I’ve shared with you several times how I store our children’s clothes for future use. Yes, we do have 4 children and before you ask, we’re not sure if we’re having more little ones. So for the meantime, we’re storing all children’s clothes in the attic.
ETA in 2022: Yes, we did have another little one in 2017, 5 years after this post was originally written!
This week I am doing the Great Clothing Swap. I tend to
complain write about it with each change of the season and this one is no different. My technique is only becoming more refined, which means good things for you. I pass along all of the mistakes I make so you won’t make the same ones. 😉
So here is a list of my best tips if you’re getting ready to do The Swap yourself. Hopefully it will save you a little time and effort as you sort through your own children’s clothes.
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Have your storage containers ready before you start.
I use XL Ziploc bags, which you can find at any Walmart or Target. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sorted the kids’ clothes into beautiful little piles and I don’t have a Ziploc bag to put them in. I’m fresh out. Then that beautiful pile of sorted clothes will sit on someone’s dresser for weeks on end until I have time to go to the store for more bags.
It’s taken me years to learn this, but one trick to not having those piles is to have a stash of bags on hand. Whether you use XL Ziploc bags or stackable totes or under-the-bed Space Bags, make sure you have enough of them before you start a big Clothing Swap Project.
Be realistic about what is necessary to keep.
If you have an overabundance of clothes, be very realistic about what is actually needed. We’ve been blessed by hand-me-downs so many times since having children. If we receive a bag of clothes, I go through it carefully to see if it is in fact pieces we really need. If not, I take out the ones we don’t and pass them along to someone who can use them.
Also, go through clothes carefully at the end of the season. If your child hasn’t worn an item or if you see that she has 7 pairs of jeans (way too many!), make sure it goes in the ‘donate’ pile. There’s no need to take up premium space to store clothes that your younger child won’t wear or won’t need.
Mend items before storing them.
Buttons fall off and seams rip. You won’t believe how thrilled you’ll be if you make those repairs before storing those clothes for the next child down. Conversely, it is quite disheartening to get a bag down from the attic and the top 3 items need to be mended. If you’re like me, you just take those items out and you’re certain that you’ll “repair them later” only for them to sit on your dresser for weeks on end.
Can you relate?
Make sure the clothes are completely dry before storing.
Last week, I opened a bag of 24-month clothes for my baby (my baby! Boo hoo.) and WOW was it not a pleasant smelling bag. Apparently there was an item that had not dried completely before I sealed up the bag. I had to send the whole bag through the wash on the steam sanitize cycle and the mildew-y smell disappeared.
I occasionally take clothes straight from the dryer and bag them up if I know they won’t be worn again that season. Apparently I did that in this case and one article wasn’t completely dry.
So lesson learned: always make sure clothes are completely dry before storing in their containers.
Have a plan about where excess clothes will go.
So what are you going to do with those clothes that you’re certain your younger child won’t wear? What are you going to do with those 4 pairs of jeans that the next child won’t need?
Have a plan in place: take them to Goodwill, send them to your neighbor for her children, or donate them to a local charity. Whatever you choose, just have a firm plan in mind.
If you don’t, you’ll have piles of clothes sitting around. Ask me how I know.
Give yourself a deadline.
If you’re doing the Great Clothing Swap at the change of seasons, give yourself a deadline. I live in North Carolina, where it’s 65 one day and 83 the next. I’m not a fan of that unpredictable weather, mainly because I have to have out 2 seasons’ worth of clothes for the 6 people in our family. That’s a lot of clothes to deal with. It’s much better if the amount of clothing choices are limited in order to keep clothing clutter at bay.
So my deadline is November 1st. All summer clothes have to be sorted, bagged, and in the attic by November 1st. If it’s 80 degrees after that date, the kids will just have to sweat in long pants and long sleeves. I’m only kidding. Sort of.
Have a specific area for when you later find out-of-season clothes.
Because you will. You will forget about those clothes stuffed in the diaper bag or the ones in the “car bag” left in the trunk, or the extras kept at Grandma’s house.
Decide now how you’ll deal with those and where you’ll put them. Maybe you need a bin on top of the dryer solely for that purpose. Maybe you need a dedicated area on your closet shelf. I personally keep a labeled Ziploc bag in each child’s closet and throw them in there when they’re found. When the bag is full, up to the attic it goes.
If you don’t have a plan for randomly found clothes, you’ll be dealing with swimsuits in January. Believe me.
Do you store clothes for younger children? What are your best tips for storing children’s clothes?