Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter (and other storage tips)

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter

Kids + winter often leads to a pile of wet clothes. And we all know the trick to keeping kids happy in the cold winter months is warm, dry gear. Here are some of our favorite ways to keep gear organized, dry, and ready for the next adventure.

Let’s use the term “mudroom” loosely around here since I know that we are not all fortunate enough to have a mudroom. We do not (yet… I have ideas to transform our laundry room and coat closet from our garage entry, but my husband doesn’t know it yet).

However, we are fortunate to have a heated garage and a decent amount of drying space for our family of four, even if it is in a few different locations.

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We built out lockers in our mud room last winter. Best idea ever!! Loads of boot trays, extra deep for pack storage, and extra hooks over the trays and boot dryers for hanging the wet stuff. But just having those big benches on the lockers helps a TON when I’m trying to wrestle River into clothes. 

TMM Team Member Ginny
Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter
TMM Team Member Ginny’s mudroom

Making the most of your winter gear storage space

Maybe you have a mudroom ready to go or maybe you need some organizational inspiration. Either way, we have some ideas for you! Here are a few of our favorite tips to making the most of your space!

Finding a space to store winter gear

First step is figuring out where your gear space is going to be. Mudroom, basement, garage, bathroom or entryway are all possibilities. For us, it is a combination of our garage, entryway, and laundry room/bathroom for in-season gear storage and drying.

Our front door entryway has a coat closest where jackets and snow-pants are hung up when dry. We added hooks at kid level so they have easy access to their coats. An over-the-door mesh shoe holder keeps smaller things organized. We also have a small shoe bench with baskets for the girls shoes, mittens, hats, etc.

We also have hooks in our garage right by the door. Our boot dryer lives in our laundry room and the area above the minimally used toilet in there is my “drying room”. Ideal? No. But does it work? Yes!

So, survey your domain, take note of traffic patterns, and figure out where you can get started!

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter with lots of hooks
TMM Amelia’s entryway is full of hooks for hanging.

Create a landing zone for wet gear

Designate a landing zone in the house so when everyone comes in, this is where they can strip down. Nobody wants melting snow chunks or muddy boot tracks spread throughout the house.

Maybe its a rug at the entryway or right in the mud room if you have one. Or maybe it is your garage or back door entry. Wherever you choose, keep it consistent so the kids know the expectation of where to come in the house.

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter

For us, we normally try and re-enter the house through our heated garage. Sometimes we strip down before we get in the house, other times we do on the rug right inside the door. Then we get our gear to the drying areas. (We make the dogs melt off their ice balls in the garage before they come in the house too.)

Lost mittens can happen faster than the snow can melt inside. Teach your kids to clip their mittens together as soon as they take them off. Next, they can get to work hanging up jackets and hats to dry. Put hooks and racks at your child’s level so they can take responsibility for their gear.

Over-the-door mitten organizers

Over-the-door shoe organizers help organize WAY more than just shoes. If it fits in the pockets, it can be stored! .

We opted for a mesh over-the-door shoe organizer for our front closet door. We hate things that actually go over the door and show on the outside, so I removed the hooks that came with and used some 3M command hooks on the inside of our door.

We use ours for dry gear storage only since there is no air flow in the closet. This organizes our dry mittens, wool base layers and wool tubes for the girls. Extra hats, neck gaiters, goggles, and shoe gaiters also live here.

Metal over-the-door shoe holders also work great too. With the right equipment and skills, you can modify these to fit your needs. Cut off the over-the-door hangers and you attach them to pretty much anything! There are also wall mounted versions available.

The kind with the upside down U are great for drying and storing all sorts of gear. Put a fan underneath and you are all set!

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter with mitten hooks
Amelia’s rack hangs on the side of their washer/dryer

These aren’t just for winter either, you can find uses all year-long. Sun hats, swimsuits, sunscreen, first aid kit, and more. Everything organized and ready to go!

Coat tree

Coat trees are also super versatile. They are great for helmets, climbing skins, boots, bags, and more! This is another item that will work year-round. For summer, fill it with bike helmets, swimsuits, or life jackets.

You can buy a pre-made one or whip up your own DIY version with the right amount of hooks to suit your needs. Or maybe you can even repurpose one you found in a dumpster, like Amelia!

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter with a coat tree

Mitten tree

A mitten tree is just a little coat tree. Mitten tress are great for, well, mittens and hats or neck gaiters too. Place them near a vent to aid with drying. Ours stays in our entry way all year round. In the summer, sun hats take over the pegs.

How to dry your gear

The most important part to having happy kids outside it warm dry gear. Teaching kids early on to take part in the pick-up will make it easier to make sure their gear is dry when they are ready to head back outside.

Where to dry

The “where” is going to depend on your house, but bathrooms are typically a good wet gear drying location if you don’t have a mudroom. There are normally shower rods you can hang from and have the water drip into your tub (tip: buy an extra tension rod and hang it in the middle of your tub so no wetness drips on the floor).

dry winter gear in the bathtub
TMM Team Member Jessica uses her bathtub to dry gear

Getting gear to actually dry

Some of my favorite tricks to get gear to dry are really rather simple. Its all about getting gear open and air circulating all around. I’m a fan of upside down gear. I have a fan directly underneath my items that are drying and air just seems to flow through some better when they are hanging upside down.

I love to use pants (clip) hangers. Not only are they great for snow-pants, but they work for jackets too! More times than not, my daughters hood is full of snow when she comes in. On a regular hanger, her hood just collects all that melted snow and takes forever to dry. (Problem alleviated if you are using hooks and hang by the hood.)

I like to use a pants hanger and hang her jacket upside down. It allows the jacket to open up more for drying and no more wet hood! I also hang snow-pants upside down sometimes, air just seems to flow through better when they are hanging from the ankles.

The hanger clips also work great for hanging neck gaiters, hats, gloves, socks, etc. There are single clip hangers too.

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter
TMM Team Member Kristin’s “mudroom”

Tips to getting dry gear fast:

  • Make sure air can circulate all the way around the item. Over stuffing racks will slow drying times.
  • Open up your gear. You want air to circulate inside your item too.
  • Use fans. Getting a small fan can really help get air circulating around to get gear dry.
  • Use your dryer. Check your care label, but most items should be OK to dry on a low/delicate setting. Even better if your dryer has a “no heat” or “air fluff” setting.
  • Forced air vents: Buy or make drying racks to put over or near the vents.
  • Radiators: Utilize racks above the radiators.
  • Boot dryers: Not only great for boots, but work for gloves, hats, and helmets too.

If you don’t have a place to permanently install a drying rack, there are some temporary solutions. For us, we have a toilet in our laundry room that is really only used when we have guests over. I have installed a tension shower rod above it and this is where our wet gear hangs.

We have a tile floor so I don’t worry about the wet, but sometimes I toss a towel underneath just in case. Then, I turn on the little fan and our stuff dries out pretty quick! We also have a forced air vent and an exhaust fan in here. I normally kick on the exhaust fan just to help air circulate more and draw out moisture.

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter by hanging gear where you can

Boot dryers

We love our PEET boot dryer, we can dry items with heat or just air. It lives in our laundry room all year long. Not only is it great for wet winter gear, but it does a great job of drying that spring slush and fall rain soaked stuff.

ALSO… we still use ours all summer…. sweaty shoes and hats, put them on there. Rain soaked bike gloves or shoes, also on the dryer!

There are a variety of boot dryers on the market and even some DIY versions. We have a four place Peet dryer for our family of four and I am strongly considering getting a second so we have eight vents for gear drying.

I recommend adding in the Children’s Shoe Dryer Attachment for your Peet dryer if you have little ones, it works great for those smaller shoes and mittens too.

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter
Peet Advantage 4 shoe electric dryer with children’s shoe attachment (left).

Folding drying rack or sweater dryer

If you don’t have the space for something to be up all the time, look into a folding drying rack or a sweater dryer. Both fold up pretty flat to store and allow air to circulate all the way around the items for drying. You can even find sweater/garment dryers with their own fans.

 

TMM Team Member Jen’s Cloak Room

We are a family of 6 very active people. Lots of gear and moving pieces. Right now, only our family’s gear is out as my in-laws are in America for a month. The proper English term for this room is cloak room, but it’s more a bit of a garage to us. It’s right next to the laundry room and the space above the boiler where I dried out gear. It’s very well thought out for dealing with all the mud the English countryside has to offer.

TMM Team Member Jen

Gear Organization

The hardest thing for us is getting the gear hung up to dry as soon as we come in. My 4.5 year old despises this chore and drags it out. Every. Single. Time. Having a space for everything and getting everything in its place as soon as you can is key for keeping gear organized (and dry).

Wether you are using bins, racks, or closets, make the most of your space with some of our tips below!

I use bins quite a bit. When we unpack from one adventure (and things are dry) I repack the bin for the next trip. For example, we mountain biked yesterday, I kept the helmets and tool kit in the bike bin, hung up and washed what needed it, and replaced snacks etc. I know we will ride again this week so as I go to put items away, I’ll put them straight back in the bike bin. Then when we ride next, I just need to add the appropriate clothing for the weather, fill water bottles, and go! Same with lake gear, etc.

TMM Team Member Valerie

Helmet storage

If you often find yourself looking for a spot to store helmets, check out these helmet holders that keep the helmet open towards the ground. Put a fan underneath or place near a vent or radiator and they will be dry in no-time. They can also be used to hold softball/baseball/football helmets other times of the year.

Cubbies and helmet bags are also great for storing helmets!

Our snowboard helmets came with some little bags and I have the kids put their helmet, goggles, gator and mittens inside their bags. It keeps it all together and easily accessible. When everything gets used, as soon as it’s dry, it goes back in the drawstring bag.

TMM Team Member Sarah

Storage

Once you have dry gear, you need a place to store it all! For some of you, that might be the same place that it gets dried, for others it may not. We do not store our gear where we dry it (however, ours often remains in the drying spot until we use it again).

For us, each girl as a bin on our shoe bench that houses their dry hats, gloves, and neck gaiters. If it doesn’t fit, they have too much and its time to rehome some things. Then, we put coats and pants back in the front closet.

TMM Amelia’s storage bins – each kid has one (below) and adults have larger ones up top.

We are fortunate to have a basement where we store our out-of-season gear in totes. If you don’t have extra space, well labeled and organized totes will be your best bet to keeping organized. Make sure you go through them regularly to get rid of things that no longer fit or are needed!

We love these Greenmade durable and stackable totes. You can normally find a good deal on them at Costco too. Then, pick up some shipping labels and print off labels, or make your own with paper and packing tape.

Amelia keeps the family’s shoes under control by using a shoe bin. Each kid is allowed to have two pairs of shoes by the door, everything else is in their room or elsewhere.

Our space is very small so, I only have current in-season stuff out and available. (The out-of-season gear goes in labeled bins in the attic.) We have a “use every day” area with school and yard playing snow-pants mittens etc. The hooks and bins are things the kids can easily reach independently.

The nicer snowboarding gear (that I don’t want them ruining on the sledding hill) is hung up in a separate area.

TMM Team Member Sarah Toal
TMM Team Member Sarah’s laundry/mud room. Low shelves and baskets make it easy for kids to access.

Making It Work

Having and keeping an organized winter gear area only works if your entire family knows the system and expectations. Whether each family member has their own bin or you sort by category, make sure everything has its place!

Start your kids young and set the littles up for success by having things within their reach. Older kids should be able to take responsibility for their gear. Natural consequences may be a good lesson learned here when their gear is cold and wet the next time they are ready to head out. They will likely get chilly quick outside.

I’m going to get a durable bag for each kid that fits their boots, gloves, snow pants, socks, hats, and all the little accessories that they tend to need. Then, if we are adventuring from home they can go to the mud room and put their stuff on or I can grab their bag and throw it in the car if we’re adventuring further away.

TMM Team Member Stephanie

Depending on your activities, your set-up can work ALL YEAR LONG! We use our boot dryer for sweaty or rain soaked gear in the summer. We also use our mitten tree to store summer hats. Make use of that over the door hooks or shoe holders for your swimsuits and towels.

Organizing Your Mudroom for Winter
TMM Team Member Kristin uses a repurposed store clothing rack for some of her gear storage.

My advice, find a system that doesn’t just work for your winter gear, use something that works all year long. I hope these tips help you find some organization in your mudroom, entryway, laundry room or wherever you store your gear.

Leave any comments below if you have some more great tips!!

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Organizing your Mudroom for Winter

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