6 Clothes-Folding Techniques That Save Closet and Drawer Space

person folding a dress shirt

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

If you hastily fold your clean laundry before putting it all away, you're not only wasting space and creating serious disorder in your closets and drawers, but you're very likely wrinkling all of your clothes, too.

The following folding hacks will save you significant storage space while keeping things neatly organized.

T-Shirts

Scientists have revealed the most efficient method for folding T-shirts. The technique, described by robotics engineers at the University of California Berkeley, was part of a research project that programmed robots on how to fold clothing for maximum space-saving.

  1. With the t-shirt flat on a surface, fold one arm in at the armpit seam.
  2. On the same side, fold the length of the shirt toward the center.
  3. Repeat step one on the opposite side.
  4. Repeat step two on the opposite side. Your shirt should now be a rectangle.
  5. Take the folded shirt and bring the bottom up to the top, reducing the size by half.
  6. Smooth out your small square of a t-shirt and place it in your drawer or on a shelf.

Tip

For t-shirts with logos or designs (like concert tees), start folding with the printed side down. That way, once folded, the design will be facing up so it's easier to find a specific t-shirt without unfolding every shirt.

GIF illustration of how to fold a T-shirt
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Dress Shirts

While you may be tempted to hang your dress shirts, folding them so they can be stored neatly in drawers not only saves precious closet space but also prevents wrinkling. The latter is a big plus if you dread breaking out the ironing board.

Make sure to button all the buttons, from top to bottom, before folding. Doing so will ensure a neat and tidy fold that stays wrinkle-free. Then, follow these folding steps that are similar to the t-shirt fold:

  1. Spread the shirt button-side down on a flat surface.
  2. Bring the right sleeve toward the center, folding along the armpit seam.
  3. Fold the right sleeve at about a 45-degree angle down toward the hem.
  4. Repeat step 2 on the left side.
  5. Repeat step 3 on the left side.
  6. Grab the bottom hem and fold the bottom third of the shirt up.
  7. Fold again so the folded portion reaches the top of the shoulders.
  8. Turn over your folded dress shirt.
GIF illustration of how to fold a dress shirt
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Towels

Folding both large and small towels in thirds is a real win-win. Towels folded using this method take up less surface space and are also much easier to stack. FYI, it's how most five-star hotels fold their towels.

  1. Holding a towel lengthwise, bring the hems together so that the towel is half the length.
  2. Repeat the previous step.
  3. Rotate the towel so it is lengthwise in front of you with the hem (and any decorative elements) are face down.
  4. Bring each side edge in to the center one at a time like you are folding a piece of paper in thirds.
  5. Flip the towel over and place it on the shelf with the folded edges out.
person folding a towel

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Short Socks

Any KonMari fan will tell you not to tuck one sock into the other after the pair is rolled into a ball—unless you like stretched out socks. Instead, long socks should be folded into thirds by placing one flattened sock over the other, then fold in thirds like you are folding a letter.

Short socks, though, may not be long enough to fold in thirds. This diagram shows how to fold socks like these without resorting to the old sock-tucking trick.

  1. Form a T with one sock over the other perpendicularly.
  2. Fold the right edge of the bottom sock over the top of the top sock.
  3. Repeat for the left side of the bottom sock.
  4. Fold up the top sock so it overhangs on top.
  5. Fold the overhang portion of the sock in between the folded layers of the bottom sock.
Illustration of how to fold short socks
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Sweaters

Bulky, heavy sweaters should never be hung on a hanger. To prevent sweaters like these from getting droopy and stretched out of shape, neatly fold as shown.

  1. With the sweater face down, fold the sleeve in toward the center of the sweater.
  2. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Bring the bottom hem up and fold the sweater in half.
  4. Turn the folded sweater over and store it on a closet shelf or in a dresser drawer.
GIF illustration of how to fold a sweater
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Underwear

While you may be thinking "who the heck folds underwear," consider this: Keeping your skivvies neatly organized will make it easier to find the pair you want to wear without messing up the entire underwear drawer. Even better, it saves precious drawer space.

Always start with the underwear on a flat surface. For women's underwear, fold in half by bringing either the right or left edge to the opposite edge. Repeat, then fold in half from top to bottom.

For men's briefs, fold in thirds by bringing one side to the center, then repeat for the other side. Fold in half from top to bottom.

Illustration of how to fold underwear
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner