How to Fold Towels the Right Way

White and tan towels folded in bathroom next to houseplant and wicker basket with rolled gray towels

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 3 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 3 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When you open your linen closet, do your towels come tumbling out or look like they were hit by a tornado? This happens when each towel is folded differently, so they don't stack well and stay in place. While your mother may have told you that there is a "right way" to fold a towel, there are several methods, including the tri-fold, deep fold, or narrow fold, that will give you the results you desire. The key to success is finding the folding style that works best for your storage space and sticking with it.

The best towel folding method will:

  • fit your storage space
  • give easy access to individual towels
  • hang easily from a towel bar or rack
  • reduce wrinkles
  • look attractive

This article addresses basic towel folding. But if you want to create cruise ship-worthy towel creatures, check out origami tutorials or the hundreds of online videos. Just remember, most of these creations will not stack or store well!

How Often You Should Fold Towels

Towels should be folded after each time they are washed. Leaving towels in a heap is overwhelming, messy, and can lead to confusion regarding which towels are clean and which are dirty. It takes less than one minute per towel to complete a basic fold, and the task is perfect for doing while watching TV or your video-based app of choice. The one rule that must be followed is that the towel should be completely dry before you fold it for storage or display, which discourages mildew growth.


The one time you don't want to fold a towel too tightly is right after using it for a bath or shower. The towel should be placed over a towel bar, on a drying rack, or hung from a hook to air-dry. Allow as much of the surface of the towel to be exposed to airflow as possible. Too many layers of wet towels lying on each other is an invitation for musty, foul-smelling towels.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Flat work surface


  • Towels


White marbled flat surface to fold towels with houseplant

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  1. Sort Towels by Size

    Not all bath towels are the same size. After they're freshly washed (or if you've just pulled them from their storage space to reorganize), sort your beach towels, bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths by size. If you want a really good looking arrangement, also sort by color. This is the perfect time to weed out towels that are worn, ripped, or no longer absorbent. Most animal rescue groups will welcome a towel donation for their shelters.

    Cream, tan and gray towels sorted by size

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  2. Measure Your Storage Area

    Knowing the width and depth of the storage space will help you determine the best way to fold towels for your home. If you plan to use the towels as part of a decorative or necessary display, measure the towel bars or storage baskets (width, length, and depth) as well.

    Storage area for towels being measured with yellow measuring tape

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  3. Tri-Fold Method

    This fold can be done on a flat surface or while you are standing.

    1. Working with the finished side of the towel down, fold one corner of the narrow end of the towel over about two-thirds of the width.
    2. Make a crease down the length of the towel, making sure the width of the fold remains the same.
    3. Fold the remaining third of the towel over the folded portion. You now have a long, three-layer strip of towel.
    4. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, smooth, and then fold in half again to make a compact, stackable towel bundle.
    Cream towel laid flat with one third folded

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded as a three-layer strip long ways

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel as long strip folded in half

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded as small square bundle

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  4. Deep-Fold Method

    1. Place the towel on a flat surface with the finished side facing down.
    2. Working from the long side of the towel, fold one side of the towel to the center of the narrow end and make a crease down the length of the towel, keeping the fold width even.
    3. Grab the other long side of the towel and fold to the centerline of the narrow end. Make a crease down the length of the towel. There are now two long parallel folds with edges that meet in the center of the towel.
    4. Fold the towel in half lengthwise so the raw edges are in the center. There are now four layers of towel in a long, skinny shape.
    5. Fold each narrow end of the towel toward the center of the strip. Leave a gap of about one or two inches between the folds so the final fold can be done easily.
    6. Do a final fold to bring the two halves of the towel together. This will give you a neat towel package with no raw edges showing.
    Large cream towel laid flat on marbles surface

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded longwise to the center and held by corners

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Opposite end of cream towel folded to center creating long parallel folds

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded into four layers in long skinny shape

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel in long skinny shape folded inwards with both ends to center

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Two halves of towel folded on top of each other to create a small towel package

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  5. Narrow Fold Method

    If your storage space is very narrow or you plan to roll the towels to fit in a basket or cubicle, the narrow fold works well.

    1. Working from the narrow end of the towel, fold the towel in half down its length. Make a crease and be sure that all of the corners are aligned.
    2. Fold the towel in half at the mid-point of the rectangle. Align all four corners of the fabric.
    3. To create a narrow packet, fold the rectangle into thirds starting at the narrow end. Store with the edges down on the shelf.
    4. To roll the towel, before making the final folds, start at the narrow open end of the rectangle and create a tight roll. This will place the edges of the towel in the center of the roll. Store with the folded edges facing up in a basket or out in a cubby.
    Cream towel folded in half long ways

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded from center of rectangle shape

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Cream towel folded into thirds to make narrow packet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Towel rolled from long rectangle shape for storing

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo