Time to Pack It In

Sarah Berson |

Need to shed some winter weight off your shelves and hangers, and maybe even from your entire apartment? Your overstuffed closet (or lamentable $15 IKEA clothes rack) will thank you for putting away the heavier things for the summer’s looks. Here’s how and where to pack it all away for safe keeping.

Spring Cleaning Comes First

Rule of thumb for storing clothes: Ask yourself, what do I want this to look, smell, and feel like when I wear it next? If fresh, clean and hole-free is your goal, take the time for a few steps to avoid disappointment next season. Some stains set and darken over time, making them impossible to remove, so cleaning is a top priority before you box things away.

The Winter Coat and Cold-Blasting Cardigans
Not that they got a whole lot of use in the mild winter of 2011-12, but depending on age and type, you may want to have your coat and sweaters dry cleaned, or wash them according to care instructions before storage.  But when it comes to certain types of winter-loving fabrics you might want to take some additional steps:

The fibers in sheep's wool is particularly tasty to moths. flickr/Ambersky235

  • Wool: When it comes to wool, your biggest enemy is moth larvae. To prevent them from feasting on your fashion, launder your coats and sweaters, then pack them away in a plastic garment bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. If you’re really serious about this, wrap a few mothballs in a piece of cloth and store inside.

Cashmere yarn is combed from cashmere goats as they shed their warmest, softest layers for summer. flickr/Yarn Botanika

  • Cashmere: Consider advice from clothes-conscious “Vogue” for the best way to store and care for your treasured cashmere. They recommend de-pilling any unwanted fluff balls after cleaning and before tucking them away in a plastic container. Lavender sachets are the finishing touch. If you see any holes — evidence of  hungry moth larvae — seal the item in a freezer bag and freeze for 48 hours. This trick will get rid of the culprits but won’t repair the holes.
  • Fur: Spray a freshener or wipe down any dirt spots with a dampened cloth. Allow to dry fully, then store the item in a plastic garment bag away from any heat or light sources.

The Down Comforter
Many down comforters can be machine-washed, provided you have access to a machine big enough. You should launder or dry clean comforters every 3-4 years, depending on use. Store in a breathable bag, and don’t worry about squishing it in tightly. To restore your fluffy bed fellow, tumble on no-heat for a few minutes.

Boots and leather
Remember the rule and clean them first! Any stains from salt will be much harder to deal with in six months and may be irreversible.  Clean leather boots and bags with a damp cloth. You may want to add a little polish to maintain color.

Leather is resilient to weather conditions but needs care to maintain its color and to prevent it from cracking. Photo courtesy of Flickr/vanstermonster.

Many synthetic boots can endure the rigors of the toothbrush and baking soda, if you can withstand the process. Remove laces and inserts and use a paste of baking soda and water to scrub. Rinse as needed, and allow to air dry (no radiators or hair dryers so you can wear them tomorrow!). To keep ’em fresh, put a half cup of baking soda into a sock, tie or knot, and place inside. Regardless, ensure boots are fully dry before piling into a storage container. It’s a good idea to keep leather away from heat sources.



Take it Away

If the thought of cramming one more well-packed box of winter things into your closet leads to panic-induced hives, turn to a professional establishment for your packing, storing and moving needs. What Yelp is for local eateries, SelfStorage.com functions to connect you to the closest, cheapest, or recommended facilities. Here are our top three picks.

Manhattan Mini Storage

Manhattan Mini Storage ads make the most of their space with witty statements. flikr/streetcar.press

Hilarious and mildly offensive ads attract even more attention for the inexpensive $29 monthly storage option at Manhattan Mini Storage, but they neglect to mention the greatest reason to unload your seasonals here: the free one-way taxi trip for customers. (Like many delivery services, the most specific time you can schedule is  a two-hour window.)

The facility’s website is by far the easiest to use of those we examined. Its Storage Calculator is quite handy for getting an estimate for the unit size you need, allowing you to enter the quantity of objects like furniture or different sized boxes. The smallest “Closet” unit holds 10-15 boxes of sweaters and Ugg boots, and will run around $60 per month with a contract, depending on location of both the facility and the unit itself. Month-to-month storage costs about $20 more.

Prices are based not only on the size of the unit, but its location within the facility, all of which are climate-controlled. Several facilities are open 24 hours. Bring your own lock so you know your stuff is safe, and of course, there is a security system in place. Except for the locations in Chelsea and East Harlem, facilities are located within a block or two of subway stops for easy access to your stuff. They even offer a concierge service for those who would like a home visit from the storage guru who will determine your space needs. As if that wasn’t enough, customers can also enjoy free package acceptance from delivery companies.

Storage Deluxe

Located in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, the eight Storage Deluxe centers are all three or four blocks from subway stops and offer one month of free rent. There are several size and item storage options, serving even the commercially minded or those with an oversize item on their hands — say a 17-foot boat. Storage Deluxe has truck rentals and packing supplies to meet  every need. At 25-square-feet, about the size of a small walk-in closet, the “Locker” unit costs between $50 and $70 per month in Brooklyn, depending on the location of the facility, the floor, and if the unit is exterior or interior. The facility is climate-controlled, but air-conditioned units cost extra. Check individual locations for operating hours; security cameras are rolling 24/7 to set your mind at ease. They also offer package acceptance. Call or email for a quick answer about availability and costs.


With numerous locations throughout the city, CubeSmart may be one of your best options. Special offers include two months free or 25 percent discounts, and they also offer student rates. Rates are based on what floor the unit is located on, and the type of unit. For example, a 5′ x 5′ locker-style stacked unit in the Bronx costs about $30 a month, while a first-floor inside unit of the same size is $90. Facilities are located within a few blocks of subway stations. Lease terms are flexible, but not their security, which is 24/7. The facility is climate-controlled, and with upgrades to premium services, additional features like individual lighting, air conditioning, shelving and Wi-Fi stations are available, as well as package acceptance. Other perks? They offer a free truck to haul your prized possessions across the city.

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