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Do you have a shopping bag full of clothing that you’re saving to pass down to your next child or a friend who’s expecting? Maybe you have piles in your basement of your first child’s clothing waiting for your second or third to grow into them. If the idea of organizing these hand-me-downs seems daunting, then today’s blog is just for you!

First things first…you’re going to have to pull all of the hand-me-downs out from under the beds, the back of the closets, and the attic crawl space. Yes – all of them! We’re going to stick with our handy S.P.A.C.E. model to tackle this organizing project.

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You’ll need to sort “like with like” by making piles for each category of clothing. Don’t worry about making any decisions at this point (that’s what the P is for), just get them into their designated piles so you can see what you’re working with. Here are some suggestions for various ways to categorize your hand-me-downs. You might want to use all of these categories to have everything super organized and easy to find!

  • by gender
  • by size
  • by season (Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer)
  • by age range on the clothing labels (3-6 months, 2T, 5-7)

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Now it’s time to make some decisions! The easiest decisions will probably be based on the condition of the clothing. If they are worn out or stained you’ll want to donate or trash them right away. Keep a box for donations and a bag for trash near you during this process.

The second phase of purging is to really ask yourself “is this actually going to be worn?” Just because you think it’s cute or adorable, doesn’t mean that it’ll be used regularly. Take your child’s personality and style preferences into account and whether you honestly think it will still be in style by the time they are ready to use it. Here’s a list of suggested items to hold onto for the next child:

  • onesies in good condition
  • a few sentimental articles of clothing (these should be stored separately with memorabilia)
  • gloves, scarves, hats
  • outerwear (jackets & snow gear) can be so expensive so it’s a great thing to hand-down once they are outgrown

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This is when you need to make a final decision on your categories for labeling purposes. Just like we mentioned during the sorting process, you’ll want to assign a category to each newly purged pile. The assigning process helps make it easier to find items when you need them.

If you want to use all the categories we mentioned above, you’ll need to be very specific in your labeling. Make sure you have all of this information written neatly and in the same order on each bin:

  • Season
  • Gender (or child’s name)
  • Sizes
  • If the clothing is for someone else’s child label it with their first & last name

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Now that you’ve assigned a category to each pile, find containers that will hold each of those categories separately. I like all of my storage bins to be the same size, even if one is slightly less full than the other. It gives it a clean look and it’s often easier to stack when they are all the same.

Prepare clothing for storage by washing items and folding them neatly, keep pairs and matching outfits together. Yes, this will take a bit longer to complete this project but it will be well worth it in the end. You can even spray the clothing with a fabric freshener before storing them to keep them smelling fresh and don’t forget to store them with cedar blocks and sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil into the bin for a natural and safe way to deter moths. Our favorite essential oils are from Young Living – if you want to become a member and order some for yourself at a wholesale price use our Enroller ID (1796246) to sign up  here!

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Once everything is labeled and neatly put away in each bin it’s time to do a final check before putting them away. Here are some great tips for where to store your hand-me-downs once they are organized:

  • Is there room in the child’s closet? Use the highest shelf to store out-of-season clothes or hand-me-downs from an older sibling.
  • Is there an attic or basement with extra storage space?
  • Is there space under their bed?
  • Keep items in their labeled, organized bins in a cool, dry space.

Go through your families’ clothing regularly. For you this may be seasonally, but more likely for younger ages it’ll be monthly or even weekly. If an article of clothing isn’t fitting anymore, don’t just throw it back in the drawer or on a hanger, put it in the designated bin for donations or store it for the next child. If the bin isn’t nearby then grab a basket or bag to keep in the closet to collect clothing until you can take a trip to the basement in order to get it out of circulation in your child’s wardrobe.

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Written by Stasia Steele

Stasia Steele

Owner of The Little Details and Expert Professional Organizer