It is time. The seasons have officially turned, the air has gotten that crisp morning edge, and the humidity has left the building. (At least where I live. Sorry, Florida). Which means? It’s time to flip those closets for fall. And we’re not just talking about clothes here. New seasons often call for new linens, new leisure activities, and new sports gear at the ready. Here’s how you can “fall” into fall (ugh, we know) a bit more organized.
In the dark corner of every closet there are those wrong-size, wrong-age, out-of-date, no longer used items that we keep holding onto just in case. In case of what? We’re suddenly seized with a desire to wear that freebie hat from the Eagles game—or pick up an activity we crashed and burned on three years ago? Take an honest inventory using a ruthless attitude. (It’s just stuff! It’s OK). Anything that hasn’t been used in more than a year—toss or donate. If you hate to throw out clothes that have one small hole or stain, look into textile recycling near you.
Once you’ve unloaded your fall wardrobe, give all your clothes a once-over. Does anything need a trip to the tailor or dry cleaner? How are your coat buttons—hanging on for dear life? Any sweaters need to be de-pilled? Check shoes and boots to see if any need to be weather-proofed, polished, or re-soled.
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Remember to give some love to the clothes you’ll be storing, as well. Rather than chucking them wholesale into a cardboard box until next spring, identify which pieces may need mending, lint rolling, or dry cleaning before storing them in a dry, dark space (you can even use a spare suitcase for this).
Many family coat closets, ours included, are organized by type of clothing or warm weather gear. A box for kid’s gloves, a bin for scarves, a shelf for hats. Instead of organizing by category, though, try organizing by person. That way, each individual’s stuff will be easy to find and put away—in an open-topped bin with their name on it.
Instead of just tossing out-of-season shoes into a large plastic tub to stink and fester for the next six months, give them a shoe spa day. (They may have caked-on dirt, dust, or other questionable debris you don’t want rubbing off on the rest.) Scrub them with a toothbrush or soft bristle brush, baby wipes, or detergent and water on a rag or microfiber cloth. Treat stinky insoles to a baking soda sprinkle, and stuff rags or old socks into shoes to prevent random folds and crinkles from forming while they rest for the winter.
Speaking of shoes—bye-bye sandals, hello chunky-heeled boots. The volume of footwear goes up in fall and winter. What served to adequately store your summer shoes may no longer work as temperatures drop. Professional organizer Michele Vig suggests asking yourself if you are a “kicker or a placer” when taking off your shoes. If you kick, outfit your closet with labeled bins each person can easily drop them into. If you place, shoe racks, shelves, or a hanging door caddy is the way to go.
If you didn’t wash your fall sheets and duvet covers before storing them last spring, now’s the time. If you did, you’re one step ahead—all they need is a quick fluff on low or medium heat in the dryer. (Same for decorative pillows.) To kick off that musty odor of storage, give them a tumble with dryer sheets or these freshly scented alternatives. For warm-weather sheets; fold the flat sheet, fitted sheet, and one pillowcase together, then insert them into the second pillowcase to store.
We’ve all been frolicking outside for the past several months, but ‘tis the season to hunker down and bond as a family by the fire. Look through your board game and jigsaw puzzle collection. Are there any that are no longer age-appropriate for anyone in the household (we’re looking at you, 4- by 3-foot Thomas the Tank Engine floor puzzle). Are any missing pieces that will never be found? Are there boxes that need to be replaced? Donate what your family has outgrown, repurpose or toss those that are no longer functional, and use old shoeboxes and Ziploc bags to give beat up, but still operational, games a new home.
While a pantry is not technically a closet, it’s a shelved food storage unit with a door so, it counts. Check expiration dates and throw out any dry or canned goods past their prime. Place those about to expire at the front of your pantry, where you’ll see and remember to use them (fingers crossed).
It’s baking season too, boo. While you may have hung up your apron during the summer heat, that bread pan will be calling your name soon enough. Stock up on any staples like flour, sugar, brown sugar, and baking powder. On a personal note: You need more muffin tin liners. It doesn’t matter if you know what you need them for, you need them. Oh, and one can never have too many chocolate chips. Should you also get some of that top-tier pumpkin puree before they sell out? Yes. Yes, you should.