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How to pack up your summer gear

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Save your summer fun for next year

Find yourself buying new pool toys and summer gear each year? Don't waste money when you can store your summer gear safely. Learn how to preserve your summer gear for next year.

We've got the best tips and solutions to keep your summer gear safe and sound. This year, pack up your summer gear like a pro.

Deflate pool toys completely

Save your summer fun for next year

Before you store your inflatable toys, make sure they're completely devoid of air and moisture. Always dry pool toys thoroughly before storing. Any additional moisture can lead to mildew and rotting. Some toys with basic valves can be deflated using a drinking straw to prop open the valve mechanism. For bigger or more complicated inflatable toys, consider purchasing an electric inflator/deflator. (Amazon, $33)

Organize your inventory with labels

Save your summer fun for next year

Don't just pack your gear. Label it accurately, so you to know exactly what you have in stock next summer. When you know what you already have, you'll be less tempted to impulse shop for new toys and backyard gear when it warms up again next year. Labels are especially handy if you're using storage boxes that aren't see-through. Invest in a handheld label maker to quickly label your bins and boxes. (Office Depot, $20)

Use heavy-duty storage solutions

Save your summer fun for next year

If you don't have room in the garage or shed, use outdoor storage bins that blend seamlessly with your decor. As the weather cools off, hide sports gear, gardening tools and pool equipment in large storage bins. Look for bins with decorative details that set them apart from unsightly garbage bins. Use smaller, airtight storage bins within the larger bin for smaller items like sidewalk chalk and toys. (Bed, Bath & Beyond, $160)

Invest in well-fitted covers for your gear and furniture

Save your summer fun for next year

From your lawnmower to your grill, your summer gear should be kept carefully under cover during the fall and winter months. A weatherproof cover keeps the elements and vermin away from your important investments. Next summer, your gear will be ready to use right away if you've taken the time to cover it well. Use well-fitted covers on outdoor furniture, backyard grills, equipment and sports gear. (Home Depot, $40)

Heavy-duty storage essentials

Save your summer fun for next year

Rubbermaid All Access organizer bins (Rubbermaid, $26)

Save your summer fun for next year

Garage and tool organizer
(Ace Hardware, $12)

Save your summer fun for next year

Horizontal storage shed
(Target, $240)

Save your summer fun for next year

Metal overhead storage kit
(Lowe's, $129)

More storage and organizing

Clever ways to organize outdoor gear
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