How to Store Sweaters Safely Until the Next Season
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Winter is out of the door and summer is on its way in. It's time to pack away all those sweaters and trade them for T-shirts and blouses. But do you know how to store sweaters? Where are you going to put all those thick, plush sweaters? They're a reasonably bulky clothing item, and you better have the space for them somewhere.
While donating your old sweaters to charity is a noble cause, chances are you have plenty you're not willing to part with yet, so where will you store them? You'll need to find the space, and you'll have to store them properly. The last thing you want is to pull them out of storage and discover they're full of moth holes.
Fortunately, we have the ultimate guide to packing and storing your sweaters away until winter. It's not as simple as organizing your socks and underwear, but we'll give you everything you need to know so you don't have to worry about them until the weather turns cold again.
Should You Hang or Fold Sweaters for Storage?
Listen to the experts, and they'll tell you folding your sweaters for storage is a way better idea than leaving them hanging in your closet during the summer. If you have the space on your clothes rack, that's great, but most people would rather free up the space for their summer attire.
Besides, you have plenty of summer dresses and other light garments packed away that you need to bring out for the warm weather. Hanging the sweaters and cardigans isn't a great option, especially long-term.
If you don't touch them for months, the heavier fabric and hangers might stretch out the shoulders, making them lumpy when the winter arrives. That's if you hang them the normal way, which we'll talk about later.
It's better to fold and pack them away, out of the reach of the moths that turn up in the summer. Fold them neatly and store them on a shelf or pack them into boxes you can keep in the attic, cellar, or other storage areas around your home.
How to Fold Your Sweaters – The Kon Marie Method
Kon Marie is the author of the book, "Spark Joy." She's world-renowned for her ideas on keeping things neat and tidy around the home and an expert on storing items like clothing away when you don't need them. The "Kon Marie Method" is popular with minimalists who don't like walking into an overcrowded closet full of clothing they won't wear that season.
Kon Marie's most useful method for storing your sweaters is the "Kondo Tidying Technique," where she explains how to compactly fold clothing to keep it out of the way. Her folding technique involves complex instructions, but it's easy to follow after practicing it a few times.
Using the Kondo Tidying Technique for folding your sweaters is way better than haphazardly folding them and laying them flat on a closet shelf or drawer. The most notable part of the method is that you stand the folded sweater straight up instead of laying it flat, giving you more storage space.
This method for how to store sweaters saves space and preserves the garment's look, meaning you don't have to worry about it stretching or being wrinkled when you pull them out of storage – yay! Less ironing to do next winter.
Here's how you follow the Kondo folding technique:
- Lay your sweater or sweatshirts out flat in front of you with its sleeves spread out.
- Fold in the right side towards the center with the sleeve straight.
- Fold the sleeve over and down to create a triangle.
- Repeat the same fold on the left side, leaving you with a rectangle.
- Start from the top of the sweater and fold it inward until the sweater stands upright.
You end up with a perfectly folded sweater that can stand upright in your drawer or storage box, saving you space.
How to Hang Your Sweaters for Storage
If you don't feel like going to the effort of folding all your sweaters and you have space on your closet clothes rack, here are a few tips to ensure they don't stretch during the summer. Please don't leave them on wire hangers. The thin material causes them to stretch and crease.
Instead, use a padded hanger as a safer option. For the best results, fold the bottom of the sweater over the bar on the hanger, like you would with a pair of pants. This strategy takes the weight off the shoulders, ensuring it doesn't stretch in storage.
Easy Step-by-Step Method for Hanging Sweaters
You can follow this Kon Marie technique for hanging your sweaters, and rest assured, knowing they won't stretch out on the clothing rack. This is among the best ways to store sweaters if you have a closet to spare.
- Lay your sweater on a flat surface and smooth out the wrinkles with your hands.
- Fold your sweater in half lengthwise. Leave the arms pointing towards the same direction and together. Smooth out the wrinkles again.
- Fold the arms of the sweater over the body from the shoulders down to the hem.
- Hang your sweater arm-side down over the bottom bar of your hanger.
Top Tip – To give the sweater more cushioning on a wire hanger, wrap an old hand towel around the bottom bar. You can cut the towel in half and use the halves to wrap two bars. Secure the towel in place with some tape.
How to Store Sweaters for the Summer
Sweaters are the perfect space heater alternative, but during the summer, you'll probably not wear any of your sweaters, meaning they're at risk of damage from pests like moths. You'll need to store them properly to ensure they stay in great shape until next winter.
Start with washing and drying your sweaters properly. Storing a dirty sweater is nasty, and a damp sweater inspires mold to grow, especially if you're keeping them in a box for a few months. We recommend storing them in an airtight plastic container for the summer for the best results.
If you already have a dedicated storage area for your clothing, that's great. However, if this is your first season storing clothing, look for places around your home where the container is out of the way.
Some sweater storage ideas are in the back of the closet, under your bed, in the attic or basement, or in crawlspaces. Ensure you store them in a cool, dry space, not next to the water heater or a humid basement.
Extra tips for storing your folded sweaters include:
- Store your lighter sweaters on top of the heavy ones
- Store in an airtight container in a dry, dark room
- Use cedar discs of scented sachets in the container to prevent stuffy smells & keep pests away
While some people might tell you to vacuum seal your sweaters, I don’t recommend it as it can introduce deep creases and wrinkles in all kinds of random directions that are much harder to deal with than one large one from a folded sweater.
Protecting Your Stored Sweaters
Storing sweatshirts is half the battle. Moths are the enemy of your sweaters, and if they get into the storage area, they'll cause untold damage to your clothing. And trust me, almost no reasonable method for how to store sweaters is invulnerable to their insatiable hunger. Several moth species love making a nest for their eggs in clothing, and your sweaters are their ideal nesting habitat.
The common webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) is the biggest culprit and one of the most aggressive species in America. They're small, only around 5 to 8 mm long, but don't let their size fool you; they'll create massive holes in your sweaters.
These moths like to fly when it's warm outdoors, and they'll scuttle around your cupboards and closet if you leave them open during the summer. Like all other species, the webbing clothes moth hates sunlight and hides away during the day. These pests love laying eggs on wool and cotton clothing, placing your sweaters at risk.
The moths spin a silk web, forming a tunnel around the material. Their larvae hatch after a few weeks, and they choose your sweaters as their source of sustenance before continuing their life cycle. As a result, you end up with holes in all your sweaters. A single moth can lay dozens of eggs.
Classic moth balls are a great option for preventing moths from nesting in your clothes. The insecticide in the mothballs causes them to evade the clothing, and if they get near it, they die and can't lay their eggs.
Add one mothball to a container, don't overdo it. If you don’t dislike the smell of mothballs, consult our advice here regarding how many mothballs to use in a room or container to keep those fabric eating creatures away.
Mothballs don't smell great, and they'll stink out your sweaters in storage. You'll have to wash your clothes to get the mothball scent out, and that sort of defeats the purpose of folding everything tightly for storage.
However, cedarwood discs are a great alternative. They repel moths and leave your clothes smelling great when you pull them out of the container.
They cost around the same as mothballs and don't contain dangerous insecticides, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Add one cedarwood disc to each container, and you'll safeguard your sweaters till the end of the summer.
Key Takeaways Regarding How to Store Sweaters
Let’s do a quick recap of what you learned above about how to organize sweaters to help solidify things:
- Folding your sweaters for storage during the summer allows you to free up closet space, reducing clutter in your wardrobe.
- Avoid hanging if your can; the practice might damage and stretch the sweater. Use the Kon Marie method and our hand towel trick if you have to hang them.
- Store the sweaters in an airtight container and use cedarwood discs to keep moths away. Avoid using moth balls as they make your clothes smell funny, especially during long-term storage.
A lot of this might be new to you as a sweater collection only grows over time and you don’t consider what the storage situation might entail until it’s becoming an annoyance. Following our method above will not only teach you how to store sweaters efficiently, but you’ll discover the excitement of unpacking them when the cold months arrive and revisiting your collection.