How to Fold Socks

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Originally published on October 24, 2014. Updated on October 28, 2019 and August 8, 2022.

If you’ve ever gone through military boot camp, you’ve learned that there is only 1 correct way to fold socks.  While that is true at boot camp, in real life there are at least 6 different ways I can show you how to fold socks. You choose the one that works best for you.

2 hands holding clear bin of colorful neatly folded socks.

I use different folding techniques depending on the size and style of the sock, where the socks will be stored, and the age of the person wearing the socks (and responsible for keeping the sock drawer neat). Let me show you my top options for simple ways and new ways to fold socks.

If you don’t consider the best way to fold your socks, you’ll end up with a messy sock drawer where you can never find a matching pair of socks. So what is the best way to fold and store socks?

messy pile of socks.

Remember – there’s not one right or wrong way to fold socks. Take a few minutes to review these six different ways to fold socks and figure out what will work best for you. I’ve used all these techniques personally and with my family.

Consider the type of socks you’ll be folding when you choose your folding method:

  • Ankle socks
  • Longer socks
  • No show socks
  • Tall socks or knee-high socks
  • Baby socks
  • Dress socks or work socks
  • Short socks
  • Crew socks or calf socks
  • Thicker winter socks
  • Children’s socks

You may find that you prefer to use one folding method for one type of socks and another type for other socks. Find what works best for your drawer space, socks and preferences.

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

collage of pages of how to fold clothing.

How to Fold Socks – 6 Techniques

This works well with small socks. It’s super quick when you’re folding laundry and the socks stay together as a pair in the drawer.

When my children were young and had (teeny tiny) smaller socks, I simply tucked one inside the other.  

I also tuck one sock into the other for low-cut socks and no-show socks.

3 pairs of socks with one tucked inside the other.

Fold the Elastic of the Sock Over

Rather than tucking for longer socks, try the fold over technique. Lay socks on top of each other and simply fold the elastic band of one sock top over both socks.  It’s the easiest way to keep pairs of socks together. If you’re looking for the a quick way to organize your socks, this is it.

I used this technique when my children were young and I knew that they were unlikely to keep their sock drawer neatly organized. 

Rather than frustrate us all by insisting we have rows of neatly folded socks in their dresser drawer, I simply folded the elastic of the socks over and tossed them into the drawer.  My kids could tumble through the pile searching for the pair of socks they wanted and the 2 socks would stay together.

My husband prefers his socks folded this way (wife shaking head and resignedly folding socks over). Remember the best method is the one that works for you and your family.

This also works if you have a large family and too many socks to deal with to take extra time to fold or roll them all into neat bundles.

pair of child's socks and pair of adult socks with the top folded down.

The downside is that it can stretch the elastic of the sock over time. If you’re concerned about the elasticity of your socks, especially dress socks or delicate ones, you may not want to use this folding method.

File Fold or the Konmari Method

I prefer to file fold my socks because they seem to last longer this way. I feel like folding one sock over the other stretches the top of the sock out over time. You can see how I organized my sock drawer for free.

I recommend the file fold to my clients, because it allows you to organize and store your socks so that you can easily see them all in your drawer. It easily produces a uniform look of organized socks. No more rummaging through a pile of socks looking for one specific pair. This is the folding technique popularized by Marie Kondo.

collage of 5 images, 4 of hands folding black pair of socks and 1 of folded socks in bin.

Step 1 – Lay the first sock on a flat surface. Lay the matching sock on top of the first. Line up the edges and smooth out wrinkles.

Step 2 – Depending on the length of the sock, fold the toe of the socks down 1/4 or 1/3 of the way down the length of the sock. How far you fold the sock changes with different lengths of socks so that you end up with a uniform size and shape of the final folded socks.

Step 3 and 4 – Continue folding the sock up to the edge of the elastic band.

Sock Roll

This sock roll method is just as useful as the KonMari method above but is a bit quicker and doesn’t require you to adjust the width of the first fold for different lengths of socks.

Lay the socks on top of each other on a flat surface, starting at the toe end, roll the sock up on top of the top sock. Continue rolling to the end of the socks.

pink socks on table with toe folded up.

This is a great method to gain the benefits of the file fold method with fewer steps.

purple and black socks rolled up next to white and purple striped socks laid out on table.
pink and white socks rolled up on table top.

Or roll them so they can stand up in a drawer organizer or simply side-by-side in the drawer.

hands holding bin with neatly rolled socks.
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Fold Socks Military Style Ranger Roll Method

For those of you on your way to boot camp, let me show you how to fold your sock military style. By the way, I survived folding socks military style when I went to training and I was a training instructor (a drill instructor) in the Air Force, so stand at attention and pay attention.   

You begin by laying the 2 socks on top of each other with the ends lined up. Then starting at the toe of the sock, roll the sock up tightly.

pair of white socks folded 4/5 of the way up.

When you get to the end (the top of the socks), open the outer sock and pull it back around the rolled up socks.

hand holding white socks with top being folded back over rolled up socks.

Straighten the socks out and make sure you have the “smiley” on the top side of the rolled sock. 

The advantage to folding your socks this way is that you can roll them very tight and compact for small spaces. It also works well for travel since they take up less space.  Also, they don’t come unrolled if you have kids tumbling through the socks in the drawer.  However, this way is one of the longest to fold socks.

a pair of white rolled socks next to pair of black rolled up socks on wood table.

Square Method of Folding Socks

This method takes the longest, but produces a tidy finished product. This may be the right way for you if you want a magazine worthy sock drawer.

Step One – Lay the first sock out on a flat surface with the the heel of the socks facing up. Lay the second sock on the middle of the first, lining the opening of the sock up with the edge of the first sock.

Step Two – Fold one side of the first sock over the elastic band of the second sock.

Step Three – Fold the other side of the first sock over the second sock.

collage of 8 images of hands folding socks.

Step 4 – Fold the portion with the folded first sock down towards the toe of the second sock.

Step 5 – Fold it down again.

Step 6 – Fold the toe of the second sock up to the opposite edge of the main part of the folded sock.

Taking these extra steps, creates neatly folded socks.

There you have it – 6 different ways to fold socks. Before folding socks, take 10 minutes and follow these Purging Tips for Socks.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Fold and Store Socks

What is the best way to fold socks?

There’s really not one best way to fold socks. I’ve used each of these methods, the tuck, the roll-over, the file fold or roll, and military style, in different situations and for different family members. You need to find the one that works best for you and your situation.

What is a sock roll?

Also known as a military roll or military style sock fold, the socks are laid one on top of the other with the edges lines up. Starting at the toes of the socks, roll the sock from the toe to the elastic band. When you reach the end of the sock, roll the edge of the outside sock down and over the sock roll.

How do you roll up socks?

To roll socks, smooth the socks out and lay them out with one on top of the other. Starting with the toes, roll the socks up to the top of the sock. You can store the socks like this or roll the top of one sock over the rolled up package to hold them together, military style. See the photos and tutorial above for how to fold socks military style.

How does Marie Kondo fold socks?

Marie Kondo has popularized the file folding method of folding clothes. You can see how to fold socks KonMari style above. I call it file folding or rolling socks.

How do you fold kids’ socks?

When deciding how to fold kids’ socks, you should consider the size of the child’s socks, the child’s age and abilities, the child’s personality and preferences. Choose from the 6 sock folding techniques above, and choose one that works best for your situation. If you’re not sure which will work best, try one and if that doesn’t work, try another until you find one that works well for you.

What’s the best way to store socks?

The best way to store socks is the method that works best for you and your situation.

Some of my favorite ways to store socks are:

graphic showing woman using SockDock tool in front of washing machine.

How do you store socks without stretching them out?

Folding socks, file folding or Marie Kondo style folding, is the best way to store socks so that they don’t stretch out of shape. Whichever technique you choose, make sure it does not involve pulling the elastic band over the socks, which will stretch the elastic. See my tutorials above to see each of the techniques on how to fold socks.

Be sure to pin for later when you need a reference for these different ways and tips to fold socks.

More How to Fold Ideas:

You can find all our best folding tips and clothes storage ideas 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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  1. Hi Susan, who knew there were so many ways to fold socks? I guess you did! šŸ™‚

    I usually just tuck the socks over when I’m feeling uninspired but normally I fold a completely different way – the way my Mom showed me.

    I fold the sock at the heel then open one of the outer socks and pull it back around the fold until the fold is inside at the end.

    It takes a bit longer than tucking the socks but it’s worth the couple seconds to have your socks lie flat in the drawer and not ruin the top of your socks.

    I like the way the socks looked rolled. I think I will give that one a try.

    Now you have to show me how do you fold your underpants? I fold three different ways for my family. šŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing. Darlene

    1. Darlene, you’ve introduced me to a new way to fold socks. I’ll have to give your way a try. Funny you ask about underwear. When I started blogging, my kids made me promise to never show the family’s underwear on the blog. I’ve been meaning to cut out some paper underwear for demonstration purposes. You’ve just motivated me. Stay tuned.

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  3. Hi Susan – I’m a roller. I roll everything. Everything. Don’t know why, but that’s how I roll…. tee hee. Hugs, Holly

  4. I do the tuck because I think the fold over stretches out the top of the sock. Of course I have a young boy so more often than not his wear out from use and repeated soaking and washing and bleaching.

    Found this on In and Out of the Kitchen.

  5. I’ve never heard of rolling your socks, but I love this idea! I think I’m going to start doing this. It looks like it would keep your sock drawer looking real organized and clean (which are two things I love!). Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  6. What’s the point of these? I just literally line ’em up and fold them like a book. No mess, no fuss, no stretch, and fast.

    like in this pick – just stack ’em like that.

    1. I’ve found that they fall over in our drawers, Wolfie, when I stack them. But I should have added that as folding option number five.

  7. It’s funny how interested I am in how things can be folded:) I tell my clients, folding is about fit, and there are options!

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