Marie Kondo Folding: Clothes, Shirts, Pants, and More

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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So you’ve finished discarding the clothes that don’t spark joy for you. Now you have a big pile of clothes to organize and fold.

How does Marie Kondo advocate folding? Here’s our complete guide to folding clothes with the Konmari Method.

Marie Kondo Folding Overview

We generally have two ways of organizing our clothing: folding items to go into drawers, or hanging items in a closet. It might seem like the two options are equally as efficient, but folding is a more effective way to organize your clothing (as long as it’s not clothing that demands to be hung, like collared shirts or dresses–we’ll cover that in the next section).

  • Hanging might seem like an easier option to help keep things tidy, but actually having a lot of hanging clothes is one reason why our closets are bursting. Not to mention, when our closets are packed with hanging clothes, getting anything in and out is difficult and creates more mess.

Neatly folding your clothes will help you solve even the most annoying storage problem. Per Marie Kondo, folding has a number of other benefits too:

  • Folding an item of clothing is your opportunity to thank it for providing you support and protection.
  • Folding allows you to notice your clothes and their condition in detail.
  • As you smooth a piece of clothing out, you touch it with your hands and your energy transfers into it.
    • Healing in Japanese is te-ate, literally translating to “apply hands.” Touch has power–children are comforted when their parents stroke their heads or hug them, and massages by an actual person are more effective than sitting in a massage chair. Likewise, folding can have a positive effect on our clothes.

First, visualize what your drawers will look like after you’ve folded everything. The goal should be to see every item of clothing in the drawer at a glance, and be able to grab something easily without messing everything else up.

The key to achieving that goal is vertical storage instead of horizontal. This allows you to access your clothing easier, without having to mess up a pile to get to an item on the bottom.

  • You might think this means there are more wrinkles in your clothes, but that isn’t the case. Wrinkling has to do with pressure–if you fold correctly, your clothes will be folded up but the fabric will be taut, and it won’t cause your clothes to wrinkle.
  • When clothes are folded in a pile, the pile puts pressure on the clothes, and this is actually what causes them to wrinkle–but we’ll be avoiding this by going for vertical storage instead of horizontal.

How to Fold, Marie Kondo Style

How to fold correctly: fold every item of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle that can stand up on its own.

  • First, fold both sides of the garment towards the center–fold the left side of your shirt towards the center, then the right side, and then fold the sleeves in whatever way creates a long rectangle.
  • Then, pick up one small end of the rectangle and fold it to the other small end, leaving a small gap.
  • Finally, repeat the step above, folding the garment into smaller halves or thirds.
  • (Shortform note: It can be hard to understand this folding concept through reading. Here’s the master herself showing you how to fold a number of common clothing items.)
  • Every item of clothing will need a different number of folds to get it into the right shape. It may take some experimentation to find that sweet spot. Keep adjusting the height of the folds until you find the exact right amount for the specific piece of clothing.
    • Heavier items of clothing will need less folds to make them stand up. Thinner items of clothing will need more folds to give them the structure to stand.

Since this can be pretty hard to get right, we’ve curated the best videos on Konmari folding for every type of item:

Marie Kondo Folding Shirts

Marie Kondo Folding Pants and Jeans

Marie Kondo Folding Shorts

Marie Kondo Folding Towels

Marie Kondo Folding Sweaters

Marie Kondo Folding Tank Tops/Camisoles

Marie Kondo Folding Sheets

Marie Kondo Folding Socks

Marie Kondo Folding: Clothes, Shirts, Pants, and More

Allen Cheng

Allen Cheng is the founder of Shortform. He has a passion for non-fiction books (having read 200+ and counting) and is on a mission to make the world's best ideas more accessible to everyone. He reads broadly, covering a wide range of subjects including finance, management, health, and society. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and attended medical training at the MD/PhD program at Harvard and MIT. Before Shortform, he co-founded PrepScholar, an online education company.

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