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How to Fold and Store Shorts – Organizer explains

After testing all the popular ways to fold shorts over the last year and a half on my YouTube channel Small Space Organizing, I have concluded that there are 4 folds that out-performs every other fold. There are also two ways to hang the shorts on a hanger that we will discuss.

As for folding shorts, there is the flat fold, the file-fold, the ranger roll, and finally the simple roll. All 4 have distinct advantages and disadvantages. I’m going to teach you all 4 methods in detail.

3 Clever Ways to Fold and Store Shorts (Fast, Neat, and Space-Saving)

How to Flat-Fold Shorts: The Fast and Easy Way

Generally, you will find that the easiest way to fold shorts is to do a flat fold. There are only 5 steps to it so it is fast as well. It is not my favorite as it can’t be neatly organized, but it is still a popular option for many since it is fast and simple.

1. Lay the shorts flat with the front facing up

When you place the shorts with the front up, make sure to even out the fabric so we don’t create any unnecessary creases when we fold the shorts. Remember to close the zipper and button.

2. From the left side, fold the shorts over in half

After folding the short over in half from left to right, make sure that the edge of the former left side’s edge lines up with the edge of the short below.

3. Fold in crotch area to create an even line

This is an optional step as the fold can be completed without it. If you decide to fold it in the shorts will have a more rectangular fold and will take up less, but there will be a slight crease where you folded over the crotch fabric. If you decide to leave the fabric sticking out, the fold will be a little bigger and less even, but you will avoid the crease.

In general, I recommend folding in the crotch area on more informal shorts like running shorts, jean shorts, cargo shorts, and boardshorts. I would skip this step for formal or delicate shorts with lots of detail or shorts with linen or silk fabric as they tend to crease very easily.

4. From the waist, fold the shorts down in half

Fold the shorts in half from the top of the waist, down to the bottom of the shorts.

If you have long shorts like board shorts or certain denim shorts and skin-tight shorts, you can fold the shorts one-third of the way down twice instead. In that case, you can look at the file-fold steps further down in this guide as that one describes the step you want.

5. Stack your shorts on top of each other in your drawer

You’re now ready to place your flat folded shorts on top of each other and put them on your shelf or in your drawer or suitcase.

Your shorts should now look like the photo below if you decided to leave the crotch fabric out. If you folded it in will look like the above photo.

How to File-Fold Shorts: Great for Drawers and Shelves

File-folding your shorts is an excellent option as it can look very neat and organized in your dresser or shelves. The disadvantage is that this fold is not effective on slippery fabrics, and is a little flimsy, and falls over easily compared to the rolls that we will look at after the file-fold.

This fold is very similar to the folds that Marie Kondo uses in her KonMari method, which is a great stamp of approval for the file-fold if you ask me.

I store my shorts in a bunch of these IKEA organizing boxes (Amazon paid link) to further organize the shorts in my drawers. I recommend you find something similar to these to use for the file-fold as the boxes are able to support the file-folded shorts when they’re standing up.

You don’t need to spend money on boxes if you have some plastic containers, or even old cardboard boxes laying around. If you don’t you can start without them too don’t worry, they’re not essential.

1. Lay the chino shorts flat with the front facing up

Lay the shorts on a flat surface with the front of the shorts facing up. Make sure any zippers and buttons are closed.

2. Flatten out fabric to avoid creases

Straightening out the fabric and flattening any uneven sections of the shorts will greatly decrease the chance of the fabric creasing as we fold the shorts. You don’t need to make a lot out of this, just take a few seconds and brush the short with your hands.

3. From the left side, fold the shorts over in half

As you fold the shorts over in half make sure that all the edges of the shorts line up with the ones on the underside of the shorts so we get a neat file-fold.

4. Fold the crotch area in to make an even line

Just like with the flat fold, this is an optional step, and the file-fold can be completed without it.

The advantage of folding in the crotch fabric is that you get a nice rectangle to work with, and the shorts will take up less room. The downside is that there will be a crease where you fold the crotch section in.

In general, I recommend folding in the crotch area on informal shorts like running shorts, jean shorts, cargo shorts, and boardshorts. I would skip this step for formal or delicate shorts with lots of detail or shorts with linen or silk fabric as they tend to crease very easily.

5. From the waistband, fold the shorts down one third of the way towards the end of the shorts.

This is where the famous Marie Kondo file-fold part of the process begins.

For knee-length sized shorts, split the shorts into 3 sections from top to bottom. Eyeball the measurements and press mark the spots with your hands until you get the hang of this fold. Fold the shorts from the waist down slightly less than a third of the length of the shorts.

If you have any shorts that are very short like the denim shorts in the photo, feel free to fold the shorts in half from top to bottom instead of in thirds.

6. From the new top, fold the shorts over one more time so they line up with the bottom of the shorts.

Fold the shorts down one more time. Since you folded it slightly less than a third in the previous step the fold should meet the edge of the leg openings after you have folded it.

If you are folding very short shorts you can skip this step.

This is because the thickness of the fabric makes this fold need slightly more fabric than in the previous step. Your shorts should look like the photo below once you’re done with this step.

7. Turn the folded shorts around to so the tallest point faces up

Put the file-fold up on its legs. Turn the shorts up 90° with the side of the fold with the leg openings facing down. The file-fold should now be able to stand up on its own.

Pro-tip: If it falls down, slightly press in the sides on the upper half of the fold.

8. Place the shorts in your drawer or shelf with the legs facing down.

Placing them in your dresser like this allows you to easily see what shorts you have from above. This is a huge advantage over the flat fold. The box in the photo is this one (Amazon paid link).

9. Stack multiple file-folded shorts next to each other to support each other

Stacking multiple shorts next to each other like this lets them support each other so they won’t fall over so easily in your dresser.

How to Ranger Roll Shorts: Saves Space and Travels Well

The ranger roll is a great fold if you want to fold your shorts to save space. This military-style fold is also fantastic to use for the clothes in your luggage if you’re traveling since it holds together really well, and stays very neat and organized.

It is not a coincidence that this is the main fold I teach my students in the folding clothes to save space course (Course info page link). When combined with a box like this one (Amazon paid link) you get a really neat and space-saving organizing system for your clothes both at home and when traveling.

The downside of this fold is that it tends to crease the fabric slightly, so don’t use this on delicate fabrics like linen or silk, or any formal shorts with a lot of detail on them. Feel free to skip ahead to the next section of this guide and I will show you a simple roll that works great on more delicate shorts.

For casual shorts like running or denim shorts, this fold is by far the best option out of all in this guide.

1. Lay the shorts down flat with the front facing up

Find an even surface and lay the shorts down with the front of the shorts facing upward. If you have zippers or buttons on the shorts remember to close them.

2. Turn the waistband inside-out

We turn the waistband inside out to create a pocket that we will use to lock in the shorts later in the process. It is easiest to slightly lift the shorts and use one hand on each side to flip out the waistband inside out.

3. Pull the waist down 4-5″ over the rest of the shorts.

Pull the inside-out waistband downwards over the rest of the shorts.

4-5 inches or 10-12 cm is a good amount of fabric for an average-sized pair of male shorts. Feel free to use 4 inches for very short shorts.

It can be smart to have a little extra fabric inside out the first few times until you get the hang of this folding technique.

4. Even out the fold on the back side

A common mistake people who ranger roll make is to not check the backside of the inside-out fabric. So flip the waist over and check the back.

You also want to make sure all pockets, labels, and strings are stuffed inside the shorts. If they hang out they are going to cause problems later. This is a huge issue with swim shorts you can read about that by tapping the blue text link.

5. From the left side of the shorts, fold shorts over in half

When you fold the shorts over make sure that the edges all line up evenly. You may want to make some small adjustments as the inside-out waist tends to make the fabric uneven.

If there is too much uneven fabric, not only will it be more difficult to complete the roll, but it will also create unnecessary creases on the shorts.

6. Fold in the crotch area to create an even line

Fold the fabric of the crotch area that is sticking out over the top of the shorts. We want an even triangle to roll up, so if the other side is flaring out a lot you can consider folding that side in slightly too.

7. From the bottom of the legs, tightly roll the shorts up to the top.

From the bottom of the legs, roll the shorts up all the way up to the end of the folded up waistband.

Put your index- and middle fingers forward and the thumb in the back when you roll. You can use your ring finger and pinky to even out and stretch the fabric as you roll up the shorts.

A thing to note is that the tighter you roll the shorts, the less space it will take up, but it has a tendency to wrinkle up more, and stretch out the fabric over time. I like to aim for a happy medium, where I feel a slight tug in the fabric as I roll it up.

8. With one hand grab the bottom of the roll

Use one of your hands to grab ahold of the bottom half or so of the roll. Make sure you hold on to the waistband all the time so it doesn’t unravel. You want to point the tall end of the roll upwards like in the photo below.

9. Flip the exposed part of the inside-out waistband back over the top of the roll

Take your free hand and fold the top half of the inside-out waistband over the top half of the rolled-up fabric.

When the waistband is no longer inside out and covers about half of the top of the roll you can move on to the next step (see photo on step 11 for a reference of how it should look like).

10. Grab the top of the roll and turn the roll upside down, exposing the unsecured end

Take the hand you used to fold the waistband over and grab that half of the roll. Then turn it around so the end without the waistband folded over is facing up.

Feel free to change back to holding with the other hand now if you’re more comfortable with that.

11. Flip the other exposed part of the inside-out waistband back over the top of the roll

Flip the inside-out waistband over the roll on this side too. It should be easier this time since the waistband is already pointing that way.

12. Make adjustments with your fingers to even out any wrinkles that have appeared

The first few times you do the ranger roll, it will probably be a bit uneven. I recommend sticking your index fingers or thumbs inside the opening in the waistband to make some adjustments. Start by pressing the fabric in properly to the edges, so the roll holds together properly. Then move on to adjusting the rest of the fabric inside the roll.

Once you’re satisfied with the inside, feel free to adjust the outside a little so that you end up with a nice cylinder shape.

13. You can now place the roll in your drawer, suitcase or on your shelf

The ranger-rolled shorts can be placed both with the tall end up or with the shorts laying down horizontally. For shorts, I prefer to stack them laying down.

If you’re traveling, you can put them in compression packing cubes (Amazon paid link) and reduce the space they need even further. I did a video on my packing system a while back.

How to Organize Clothes for Travel (Using Day-Rolls)

How to Simple Roll Shorts: Fold to Avoid Wrinkles

The simple roll is the best fold for shorts if the goal is to avoid wrinkles. There is only a single fold in this roll, so there is not much that can wrinkle if you follow the steps below.

This roll is great for delicate fabrics like linen and silk, formal wear, or shorts with lots of little details. In addition to the minimal creasing, this roll is fast and doesn’t take up a lot of space compared to the file-fold and flat fold. The downside is that it unravels a lot easier than the ranger roll I taught you earlier in this article.

1. Lay the shorts flat with the front facing up

Place your shorts on an even surface, and lay them down with the front of the shorts facing up. Remember to close the zippers and button on the shorts.

2. flatten out uneven fabric to avoid creases

Take a few seconds to flatten out any uneven fabric with your hands.

3. From the left side, fold shorts over in half

From the side, fold the shorts over in half so that it meets the edge of the other side. Again, remove any creases that may have formed.

4. From the waistband, gently roll the shorts down to the bottom.

As you roll from the top of the waistband down to the end of the legs, you want to be very observant of any creases forming. I recommend rolling gently without putting much pressure on the fabric.

5. The shorts can now be stacked next to each other in your drawer or shelf

When you place the rolls in the drawer or on your shelf, make sure that the fold is on the bottom. This way it won’t unravel. As you place multiple rolls next to each other they will support each other and hold together reasonably well.

If you combine this roll with an organizing system (Amazon paid link) you can also stack them with the tall side up as I teach in my premium folding guide.

This roll also works great for travel, and can easily be combined with the ranger roll.

Should You Hang Shorts?

In most circumstances where you have room in your wardrobe, there is no reason to not hang the shorts. If you hang them correctly, the shorts will crease minimally when compared to folding them. It will also be very clear to see what shorts you have available compared to some common ways of folding shorts

Generally, it is better to hang shorts that crease easily. Formal shorts and shorts made from linen, silk, or shorts with a lot of small details are appropriate to hang. While more casual shorts like denim, cargo shorts, and running shorts can be folded without creasing.

The two most common options of hangers are coat hangers and pants hangers (Amazon paid links). If you only have access to coat hangers they will do fine. If you have pants hangers, they are easier to use and reduce the chance of creasing the shorts.

If you decide to hang your shorts on a coat hanger you should note that thin hangers such as metal string hangers are going to crease your shorts at the point of contact. It is better to use a thicker hanger (Amazon paid link) like the one in the photo below. They are commonly made of wood or plastic.

How to Hang Shorts on a Coat Hanger

Generally, when hanging shorts on a coat hanger we need to fold the shorts in half before hanging them over the lower part of the coat hanger. It is easiest to pull them through the hanger almost halfway with the waist part of the shorts first. From there you can hang the shorts in your closet.

I’ll go more into more detail for you below

1. Lay the shorts flat with the front up

Find a flat surface and lay down the shorts with the front facing up. Remember to close the zippers and buttons.

2. Fold the shorts in half from side to side

Fold the shorts in half from one side to the other. Make sure all the edges line up.

3. Pull shorts through hanger with the waist section first, and hang it on the lower part of the hanger.

When pulling the shorts through the hanger waist first, make sure you hold on to the side opposite of the fold so it doesn’t unfold while you pull it through the hanger.

Once you got a third to half of the shorts through the hanger, gently lay it down over the lower part of the hanger.

4. Balance the shorts over the hanger, and put it in your closet.

Find a point on the shorts where it can balance over the hanger without sliding off. Generally, the top of the shorts is heavier so you don’t need to pull it all the way down to the halfway point in order to balance.

If you want the shorts to stick better to the hanger you can consider investing in some velvet strips (Amazon paid link) and fasten them on the hanger.

Once you got it balanced, you are ready to hang it in your closet.

I wrote a guide on the best hangers and some more ways to hang your shorts that may interest you.

How to Hang Shorts on a Pants Hanger

Pants hangers are your best option for hanging shorts. They have clamps that you can fasten to the waist of your shorts to secure them. Using a pants hanger also avoids folding the shorts in half, like you need to do with a coat hanger, so you avoid all creases from folds.

1. Lay your shorts on a flat surface with the front facing up

It is easier to fasten the shorts when they are laying down. Remember to close the zippers and buttons before moving on.

2. Fasten the clamps to the waist of the shorts, make sure to get both layers of fabric inside the shorts.

It is best to fasten the clamps as far out on the waist of the shorts as you can. At least make sure you place them the same distance from the middle on each side of the shorts. Remember to get both layers of fabric inside the clamp.

3.Lift up the hung shorts and adjust any uneven fabric, then hang them in your closet

You can now lift the shorts. Make sure that the clamps don’t press the middle section of the shorts’ waist together thereby creating a danger of creasing the fabric in the closet once you hang other hangers next to the shorts. Other than that you are ready to hang the shorts in your closet now.

You can download an illustrated guide with all these folds in a cheat sheet below. Feel free to print it out, or keep it on your phone for the next time you need to fold shorts. Remember, you can always come back here and read the instructions, or rewatch the video.

Next, you can learn how to roll the rest of your clothes to save space.

I also have a YouTube channel with lots of clothing organizing guides that you can check out if you want.

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