Most parents have the experience of buying new clothes (or shoes) for their child, only to have their little one grow out of new clothes before wearing them much. It’s an eternal struggle, and it can be both frustrating and expensive.
When your kids grow out of their clothes, you may find yourself wondering whether it makes sense to tuck those clothes away in storage or simply donate them. In some cases the answer might be obvious. For example, if you have a younger child who might be able to use those clothes in the future – or if you plan on adding to your family – then it might be more cost effective to hang onto those clothes than to get rid of them.
But what if your attachment to the clothes is more sentimental than anything else? How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?
Sorting through Children’s Clothes
The first step is to look at each item of clothing and evaluate its condition. You can’t reasonably donate a romper with holes in the knees, but you might want to hold onto it for other reasons. It may be helpful to use a variation of the Kon Mari technique and ask if the item in question brings you joy. If you can imagine yourself parting with it – and you don’t have another child who might be able to wear it – then you should donate or recycle it.
In some cases, you may want to take the child’s wishes into consideration too. It’s unlikely that a small child will have an attachment to a onesie or a pair of socks, but if the item in question was a particular favorite, ask before making a decision. You’ll have to make a judgment call about how often to ask. If your child has a hard time getting rid of anything, be cautious about approaching them – otherwise you might end up keeping everything.
Sort the clothes into piles to recycle, donate, or keep. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next step.
Deciding What to Store
It’s not practical to store everything, but here are some guidelines that may help:
- Anything that a younger child might be able to wear in the future should be cleaned and stored appropriately. There’s no point spending money to store something that isn’t still wearable unless it has a strong sentimental value.
- If you have clothes in good condition that you know you won’t use, you have three options.
- First, you can ask around to see if anybody you know can use them, or knows someone who can.
- Second, you can find a consignment store and sell them, or sell them on eBay.
- Third, you can find a charity or shelter and donate them.
This option should be reserved for lightly worn clothing in good condition.
- For items that you are emotionally attached to, you have two options:
- Store them as-is so that you can access them when you want them
- Use them in a quilt or in some other way so you retain the memory of them while also making something useful
Whatever you decide, follow these steps before putting items in storage:
- Launder everything and make sure items are completely dry before storing them
- Fold or roll clothing and seal inside heavy-duty bags
- Pack the bags into boxes for easy stacking
If you don’t want to seal clothes in plastic you may need to include mothballs to keep them safe. It’s a good idea to sort clothing by size or category if you think you might need it for another child. That way you can put your hands on what you need when you need it.
The bottom line is that storing kids’ clothing can be a cost-efficient thing to do as long as you keep only the things you need to keep – for practical or sentimental reasons.