Here in Boston, we’re getting our first taste of fall weather. There’s a chill in the air and winter is coming soon. Whether or not you welcome this change, it always seems to happen quickly and can easily catch you off guard. The cooler temps mean it is time to switch out your summer clothing and gear for your fall and winter items. Yes, that means putting away your shorts and tanks and digging out your jeans, sweaters and other toasty items. It’s also the right time to switch out the seasonal gear that’s taken over your patio, garage and closets.

Sad to say, but it’s time to put away the pool toys, patio furniture and summer camp gear and dig out the rakes, shovels, gloves and ice scrapers, so you don’t get caught empty-handed at the first frost. Here are some basic tips for making the seasonal switch:

Recycle, Donate, & Store Summer Items

Review your summer clothing and gear as you make the switch. Don’t bother storing items that you will likely replace or not use again next year. Have bags at the ready for donations and recycling. What do I mean by recycling? Many donation centers will accept stained or torn clothing and linens for recycling – check with your local donation centers or look on-line for local clothing recycling options.

Make sure summer items are clean and dry before you pack them away. Drying large items like cushions and plastic toys can take a while, so plan ahead and pick a sunny weekend when you can let things air out completely. Just think how nice it will be to unpack clean, ready-to-use items next summer. No one wants to start off next summer with a moldy pool float.

Pack small and loose items like summer clothes, summer holiday decorations, picnic and outdoor dining supplies and small pool and beach toys in sealed plastic bins with lids. This will keep the critters out in the winter, especially if they are stored in a garage, basement or attic. Label the containers for easy identification next spring. Large items may stand alone with or without packaging. Try to find a storage space in your home that can accommodate all your seasonal items in one space…I know, easier said than done.

Speaking of packing things away, choose a storage space that is out of the way. If you have a garage, you’re going to want to use it this winter, so don’t fill it with summer stuff. Choose a location where you won’t have to move your summer storage items to access other things you need, like holiday decorations. Go vertical and put summer storage items up high. High shelves and ceiling racks in the garage will help keep stuff safe and out of the way.

Unpack & Clean Winter Gear Immediately

If your fall and winter gear needs cleaning as it comes out of hibernation, be sure to do that ASAP – don’t wait until you need it! Do an inventory of what you have and what you need. Never found that lost glove? It’s time for a new pair. Luckily stores put out winter items around mid-August (which is always such a bummer in the middle of summer). But at least you won’t have any trouble finding any fall/winter gear that you may need. Make a list and stock up on essentials.

Create zones in your home and garage for items like fall sports gear, yard/car equipment, and hats/gloves, etc. Labels will help everyone know where to find and put things back. Store everyday items in open baskets so they are easy to grab and go. If you have kids give them each a basket or container for their winter gear. Designate an area near your entrance for items to go, so wet, muddy and snowy things don’t make their way too far into your home. Install hooks to hang wet clothing to allow it to dry.

Bottom Line: Grab yourself a pumpkin latte and embrace the brisk temperatures as you make the seasonal switch. Being prepared means you can cozy up on the couch when the first snow falls instead of freezing while trying to make room for your car in your garage.

By Sarah Buckwalter

Certified Professional Organizer®

Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 20 years of experience in home organizing and move management. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer. She also recently expanded to Denver, Colorado with the launch of Organizing Denver.

Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.

To share her expertise and help fellow entrepreneurs, Sarah founded Organizing U. Organizing U is an online training platform focused on business development, to help Professional Organizers and small business owners achieve their dreams of success.