How to Store Clothing in a Garage

We’re finally getting to the point where we want to start storing some of our extra winter clothes in the garage.

Not only does this free up some valuable closet space in the bedrooms, but it means that we’re using space more efficiently.

As I’ve gone through this process, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to share with you.

The best way to store clothing in your garage is a four-step process, which we’ll cover in more detail below.

  • Prepare your extra clothes and your garage. Make sure the clothing is washed, and you’ve got a designated storage space for everything.
  • Donate what you’re not going to keep. Don’t skimp here. The goal is to only store clothes that you actually wear.
  • Pack your clothing in plastic bins and label it so you can easily find it later.
  • Safely store clothes out of the way. This means choosing storage areas on dedicated shelves or in overhead bins.

If you want to get a head-start, check out my article on how to declutter a garage, and then come back here when you’re ready to get packing!


Step 1: Prepare Your Clothes

Before storing your clothes in your garage, take the time to do a little prep work to keep them at their best.  

Start by washing your clothes thoroughly with a detergent. Even if they’re not dirty, moths and other pests have an exquisite sense of smell. Sweat and food stains can easily attract unwanted visitors that can nestle and feed on your garments. 

While they’re in the wash, you should get your garage free of spiders and other pests.

For this task, you can use detergent and non-toxic, clothing-friendly insecticides. I’ve written an article that goes into more detail, so if you want to check that out, click the link above.

Tips for preparing your garage for clothing storage

  • Avoid harmful chemicals if kids or pets spend time in your garage. These chemicals can pollute water sources or create sediment in your storage totes. Another way to keep pests and insects out of your garage is to use natural remedies such as citrus oil, eucalyptus oil, and cayenne pepper.
  • Wash each piece of clothing following the manufacturer’s instructions. If storing winter jackets that you cannot wash at home, use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of dirt and dust particles, or hand-wash your coats.
  • Keep your most delicate and valuable items out of the garage. Temperature changes, humidity changes, bugs, or other garage pests can affect the quality of your clothes over time.
  • Ensure that you dedicate a specific area of your garage for storing clothes. Multiple garage cabinets and shelves filled with off season clothes will increase the risk of them becoming ruined or lost. 

Step 2: Donate Old Clothes to Save Space

Space is valuable!

Before reorganizing your garage and storage space, consider whether you need to keep all of your clothes. 

Depending on how worn or damaged your clothes are, you’ve got a few options for getting them out of your house. 

Donate or sell slightly used clothes 

The best option is to donate anything you don’t want.

Every year, I go through my entire closet and pull out older clothes that I either don’t wear or don’t fit anymore. Then I donate as many of those clothes as possible to Goodwill.

If you’ve got excess garments that you don’t need anymore, consider sending them to a home where they’ll get used.

  • Visit your nearest secondhand shop: Many secondhand shops will buy your clothes (albeit at a very low price). However, if you were planning on throwing them away, you might as well get a bit of cash for them.  
  • Sell your clothes online: Apps and websites to sell and buy pre-loved clothing items are becoming increasingly popular. eBay, Mercari, and Facebook Marketplace are all viable options. 
  • Donate to a charity shop or thrift store: If there’s a cause you feel strongly about, various organizations and shelters will usually be happy to take your clothing. 
  • Make the most out of worn clothes: Clothing too damaged to sell or donate could also be given to an animal shelter to become a comfy bed for a puppy.

Step 3: Pack and Label

I hate packing, so I won’t sugarcoat this part. Packing will be the most time-consuming part of storing clothes in the garage.

But doing a few small things will help you save energy and frustration.

Depending on the clothing you’re planning to store, there are different ways of keeping them safe and undamaged.

Another thing to consider when organizing your outfits is the importance of intelligent labeling. Here’s a system that I’ve used this system when moving across the country multiple times.

I recommend having one label to tell what’s inside the storage containers and another label that tells you where to store them.

Suppose you really want to get more specific. In that case, you even add whose clothes they are and what season they’re for: (For example, ‘Timmy’s winter jackets. Overhead bins’).

Another option is to use clear bins so you can quickly see what’s inside.

Tips

  • Use plastic containers not plastic bags: You can’t breathe in a plastic bag, and neither can your clothes! Sealing the plastic bag locks in the moisture and leftover chemicals from washing. It’s not uncommon to find your clothes ruined by mold after being in a plastic bag for several months!
  • Watertight is good. Airtight is bad: Similar to plastic bags, vacuum sealed bags or airtight containers will not allow for air circulation. Fabrics tend to absorb any persistent smell or moisture in the environment. Hence, a little airflow helps to maintain the quality of the fabric. Garments are one of the few items that you don’t need to seal away!
  • Don’t leave clothes on wire hangers: Leaving clothes on the hangers will stretch out the shoulder areas. If you must use hangers, opt for wooden or padded hangers instead. Metal hangers can leave rust on your clothes or deform their shape.
  • Avoid folding multiple times: Creases and fold lines can be challenging to remove, especially on delicate fabrics. Instead, place them in the totes as neatly as possible. If you are storing items for long periods, refold each garment in another shape once a year. Sharp folds can eventually be detrimental to your fabrics.
  • Make the most of breathable fabric: Line the interior of your storage boxes and hangers with breathable fabric for added protection. These materials will create a layer between your clothes and the metal or wood, keeping away pests while letting air circulate.
  • Separate each layer: There’s a reason why brand new clothing has layers of tissue in between. It lets different fabrics or layers breathe without having to be in contact. Make sure you are using only acid-free tissue paper!

Step 4: How to Choose the Right Place to Store Clothes

Alright… we’ve cleaned our stuff and packed as best we can. Now what?

Now we need to pick the right area of your garage or storage unit for clothing storage.

A fully packed plastic storage container can weigh a hundred pounds or more, depending on what’s in it. With that much weight, you’ll need someplace sturdy that can handle it all.

It’s easy to move a wardrobe or a set of cabinets directly into the garage to organize and keep in one place several items. You can use overhead storage, shelving racks, or even just stack the totes up in the corner – although I wouldn’t recommend that last one.

Here are some tips to help you pick the perfect storage area for your clothes when designing your garage layout. No matter what, it’s essential to consider lighting, heat, chemicals, and potential water damage.

Tips for choosing a storage area

  • Off the floor: This isn’t always possible, but it should be the goal. It’s easier for insects and rodents to get into containers on the ground. If you live in an area that floods, you’ll definitely want to keep things off the ground.
  • Away from extreme heat: Keep your clothes away from anything that puts out heat, whether it’s an actual heater, water heater, or even tools that get hot.  
  • Avoid mothballs: My grandmother used to put mothballs in her wardrobes and drawers for years. But studies show they’re a health hazard and not good for our clothes. Instead, opt for more natural remedies such as cedar blocks or oil to keep moths and insects away. They smell A LOT BETTER too! 
  • Keep your items away from light. UV can deteriorate the colors of garments. If your storage area is directly in front of the only window in your garage area, pick an opaque container over a transparent one.

When you’re packing away your clothing, it’s essential to protect them against moisture damage. Before you start packing, check out my article discussing how to keep moisture out of your storage totes.

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.