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After years of testing every folding and hanging technique imaginable on all my clothes for Small Space Organizing videos on YouTube, I have put together a complete guide of what to put in closet on a hanger, and what to fold and put in your dresser drawers.
As a rule of thumb, you should hang clothes that crease easily. Fabrics like pure cotton, cotton/rayon blends, and linen are all crease-prone. In addition to these fabrics, formal wear, clothing with a lot of small details, bras with pads, and jackets with shoulder pads should also be hung. Generally, all other clothes should be folded.
There are always outliers, so in most of the remainder of this article I’m going into detail about all types of clothes so we can determine which ones you should hang in your closet, and with once can be folded and put in your dresser.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Thin Wire Hangers
Before we get started, it is important to know which hangers to use.
You should avoid using very thin hangers as they will leave marks on the shoulders of anything you hang from them. Unfortunately, they will also leave creases on anything you hang by folding them over the lower part of the hanger.
For most uses, these wooden coat hangers (Amazon paid link) will suffice. For suit jackets and dresses I recommend getting these instead (Amazon paid link) as they are much wider in the ends, and won’t damage the fabric of dresses and your formal jackets.
Hang or Fold Shorts
In general, you can fold most shorts as they don’t tend to crease. Denim shorts, cargo shorts, running shorts, swim trunks and board shorts can always be folded. You can hang linen shorts, pure cotton shorts, and more formal shorts like chino shorts on a coat hanger or a pants hanger.
If you have pants hangers they are best to use as you can attach them to the waist of the shorts on each side and hang it. For coat hangers, you have to lay the shorts down flat and fold them in half before threading them halfway through the hanger and rest on the lower part of the hanger.
I wrote an entire step-by-step guide with video and illustrations on how to fold and hang shorts here.
Hang or Fold Pants
As a rule of thumb, you should hang pants made from pure cotton, linen, and silk. In addition to these fabrics, formal pants like slacks, suit pants, and chinos benefit from being hung on a pants hanger or coat hanger. Denim jeans, sweatpants, yoga pants, leggings, and other casual pants should all be folded as they won’t crease much, and long-term hanging can stretch them.
I recommend file-folding or rolling your pants to avoid as many creases as possible.
As for the pants you should hang, consider investing in pants hangers (Amazon paid link), or simply adding clamps to your coat hangers (Amazon paid link). If you hang your pants like this you avoid having to fold them in half before hanging them.
Hang or Fold Socks
Most people fold their socks as there is no benefit to hanging them. You can do a fold like the rose fold and they will not crease at all, and you will increase the lifetime of the elastic band compared to the regular folding technique for socks.
What about Pantyhose and Longjohns?
As for longjohns and pantyhose, you should fold them as they will stretch out over time on a hanger, and they take up significantly less space in your dresser drawer than they would by hanging in your closet. You can avoid creasing them by folding them gently
Here are two folding options you can consider for your pantyhose.
Should You Hang Underwear and Bras or Fold Them
As a rule of thumb, you can fold all underwear besides strings, thongs, and bras with lots of small detail that may be damaged from folding. Bras with cups and underwires also benefit from being hung if you have room, but it is ok to gently fold them. As for men’s underwear, you should fold all types.
There are some circumstances where it can be beneficial to hang other types of underwear. Fabric such as pure cotton, rayon/cotton blends, and some silk types can crease quite a bit. But as underwear is usually covered up some creases don’t matter much. But in situations where you may show off the underwear you can consider hanging the underwear made of these fabrics after washing.
It is easiest to hang bras and panties using pants hangers, or by adding clamps to coat hangers to hang them from.
Read about the best ways to fold your underwear here.
Hang or Fold Sweaters and Hoodies?
As a rule of thumb, you can fold all your sweaters and hoodies. Most sweaters won’t crease when folded, so there is no benefit to hanging them. On the other hand, if you hang your sweaters your risk stretching the fabric over time. Some fabrics like linen, silk, and pure cotton will crease easily when folded, it can be beneficial to hang sweaters and hoodies made of these fabrics for shorter periods after washing if you plan to wear them.
But really, the best way to store your overshirts is to just roll them up. I made a video about it a while back. Check it out:
Hang or Fold Shirts?
As a rule of thumb, you should hang formal shirts and shirts with lots of small details like button-ups, button-downs, blouses, and polo shirts. Always hang shirts made of linen, silk, or pure cotton if you expect to wear them as these fabrics will easily crease when folded. More casual shirts like t-shirts, henleys, tank tops, camisoles, and buttonless long-sleeve shirts should be folded. Note that hanging most shirts long-term can stretch the neck and shoulders.
As for which coat hanger to use, I recommend using a wider coat hanger if possible, otherwise, a regular coat hanger will do. Stay away from the thinnest coat hangers, or you will stretch the fabric on the shoulders of your shirts.
Undershirts can always be folded tightly as they are rarely seen, but you want to be gentle when folding the shirts that are your outermost layer of clothing since everybody can see them.
Hang or Fold Dresses?
In general, you should hang dresses using a wide coat hanger so you don’t stretch out the shoulders. You can fold informal dresses with elastane as they won’t crease. If you plan to wear dresses with lots of small details, or dresses made of silk, linen, or pure cotton you should always hang them after washing as they tend to crease easily.
In most cases where you have to fold dresses, for example for travel where you have to pack them in a suitcase, you are better off rolling them from the top of the shoulders down to the bottom as they don’t tend to crease as much as they would from folding them.
Hang or Fold Skirts
As a rule of thumb, you should hang skirts made from silk, linen, and pure cotton as these fabrics tend to crease very easily. All other formal skirts and skirts with lots of small detail should also be hung. Using a pants hanger to hang your skirts is best. You can gently fold all other skirts.
As you can see, skirts are in many ways similar to dresses when it comes to hanging or folding. The only difference is that skirts are best of being hung on a pants hanger, while dresses should be hung on a wide coat hanger.
It should come as no surprise at this point that I have made a video on how to fold skirts as well.
Hang or Fold Jackets
As a rule of thumb, you should hang all jackets on coat hangers as folding them can cause creases in the fabric. Always hang jackets made of pure cotton, linen, leather, and silk. Formal jackets and jackets with lots of detail, structure, or shoulder pads like blazers, dinner jackets, and suit jackets should also be hung.
Some causal jackets like denim jackets, windbreakers, rain jackets (Gore-Tex), and thick winter coats can be gently folded.
But honestly, if you have proper coat hangers, and room in your closet there are very few downsides to hanging them. Luckily for you, I don’t have the room so I made a video about how to fold jackets for you.
Hang or Fold Swimwear
As a rule of thumb, swimwear for both men and women should be folded. Hanging swimwear like bathing suits, speedos, and two-piece bikinis will stretch out the elastic in the fabric over time and damage the swimwear. You can hang swim shorts and boardshorts, but there are no advantages to hanging over folding them.
I wrote a whole article about how to fold your swimwear that you can check out for more details on the topic.
Hang or Fold Robes
Bathrobes can be both hung on a coat hanger and folded. Use a wider coat hanger to avoid stretching the shoulders of your robe. Folding bathrobes can be quite tricky, so if you have the room to hang them that is easier.
If you decide to fold your robe, I made a video on how to do it a while ago.
If you enjoyed this article, you are going to love this one about the advantages of rolling clothes over folding them. Tap the link to read that next.
I also have a complete guide to folding your clothes fast here that you will probably love!