While we only have 2 little girls, we are most certainly open (and hoping!) for more. Since we are not the recipients of hand-me-downs, we save all of our clothes in the hopes that we will be able to use them again. Since Lil’ Bit is now 4 years old, we have FILLED her entire closet with totes of clothing and baby gear (diapers, blankets, etc). We recently had to revamp the whole system for ease of use. Here is what we found works best for us.
1. Wash all clothing before storing.
Don’t forget the coats & outerwear!
Keep in mind that some stains show up over time. On small baby items, I know spit up stains come out after 3 years in storage even with breastfed babies.
Upon pulling them out to sell or use, soak stained items in OxyClean for a week or so, changing the water & oxygen bleach every other day. You could probably get just as good of results with three days in a row of changing water, but I never get to it that quickly.
Ugly? Uncomfortable? Poor fit? Badly stained or torn? Worn out elastic? Get rid of it!
If the tag has a size that’s totally out of line with how it fits, I change the tag with a Sharpie and put it with clothes that fit like it.
If a 3/4 fits more like a 3 & not quite a 4, I just pack it away with size 3. For me it’s easier to take duel size clothes and pack them away with the smaller size, anyway. I tend to have WAY too many clothes so if it could still be used, I figure I’ll get my money’s worth by the next child having some newer looking clothes.
3. Have a list of desired items/quantities.
Have a desired quantity list. This is helpful as a minimum number of clothing items needed for special occasions and to simply get from one laundry day to another without running out :). Click here to see my list of essential kids clothes and quantities.
For the clothes that remain after weeding through them, look at your desired qty list. Pick the best condition and/or favorite items to fill that list. Extras can go on eBay, to charity, or passed along depending on condition.
Write desired number in pen & add the actual qty with pencil when items are packed away. Put the list inside or tape on box for easy reference. If you already have another child who you know will use these and are missing any, add them to your shopping list for thrift, yard or clearance sale pickup!
4. Use plastic totes.
I’ve used cardboard boxes but odd sizes don’t stack well, get caught on each other, rip, and have 12 different sizes written in them by the time you get through 2 kids. Seriously!
Transparent totes are probably best, but I wanted seasonal colored totes for my seasonal items, so bought those & used the old ones for clothes. I’m still working on getting enough totes to replace my boxes but I already reap the benefits in the sizes that are in totes. When I find great deals at yard sales or get things from my mother-in-law, it’s much easier to pack them where they belong without it being a HUGE production.
5. Label them by size, season and gender.
I have my clothes labeled by size, season and gender, if applicable. As the clothes get bigger (size 2 or 3 & up), I can no longer fit 2 seasons of clothes in one tote and have to break it into season, too.
6. Specialty totes.
I also have certain items in their own tote.
- Winter gear — all winter coats, snow pants & boots are in one tote, regardless of size.
- Other outerwear–spring coats, raincoats, galoshes, etc.
- Summer gear– summer/sun hats, leg warmers, and swimsuits/cover-up’s.
- Shoes (sweater sized totes, by size/gender)
- Socks (by accompanying shoe size/gender) — tights go with clothes since they are sized that way.
Having specialty totes makes it much easier to find those items that maybe don’t change at the same time as the rest of the clothes. It also makes it much easier to find out of season gear for a mid-winter trip to Florida or to the opposite hemisphere. This way, I don’t have to paw through the out of season clothes in each size–they are all in one place! It makes packing a breeze.
8. Have an extra tote.
I have an extra tote around for random items like things I’ve found in the car or someone has returned. Or things that I’ve FINALLY mended. Or even items I’ve found at a used store/yard sale that need to be properly put away.
How do you keep kids clothing storage from taking over your life?
This post will be linked to Works for Me Wednesday @ We Are THAT Family.