Closet Cleanup: What to Do With Your Children's Old Clothes
It happens with lightening speed: your kids out outgrow the clothes you just bought them, sometimes before they even have the chance to wear them. Seems like such a waste, right? Those cute little outfits are diligently packed away in the basement or the attic waiting for you to make use of them once again. For a sibling? Or a cousin? You’ll figure that out later. Giving and getting “hand-me-downs” is a wonderful way to give these clothes a second life. Make sure you follow these three guidelines for hand-me-down success! Plus, read on to find a few awesome alternatives to the save-it-for-a-sibling clothing strategy:
Tips for Old Kids Clothes Storage Success
So, your kid has outgrown everything in her closet overnight? It’s tempting to throw it all in a box and stick in in the basement to deal with ‘later,’ but this will come back to haunt you. Taking a few minutes on the front end to get these old clothes organized will make them much easier to give away or reuse down the line.
1. Wash Everything
Some of these clothes may have found their way back into the closet, ahem, less than 100% clean. Marks or stains on these clothes, if left untreated for months or years in storage, will become permanent and likely to be thrown away. Make sure to wash everything and remove the damaged or stained clothes from the pile before you store them. This will save you time in the long run and certainly storage space. Of course, you will need to wash the clothes when you resurrect them from storage, but you won’t discover that they are unwearable.
2. Label, label, label
As your kids outgrow their clothes, plan to cull their wardrobe several times per year and keep same-sized clothes together. When you’re ready for a particular size of clothes, you do not want to be opening every box and trunk in search of the “right” one. There are cute options for labeling, or you can go old-school and use a piece of tape and a a marker. Either way works, just don’t forget to write a note to your future self about what’s in the box. She will thank you.
3. Use Cedar Storage Balls
Just say no to mothballs. Not only do they smell, but they are also toxic and shouldn’t be anywhere near something a child will be wearing. Consider using cedar storage balls instead, which keep all the same yucky things away — and do so more effectively! You can even buy them with a wonderful lavender scent.
4. Find the Right Bin
There are some eco-friendly storage options on the market, made of bamboo and other natural fibers. These will work for shorter term storage or if the room you will be storing them in is relatively temperature and humidity controlled. However, for a longer term or basement storage option, airtight containers are best. Unfortunately, this tends to mean plastic.
5. Reconsider Storage
Properly storing you kids old clothes takes a fair amount of effort. Sometimes this effort is most definitely worth it! It’s so fun to have your kids share favorite clothing, and it makes great financial sense to pass down ‘big ticket items’ like winter coats. If you know you will have use for the stored items in the future, by all means store it away! But, if you’re doing it “just in case,” before you go out and buy a bunch of huge plastic bins to add to the pile you already have, it’s probably better to just unload all but a few of your nostalgic favorites before they go into the storage abyss.
Alternatives to Storing your Kids’ Clothes
There are some fantastic alternatives available! Here are a few of our favorites.
Sell Your Kids Old Clothes
While this probably wouldn’t have been possible or easy a few years ago, there are several great options for making a little extra cash by selling your kids’ old clothes. We recently discovered an app called Totspot. All you do is snap a photo of the item you’re thinking of selling, upload it to the app, and when it sells, you get a mailing label sent to drop it in the mail. We love that last part — a trek to the post office is always the most annoying part of any ebay / craigslist sales endeavor! Another option is ThredUp, a service with which you send off a bag of clothing, and they let you know what they will pay you for it. The downside is that they are a little picky about brands, etc. so depending on what the contents of the wardrobe is, you might not get much.
Donate Your Kids Old Clothes
This is an obvious option, but sometimes not as easy to pull off as it seemingly should be. Where do you donate them? Which items will they accept and which will they not accept? We love the resource at Donation Town. You just enter your zip code and it gives you a list of charities that will pick up donations in your area — you can then schedule the pickup directly with that charity. So easy! It feels great to know your kids’ old clothes are going to a family who will value them. Donation Town has some tips for a successful donation that are worth reading — namely, don’t treat the donation pick as a trash pick up service. Only donate items that are actually usable and in decent condition.
Repurpose Your Kids Old Clothes
Let’s face it — some of your kids old clothes are a total mess. No chance are you going to pass them down to a new baby, let alone find someone to buy them. What should you do with your kids’ old clothing that can’t be worn or donated? Crafty moms have been known to turn them into quilts, wall hangings, or christmas stockings. Our favorite is this tutorial for making a fabric book for baby. Less crafty moms (like yours truly) can pay someone to do that for you. Or, there is always the less sentimental route of reusing kids clothes as household rags.
Have any other tips for storing your kids old clothes? Or alternatives to storing kids old clothes? Please share them with our readers in the comments!