How to Store Clothing in a Garage


We’re finally getting to the point where we want t start storing some of our extra 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 been going through this process, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to share with you along the way.

So what’s the best way to store clothing in your garage? It’s a four step process. We’ll go into more detail on each step below.

  • Prepare your clothes and your garage. Make sure the clothing is washed and you’ve got a designated space to store everything.
  • Donate what you’re not going to keep. Don’t skimp here. The goal is to Marie Kondo your home and only keep what you actually wear.
  • Pack and label your clothing so you can easily find it later.
  • Store your clothing wisely. Make sure it’s stored off the floor and out of harm’s way.

That’s a good overview, but there are some important tips that I’ll share below. If you want to get a head-start, check out my article on how to declutter your garage and then come back here when you’re ready to get packing!

Step 1: Prepare

Before you store away your winter clothes for the summer season, take the time to 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 insects or 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

  • If kids and other family members tend to spend time in your garage, avoid strong cleaning chemicals. These substances can pollute water sources or even evaporate and sediment in your storage areas. 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, occasional insects, and a rough environment can take a toll on the quality of your clothes.
  • Ensure that you are dedicating a specific area of your garage to storing your clothes. Having multiple cabinets and shelves filled with casual garments will increase the risk of them becoming ruined or lost. 

Step 2: Donate

Time is money, but space is valuable too!

Before diving head-on in the reorganization of 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 how to get 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 to and pull out older clothes that I either don’t wear or doesn’t fit anymore. Then I take as much of it as I can to Goodwill to donate.

If you’ve got excess garments that you don’t need anymore, consider sending them to a home where they’ll actually see some use. 

  • 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: If you’ve got clothing that’s too damaged to sell or donate, consider giving them to an animal shelter and allow them to become a comfy bed for a puppy.

Step 3: Pack and Label

I hate packing, so I won’t sugar coat this part. My wife picks on me because I usually don’t start until a few hours before our flight leaves.

When you’re putting clothes into storage, packing is going to be time-consuming. But doing it right will help you save energy and frustration.

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

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

I recommend having a main label that tells what’s inside the box and secondary label that tells you where to store the boxes.

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

Tips

  • No plastic bags: You can’t breathe in a plastic bag and neither can your clothes! By sealing the plastic bag, it seals 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 blags, airtight or sealed containers will not allow the circulation of air. Fabrics tend to absorb any persistent smell or moisture in the environment, so a little breeze is essential to maintain the quality of textiles. 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 more delicate clothing items. Instead, place them in the totes as neatly as possible. If you are storing items for multiple seasons, once a year, refold each garment in another shape. 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 to breathe without having to be in contact. Make sure you are using only acid-free tissue!

Step 4: Store Wisely

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

Now we need to pick the right place in your garage to store your clothes.

A fully packed rubber tote 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.

When designing your garage layout, here are some tips to think about to help pick the perfect storage area for your clothes. No matter what, it’s essential to think about include 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 a an area that floods, you’ll definitely want to keep things off the ground.
  • Away from heat sources: 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 that 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 months 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 important to protect them against moisture damage. Before you start packing, check out my article on how to keep moisture out of your storage totes.

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