Table of Contents
- Sweater Closet Storage 101 – Organization Tips
- How to Organize Closet Accessories
- How to Store Sweaters Without Wrinkles or Stretching
- Should I fold or hang sweaters in storage?
- How do I store sweaters safely?
- Where should I store sweaters for the summer?
- How do I eliminate unwanted smells from sweaters?
- How To Hang-Fold Your Sweaters
Sweater Closet Storage 101 – Organization Tips
The Romance of a Beautiful Sweater
Like a great love affair, I remember the first one. I had just graduated from college and started a part-time job ghostwriting letters for a wealthy Park Avenue dowager and her husband. She presented me with a box from the elegant department store Bergdorf Goodman. Inside was a glorious light grey, long sleeve, mock turtleneck cashmere sweater. It was a thing of beauty. I took care of that sweater as if it were a piece of gold descended from the Heavens. A decade later when I passed it on to a friend it still looked like new. I was hooked.
Now I live in California and my winter uniform consists of a pair of jeans and – you guessed it – a cashmere sweater. Caring for all of your sweaters whether cashmere, wool, alpaca or cotton will preserve their life and luster. Of course, I can’t guarantee a decade!
Here are some of my favorite sweater storing/preserving tips to help you through the long winter weeks still ahead of us.
Sweater Storage 101
1. Never hang sweaters because they will stretch and lose their shape. Folded is the best choice. If you have to hang them do invest in those thick, padded hangers to preserve the shape of the shoulder. You don’t ever want to hang a sweater on a wire hanger from the dry cleaners. Of course, as a professional organizer, I’d advise you to never hang anything on those hangers. Your dry cleaner gave you the wire hangers to help you transport your garments home. Recycle them and transfer the clothes to your own hangers when you get home.
2. If you only have a few sweaters, try storing them in a dresser drawer. Do order organize them by color no matter where you decide to store your collection. I use: white/off white or cream; beige/brown; blue/purple; pink/red; green/yellow and grey/black. You can use any order or combination you like. Just be sure to repeat it in every category you create. You don’t want your sweaters, slacks and shoes following different color patterns. Instead of a restful visual that looks like an Impressionist painting, you’ll create a visual kaleidoscope that will jar you every time you need to fetch a garment. This isn’t exactly the Zen experience I try and help you create throughout your home!
3. If you like to see your sweaters and want them handy, keep them in stacks on a closet shelf divided by a shelf divider. This prevents stacks from imploding. In this image (right) from an organization store, you see the shelf dividers separating the handbags. There are several styles and they aren’t expensive. You can use them all over the house including the linen closet and the pantry.
4. If you have a walk-in closet you might use a stack of clear storage drawers on the floor or keep a few on a shelf side by side. These drawers add protection for your sweaters from dust. If you have a lot, keep them separated by type as well: v-neck, button down, turtle neck etc. Your height may be a factor here so be sure and have a two-step step stool handy. I have one in my kitchen and one in my closet and I’m 5’9” tall! They make very narrow ones that can slip into the smallest of spaces. Why not use one of those discount coupons you have been saving from Bed, Bath & Beyond and pick one up this week? Here’s my favorite mini stool. And here’s another tip: Bed Bath & Beyond accepts their coupons even after the expiration date is past.
5. If your shelf is too high for you to reach your sweaters try this container on a shelf.
6. When your sweaters are in containers they are automatically ready for off-season storage. Do you see a big space between your existing shelf and the ceiling? Pop in an extra shelf! You’ll need brackets and a piece of wood. You can leave it plain or paint it.
7. Many of my clients prefer to use sweater bags . And never discount Space Bags as a way to store sweaters in the off-season especially if you live in an apartment and are pressed for closet shelf space.
Whatever choices you embrace do protect your woolens with cedar chips or one of the other natural choices. I avoid mothballs because of the terrible odor that, of course, ultimately coats your sweaters. One of my clients turned me on to using canned tobacco. You make your own pouches with cheesecloth. No, your clothes won’t smell like cigarettes! You’d have to light up and puff away to achieve that distinction. How did she discover this clever tidbit? She asked some high-end rug merchants how the ancients transported wool carpets without incurring moth damage. Give it a try!
The Best for Last
My clients always ask me how they can learn to fold sweaters the way the pros do. The Container Store has come to your rescue with a product called The Flip FOLD. After using it for a while you’ll be able to fold perfectly without it! And here’s a final trick from my organizing arsenal: find a piece of cardboard with smooth edges. Let’s say roughly 8.5 x 11. When you want to grab a sweater from the bottom of a stack, slide the cardboard underneath the sweater just above the one you want to wear. Lift up and remove your chosen sweater. Carefully slide out the cardboard and voila! Your stack is preserved.
Happy Sweater Storage!
‘The Zen Organizer’
Professional organizer since 1988
Author of 8 books including New York Times best seller “One Year to an Organized Life.”
Named ‘Best Organizer in L.A.’ by Los Angeles Magazine
How to Organize Closet Accessories
Because of their bulk, sweaters are by far the most confusing and complex accessory to store. It is inadvisable to lump all your sweaters together into one category because sweaters serve many purposes from warmth to fashion. Sweaters can be for outer-wear or inner-wear, dressy, casual, turtleneck, beaded, appliqued, or embossed. With so many sweaters, it can be difficult to find the one you want. Instead, you may just end up wearing the first one you encounter as you search through your drawers and shelves. Most people apparently have grown accustomed to the familiar ritual of retrieving, refolding, and restacking sweaters and have concluded that any storage method for sweaters is too bothersome.
What Kind of Sweater Person Are You?
The majority of people fall into three groups when it comes to storing sweaters. The first group stuffs their sweaters into drawers or sliding wire baskets. Next is the group that never gives sweater storage a thought, and they hang sweaters in the closet. The last group will carefully fold their sweaters and then pile them on the closet shelf. If you use any of these methods, pay close attention to the following discussion.
Drawers, no matter how diverse or where located, furnish the poorest visibility and accessibility to sweaters of any method. If drawers are your only recourse for sweater storage, roll the sweaters rather than fold them. Place the rolled edge up and align the sweaters in the drawer single file from front to back or side to side. Now each sweater is visible and handy.
To roll a sweater: 1. Lay the sweater front side down (except V-necks).
2. Fold the arms and a small section of each side so the sweater
is only 12 inches wide.
3. Flip up one-third of the bottom and start rolling at this fold.
4. The result is a smoothly rolled knit!
Delicate knitted garments can easily suffer “hanger-burn” if they are hung as though they were just another blouse. Even if you hang sweaters on a hanger made especially for knits, wrinkles, puckers, and creases will soon appear, although the wrinkles and such are minor compared with hanger-burns.
Hangers made specifically for knits
reduce “hanger-bum,” but they do not
store sweaters as well as rolling.
There’s nothing wrong with positioning stacks of sweaters on a shelf in your closet, but ways exist to improve this method by preventing the stacks from toppling over and keeping the stacks neat.
Dividing shelf space into smaller, more manageable sections works well for storage. A system for doing this involves using acrylic shelf dividers. There are styles, shapes, and sizes of shelf dividers on the market to suit anyone’s taste and budget. Some are inexpensive plastic stackable shelves; some are laminated modular shelf units; and some are merely boxes with a zippered or flip-front opening.
Any of these shelving styles can be positioned on the shelf to create the desired compartments. They can also be stacked and combined on the floor of the closet, creating a wall unit for storage.
Putting sweaters in sweater boxes, sweater bags, or zippered sweater cases will not provide the high level of performance you are striving for. A system of plastic bins placed on the shelf is inadvisable because they function in the same manner as a drawer with the same disadvantages.
With bulky items like shoes and sweaters in their place, it’s time to focus on storing little accessories like belts, ties and jewelry. Find out how to store those items in the next section.
How to Store Sweaters Without Wrinkles or Stretching
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Who else struggles with sweater storage? After a long and brutal winter, many people with average-sized closets toss their sweaters into storage even if the warm weather hasn’t caught up yet. If you’re one of these people, this storage guide might be extremely useful for you.
Sweaters can be bulky, thin, tight-knit or loosely woven. With so many types of sweaters, it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all storage recommendation. However, there are some basic guidelines to follow to keep even the most expensive cashmere sweater looking and smelling like-new for decades.
We’ve elaborated on some smart sweater storage ideas and are answering your questions to help transition your closet with ease. But first, a bit of advice.
Before you start storing sweaters in the offseason, consider decluttering your closet. There’s no sense going through these extra steps to preserve sweaters in storage that you no longer wear! As a rule of thumb, get rid of any sweater that fits the following criteria:
- It no longer fits
- The sweater is permanently stained or damaged
- You haven’t worn the sweater in over a year
Should I fold or hang sweaters in storage?
Most storage experts agree it’s best to fold sweaters
Some people believe that it’s a terrible idea to hang sweaters. Why? Because in many cases, hanging a sweater long term can cause the shoulders to stretch out irreversibly. However, there’s another camp of people who believe that folding sweaters isn’t ideal for space saving purposes. They can hang more sweaters in their closet than they can fit into drawers. Also, thinner sweaters can get wrinkled when folded inside a drawer.
So which is the best option? Most storage experts agree that it’s better to fold a sweater to maintain its shape, especially when the sweater is handknit or prone to stretching. But if you’re short on shelf space and have a lot of hanging storage available, there are some hanging hacks to consider to prevent unwanted stretching.
How to hang sweaters:
- Do not hang sweaters made of delicate fabric like wool, cashmere or angora if at all possible.
- One way to hang a sweater so it doesn’t stretch is to fold the arms and hang the sweater on the bottom wire like you would a pair of pants.
- There are several sweater folding tutorials that explain how to hang a sweater using the arms as an anchor around the hanger’s hook. We’ve linked a video explaining this down below.
How to fold sweaters:
- Consider folding a sweater Konmari-style by creating a long rectangle shape that can stack vertically inside a drawer.
- Fold a sweater so that all sweaters are the same size by neatly folding the arms straight across the back of the sweater. We’ve linked a video demonstrating this method below:
How do I store sweaters safely?
Tip: Get sweaters professionally dry cleaned before storage.
The most important aspect of storing sweaters is the location you choose. Think dry and dark. We recommend not storing sweaters in a basement or garage because the moisture can seep into the fabrics and is difficult to remove.
If you are limited on storage options, there are some tricks you can try to minimize the amount of odor that will get to the sweater in a moist environment. Follow along with these sweater storage tips to learn what to do and what not to do.
Offseason sweater storage tips:
- Launder then dry completely. For expensive sweaters, consider getting them professionally dry cleaned. Even if the sweater seems clean, don’t skip this step. Trace amounts of body oils and dirt can translate into future stains and smells that are very difficult to get out.
- Pick a cool, dry location. If you must store in a basement,
although this option is not ideal, use silica packets or another moisture absorber inside an airtight container.
- Keep sweaters in an airtight container temporarily. This storage method is especially important if you must store sweaters in a basement or damp area for a couple of months. However, if you are storing sweaters long term, it is better if the fabric can breathe in more open container or shelf space. Fabric that is unable to breathe is susceptible to mold, mildew and unwanted odors.
- Sort sweaters by material and store like materials together. Don’t store wool or cashmere sweaters too tightly inside a container because doing so can compromise the fabric and promote moisture build up. It is especially important to allow this fabric to breathe.
- Protect your investment by keeping pests out. Cashmere and other fine materials are expensive but also resilient enough to last many years with the proper care. Invest in solutions to reduce moths naturally, like cedar chips or lavender soap.
Where should I store sweaters for the summer?
If you can carve out space in your closet or dresser for your sweaters, great. Remember, an ideal storage location is out of diect sunlight and room temperature or cooler.
If you must store sweaters in the basement, attic, or offsite in a storage unit, consider some alternative storage options first.
Creative sweater storage ideas:
- Get creative with storage solutions. Does your home have tall ceilings? In the summer, consider storing sweaters on a closet shelf that is installed close to the ceiling.
- Before resorting to the basement, garage or attic storage, see if you have a climate controlled area of your home that is underutilized. Consider storing sweaters in totes underneath the bed or in an interior mudroom cabinet.
How do I eliminate unwanted smells from sweaters?
Get rid of unwanted odors in sweaters that have been stored incorrectly
In the event that you stored some sweaters without reading this advice, you might have some smelly garments on your hands. If a sweater absorbed odors from your basement or attic, there are a few things you can try to correct the problem.
Ways to get rid of unwanted odors:
- Wash and dry the offending knits according to manufacturers instructions, then spray with a Febreze or Lysol spray.
- After laundering, hang the sweaters out to dry on a sunny, dry day. The sunlight will work as a natural deodorizer.
- Make a DIY odor absorber. Take a mason jar and add baking soda and some drops of your favorite essential oil. Poke holes in the lid and place this inside a small, airtight container with the sweater. For added odor absorption, toss in a few dryer sheets as well.
- Hand-wash your garments in a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and water.
- Throw the sweaters in the dryer on a low heat setting with some scented dryer balls.
Read Also: How to Keep Mice and Bugs Out of a Storage Unit
We hope this guide taught you a thing or two about taking care of cashmere, wool, angora and hand-knit sweaters. If you have one take away from this article, remember that the best way to avoid damage is to fold the sweaters correctly and store them in a dry, dark location.
When your drawers are full, storing your sweaters in your closet can save storage space. There’s just one problem: stretching. Your typical method for hanging shirts tugs the sweater at the shoulders, where it hits the hanger’s curves. Next thing you know, there are unsightly lumps on your favorite winter outfit. Luckily, a simple closet hack will keep your coziest clothes looking good as new. (Here are 12 more closet organizing mistakes you make—and how to fix them.)
Slipping the hanger through the shirt’s collar just won’t do, so organizing expert Peter Walsh shows a better option on the Rachael Ray Show. Best of all, it doesn’t require any fancy closet organization tools—just a simple hanger. (Check out these other tricks to make sweaters last forever.)
Start by folding your sweater in half lengthwise on a flat surface, lining the sleeves up with each other. Now lay the hanger on the shirt. The hook should be in the space between the sleeves and the shirt torso, with the bottom of the hanger closest to the neck hole.
Next, fold the sleeves over one of the hanger’s arms and bring the bottom of the sweater over the other side of the hanger. The sleeves and the bottom of the sweater will lie across each other. Pick the hanger up, and the sweater will stay snugly in place, ready to get slipped into your closet—and not a stretch in sight. The weight of the fabric is more evenly distributed, so you can avoid that weird tugging.
If it’s too late and your sweaters already have shoulder bumps, it’s possible to undo the damage. Next time you wash the sweater, gently reshape the shoulders with your fingers, then let it dry flat while resting on a towel. For a quick fix, rub wet fingers vigorously over the misshapen spot. The fibers should mold to your shoulder as they dry, though it might take a couple tries for the fabric to get back to normal.
To learn another quick trick for reviving old clothes, find out how to de-pill sweaters in less than a minute.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed from the photos of me here on my blog, but I tend to wear a lot of sweaters. Over the past few years, I’ve definitely developed somewhat of a fixation on cardigans specifically. I might have a few of them… okay, so it’s more than a few! 😉 But today’s post isn’t just about sweaters in general, it’s about solving an annoying, yet common sweater storage problem.
Since I didn’t like digging through dressers or searching through piles of clothes to find a particular sweater, I started hanging them up in my closet. But unfortunately, keeping them on hangers presented a whole other problem! Some of my favorite sweaters started developing those unsightly “hanger bumps” on the shoulders. I knew I had to find a solution, and fast!
Related: 25 Quick And Clever Solutions For Your Clothing Catastrophes
A few years ago, I was perusing the web when I came across a very intriguing sweater-folding method. I knew at once that I’d found the solution I was searching for! I just call it “hang-folding,” for lack of a better name, and it has saved many of my sweaters from meeting the same lumpy, bumpy fate as my others sweaters had.
Hang-folding your sweaters is one of the easiest ways to avoid unsightly “bumps” and stretched-out sweaters. It’s quick, easy, and it makes it much easier to see all your sweaters at once and select the one you want to wear! Here’s how to do it.
How To Hang-Fold Your Sweaters
Step 1: Fold your sweater in half with the sleeves together.
Step 2: Place the hanger like this, with the hook in the arm pit.
Step 3: Fold the body of the sweater at the waist over one side of the hanger.
Step 4: Fold the sleeves over the other side of the hanger.
Now give yourself a big pat on the back, because you’ve just mastered the art of hang-folding a sweater! 🙂
If you have limited drawer space or don’t like digging through piles of clothes, give this trick a try! It’s sure to come in handy when you start storing your sweaters away in the coming weeks as the weather warms up!
Side note: You might have noticed all my sweaters look quite similar. That’s because they are. 🙂 I have tried a lot of different cardigans over the years, but the Caryn sweater (long sleeve) and the Clare sweater (3/4 length sleeve) from J Crew Factory are my all time favorites. They come in great colors, they’re nice and soft, and if you wash them on the gentle cycle and air dry them, they stay beautiful for a long time! And by sheer coincidence they are on sale right now for 50% off. Plus, you can get an extra 15% off if you sign-up for their email list. I bet you can’t guess where I am headed?!? 😉
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Hi, I’m Jillee!
I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!
Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!
Hanging sweaters isn’t rocket science, but even the nicest hangers can result in wrinkled shoulders or unwanted creases. This folding method, on the other hand, avoids all of that by essentially “wrapping” your sweater around the neck of the hanger. Here’s how it works.
The folks at SnapGuide have a full step-by-step below, but in short, you want to lay your sweater out, fold it in half vertically down the center line, then place your hanger in the armpit. Then fold the arms over one side of the hanger, and the body of the sweater over the other.
The gif above shows you how it’s done, and the one below shows you what the finished product should look like. If you fold this way, your sweater is secure, won’t fall off the hanger in the closet (although it may not be best pressed up against other clothes, so give it some room) and when you take it off the hanger, it’ll be ready to wear. Best of all, no shoulder bumps or creases.
For the full step by step with more photos, hit the link below.
How to Hang a Sweater | SnapGuide via Huffington Post