Bing Sweater Storage Tips

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Sweater Storage Tips

sweater storage on closet shelves

Sweater season is upon us. But as you layer up to stay warm, you may be wondering what to do with all those bulky knits that take up so much room inside your closet. We've all heard sweaters should be folded so that they don't stretch out. You may have also been told never use a hanger. But if you have limited space, where do you put everything so it's convenient, yet properly cared for? Well, you can use shelves, drawers, a cedar chest, and even hangers for sweater storage. It just a matter of knowing best practices concerning sweaters for each one.

Sweaters can be bulky and thereby require a major amount of storage space. As one example of "delicate knits" they also usually need special treatment when washing and storing. Add to that concerns about insects and it's easy to see why many of us have difficulty with sweater storage. But it doesn't have to be hard. There are a lot of easy and convenient ways to store sweaters inside your bedroom closet. One of them (or a combination of several) should certainly meet your needs and space constraints, no matter how large your sweater collection.

How to Store Sweaters in a Closet:

Closet Shelves:

Closet shelves are one of the easiest ways to store your sweaters. If you have sufficient shelf space in your closet that is not already being used for shoe storage, then this is the way to go. The key to keeping your sweaters neat when storing them on a shelf is in the folding technique. Simply place your sweater face down on the bed or other flat surface. Fold the sleeves straight across, shoulder to shoulder. Don't make the mistake of letting them angle towards the bottom of the garment. Then simply fold in thirds by tucking each side in, stopping at the center of the sweater. Smooth flat. Lastly, fold the sweater in half lengthwise. You end up with a nice rectangle ready to be placed on your closet shelf.

closet shelves with folded sweaters
Closet shelves can be a good place to store your sweaters as long as you don't let the stacks get too high. Keep them under 12-inches height, otherwise your stacks of sweaters will tend to topple over. Out-of-season clothing should be kept on the upper shelves that are over your head. You don't want to be forced to use a step ladder for your everyday items. This may mean that you need to rotate your shelves periodically to keep in-season clothing at eye-level.

Pull-Out Sweater Shelves:

Pull-out shelves are another type of closet shelf that are designed specifically for sweater storage. These shelves are mounted on drawer glides so that they slide forward just like a drawer. This makes adding or removing something without messing up the other items on the shelf simple and very convenient. Pull-out shelves often have shallow sides with rounded edges. The side pieces help keep your stacks in place. The rounded edges prevent your knits from snagging. They cost a little more than standard shelves, but the price is well worth it when the shelves are used in an appropriate location. Use the pull-outs for sweaters stored on shelves located at eye-level or below. There is no real advantage to using them as overhead shelves.

pull-out closet shelves designed for sweater storage in the closet
These pull-out shelves are designed specifically with sweater storage in mind. They'll help keep your stacks neat and make it easier to access the perfect sweater to match your outfit.

Drawers:

Drawers are a little more forgiving than closet shelves when storing folded sweaters. That's because you don't necessarily see how neat (or messy) your folded stack is unless you open the drawer. There is also no chance of the stacks getting too high and falling over. The disadvantage is that you can't see very well what is underneath the top sweater. There are numerous ways to solve this issue. You can store sweaters in your drawers using the Marie Kondo upright storage technique which places items on their sides so that you can see all folded items at one. There is also the military/ranger rolling method in addition to traditional horizontal folding and stacking of clothes the same as you do on a shelf (my favorite). Drawer storage of sweaters allows for any one of these techniques and each has its pros and cons. However, I prefer the traditional horizontal stacking method because it offers the opportunity to place a sheet of lavender scented paper between your sweaters during the off-season when you don't expect to be actively wearing them. The lavender scented paper smells nice and repels insects, including clothes moths. You can get a similar effect from cedar sachets and cedar drawer liners. I prefer to use lavender because I owned pet gerbils as a child. The cedar scent always reminds me of having to clean the bottom of the cage and line it with cedar and sawdust shavings.

Sweaters in a closet drawer
You don't need a perfect folding technique when your sweaters are kept in a drawer. Organize them however you like. All methods work whether you're super organized and hand-roll all your knits with military precision or prefer a more relaxed attitude towards sweater storage.

Hangers:

You may have heard that hangers are always a no-no when it comes to your wool and cashmere sweaters. This is absolutely true if you hang them like a shirt or blouse because they stretch out around the neck and shoulders. Once they stretch, the damage is permanent. But this is not the only way to hang a sweater. Have you ever noticed that when you get your delicate sweaters back from the dry cleaners, they are always on a hanger? However, the dry cleaners will always fold and drape sweaters over the hanger bar like a pair of pants. If you store your sweaters this way, they won't stretch out. It's best to remove the plastic dry-cleaning wrapping after you get home so that the fabric can breathe, but you can leave them on the hanger if you want to. No reputable dry cleaners would ever return garments in a manner that would damage them. You can rest assured that sweaters draped over the hanger bar are safely stored and have the added benefit of being able to be hung in the closet. Keeping clothes that are worn together as an "outfit" is an effective method of closet organization.

Sweaters on hanger from dry cleaners
These sweaters have just been returned from the dry cleaners. Notice how they are folded and draped over the hanging bar. This is a safe and convenient method of sweater storage, but it is best to remove the plastic dry-cleaning wrapping. You can use other types of hangers as well — the wire ones are pretty chintzy. But try to pick ones that offer a non-slip rubber or velvet material on the bar. That way the sweater doesn't slide off.

Sweater Hanging Rack:

A pull-out pants rack can also be used as a sweater hanging rack. The slide-out racks are extremely convenient and help maximize closet space. Pull them forward when you need something and slide them back into the recesses of the closet when you are finished. There are no rules as to what you can use your pant rack for. If you want to hang sweaters, go ahead. The sweaters should be folded and draped over the hanging bar just like they've just come back from the dry cleaners. Pant racks are available to fit closet sections 18, 24, and 30-inches wide. You should be able to store between 12 and 24 sweaters on a single rack depending on the bulkiness of the sweater and the size of the rack.

slide-out pant rack used for sweater storage
If you have a slide-out pant rack like this one you can also use it for sweater storage, shawls, your tallit, and more! The delicate knits should be folded and draped over the hanging bar in the same manner used by the dry cleaners.

Closet Sweater Chest:

The closet sweater chest is a modern twist on the old-fashioned cedar chest or hope chest. It's simply a big storage bench with a flip-up lid located inside the closet. It's great for sweaters, extra blankets, and more! You can even store your suitcases in one of these. The sweater chest is often included at one end of a closet island so that you can comfortably sit down and put-on shoes. However, they can go anywhere you have space. Put one inside or even outside the closet. The advantage of having it built-in is that it will match your suite of closet organizers, providing a very upscale aesthetic. Use cedar drawer liners on the bottom so that it also repels moths and other insects.

built-in sweater chest in close
This closet has a built-in chest with flip up lid for storing bulky items like sweaters. It's also a great place to sit down inside the closet and put on your shoes.

Sweater Storage is Easy!

There are a lot of ways you can safely store sweaters inside the closet. Use shelves, cabinets, a deep chest, drawers, pull-outs, racks, and even hangers to organize and store your sweaters all year long. The best solution for you will depend on the size of your closet and your personal storage needs. It's never a one solution fits all organization problem. The good news is that there is bound to be a sweater storage answer that will work for you. And a solution that works means you shouldn't have to switch out all your out-of-season sweaters as soon as the warmer weather hits. Use these ideas to find a permanent home for your sweaters and heavier knits inside your closet and bedroom. If you've tried any of these tips or have more sweater storage ideas, we'd love to hear about them. Use the comments field below to send us your solutions.