How to Wash and Store Your Out-of-Season Wardrobe

laundry room

Pure Salt Interiors

As the weather warms up, you're likely feeling eager to put those bulky sweaters, wintery knits, and thick linens away until next year. This is particularly true if you live in a small space and can only keep one season stocked in your closet at any given time. But don't store your out-of-season gear just yet. There are a handful of best practices to follow in order to keep your not-in-use pieces good as new while they rest.

Here, laundry expert Mary Gagliardi explains the right way to wash your clothes before transitioning your wardrobe for a new season.

Meet the Expert

Mary Gagliardi, aka “Dr. Laundry,” is Clorox’s in-house cleaning expert. She has over 23 years of experience as a scientist in laundry product research and development.

MyDomaine: What's the best way to store/keep your seasonal clothes clean?

Mary Gagliardi: A little preparation goes a long way and can make unpacking your piles of spring clothes less of a hassle! First, I start by sorting my garments into separate piles: fall/winter and spring/summer. During this time, I take the opportunity to decide which items can be folded and which need to be put away on hangers.

When storing my fall/winter items, I try to make sure that my sweaters and jackets have been cleaned or dry cleaned to avoid problems related to stains, insects, and moisture. While not fool-proof, my favorite way to do this is by placing these items in well-sealed plastic storage containers or sealed plastic bags. I then store them in a cool, well-ventilated location like an interior closet away from heat and light.

MD: Can you share your tips for transitioning your clothes from winter to spring? 

MG: As temperatures rise, I get very excited at the prospect of bringing out my favorite spring and summer pieces that have been hibernating in my closet. If you have items that picked up an unpleasant odor while stored in a plastic bin or sitting idle in the back of your closet, I recommend using a fabric sanitizer before you wear them to kill the odor-causing bacteria that is very likely causing the problem.

Clorox Fabric Sanitizer is a great option for eliminating odors if you don’t have time to throw an item in the wash. Additionally, if you’re sprucing up your spring closet by heading to your local thrift store or purchasing used items, fabric sanitizer products are perfect for making sure the clothes can feel fresh and truly clean before you make them yours.

Packing away your seasonal clothing is the perfect time to thoroughly clean those clothes. Stains do not get better with time, so it is best to address stains prior to storage.

MD: Is there a specific way to wash your winter clothes when you prepare to swap for the spring season?

MG: Packing away your seasonal clothing is the perfect time to thoroughly clean those clothes. Stains do not get better with time, so it is best to address stains prior to storage. Following the care label instructions, machine wash clothing as directed using the hottest water recommended for the best cleaning.

Be sure to use a fabric sanitizer product along with your regular detergent, especially for items you will be washing in cold water. Packing up winter clothing following cleaning includes taking dry clean only items to the cleaners, before putting them away.

If you use plastic bins to store clothes or winter bedding, make sure the bins are clean. Wipe them out with disinfecting wipes and let them air dry completely before filling them with your winter items.

MD: Any other laundry hacks you can share?

MG: In warmer seasons, it can be difficult to keep white or lightly colored clothes looking fresh and bright—particularly since we wash these items so much! Don’t give in to the temptation to add a single white or light-colored item to the dark load you already plan to wash, or the single dark item to your white load!

It’s always a best practice to sort clothes into whites, lights, and darks and wash each group separately. I also suggest flipping any dark clothing inside out before washing to help preserve color. Finally, don’t overpack the washer: Loosely loaded items get cleaned better in washers when they can tumble or circulate through the wash solution easily.