As a popular folding expert on YouTube, I often get asked if you really save space by folding your clothes. And after years of testing every possible way to fold clothes I can confidently answer you.
In general, folding clothes saves space compared to not folding them. This is because you can strategically fit more folded clothes into the small gaps of your drawer or suitcase than you can with if your clothes are not folded.
If you stuff your dresser or suitcase full of unfolded clothes they may not take up more space at the moment of stuffing and closing. But the next time you open the clothes container they will decompress and take up more space than you planned. This is generally not a problem with folded clothes as they tend to hold their shape much better. Let’s talk about some folding options that are quick and simple for you to perform.
Should You Roll or Fold Clothes for Storage?
As a rule of thumb, rolling clothes generally saves move space than folding them. Certain folds like the file-fold can be nearly as space-efficient as rolling clothes, but the common flat fold usually takes up the largest amount of space out of the three options.
In this video, I go into further detail about the different folding options. For a start, I recommend learning the file-fold as it is a little easiest for beginners than the rolls.
Does Rolling Clothes Ruin Them?
Generally, you will not ruin clothes by rolling them. If you can fold a clothing article, you can confidently roll it as well. Some delicate fabrics like linen and silk should not be rolled. Neither should clothing with lots of detail and bras with cups.
There are three big advantages to rolling clothes over folding them.
1. Rolling Clothes Creases Clothes Less Than Folding Them
By doing a simple roll as I have for pants in the infographic below, you can essentially avoid all wrinkles if you are gentle with the rolling process.
Comparing this to folding the pants, they would get a lot more wrinkles in the areas where you fold them since the fabric will start to crease over time, especially if you stack them on top of each other in your dresser drawers.
2. Rolling Clothes Saves More Space than Folding or Hanging Clothes
The biggest advantage of rolling clothes is that they take up less space. This is because you are able to stack them tighter together and fill up all the little nooks and crannies in your dresser.
When you fold clothes you often are not able to do this. Also when folding, most people stack their clothes vertically, therefore further reducing the effective space you use if you’re not filling your stacks up to the top of your drawers. This also comes with more problems for picking out your clothes of course.
There are certain folds like the ranger roll/military roll that you can use on your clothes if you want to save even more space by compressing the rolled clothes together.
3. Rolling Clothes is Very Effective for Organizing Your Dresser or Suitcase
When you roll your clothes (especially with the ranger roll) you can very easily stack them next to each other in your dresser or suitcase. This will give you a great overview of what clothes you have, and you don’t need to go digging through layers of clothes to find the ones you are looking for.
I use these organizing boxes from IKEA (Amazon paid link) to organize my dresser’s drawers further. I like them because they also add some support to my rolled clothes. But this is by no means a requirement to roll your clothes.
How to Roll Clothes for Packing
Generally, delicate clothing like linen, silk, knits, or clothes with lots of detail should gently be rolled from the heaviest point and down to avoid creases. More durable items like socks, underwear, undershirts, jeans, and hoodies can be ranger-rolled.
If you are having trouble determining which category a clothing article goes into, do the simple fold then reevaluate next time after you’ve seen how it performs during your first trip.
I usually also add some packing cubes to my suitcase or bag as that allows me to separate the different types of clothes. I recommend these compression packing cubes (Amazon paid link), as they pack down the clothes even further. You should not use the compression feature if you have clothes that wrinkle easily.
Like I mentioned, check out the free step-by-step guide on how to fold clothes to save space here next if you want to learn the complete system.