What Is the Best Way to Store Clothes?

You spend a ton of money on clothes you love, so prolong the life of your wardrobe by breaking these bad—and all-too-common—storage habits.

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Using the Wrong Hangers

Not all hangers are created equal. A hanger that’s the wrong size, shape, or material can actually harm your clothes. In most cases, the best way to store clothes is on high-quality hangers, so do yourself a favor and invest in some that are suited to your specific wardrobe. Choose a variety of sizes; hangers that are too small encourage wrinkles, and hangers that are too big create those dreaded shoulder bubbles.

Keep delicate items on lightweight, non-slip felt hangers, outerwear on sturdy wood hangers, and suits on actual suit hangers. And while you’re at it, skip metal hangers altogether. They’re too flimsy to do most clothes justice and too slippery for many fabrics. Worst of all, they tend to distort the shape of your clothes.

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Hanging Sweaters and Other Knitwear

As tempting as it may be, avoid hanging heavy knits at all costs. More likely than not, your wool or cashmere sweater—or even your jersey-knit top—will become misshapen. The risk increases the longer it stays on a hanger.

If you’re short on drawer space, don’t risk ruining your sartorial investments: instead, consider folding and storing your extra sweaters in inexpensive cotton-canvas hanging closet organizers made specifically for sweaters. But if you still insist on hanging your sweaters, try your hand at this shape-preserving hack.

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Folding Your Pants In Half, Then Hanging Them

Professional dry cleaners and tailors have a special trick for folding dress pants along their pleat and carefully hanging them with one leg overlapped onto the other. If you’re looking for a quicker, more foolproof everyday method, invest in hangers with felt-lined clips, then hang your pants vertically by the waist or the hem. If you don’t want to buy new hangers, try this bubble wrap hanger hack! It will also help prevent unsightly creases and save you time when you’re preparing for a fancy occasion.

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Folding Your Bras

Bras are easy to destroy. All you have to do is put them through the spin cycle one too many times and they’re stretched out for good. Help your delicate bras keep their shape and elasticity as long as possible by taking your cue from lingerie shops: store your bras flatnot folded in half—in a shallow drawer to preserve their shape, and don’t store anything on top of them.

While apartments and other small spaces often come with limited storage, it’s better to dedicate some space to these expensive foundational garments. Bras cost way too much to justify not caring for them correctly.

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Stacking Your Shirts In Drawers Instead of Filing Them

When organizing expert Marie Kondo released her bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” readers were shocked to realize they’d been folding their shirts the wrong way their whole lives.

According to Kondo’s Konmari method, clothes should be folded and stored vertically in rows, like files in a filing cabinet, rather than stacked one on top of the other. This method not only lets you see all the contents of the drawer at once, but it saves space and prevents wrinkles, too. Kondo’s fans swear that this is the best way to store shirts. It’s a great solution for apartments or other small spaces where storage is scarce.

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Over-Stuffing Your Drawers

Cramming clothes into your dresser rather than neatly folding everything creates more than just an eyesore. It’s so difficult to find things that you’ll frantically plumb the depths of your drawers whenever you’re getting dressed. Balling up your clothes can also weaken fabrics and drive your clothes into the donation pile that much faster. Even worse? This seemingly harmless habit can destroy your dresser before its time, too.

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Ignoring the 80/20 Rule

According to the 80/20 rule, the average person only wears 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time. So you should have the easiest access to the clothes you wear most often. The best way to store these clothes is right up front and right on top.

Chances are you actually never wear most of the remaining 80 percent of your wardrobe.  Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check. To find out how much you do wear, professional organizers recommend turning all of your hangers backward at the beginning of the season.

Don’t turn the hanger forward until you’ve worn, laundered, and returned the item. At the end of the season (or year), take the clothes off whichever hangers are still backward and donate them. This way you can free up space for new things you actually love.

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coat closet organization shelves
Family Handyman

Storing Out-of-Season Garments Without Cleaning Them First

Jackets and coats take a beating. By the end of the season, they’ve absorbed grime, smoke, the elements—basically, everything you come in contact with, plus dirt and sweat from your own body. Stuffing soiled outerwear in the back of your closet or under your bed is more than just unsanitary—it allows stains to set in and can even weaken and fade fabrics. So plan for a laundry day and check the care tag to see whether you need to machine wash, hand wash, or dry clean your garment, then zip all zippers to prevent snags before going for the deep clean.

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Storing Your Fresh Dry Cleaning In That Plastic-Wire Hanger Combo

It’s tempting to pick up that cocktail dress or suit from the dry cleaner and stick it in the closet as is, only to revisit it the next time you have a formal event. But your garments are not meant to live inside a suffocating plastic prison, where the fabric can weaken and even discolor from chemicals off-gassed by the plastic. Over time, the moisture trapped inside the plastic can even encourage mildew. And don’t even get us started on the wire hangers (see above).

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salvation army
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Forgetting To Purge Before You Store

If you’re switching out clothes for the changing season, take this opportunity to purge your heart out. You may even relieve stress in the process. Hanging on to too many clothes is one of the most common clothing storage mistakes there is. If it seems too daunting, make it a family affair, with prize incentives for most items donated. All of these organizations offer pickup for items you don’t want.

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