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How to put away your summer clothes and toys for the winter

Look forward to next summer by storing your swimsuits, floaties and flip-flops the right way.

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Summer's almost over -- but don't break out the pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters just yet. It's time to clean and store your warm weather items away to make room for your incoming cold-weather gear. 

While you're putting things away, make sure to take these steps so your swimsuits, floaties and flip-flops will be in good condition when summer comes around again.

Swimsuits

If you're one of those people who never swims past Labor Day, it's time to pack away your swimsuit. Clean it right before storing it and your suit will serve you well next summer.

First, wash it on the gentle cycle with warm water and ¼ cup of baking soda. This will rid the suit of chlorine from the pool or salt from the sea, as well as any sweat or sunscreen, which can break down the fibers. 

It's important to use baking soda because your typical laundry soap may damage the stretchy fabric of your swimsuit. Also, make sure the spin cycle is set to a low speed to avoid stretching or tangling.

When the washer is done, hang your suit up to air-dry. Make sure it's 100 percent dry before you put it away. Moisture can lead to mold, mildew or discoloring. 

Most suits are made from material that needs to breathe while it's in storage. Put them on a high shelf in your closet out of the way, or in a cardboard box. Avoid airtight plastic storage containers or you may end up with a musty suit next year.

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Pool floaties

My daughters adore floaties. Their current favorite is a 5-foot-long, 4-foot-tall yellow duck. Over the years, I've learned how to store these blowup beasts so that they're usable for multiple summers.

While they're still full of air, spray the floaties down with a hose and let them air dry fully. I do this before deflating them because moisture tends to hide in the creases of a deflated toy, no matter how dry you think they are. This can lead to mold and mildew. Trust me, that is not a surprise you want to uncover on the first day of summer next year.

After the floaties are dry, deflate them completely. To get all of the air out quickly, get your children to sit on the floatie and roll around. They'll think it's fun, so we're all winners.

Finally, if you're keeping them in the garage, get a plastic storage bin with a sealable top. For some reason, rodents love to chew on the soft plastic that makes up our floating friends. Without protection, you'll need to head to the store for new ones when the warm weather comes around again.

Flip flops

OK, I know some of you wear your flip-flops all year round. If you don't, I've got some tips for storing them.

First, get them clean. Put them in the washing machine on the hand wash or gentle cycle and no spin cycle. When they're done, spray them with an antibacterial spray like Lysol and put them outside in the sun to dry. 

This should get rid of any funky smells left over from summer fun and prevent bacteria growth.

Once they're clean and dry, store your flip-flops in an organizer with plastic or netted pockets. Hang it at the back of your closet to keep them out of the way.

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