Sort and store your winter clothes

The long winter is over, and it's finally time to put away the sweaters, down jackets, wool mittens and flannel sheets. Although it's tempting to toss everything into a bin and deal with it in nine months, try to resist the quick fix and take some time to put the gear away properly.

You'll be glad you did in December.

Coats and jackets

Before storing winter coats and jackets, empty the pockets. Wool coats should be dry-cleaned. Snow pants, down and synthetic jackets, as well as fleece, can be washed and dried at home.

Store your clean items in breathable garment or storage bags, and use a mothball substitute or cedar to keep insects away.

Boots

Snow boots should be wiped clean and stored, but those that are heavily worn should be assessed for damage first, to determine whether repairs are needed. Leather boots should be cleaned with leather cleaner and suede boots should be professionally cleaned before you put them away for the season.

To help the boots retain their shape, fill them with scrunched-up plastic bags or tissue paper or use boot shapers. Store the boots in their original boxes or in a plastic boot bin.

Gloves, hats and scarves

Make sure mittens and gloves are matched with their partners. If you didn't wear one of your hats or scarves this winter, chances are you never will, so give it away. And even if you washed your favorite hat before the last snowfall, wash it again, along with all your other winter accessories, before you put them away for the season.

Check that everything is completely dry before you put it in a large, labeled breathable bag. Store all outdoor gear in one place if possible — either a spare closet or the basement, if moisture isn't an issue.

Sweaters

Sweaters don't last forever. Even though it can be difficult to say goodbye to your favorite sweater, don't go to the trouble to clean and store sweaters that are worn thin or pilled.

Likewise, if you didn't wear one of your sweaters this winter, you probably don't need it.

As with other items, make sure your sweaters are properly cleaned and then store in them in breathable bags with either cedar blocks or a moth deterrent. If you're tight on space, consider using a storage ottoman or bench or under-the-bed bins.

Bedding

Finding a space to store bulky winter bedding is a challenge. Down comforters should be professionally laundered and stored in a large, breathable cotton bag, unless you have space to cover and hang them.

Compressing the down in a storage bag is fine, but hanging it helps to maintain its loft. Clean flannel sheets and blankets should be put in bins labeled with their size. And while you're at it, this is a good time to wash pillows, pillow protectors and mattress pads.

Clearing out your closets to make room for warm weather clothes and gear is worth the little effort it requires.

The next step: locate the swimsuits and shorts you packed away last September.


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