April 10, 2016 12:58 PM

Spring is almost here! In order to make room for your warm-weather gear, you’ll have to pack up your winter garb. To help your items last longer and stay fresh (and alleviate the dread you’ll feel when you have to put on that giant coat you kept in the basement all summer), it’s imperative that you clean everything before you store it.  “Storing unwashed items will have residue such as dirt, body products and oils that is a food source for bugs, and also cause staining,” according to cleaning expertsGwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd of The Laundress. Here’s a quick guide to taking care of your essentials.

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When it comes to your big winter coat, always check the label first to see if it’s machine-washable– many down parkas are dry-clean only.

Once it’s clean, take it out of that plastic dry-cleaner bag and store in a garment bag. The experts at Canada Goose implore that that the coat hangs with plenty of breathing space or place it at the top of your storage bin to avoid squashing the feathers. We like the sturdy Natural Cotton Hanging Storage Bags from Container Store.


“Our recommendation is that sweaters should be washed three to four times a season depending on frequency of wear, and how you wear it; A fitted sweater that is worn without any other layers with exposure to underarms and body oils should be washed more frequently than an item that is a layering piece,” Whiting and Boyd of The Laundress explain over email. “Blankets and household items should be cleaned seasonally, unless you have pets and children that would require more frequent cleaning.” And yes, you need to really wash your hats and scarves too — imagine what they’ve picked up over the course of the season!

“Wool, cashmere and blends can and should be washed via hand-washing or machine washing,” they write. Their global best seller is their Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, “an extremely gentle Ph-neutral shampoo formulated to clean and revive the natural oils in the yarns while leaving behind a Cedar scent that is a natural moth repellent.”

Whiting and Boyd detail the entire process of hand-washing on their blog. The best thing we learned from them is how to dry delicate items: Lay the garment flat on a dry towel and roll it up like a tight crepe to gently squeeze out excess water without wringing. Then lay flat to dry out of direct sunlight.

If you absolutely must use a washing machine, “It is imperative to put the item in a mesh washing bag, on a delicate or woolen cycle, and using tepid water,” they say. “Hot water, hot dryers, and agitation in the machine or dryer all can cause shrinkage. So the cycle is as important as the water temperature. And of course, never use the dryer.” Use the genius towel-drying method here too; since you’re not using the spin cycle on your washer, the clothes will be pretty wet when you remove them from the machine.

Once your items are clean and completely dry, “We recommend storing in cotton. When storing, keep items folded; Never hang them, as this will stretch out the item and distort its shape. Hangers can also leave marks.” Re-using an old plastic dry cleaning bag isn’t the best idea here. “Plastic is the worst!” they say. “It provides an environment for bugs to relish in.”


We know you wash your tights after you wear them, but make sure to give all of them a final hand-wash in cold water with a gentle detergent one last time before you store them. That Laundress tip of drying on a towel is our absolute favorite method for speeding up the hang-dry process.

Once they’re dry, the experts at Wolford, a celeb-loved luxury hosiery brand, suggest folding one leg on top of the other down the center, like a hosiery leg sandwich. Then start rolling from the toes to the waistband — that way the first thing you’ll see is the waistband when you examine your tights-roll and you’ll know what you’re looking at.

Wolford also recommends storing stockings in tightly-sealed Ziplock bags. If you’re really on top of it, put each pair in its own bag with a label on the outside that indicates exactly which style is in there. Or, group your tights by trend (all patterned pairs together) or opacity in gallon-sized Ziplocks.

This method is perfect for anyone without a year-round designated hosiery drawer — the bags are sealed tightly so you can store them anywhere, like under your bed, for the winter.


Remember, gloves touch everything, so you should wash them more than you think. (We also recommend using a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer before you put your gloves on so you minimize the germs that get in there in the first place). Hand-washing will do the trick, just make sure not to wring them out aggressively, causing them to stretch out and change their shape. Again, roll those items up in a towel to help get out the moisture to decrease drying time.

When it comes to leather gloves, “They’re pretty resilient,” says Andrew Hong, the founder of HONNS, a renowned dress glove brand. “They don’t need much more than a gentle hand-wash.” Hong recommends using cold water with a soft soap. In our experience, washing with a cotton cloth that you’ve wrung out to avoid putting too much direct moisture on your gloves is best — too much water will dry out the leather. We recommend Leather Spa‘s Leather Shampoo that is specifically designed not to strip the material of its essential oils.

Don’t forget to turn inside out to wash the lining as well, using a gentle detergent and cold water. Before you put your gloves away, “Make sure to let them air dry completely before storing them in a dry box,” says Hong. “Storing them flat, rather than bunched up, will ensure they’ll be in great shape when you take them out next season.”


“People are afraid to wash their jeans because they think they’ll fade,” says celeb stylist Anita Patrickson, who is a partner of Woolite Darks. The way to avoid that is to wash in cold water with a protective detergent inside out, with the zipper and button closed. Without the exposed zippers, there’s also less abrasion on the fabric during machine washing.

Tell ss: Do you have any great Spring Cleaning tips? Share them in the comments below!

–Catherine Kast

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