For most, folding clothes seems like an inescapable and mundane task. As an organizer, I may not agree with that, but I can certainly sympathize. So today I’m going to teach you the fastest and easiest ways to fold all of the most common types of clothing so that you can get through the laundry folding process at a blazing speed.
I encourage you to go through the entire guide to learn the folding techniques for all types of clothing. However, if you just want to fold a few types of clothes, feel free to tap the text in the table of contents below to navigate directly to the section where you want to start.
- How to Fold Bottoms
- How to Fold Tops
- How to Fold Undergarments
- Stacking and Troubleshooting
How to Fold Bottoms
- Bottoms are best folded by first folding them in half from side to side so we get the legs stacked on top of each other.
For skirts, I like to fold them in thirds from both sides first as I think another layer of fabric adds some structure to the fold as we raise it up later.
- After that, we are going to fold long items like pants, or long skirts in half from the waist down to the bottom. For shorts and short skirts, you can skip this as they are short enough as it is.
- From there we will fold the garment down in thirds from the part with the waist (and end for long items). Make sure that it lines up nicely as we are going to raise up the fold next.
- From here you can raise up the garment so that it stands on the end with the two folds, and the part with one fold faces upwards.
See the illustrations and video explanations for each type of bottom below for more details.
How to Fold Pants
Since pants are one of the biggest garments in your dresser, we will fold them over a few times to fold them into a smaller and more manageable shape.
The easiest and most versatile fold overall is the file fold so that is what we will be doing in this guide.
You can watch the video, or follow the illustrations below to file fold your pants. If you still need some help, there is a troubleshooting guide near the end of this article.
Here are some more options for folding and storing pants if you want to dive deeper.
How to Fold Shorts
Shorts can be tricky to fold depending on the fabric and length. If you have cotton, denim, or other stiff fabrics the file fold that I will teach you will be fantastic. If you have running shorts or other slippery fabrics I recommend you check out this guide to find a more suitable fold for your shorts.
If you have short shorts like women’s denim shorts you can follow the alternate step 4 and skip step 5 in the illustrations below. Don’t worry, the illustrations show both options.
In the video above I fold a pair of women’s short denim shorts. For knee-length shorts, I recommend that you follow the steps for the red shorts in the illustrations below.
For short shorts, fold them in half only.
For short shorts, skip this step.
Learn more shorts folding techniques here.
How to Fold Skirts
Skirts are folded a little differently than other bottoms. And depending on the length of the skirt, we may have to add an extra step to reduce the length a little.
Overall, most skirts are very foldable. But if you have a wrinkle-prone skirt or a skirt with lots of embroideries or details, you should hang them or roll them instead.
Feel free to watch the video below from timestamp 8:24 to learn to roll skirts, just tap play to learn to file fold them.
I have a guide with some more ways to fold your skirts that may interest you.
How to Fold Tops
Tops are also generally large items. It is good to fold them over a few times to reduce their size. We are going to do file folds for all the tops as well. Here are the general steps:
- Fold in the arms. If there are long sleeves, one sleeve can overlap the other.
- From the sides, fold the top in one-third the length of the top. The second side that you fold should completely overlap the side folded first.
- From the top, fold the top down in half.
- From the end with the collar and bottom, fold the top down one third of the way twice.
- Raise the file-folded top so that the side with two folds faces down, and the end with one fold faces up.
If you are enjoying the guide, you can also learn how to organize a small dresser here.
How to Fold T-Shirts
T-shirts and all undershirts like tank tops and long-sleeved shirts are all folded the same way. The only difference is in how we fold the sleeves in the first step.
For tank tops, you can obviously skip folding in the sleeves.
For t-shirts, you just fold them in on both sides so that you create a nice even line down the sides on the t-shirt.
For long-sleeved undershirts start by folding in one sleeve, then fold the other sleeve over the first one so that it completely overlaps it.
Learn more ways to fold your t-shirts here.
How to Fold Sweaters and Hoodies
Hoodies and regular sweaters are file-folded the same way. The only difference is that there is the additional step of folding down the hood on your hoodies compared to the sweaters.
Remember for cardigans and other buttoned/zippered sweaters you need to zip/button them up first.
How to Fold Dresses
As a rule of thumb, you can fold informal dresses made of lightweight fabrics, or dresses that have elastane in them. Avoid folding formal dresses, dresses with detail, or dresses made of pure cotton, linen, or other wrinkle-prone fabrics.
If you worry that your dress may be damaged from folding, you are better off hanging them for your own peace of mind.
With that said, folding a dress is just as simple as folding a t-shirt or sweater.
I made a guide with some more ways to fold your dresses that may interest you.
How to Fold Undergarments
Undergarments are usually the most time-consuming part of the folding process since they are so small and so many of them. On top of this, each type; underwear, bras, and socks are all folded a little differently from each other.
How to fold Underwear
Generally, we are able to file fold all underwear the same way whether it is a big boxer or a little thong. However, if you want to fold a certain type of undies differently, visit this specific guide on folding underwear.
Again, I made a more detailed guide with more underwear examples and different folding techniques if you want to see some other clever underwear folds.
How to Fold Bras
In general, we need to be more gentle when folding bras with underwires, cups, or lots of detail.
If you have any plain bras with none of these things, or for example sports bras without cups, you can follow the steps in the first video.
However, you are still going to play it more safely by following the steps in the second video.
I wrote a guide with more details on folding more types of panties and bras over here that you can check out next.
How to fold Socks
There are many easy ways to fold socks, the main problem is that most common folding techniques tend to reduce the lifespan of your socks significantly by stretching out the elastane around the ankle.
I recommend using the file-fold, or even better the rose fold. However, for our purposes, the file fold will be a lot quicker and easier.
If you have ankle socks you can skip step 3.
I also have a complete guide to folding all your clothes in this style which is great for travel and for saving space.
Stacking and Troubleshooting
If you are having issues with any of the folds, or wonder how to store the clothes in your dresser, this section will be very informative.
Organize The Folded Clothes in Dresser
Generally, file-folded clothes need to stand next to each other in your dresser drawers (or on your shelves) to support each other. Otherwise, they have a tendency to fall over when you for example open your dresser.
I recommend using something like these organizer boxes, but you can also use some shoeboxes or plastic boxes from around your home.
But in the beginning, it will be fine to just place them back in your dresser. Try to place the first folded item in the back of the drawer, then another in front of it (and so on) so that the structure of the drawer supports the folded clothes.
Place the weakest folded clothes against the wall of the shelf/drawer/box.
I also wrote another guide to organizing your wardrobe using boxes and other neat tricks that may interest you.
As you are learning to fold your clothes, you will run into some problems like the clothes not standing up properly, or that they fall apart when you try to stack them in your dresser.
After years of answering YouTube comments, I have heard it all. So I made this little cheat sheet that you can refer to as you fold your clothes.
More Folding Techniques
The troubleshooting section is actually a page ripped directly out of my premium file-folding guide.
There is an accompanying video as well, but I wouldn’t feel good about posting that as I have many paying customers for the guide.
If you’re interested in the premium guide where I go over a bunch more clothes in a similar fashion to this guide, you can check out the sneak peek video below.
I’m an expert organizer and a big laundry enthusiast. I’ve created this website and Organizing TV on YouTube to share practical guides about some of my favorite subjects; making clothes fit well, doing laundry and folding clothes effectively, and organizing wardrobes with a focus on saving space since I live in a home with limited space myself. You can learn more about me here.