are no longer using to your local community," says Caitlin Rose Roberts, founder of Minimize With Purpose and master certified KonMari consultant. "You never regret letting go of an item when you know it has gone to a good home!" The rest can be dropped off at textile recyclers—if your local community doesn't have one, H&M and other stores will take them off your hands, and some might even give you a discount on future purchases. In any case, you should wash and remove stains beforehand. Once you've gone through your collection, you'll most likely have a lot less to store.

Store Clothing in a Dry, Dark Space

Storing your out-of-season clothes in a clean, unused suitcase is a great use of space, as is sticking them in attractive storage containers on the upper shelves of your closet. In order to prevent delicate dresses and blouses from getting crushed, hang them in a single garment bag to keep them protected and contained. "Never store the item in a dry-cleaning bag as they trap in moisture," says Roberts.

Unpack In-Season Clothes

If you didn't do a thorough review of your winter wardrobe last year, do it before putting the clothes back in your closet. Check for stains and tears, and determine whether someone else might get more use out of the items. Roberts recommends Marie Kondo's "spark-joy" test to make sure you are keeping items for the right reason. If you're cramming your coats and boots back into your closet, it might be time to give something up.

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