My messy drawers were stressing me out, so I tried the best clothes folding hacks

Jeans storage in a dresser showing different colored jeans stored in a file format.
(Image credit: Holly Cockburn)

If, like me, your cupboards and drawers are zones where you throw things in and simply hope for the best, you're probably also keen to hear about the best clothes-folding hacks.

No matter how hard I have tried to keep a tidy and ordered system afloat (I even invested in one of the best irons!), somehow, life always gets in the way, and my clothes storage descends into chaos once again. Cupboard and drawer space are a privilege in my small apartment, so I worked to create dedicated spots under my bed and on top of my wardrobe where I could store chunky sweaters and weighty jeans. This was good in practice - I made the most of otherwise unused space and could use my actual wardrobe hanging space for longer items like dresses. In reality, I started to bundle clothes up and throw them in, so the space ended up messy and disorganized. 

Not only were my clothes creased and uncared for, but the clutter was beginning to stress me out. With hybrid working more common now, bedrooms are sometimes also a space to work, so I really wanted to revert back to a calm and neat organization system. 

Cue the experts from The Spark Joy Collective. I enlisted their help to find the best Marie Kondo-inspired clothes-folding hacks that don't mimic origami. I needed simple methods that I would actually follow when folding up my laundry, and they provided the best methods that have kept my drawers significantly tidier and easy to pick from. So, whether you're overhauling your laundry routine from finding the best front load washers to the best dryers, or you're just looking for a few tips to upgrade your skillset, these clothes folding hacks should be at the top of your list to try. 

The best clothes folding hacks

Personally, laundry is one of my favorite household tasks. I follow all of the best laundry tips on what you can and can't put in your washing machine, and I even discovered how to fold fitted sheets recently, so I'm well on my way to cracking the laundry regime. And while I do make an effort to fold my laundry immediately once it's dry, I haven't yet nailed how to keep the clothes in this state when busy daily life gets in the way. 

Mimi Bogelund, Organization Expert at The Spark Joy Collective, was heavily inspired and trained by Marie Kondo's file folding method. She says that folding clothes properly "helps to save so much space and means you can see everything you've got at a glance."

The file folding method stores garments upright, creating a system akin to what you might see in office cabinets, which allows you to quickly visualize each item. I had previously stored my jeans on top of one another, so the items at the bottom were very quickly disregarded - a waste of space and money.  

Before you start to incorporate Mimi's folding clothes hacks, it's important to think about what needs hanging or folding and where each garment type should be stored. Marie Kondo says, "The fabric will tell you if it wants to be folded or hung," so if the material is silky, fluid, or even excessively bulky, then it's best to hang. Folding works well with denim, wool (as you don't want to distort the shape), and cotton, which requires minimal care. 

1. Jeans

My jeans storage was the number one area I wanted to fix. It sat at the bottom of my dresser and was full to the brim with denim. This meant that I only reached for the two pairs of jeans at the top of the pile, as this was all I saw. I felt like I wasn't utilizing all of my clothes, and instead, the same two pairs were on constant rotation in my laundry basket. 

Luckily, thanks to their rigid construction, jeans are one of the easiest items to fold. Mimi advised the following file system that I attempted in my own drawer, and I'm pleased to report it has made the drawer easier to open and close and helped me to vary my outfits. 

1. Fold  

Start by folding the jeans in half lengthways to create a rectangle. Then, tuck in the material sticking out. 

2. Concertina  

The shape you're aiming for is a concertina style. Fold the jeans into half, then again into three.  

3. Place into drawer

Once you have folded each pair, Mimi says "store the jeans like book ends, upright in the drawer or in a container". 

2. Tops

Tops were a trickier beast to tackle. They come in different shapes and materials, which can make it difficult to create a cohesive storage system. Some of my 'nicer' blouses and tops are hung up, so it was mainly basic t-shirts that I wanted to keep folded in my dresser. I don't need to visualize these as easily, and they don't tend to crease, so I was happy to undertake a similar file-folding technique.

Here's The Spark Joy Collective's expert advice for folding tops.

What the expert says...

When it comes to utilizing the space you have, Mimi Bogelund advises to "Use 80-90% of the space rather than cramming the drawer full." While it can be tempting to store as much as possible, this makes it harder to find what you're looking for and actually contributes to more mess in the long term. 

1. Find a flat surface

Mimi advises to "use a flat surface like the bed, a table, or the ironing board" to place your tops on before folding. 

2. Smooth out creases

Use your hands as a makeshift iron to smooth out any creases and ensure you're beginning with a flat item. 

3. Start folding 

"Create a rectangle by folding two sides to the middle so that they overlap in three layers," Mimi says. 

4. Include excess material 

Once you have folded the bulk of the top, make sure any ties, straps, or hoods are included within the rectangle. 

5. Fold smaller 

Next, fold into two or three so that you have a succinct package that can stand on its own.  

Under bed sweater storage in a clear container showing multi-colored sweaters.

(Image credit: Holly Cockburn)

3. Sweaters

My sweaters currently live in a large clear container under my bed, mostly because they take up so much space. I'm especially conscious of storing wool sweaters carefully so that they don't lose their shape, but recently, their under-bed home has become a cluttered mess with zero structure. With such a big container, organizing sweaters and hoodies should be a simple job for me, and the file method has again been easy to implement.  

Mimi has two simple steps for the ultimate sweater-folding hack: 

1. Start to fold  

If there's a hood, fold this into the main section of the sweater. Next, fold in the arms. Then, you can fold it into two or three rectangles so that it forms a file-like shape.  

2. Store

When each sweater is folded, you can store them next to each other like bookends. 

4. Underwear

How you organize an underwear drawer tends to completely divide people. You're either the type to use individual containers to separate out items, or you have a catch-all system that requires you to root through the drawer each morning. Unfortunately, I'm a member of the latter category, so this meant I had a lot of work to do in organizing my underwear drawer.  

Mimi's advice focused on folding each item differently, so while you might have to take a bit more time on laundry day, it will make your mornings far easier. 

• Padded bras: Fasten the hooks and store by color, upright with each bra. 

• Unpadded bras: Fold so that each cup nests within the other, then store upright by color. 

• Briefs: Lay flat, fold the crotch towards the waistband, then fold it into three from the sides to create a 'sushi' roll. 

Tips on maintaining tidy drawers and cupboards

All in all, The Spark Joy Collective's clothes-folding hacks were actually very simple to follow. I was expecting difficult origami-style methods, but once you've folded in the format once, then it's easy to replicate. The difficulty comes with maintaining this system. Once hectic daily life resumes it can be hard to stick to the routine, which is why tips on maintaining tidy drawers and cupboards might be the most useful takeaway.

Design your own laundry routine so that you wash, dry, fold, and store one load at a time. 

Don't let your washing pile up. Large loads take much longer to fold and can appear a daunting task, so complete your laundry little and often.  

Utilize boxes and containers wherever possible to add structure in drawers and on shelves. 

Give each clothing item a home. Separate clothes by type and then color to make an easy-to-follow system.  

Holly Cockburn
TTR Features Editor, Cleaning

Holly, the former Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, brings a wealth of experience in creating practical home content. With a background in freelance writing and product copy, she is dedicated to producing thorough features that help readers make the most of their homes and gardens.

With contributions from
  • The Organised Home and Life & The Spark Joy Collective