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Tips on Storing Children’s Clothing

Dear Kristen,

I know you do a lot of reorganizing in the summer, and at this point you must have stored and organized and reorganized about a million pieces of children’s clothes. Our kids are five, two, and seven months. Our house is small but our collection of clothing GROWS! I was wondering how you organize and store multiple sizes, seasons, and genders without losing track of your collection and filling the entire house. I thought you might have some interesting pointers and frugal ideas.



Oh man….children’s clothing.   It’s a tough thing to deal with, especially when you’re trying to balance frugality with a low-clutter life.

If you keep lots of stuff, then maybe you won’t have to buy anything, but your house will be full.

If you get rid of a lot, your house will be cleared out, but maybe you’ll have to buy a bunch of clothes for younger siblings.

aeropostale schoola

Since we’re done having kiddos, I’m at a pretty easy place for clothing storage.

  • When Joshua is done with his clothes, I give them to cousins (no more boys here after him!).
  • When Lisey is done with her clothes, I store them (3 years between her and Sonia).
  • When Sonia is done with her clothes, I hand them straight down to Zoe (Zoe is two years younger, but only about one year younger size-wise.)
  • When Zoe is done with her clothes, I give those to cousins.

So out of all four kids, I only really have to store Lisey’s clothes.

It’s pretty fabulous.

That said, I have a few tips that may help you no matter what stage of clothing storage you’re at.

Only keep timeless styles for larger age gaps.

If you have a big age gap between siblings of the same gender, give away the trendy stuff after your older kid outgrows it.

This is less important for boys (their styles change less), but girls’ clothing trends change pretty speedily, and you’d hate to use space storing something that won’t even be useful by the time the younger sibling can wear it.

Zoe schoola skirt

Get rid of what didn’t get worn.

The level of use clothes get with one kid is a good gauge for what you should keep.

For instance, when I help Sonia clean out her drawers at the end of a season, I pay attention to the number of clothes she wore, and I give away the stuff that ended up being superfluous, passing the rest down to Zoe.

I figure if Sonia made it through a whole season without needing every last one of those clothing pieces, I don’t need to keep every single thing for Zoe.

Keep less than you think you need.

Ages ago, I used to keep more clothes around, just in case.   But every year, I tend to get rid of more and more clothes, and somehow, we always still have enough.

I’ve decided kids need fewer clothes than we tend to think they need.

aeropostale cardigan from schoola

Remember that there are more hand-me-downs/secondhand clothes out there.

If you DO accidentally get rid of more than you should have, it’s not like it will be the end of the world.   There will probably be more hand-me-downs available to you, or if not, there certainly will still be thrift shops/online secondhand shops still available.

(and clearance racks!)

So, don’t let fear cause you to keep thousands of items of clothing in your house.   Try to make wise decisions about what to get rid of, and then just rest in knowing that you can probably do a frugal job of filling in any gaps for the younger siblings.

schoola dress Lisey

Use consistently sized boxes for storage.

I’ve always stored our extra clothes in large paper ream boxes (Mr. FG used to bring them home for me from the warehouse where he worked), which are great because they’re all the same size and they stack nicely.

Clear plastic bins work well too; stick to the same size and shape if you can for easy stackability.

Keep seasons together.

Since sizing varies so much, I store clothes by the season they were worn in rather than by their size.   For instance, I might label a box, “Girl, cold weather, 10-12”, and I throw everything in the box that they wore that season, even if some of the numerical sizes are outliers.

Use hanging closet storage if you have it.

If your house has extra closet space, hang up things like dresses, coats, snow pants, and other items that fill up boxes in a hurry.


I hope some of those ideas were helpful for you, Amanda.

Readers, if you have some helpful kid clothing storage tips, would you add those in the comments for Amanda?  

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Tuesday 28th of June 2016

Luckily my daughter is older than my 2 nieces. As every reasonable mom would do, I send down my daughter's clothes that she outgrew to my sister in law for them to look around and see what is good. I used to live in Dublin where I could buy baby clothes in Penneys (UK's counterpart is Primark) where most of stuff on sale are usually 1Euro so most of her stuff are from there. I'd love to buy from brands that are fair trade but back at that time, that is the only brand that I could usually afford. Kids grow up so quickly. My sister in law is so lucky coz most of the stuff are fairly new as my kid grows so fast.

Jody S.

Tuesday 28th of June 2016

Well, I guess I'm guilty of hoarding when it comes to clothes. We have a large unfinished basement, and almost the entire north wall of it is stacked up with totes of every size for boys and girls. We are now on baby number 7, and I have benefitted so much from being able to "shop" in our basement. We have several families who hand down to us, so I keep a lot. I am now finding that things are starting to wear out, so I'm glad that I have back-ups.

We do still have to shop for individual items, and now that my oldest is 12, I find I have to do that more often because we just don't get those sized handed down.

Now. I have also learned that I keep too much. I feel guilty for throwing things out sometimes, but I am learning that after 20 years, the elastic just gives out. There are certain items of clothing that, for whatever reason, fit no child. And I've found that certain types of clothes are unnecessary/horrible for certain age groups (overalls for kids who are learning to go potty by themselves and can't get things unfastened quickly enough).

My goal is to pare it down some, purging where needed. I really like the idea of putting the large piece of paper with notes on the totes. That would help me a lot.


Tuesday 28th of June 2016

I think that if you have the space, and your system is working, then you shouldn't feel bad! The reader who wrote in was just struggling because she has limited storage space, and I've always had that problem too.

But those of you who are lucky enough to have oodles of storage space can definitely operate differently.


Tuesday 28th of June 2016

I've gone back and forth on this one. But main method has been (3 kids: girl 10, girl 8, boy 5) is I have one large bin for each and I keep what fits in there. Every change of season, they go 'shopping' in the box, and we get rid of things from their closets. I keep the things that are more or less the style of the next kid and we do hand down from girls to boy, as we took many hand-me-downs from boys for our girls. So, our girls have worn 'boy' shirts with trucks and such, and the boy has enjoyed some 'girl' shirts with some pink in there. None of them question this, in fact pink is only used sparingly at our house, and they just wear what they like. If I have space, I keep the things that I like and are in good shape even if they said they don't like them because when they fit, they often change their minds.


Monday 27th of June 2016

I have no input to give on the kid-specific aspect of this question, but since I am dealing with a carpet beetle infestation right now, I've had to store pretty much every fabric item I own that isn't seeing regular (ie daily) use. A few things I've learned:

1) Space Bags can be iffy. I've tried several varieties and had best luck with the Ziploc brand, but they're still not 100% and a few of them have failed.

2) All plastic bins are not created equal. If moisture and/or bugs are a concern, you need the air-tight variety - this means they have a gasket around the lid and generally clip-on handles.

3) Clear plastic is much easier than opaque because you can see what's inside.

4) Air-tight storage requires a desiccant just in case there's any residual moisture hanging out. Fortunately, silica gel kitty litter works great. Just make packs of it out of something breathable like a coffee filter, nylon, or sock.

5) If adults went through their clothes seasonally like parents tend to do for their kids, we'd all have MUCH less clutter to deal with! :-) I think I'm gonna make a habit out of it - even after I get the carpet beetles under control!


Monday 27th of June 2016

Oooh carpet beetles. My apartment in Chicago had them. We washed EVERYTHING. Cleaned everything. And found out they were coming from the apartment below us. Whose residents denied EVERYTHING.

So..we moved.

I hope you have better luck than us with those nasty buggers!


Monday 27th of June 2016

Just went through my kid clothes corner of the basement:

* YES to consistent sized boxes. * I use a huge label - 5x7 piece of white paper - and a thick black marker and make a consistent looking label for the box fronts. * Label, label, label! You do not want to have to open and close box after box to find the right one. Example: Size 3 / Boy / Winter * Stack your boxes with that label facing out, again, why waste energy spinning boxes around to try and figure out what's in them. * If you do hand me down shoes, boots, socks or other footwear, keep it all in one box regardless of size, especially for babies and toddlers. You do not want to have to fish through an entire box of clothing to find one little pair of baby shoes that you swear you have. * I thrift shop which means my outfits may be hobbled together....For my baby/toddler ware, I pack up the outfit together by putting the bottoms inside of the top - makes it SO much easier to assess what I may need to buy especially because with babies and potty training toddlers, you need way more clothing on hand. * If I'm REALLY organized when I pack, I may even leave myself a note inside the box like "had to toss the winter coat, buy a new one" or "all size 2 socks were too worn to save, buy more"

IF YOU BUY AHEAD for the oldest, group those items by type since you have no way of predicting what size your child may grow into. I keep new packs of socks and undies in one box, new shirts in their own box, etc.

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