As the weather continues to warm up, we are approaching that time when we need to make room for our tees and tanks by transitioning our closets for the new season. How exciting that spring is finally here and we can start pulling out our light, spring wardrobe. However, as we put our favorite frocks front and center, we need to take extra care with our coveted cashmere and cozy winter wear. Here are some tips for preparing them for storage…
Before storing your knits and sweaters for the season, be sure they are thoroughly cleaned according to the care label inside the garment. If you are to hand wash the garment, do so in cold water with a detergent for delicate fabrics. Then make sure that all the detergent is rinsed out. And instead of ringing, remove the excess water by laying it carefully on a large towel and rolling the garment and towel up together. Then lay the garment flat on a mesh sweater dryer to finish drying: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/laundry/dryingRacks?productId=10000496 (Be sure to carefully place the sweater on the drying rack so that its shape is in tact. For example, “finger-press” ruffles down, adjust the hem so that it’s even and lay it how you would like it to look when it’s dry.) If the garment is to be dry-cleaned, then be sure to remove the plastic at home and let it air out to remove the chemicals, let the fibers breathe, and to take it off the wire hanger.
Once your knits are thoroughly cleaned and dry, I recommend folding them carefully with acid-free tissue paper: http://thelinenlady.com/acidfreetissue.htm This will create a soft roll in the fabric on the fold lines to help prevent creases, especially on thin sweaters. (I recommend using this method of folding with tissue paper for packing a suitcase, too.) Then store them away in canvas fabric storage bags. I do not recommend plastic storage cases for long storage periods of your knits and sweaters, because the fibers of the garments need to breathe, and they will not be able to breathe in plastic. For cashmere, use individual canvas storage bags. Inside each storage bag for your knits and sweaters, be sure to place a sachet or block of cedar or lavender (though not directly on the fabric) in order to prevent clothes moths from feasting on your finest cashmere!
Leather garments should be cleaned before storage. Only go to a reputable professional leather cleaning service who will have the proper tools and knowledge for cleaning leather. Although it’s important to clean your leather goods before storage, there are some risks that you need to be aware of. A leather garment is made up of several actual animal skins, and so each one will be slightly different and may react to the cleaning process differently. There is the possibility of discoloration, texture changes and more, so be sure to ask your leather care professional for all of the details. Some leather professionals may recommend conditioning your leather before storing, too. When your leather garment is clean and dry, hang it on a substantial hanger- either a padded one or cedar wooden hanger. Next, stuff it with acid-free tissue paper to keep the shape, which may have formed to your body over time. Then store it in a cloth garment bag: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/closet/storageBags?productId=10000084&N=72587&Nao=20 or in a cotton bed sheet made into a garment bag. Never store leather or suede in plastic. Leather and suede are natural materials from animals and these materials need to breathe in natural storage bags. Also, be sure not to fold your leather garments for storage.
Go through your fall shoes and boots to discern which ones should be tossed, donated or kept, based on whether they are outdated, uncomfortable or too worn out to keep, or whether they are still a favorite and in good shape or at least easy to repair and polish up. Then take the “to be kept” pile and be sure to get them in tip-top shape for storage. Get some polishing tools and creams for a “D.I.Y.” (do it yourself) project, or bring them all to a shoe cobbler to have them repaired, dyed, cleaned and polished up. Then stuff the insides with tissue paper or cedar shoe trees in order to keep their shape. I always keep the shoe boxes and boot boxes that come with the shoes, in addition to the cardboard inserts (especially for tall boots.) These are perfect for breathable storage that’s just the right size for each pair. (Though they are transparent and convenient, I do not recommend plastic storage boxes for leather shoes, because for longevity, the leather should be allowed to breathe. To see your shoes better while stored in their original shoe boxes, attach a photograph of each pair on the outside of its box.)
High-tech winter outerwear:
For ski and snowboard jackets, pants, gloves, etc, wash in cold water on delicate, with an athletic wear detergent such as Sport Wash: http://www.penguinapparelcare.com/sport.html. Then you can add an extra coat of water-proofing to each garment before storing for the season: http://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=267&activityid=-1&itemid=-1&fabricid=-1 Carefully follow the care instructions on the label for washing and drying. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets on high-tech fabrics. Then store in a clear plastic bin all together so that your expensive outerwear and accessories are in one place and easy to find next winter. (Plastic storage containers are fine for synthetic materials such as high-tech polyesters, just not fine for natural fibers such as wool, cashmere and silk.) Have your skis and boards spruced up and waxed by a pro, then store upright with a thin towel between them. Be sure your boot liners are all dry, then store your ski boots with the buckles closed, inside your padded equipment bag.
Dry clean, then remove the plastic at home, change the hanger to a cedar wooden hanger and hang in a cloth garment bag or off-season coat closet until fall.
Time to bring out your spring attire for the long-awaited warm weather!