After the lazy days and fun in the sun of the summer season, the changing seasons bring cooler weather, fall cleaning and swapping your summer gear for winter gear. Your seasonal changeover should include a thorough house cleaning, decluttering and a strategy for storing seasonal items. Before you start digging out all your winter stuff, map out a plan for where you’ll store your summer clothes and other seasonal gear and follow these handy tips to prep your summer gear for winter storage.
From clothes to outdoor furniture and lawn equipment, proper storage and prepping will ensure your seasonal items are ready to go for next summer. Your summer gear will last longer and you’ll save replacement costs when you take the time to “winterize” your summer items.
Prep Summer Clothes for Winter Storage
Make sure you have plenty of clothes storage supplies handy so that you can store all your clothes safely.
- Hangers: For hanging clothes going into storage, choose sturdy hangers that will not rust or discolor fabrics; stay away from wire hangers. Items like jackets should be hung on shaped hangers to support the shoulders and skirts and pants should be hung by the waistbands on skirt hangers to prevent creases. Silk clothing should be hung on padded or flocked hangers to prevent them from slipping off during storage.
- Storage Bags: For clothes storage bags used in the past, run them through the washer to remove dust and mold spores before using them for the upcoming season. Generally speaking, fabric hanging bags are a better choice than plastic ones because air can circulate, preventing moisture build-up. Looking for a cheap storage option for your clothes? Use a 100% cotton sheet or pillowcase to cover hanging clothes by cutting a small opening for the hanger hooks. This will prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt and allow the covers to breathe during storage.
- Storage Boxes: Knit and similar fabric clothing should be folded rather than hung. Whether you use cardboard or plastic storage boxes, it’s important to choose the correct type to avoid damage to your summer clothing. Plastic containers should be made from polypropylene to be suitable for clothing storage. Cardboard containers should be acid-free to prevent yellowing and staining.
To make room for all your winter clothing and create storage options for your summer clothes, start by decluttering your closets. Once you have disposed of or donated your extra clothing clutter, it’s time to start the swap out. Take all of your summer clothes out of the closet and dresser drawers and place them on a bed or open floor space so that you can see all the clothes at once.
For the clothes that made the declutter cut, carefully inspect each piece to make sure it is clean and doesn’t need repair. All clothing should be washed or dry cleaned before storing. It’s important to not use starch or sizing on clothes to be stored because they can attract insects that damage clothes. If you have clothes dry cleaned, remove them from the dry cleaner’s thin plastic bags to prevent damage like mildew and discoloration from trapped moisture.
Choosing the Best Storage Areas and Other Tips
If you are transferring summer clothes to another closet, clean the closet thoroughly by vacuuming to remove dust and dirt. Inspect your seasonal storage area for any mold or mildew to help prevent damage to your stored clothing. If you find mold, it’s important to remove mold before you start loading up the closet with your summer clothes.
Whether it’s an out-of-the-way closet, underneath beds or any other storage area, keep in mind that clothing should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated area not subject to drastic temperature changes and away from light. Avoid attics, basements and garages whenever possible. If storage areas are limited, you’ll have to get creative with ideas like using luggage, rarely used cabinets and drawers and other storage options to store your summer clothes safely for the season.
Prepping Outdoor Furniture and Summer Gear for Winter Storage
Lawn and patio furniture and other outdoor gear take a beating summer after summer. To protect your outdoor furniture so that it will last season to season, prep and store your summer items the right way. Before you choose where you’ll store your outdoor items, take the time to clean off dirt and grime and do a little maintenance to prepare for winter storage.
After cleaning your outdoor furniture, let everything dry before you put it in storage. Cushions and pillows from outdoor seating can be stored in plastic bags in a dry area. Chairs and other furniture can be hung or stacked in a garage or storage building. Alternatively, use a covered porch as long as you cover everything with a tarp. If your furniture is made from canvas or similar fabric, sprinkle baking soda on it before covering to minimize moisture damage.
Make sure your outdoor grill is clean and inspect it for needed repairs so that it will be ready for next summer. Scrubbing the grates of your grill before storing for winter will prevent the growth of bacteria and coating the grates with cooking oil will help prevent rust. A gas grill should never be stored in basements or garages without removing the propane tank. Store your barbeque grill in a dry area or cover it securely with a tarp to protect it from the elements.
Prep Gardening Tools and Other Summer Gear for Winter Storage
Garden hoses should be disconnected from exterior faucets and drained completely before storing them for winter. Otherwise, you could find you have a hose with cracks and leaks from winter freezing. An easy way to store garden hoses is to coil them up and hang from a hook in a garage or basement.
Hand tools are susceptible to rust, so protection from moisture will be your main storage concern. Prep your hand tools by coating the metal parts with cooking oil. The oil will inhibit rust and keep moving parts lubricated through the winter. Another option is to fill a bucket with dry sand and store your hand tools there. The sand will absorb any moisture and won’t freeze, just make sure you store the bucket in a covered area.
Your lawnmower is probably your biggest investment when it comes to outdoor equipment and getting it ready for winter storage is critical. Start by emptying your mower’s gas tank. Some fuel types can freeze if the temperature dips too low. Plus, they can cause all sorts of damage to your lawnmower engine. Lubricate any moving parts like clutch cables, accessible transmission parts and other mechanicals to prevent rust from moisture. A shed or storage building is preferred, but you can store your mower on a concrete slab or other somewhat dry foundation. Remember to cover it securely with a tarp.
Prep Your Fun Summer Gear for Winter Storage
All those toys, bicycles and outdoor play structures need protection from the winter elements. Plastic toys, playhouses and structures should be washed thoroughly and allowed to dry. Because plastic can crack in cold weather, it’s important to prep your fun summer gear for winter storage to protect it. Store summer play items like these in a garage, basement or storage building that will keep them dry. If you have to store them outdoors, cover them completely with a waterproof tarp.
Bicycles and other gear with metal moving parts should be cleaned and lubricated before storing them. Hang these items in a garage or basement and cover them with a sheet or other breathable cover to protect them from dirt. If you have to store them outdoors, make sure you keep them off the ground and cover them with a plastic tarp allowing some ventilation. Beach chairs, coolers and other summer gear should be cleaned and stored in the same way you handle your outdoor furniture.
Fishing gear can be expensive. Just like other valuable items, storing it safely and securely will protect your investment. Prep your fishing equipment by first disassembling your rods. Clean the individual parts with soap and water and allow to dry. Store rod parts vertically in rod sleeves in a dry area. Clean the reels with a can of air to remove dust and dirt and lubricate any moving parts to prevent corrosion. Store hooks, lures and other accessories in partitioned plastic containers but make sure they are dry. Discard any broken items and inventory your hook sharpeners, filet knives and other fishing tools for replacement. Store these items in a dry space alongside your other fishing gear.
Use these handy tips for prepping your summer gear for winter storage, choose the best storage areas and you’ll be ready for another fun summer next year.