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How to Fold and Organize T-Shirts

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Originally published August 2012 and updated August 2020.

Wondering how to fold and organize t-shirts like a professional organizer? I’ve been using the KonMari folding technique since 2012 (before it was a big deal) and I can tell you that it really does work.

woman's hands folding yellow t-shirt neatly with title text underneath reading How to fold t-shirts

I do a lot of my organizing sitting in front of the TV with my family.  Not that we watch a lot of  TV.  Really.  But it’s an easy way to tackle a chore that needs to be done and still spend time with the family.  I call it “couch potato organizing.”

Does that sound easy or lazy?  Maybe it’s both.  Hmm, will have to think on that one.  It’s a great way to not feel guilty. 

  • You’re spending time with the family 
  • Or you’re making your relaxing time relaxing AND productive.
  • You’re ticking chores off your “To Do” list.  Multi-tasking, yea! 

How to Fold and Organize T-shirts

Take your drawer and dump everything out.  It’s okay to dump it, because we’ll be refolding everything before we put it back.

messy pile of t-shirts in a drawer

How to Declutter

Go through every t-shirt with a critical eye and ask yourself:

  • Is this in good condition?
    • Are there any holes or stains?
    • If it’s not in good condition, move it into the donate, recycle or trash pile based on the standards in your community.
  • Is this shirt one I really like?
    • Life is too short to wear things you don’t like. It’s better to have 3 shirts you love than 20 that are ho hum.
    • Move the ones you don’t love to your donate pile.
  • Is this shirt flattering on me?
    • If you like the t-shirt AND it’s flattering, then you should keep it.
  • Is the shirt comfortable?
    • Life is uncomfortable, you don’t need your clothes to add more discomfort.

Once you’ve gone through all the t-shirts, put your donate pile in a bag and take it to donate right away.

The second best choice is to move the bag to another room so you’re not tempted to raid it and steal shirts back.

Now take your keep pile and sort them into piles by color. The colors don’t have to match exactly, just separate them into piles by:

  • white
  • black & grey
  • brown
  • red
  • orange
  • yellow
  • green
  • blue
  • purple

If the shirt has a pattern or multiple colors, pick the dominate color and put it in that pile. Don’t get hung up here, there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a just a tool to help you, not a fence to limit you.

Now look at each different color pile and ask yourself:

  • Do I like this color?
  • Does this color look good on me?

If you answer no, move the shirts to the donate pile. If you just can’t get rid of all of one color, then keep 1 shirt in that color. But if you don’t like the color or it doesn’t look good on you, why are you keeping it at all?

Now ask yourself:

  • Do I have too many of each different color t-shirts?
neatly folded row of t-shirts organized by color with numbers on the purple t-shirts

This was my drawer. My favorite color is purple, but 10 purple shirts would be too many for me. If I had ten, I could wear a different purple shirt every day for a week and a half. Sit with that for a bit.

I decided that 5 purple t-shirts were the right number for me. But, oops, I have 6 in the drawer. It’s clear that I need to choose one to donate.

I can’t tell you the right number for you. Be realistic and practical in deciding how many are the right amount for you.

How to Fold a T-shirt

  1. Take a tee and hold it by the bottom at the side seams. Shake it out to remove wrinkles and lay the t-shirt out flat. Straighten out any wrinkles and use your palm to smooth out smaller wrinkles.
  2. Next take one side and fold it in about 1/4 of the way. 
    1. You can adjust how far in you fold each side to fit your drawer or space.
    2. Fold the sleeve in neatly to prevent wrinkling.
  3. Then fold the other sleeve in the same distance.  Smooth out any wrinkles.
  4. Take the bottom of the shirt and fold it up to the top. The t-shirt is now folded in half. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  5. Fold the shirt in half again so that it is now folded in quarters.
collage of steps on how to fold a t-shirt using an orange tee on a table

Get my 37-page How to Fold Clothes ebook now with images and directions for folding t-shirts and all types of clothing.

collage of pages of how to fold clothing

Organizing T-shirts

Once you have all your shirts folded, you’ll place them back in your drawer or organizing bin.

I highly recommend filing them so they stand up like file folders.

Place the folded edge up and shirts look nice and neat. It also makes it easy to see the logos on the front of shirts. You’ll be amazed at how many more shirts you can fit into your drawer this way. 

t-shirts neatly folded and filed in a drawer

Organize your shirts in a way that makes sense to you.

  • Put all shirts of the same color together.
    • Organizing colors in rainbow or Roy G. Biv order is the most common method.
      • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet
      • White and black can be placed together before or after the string of colors or on each side of the string of colors.
    • I’ve also seen colors organized from light to dark.
      • White to black with colors organized in between in a way that made sense to the client.
    • I’ve even seen colors organized alphabetically.
      • Blue, green, orange, purple, red, yellow
  • Put different style t-shirts together.
    • V-neck
    • Crew neck
    • Hensley
    • Logo
  • Put different themed shirts together.
    • Sports teams
    • Colleges
    • Causes

Organize your t-shirts in a way that makes sense for you.

By placing t-shirts together by color or type, you’ll be able to tell immediately every time you look in the drawer if you have too few or too many of a certain category.  That will help you next time you’re at the store and find a good deal on a shirt. You’ll know if you need more of that color or type. 

It will also help you when you’re getting dressed.  No more digging through the drawer to find a shirt.  Thanks to filing and organizing your t-shirts by category, you’ll be able to see it immediately.

On the next commercial, return the t-shirt drawer (or pile) to your dresser or closet. 

The process of decluttering, folding and organizing your t-shirts should take about 30 minutes (60 minutes if you have a whole lot of shirts).  You can see how it’s easy to take care of your t-shirts while watching a show when you know the steps of how to fold and organize t-shirts.

See my favorite clothes organizing tips, hacks, favorite products and more in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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15 Comments

  1. Lenore, hope you find Organized31 an organizing haven in the chaos of the internet. šŸ™‚ And I’m glad to find another kindred organizing soul.

    1. Thanks, Diana. I’m facinated by your Bento Blog Network. Tons of adorable ideas, especially since I grew up eating traditional bentos.

  2. 1. “Is this in good shape? Are there any holes or stains?” If it’s not in good condition, move it to the Donate pile.

    If there is holes or stains in any of my garments, I just throw them away. This saves the donation center from having to do it. Please ONLY donate things that other people could benefit from having.

    1. Thank you for helping me clarify (I realize I wasn’t as clear as I should have been). If there are holes or stains, do consider whether someone would want to wear the item. Depending on the item and the current styles, holes or tears can be “cool”. Also, please check with the organization accepting your donation. I’ve volunteered at places that take the torn and stained items to sell for rags and thus make some money to help operate the organization. But be sure to check first.

  3. Haha, I totally get you about couch potato organizing! My mom used to fold clean laundry while we watched a movie or something. And I sometimes do couch potato crafting; it works great and I like having the background noise. šŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing at The Fun In Functional!

  4. I love this! My man has so many darn shirts. A few I have hidden cuz I cant stand to look at them haha I know I am bad, but its like puke orange color and uh ya I hid it! I am totally going to do this. I guess the true challange will be for him to keep it nice and neet. Anytime I organize anything of theres (3 boys and my man) its like they “smelled” the fact that I organized there stuff and no kidding within the hour they noticed and then re-due it to there liking. I am dumned being the only female! Thankyou tho I am still doing this as soon as I hit send šŸ™‚

    1. I’ve been doing a less structured version of KonMari folding for years. I like the file folding method, but I alter how I fold to best fit the specific drawer or space. What do you think of it, Lori?

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