How to Fold Your Clothes Like Marie Kondo, the Queen of Modern-Day Organization

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Even if you haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or watched her insanely popular Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, chances are you’ve at least heard of Marie Kondo. After all, she’s everywhere these days, and for good reason: her organizational tips and strategies are helping folks around the world declutter their lives.

And though she’s got plenty of tricks up her sleeves (mostly involving boxes on boxes on boxes), the internet’s been particularly captivated by her unique style of folding and storing clothes, which is at once super effective and deceptively simple.

Curious to learn the KonMari method but don’t have time to check out her show or book? Never fear! I’m here to break it down for you so you’ll finally be hip to everyone’s favorite obsession.

Obviously, before you fold your clothes, you have to wash them well. Learn all about that here and once you’ve mastered the art of laundering, come back and gain these exceptional folding skills.

How to Fold Your Clothes

Shirts

Keep in mind that all of these tips are intended for clothes you’d normally store in a chest of drawers, so when I say “shirt,” I’m referring here to T-shirts.  The process is pretty straightforward, and typically involves the following steps:

  1. Start by laying out your shirt flat on a bed or couch. Make sure the edges are crisp and straight.
  2. Imagine a straight line running down the center of your shirt. Grab the right side of the shirt and fold it across the center of the line. Before the right sleeve reaches the left, fold the sleeve in on itself so it forms a long rectangle.
  3. Repeat this fold on the other side, leaving the left side to fall atop the right until your shirt has been transformed into one long rectangle.
  4. Fold the entire rectangle in half, leaving a little space at the bottom.
  5. Fold the shirt in half again or in thirds depending on its size.
  6. If your folds have been crisp and precise, your shirt is now folded and ready to be stood upright in your drawer like files in a cabinet.

In her book Spark Joy, Kondo says the best way to approach folding is to treat it like origami, so make sure you’re making sharp and purposeful creases with each fold.

Pants

Once you get the shirt-folding technique down pat, you can easily apply it to pants — I’m talking joggers, sweats, athletic wear, and even dress pants.

  1. Start by laying out your pants on a flat surface.
  2. Fold one leg on top of the other, lining up the seams perfectly. You can use creases to ensure rigidity and uniformity.
  3. If the seat of your pants sticks out, fold it onto one of the legs to create a clean line.
  4. Fold the legs upward from the cuff all the way to the waistband. Leave a small gap at the top.
  5. Now, repeat the fold until you’ve run out of pant. Then, perform the same stand-up test we did for the shirts — if it can be filed in a drawer, you can store it, if it doesn’t, you’ll need to try again.

Dress Shirts

Though Kondo suggests hanging items like dress shirts, she does have a general method for folding them if you’re pressed for closet space or simply want to store seasonal ware in a container or drawer.

  1. Lay the shirt button side down on a flat surface, straightening out the fabric so it’s nice and crisp.
  2. Fold each side of the shirt much like you did the T-shirt (over and back) until you’ve formed the two sides into an even rectangle.
  3. Take extra care with the collar! Kondo says one of the biggest mistakes people make with dress shirts is wrinkling the collar, so make sure you’re not losing its structure as you fold.
  4. With your rectangle fully formed, fold the top half over the bottom half to make a single square, with the buttons now on top as if the shirt were being displayed in a department store.
  5. Place the shirt flat in your drawer and feel free to stack others on top of it.

Underwear

Yes, Marie Kondo even knows how to fold underwear better than you. While the tried-and-true practice of balling up your briefs and boxers is technically fine, the Netflix star prescribes the following method.

  1. Lay your underwear on a flat surface.
  2. Pick up bottom of legs (or crotch for briefs) and fold it toward the waistband.
  3. Fold each side over the crotch until you get the approximation of an even, uniform shape.
  4. Roll from the bottom up until the underwear is neat and compact.

And that’s that on that! While Kondo obviously goes into more detail about total bedroom organization in her show and books, these are the basic steps you’ll need to get started on your tidying journey.

Happy folding!

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