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Why and How to File Fold

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If you are looking for a way to organize your clothes and save space in your drawers, you might want to try the file fold method. I’ve been using this method of folding for over ten years but it’s been recently popularized by Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It allows you see everything in a drawer at once and keeps your clothes much neater.

overhead view of pile of colorful unfolded clothes next to neatly folded clothes in drawer.

This method, also known as the konmari method, is surprisingly simple and revolutionary, turning messy clothes piles into neat, orderly files. The result? An easily identifiable and accessible piece of clothing that stands independently without undoing the rest of the clean, organized drawer.

It not only straightens up your dresser drawers, but can make more space in your closet when you know how to fold more clothing items.

Benefits of File Folding

One of my very first blog posts was about how to fold and organize t-shirts. This was before anyone knew about the knomari method of folding. In the post I share how using the file folding method made organizing easier and daily life much easier. 

The benefits of Marie Kondo’s folding method are not only aesthetic, but also practical. You will often find that when clothes are folded this way they take up much less space.

File folding can help you:

  • Maximize the space in your drawers and fit more clothes in each drawer
  • Maximize hanging space when you learn how to fold everything that makes sense for your needs
  • Makes decluttering easier by making it obvious how many of each types of items you have (and how many you may not need to keep)
  • Clothes are less likely to wrinkle
  • Simplify getting ready in the morning since you easily see every item
  • Maintain order and neatness in your drawers because it’s easy to remove just one item without fighting with a stack of items
  • Simplify your laundry routine and make it easier to put away your clothes
  • It my favorite folding hack to use in organizing clothes and is popular with many other professional organizers, too. 
  • File folding allows you to easily customize the folding steps to accommodate your specific clothing or drawer size:
    • Fold the sides of items to make a smaller or wider size
    • Adapt the final size by folding the items into thirds, fourths or even smaller
  • You can use this method of folding clothes in many different ways:
    • Fold and store off-season clothing so they’re easy to see and access.
    • Packing a suitcase
    • Folding laundry and organizing a linen closet

Konmari Folding Method

Marie Kondo’s method involves folding your clothes in a way that allows you to store them vertically, like files in a filing cabinet. This way, you can see all your clothes at a glance and easily pick the ones you want to wear, without having to dig through piles of messy shirts and pants.

Folding clothes with the konmari method is a systematic method that revolutionizes space utilization and organization.

How to File Fold

The primary step is to smooth out any creases and make the item flat.

Items are typically folded to create a small rectangle. Depending in the size of the item, the size of the packet of clothes folded this way will vary. The goal is to fold clothes into neat rectangles to standardize the shape and for all similar item to be folded in similar sized packets. 

t-shirts neatly folded in drawer and organized by color

How to File Fold T-Shirts

T-shirts are often one of the first items of clothing people try.

  1. Lay the t-shirt with the logo or design face down on a flat surface.
  2. Line up side and bottom seams and smooth out wrinkles.
  3. Fold the t-shirt lengthwise into thirds. Fold one side into about edge of the collar, then fold the other side over and tuck the sleeve.
  4. You are left with a long rectangle. Fold the top toward the bottom lengthwise. Stop about one inch from the bottom of the t-shirt.
  5. Fold the remaining t-shirt lengthwise into thirds. Make sure the graphic is facing out in your drawer so you can easily see which t-shirt you need.

How to File Fold Long Sleeve Shirts and Sweaters

Long sleeve shirts and sweaters follow a similar method as t-shirts, but you need to make sure you tuck the sleeves in correctly.

  1. Lay the shirt or sweater out flat, like above.
  2. Line up all sides and the bottom. Smooth out creases.
  3. Fold the right side in about  1/3 of the way to about the edge of the collar. Spread the sleeve out toward the left.
  4. Fold the sleeve toward the right at the edge of the shirt. Fold the sleeve downward in a triangle shape so it’s flush with the fold.
  5. Fold in the other side, like above.
  6. Fold the top toward the bottom. Depending on the size of the items and the drawer, fold it into:
    1. Thirds
    2. Half and half again
    3. Thirds and then half again
    4. The size that will work for you

How to File Fold Pants

Pants are another easy item to file fold. 

  1. Lay the pants flat on a surface.
  2. Line up all seams and hems. Smooth out wrinkles
  3. Fold one leg on top of the other.
  4. Fold them in half from top to bottom.
  5. Fold them to fit your space. Adapt the final size by folding into:
    1. Thirds
    2. Half and half again
    3. Thirds and then half again
    4. The size that will work for you

How to File Fold Shorts

Shorts are similar to pants, but you might need to adjust them depending on their length and shape. 

  1. Lay the shorts flat on a surface.
  2. Line up all seams and hems. Smooth out creases
  3. Fold one leg on top of the other.
  4. Fold them in thirds from top to bottom.
  5. If they are long enough, fold in 1/2 from bottom to top and then in half again.
  6. If they are too short or have a curved hemline, skip this step and fold them lengthwise into halves or thirds.

How to File Fold Socks

Socks can be file folded, too.

  1. Lay one sock flat on a surface.
  2. Place another sock of the same pair on top of it, aligning their toes and heels.
  3. Depending on the size of the socks and your space, fold them:
    1. In half from toe to cuff and then in half again
    2. In thirds from cuff to toe
    3. As many times as needed to fit your space
hands holding clear container of neatly folded brightly colored socks.

How to File Fold Underwear

Underwear can also be file folded. The two techniques below can be adapted to any size or type of underwear, even thongs.

Panties or Briefs

  1. Lay the panties flat on a surface, with the front side facing down.
  2. Smooth out wrinkles and line up edges.
  3. Fold the crotch up toward the waistband.
  4. Fold them in half from left to right or right to left, depending on your preference.
  5. Fold them lengthwise to fit your space.

Boxers

  1. Lay the underwear flat on a surface, with the front side facing up.
  2. Smooth out creases and line up edges.
  3. Fold them in thirds from left to right or right to left, depending on your preference.
  4. Fold them in half, thirds or fourths to fit your space.

Folding Resources

My Favorite
 
Description:

USED IN RETAIL STORES (but are also perfect for laundry!): EzPacking folding boards are used in retail stores to help workers fold tee shirts, long sleeves, dress shirts, and sweaters into neat piles for retail display; This shirt folding device can also be used at home to help fold laundry into neat piles for storage in drawers; While packing for a trip, use the folding boards to help you neatly pack clothing items into packing cubes or directly into a suitcase


Description:
  • Easily fold thin, medium and thick clothing such as dresses, pants, trousers, shorts, pajamas, short-sleeved and long-sleeved T-shirts, towels, uniforms, duvet covers, sheets, etc.
  • Simple steps can quickly make the clothes flatter and neater, and fold all the clothes into a perfect uniform size 9.44"x11.42". unfolded size is 27.56''x22.44''.
  • The shirt folding board is easily folded up, of which folded size is 9.5''x11.6'', which will not take up much storage space.
3.5
3.5
N/A
$16.99
My Favorite
Description:

USED IN RETAIL STORES (but are also perfect for laundry!): EzPacking folding boards are used in retail stores to help workers fold tee shirts, long sleeves, dress shirts, and sweaters into neat piles for retail display; This shirt folding device can also be used at home to help fold laundry into neat piles for storage in drawers; While packing for a trip, use the folding boards to help you neatly pack clothing items into packing cubes or directly into a suitcase


3.5
N/A
Description:
  • Easily fold thin, medium and thick clothing such as dresses, pants, trousers, shorts, pajamas, short-sleeved and long-sleeved T-shirts, towels, uniforms, duvet covers, sheets, etc.
  • Simple steps can quickly make the clothes flatter and neater, and fold all the clothes into a perfect uniform size 9.44"x11.42". unfolded size is 27.56''x22.44''.
  • The shirt folding board is easily folded up, of which folded size is 9.5''x11.6'', which will not take up much storage space.
3.5
$16.99
02/28/2024 09:53 am GMT

More File Folding Tips

Folding Clothes – Tips on how to decide how the best way to fold clothes for your unique situation. Tips on folding clothes for 8 different types of clothes styles.

How to Fold Pajamas and Organize Them – Easy-to-follow explanation of how to fold pajamas from a pro organizer. How to store and organize pajamas neatly to keep drawers organized.

How to Fold Jeans & Organize Jeans – Learn how to fold & organize jeans like a professional to save space & make your drawer or closet tidy. Works for pants, too.

How to Fold Socks – What’s the best way to fold socks? Let me show you how to fold socks neatly 6 different ways. You can choose the best way to store socks for you.

How to Fold a Sweatshirt – A simple tutorial for the best way to fold a sweatshirt so that it stays neatly organized in a closet or drawer. Works for all sizes.

How to Fold Underwear and Best Way to Organize Them – It’s easy to organize your dresser when you know how to fold underwear with these 20+ tips from a professional organizer. Includes free cheat sheet printable.

How to Fold a Hoodie – Have you struggled with how to best fold a hoodie? Three tutorials for different folding methods for a hoodie will help find what works best for you.

How to Fold and Hang Sweaters – The best way to store a sweater – to properly hang a sweater, with no shoulder bumps & it doesn’t ruin or stretch out.

How to Fold Shorts to Save Space in Luggage – Everything you need to know about how to fold shorts to save space in luggage, including 4 different folding options and step-by-step images.

The Best Tips on How to Fold Shirts in a Suitcase – 35 tips on how to fold shirts in a suitcase. Includes tips for dress shirts, t-shirts & polo shirts with packing tips & product ideas.

How to Fold Fabric – It’s simple to fold fabric to keep it neat & tidy in your craft room. Folding fabric in uniform sizes makes it easier to keep it organized.

How to Fold Curtains and Organize for a Move – Simple tips and tutorial showing how to fold curtains to organize them for a move and for long-term storage.

FAQs about How to File Fold Clothes

Does file folding make the clothes more wrinkled?

No, file folding does not make the clothes more wrinkled, as long as you fold them neatly and smoothly. In fact, file folding can prevent creases by avoiding stacking clothes on top of each other, which can cause pressure and friction.

How do you keep the clothes from falling over when using the file folding technique?

Many people don’t experience this problem since their clothes fill the drawer well. However you can:
Use drawer dividers or boxes to create sections and compartments in your drawers
Use bookends or other objects to prop up your clothes in larger drawers
Adjust the size and shape of your folds to fit your drawers snugly
Fill your drawers with enough clothes to create some tension and stability
Check out these free ideas to keep drawers neatly organized.

With file folding, how do you tell the difference between similarly colored shirts?

With file folding, you can tell the difference between similarly colored shirts by making sure that the graphic or logo of each shirt is facing out in your drawer. You can also arrange your shirts by color, pattern, style, or occasion to make it easier to find what you need.

Does file folding take a long time?

File folding might take a little longer than regular folding at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes very quick and easy. File folding can also save you time in the long run by making it easier to put away your clothes and find what you want to wear.

What should I hang and what should I fold?

According to Marie Kondo, you should hang clothes that look happier when hung, such as dresses, jackets, coats, skirts, blouses, and anything that is delicate or prone to creasing. You should fold clothes that look happier when folded, such as t-shirts, sweaters, jeans, shorts, socks, underwear, and anything that is thick or stretchy.

File folding is a great method to organize your clothes and save space in your drawers. It can also help you declutter your clothes and keep only the ones that spark joy. Happy folding!

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