GT: How to Clean and Store Winter Gear
We hate to say it, but winter is winding down! We know folks are starting to dust off their mountain bikes and running shoes (not to mention their barbecues, backyard fire pits, and margarita muddlers). But don’t just let your winter gear languish in a musty closet for the entire summer. Once you’re sure you’re done with skiing and boarding, take an afternoon to properly prep your beloved gear for summer storage. Your gear takes good care of you all season … now it’s time for you to take care of it.
Wash your layers and outerwear.
Take all your base layers and free them of their winter perma-stank with a good, hot wash. Hang them up to dry, which not only reduces your power usage but preserves the fabric for seasons to come.
Then, give your outerwear a proper cleaning. Typically, it can be thrown in the washer—follow the instructions on the tag or look them up on the manufacturer’s site. Gore-Tex can totally be machine-washed, ridding it of grime and refreshing the water-repellent DWR coating. If needed, re-up your DWR by throwing some Nikwax in the washer with your ski jacket and pants.
You might want to wash your gloves and glove liners on a gentle cycle, too, then let them thoroughly air-dry before storing. Once everything is nice, fresh, and all the way dry, it can be lovingly stored in your closet for next year. Your future self will thank you.
Prep your boots for storage.
Pull your liners out for a good air-dry to make sure your trusty boots don’t turn into a musty science project over the course of the summer. Store plastic ski boots with all the buckles closed so the shells don’t lose their shape. If your liners have a certain malodorous scent, shake a little baking soda in them to absorb it.
Air out your puffy jackets.
Puffy jackets need love, too. They can be washed according to manufacturer instructions if they’re dirty—take note that, if your jacket is down, typical detergent might mess with the feathers, so you may want a special cleanser like Nikwax Down Wash. You’ll typically want to tumble-dry on low or no heat, and a couple tennis balls thrown in can help re-fluff the insulation.
You might take the chance to patch any holes by sewing them or using a special outerwear patch. (We confess to using duct tape to patch them sometimes, too.) Once your jacket’s all clean, fully dry, and patched up, hang it in the closet—not in its stuff sack. Stuff sacks are great for stashing your jacket in a pack, but not good for long-term storage, as they compress the hell out of the fluff that gives the jacket its warmth.
Clear out your backcountry touring pack.
Clean out your winter backpack so you don’t discover new species growing on a half-eaten sandwich next fall. Give it a good shake out and let it fully dry with zippers open. Inspect all your avalanche gear and store it separately. You might even want to wash your backpack so it looks nice and sharp on your first fall tour.
Pull the batteries out of your radio and beacon.
Beacon manufacturers typically recommend removing batteries before summer storage, and the same recommendation extends to your radio, too. (Batteries can leak and corrode over time.) Be sure to leave yourself a reminder that they don’t have batteries in them so you’ll see it in the fall. A little sticky note can do the trick. Lovingly place the beacon in a dry, cool place to take good care of your electronics over the summer.
Properly store your climbing skins.
Let your climbing skins thoroughly dry from your last tour, and give them a quick inspection with some tweezers to remove any dirt, pine needles, etc. from the skin glue. You can then either hang them in a low-traffic area where people won’t get ensnared by them, or use the skin-saver mesh strip they came with. Whichever method you use, be sure to keep them in a cool, dry place. If they sit in a hot garage or storage unit, the glue can be ruined. (And re-gluing skins is a messy, painful project … best avoided if possible.)
Give your skis or board some TLC.
C’mon, you love your skis or board way too much to leave them dirty and rusting in a hot garage all summer. Give them a good clean with a garden hose and towel, or better yet, buy a little base-cleaning solvent to wipe down your bases. Let them dry fully.
Then, if you have a tuning bench at home, give them a nice all-temperature wax and don’t scrape the wax off till fall. (You can also just take them into your local ski shop for a tune and wax—they’re way less busy now than they will be in November.)
Finally, store them in a place without extreme temps—an indoor closet or basement are good options. Avoid storing them in a way that puts extra pressure on any part of the ski or binding—for example, hanging the skis together by the tips between two dowels, or storing with the ski brakes compressed. This preserves your ski’s construction for winters to come.
By preparing your winter gear for its summer hibernation, you’re keeping it in prime condition for long-term use. Of course, if you come across anything that does need replacing, shop for it now on Geartrade while prices on winter gear are extra low. Then, sell unused or unwanted stuff from your gear closet in the fall when the masses are hungry for it.
Let us know what other questions and ideas you have for taking great care of your gear year-round. As always, we’re all ears!
Beth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.
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Have Summer gear to sell? Get cracking.
It is now easier than ever to sell your gear on Geartrade. With our new Consignment Selling option you can finally reclaim your gear closet. Send it in. We take care of the rest.