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It's about that time of year again; time to open up the coat closet and get ready for winter. This is the perfect time to get everything cleaned out and organized so that your coats are ready when the winter weather strikes.

Do your coats smell musty? Moisture on coats and winter boots can cause mold and mildew to grow in your closet while it's closed up. You will need to take everything out and get rid of the odors by cleaning your coats and shoes. Check labels to see which ones need to go to the cleaners and which ones can be cleaned at home. Some will do fine by simply airing them out. Shoes that smell bad may be full of bacteria that thrive in dark, moist places. You can kill bacteria by putting the shoes inside of a bag and then placing them in the freezer overnight.

Does your coat closet double as a storage area? Coat closets are not very big, so using them for storage and coats can make it seem cramped. Get everything out and determine what you must keep in there. If there is still room, try to reduce the amount of stuff that you store in there. You may be able to add extra shelves up top to create extra storage room by the ceiling. Or, consider using tall, slender containers for up-top storage instead of short wide ones. Making the most of the space can help you to reduce the amount of room that your storage items take up.

As you're picking through, get rid of coats that you didn't wear last winter. Now is a great time of year to donate coats to the needy. Check for damage that might have been caused by pests over the summer. Anything you can get rid of will help you to create more space in the coat closet. If you have coats that are only used for special occasions, you might move those to your bedroom closets to make your everyday coats more accessible.

For children's coats, you might be able to install a lower bar or bars on the left and right sides of the coat closet. Moving the top bar up is also an option for making more room down low. Giving children their own special bar for hanging their coat will give them incentive to hang their coat when they get home. It will also make it easy to access for them, cutting down on the amount of help that they need when it's time to go outside.

Make sure that you use higher quality clothes hangers, like these deluxe wooden coat hangers for coats. Coats are heavy and the clothing hangers that they hang on get a lot of use. Make sure that you use contoured hangers for coats that have shoulders that need extra support. Using cedar hangers and cedar closet accessories will help to absorb any moisture that makes its way into the closet, controlling odors, mold and mildew. They will also keep pests away during periods of non-use.

About the Author: Jo Granville is on the staff of Only Hangers, a leading online resource for all types of clothing hangers. For more information, please visit us at