The Marie Kondo Folding Method is Life-Changing – How to Do It Yourself!
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Did you know that Marie Kondo once worked as a Shinto shrine maiden, or miko, for five years? If so, it will come as no surprise that the Marie Kondo folding method is more akin to a gentle meditation or origami session than a tedious chore.
Find out how the KonMari method of file folding clothes vertically can solve your storage woes — and maybe even bring a little joy to laundry time!
What are the benefits of the KonMari folding method?
Why use the KonMari folding method?
There are several benefits to folding clothing like Marie Kondo; they include:
- Vertical folding will save storage space
- You can see every time of clothing in a drawer at a glance
- Your clothes will be neater, well-loved, and last longer
READ MORE: 101 Marie Kondo Quotes to Spark Joy in Your Life
1. Vertical clothing saves storage space
You might find you actually have too much room after folding your clothing vertically – what an interesting problem to have!
Here is a quote from her book:
Although it depends somewhat on the thickness of the clothes in question, you can fit from twenty to forty pieces of folded clothing in the same amount of space required to hang ten.Marie Kondo
2. You can see each item at a glance with file folding
Think about the “normal” method of folding clothing, which is to fold and stack the clothing on top of each other, layer by layer.
When clothing is stacked in your drawer you can only see the item that is on the very top of the pile, meaning you will need to dig down and search for other items that may be underneath.
However, with a vertical storage system, you can open your drawer and see every item of clothing at a glance!
3. Your clothing will be happier
Kondo also believes that when you take your clothing in your hands, smooth out the wrinkles, and fold it neatly you are transmitting energy, which in turn has a positive effect on clothing.
Pulling the clothing taut, lovingly smoothing out the wrinkles as you go, folding them neatly — all of these actions are an expression of love and appreciation, which is natural if you declutter correctly using the KonMari method and surround yourself with only those items that spark joy!
FOR THE FAMILY: 10 Minimalism with Kids Tips to Save Your Motherhood
Grab a FREE 5-page KonMari checklist and get started decluttering!
How to use Marie Kondo’s folding method in your daily life
I can honestly say that file folding clothing has revolutionized not only our closets and drawers but also laundry time and travel.
I no longer dread folding laundry — I love sitting down to fold clean clothes into neat little rectangles!
In fact, when we decluttered our entire home down to eight suitcases to move overseas, I used the vertical folding method to pack our suitcases and was able to fit everything neatly and perfectly inside.
Which was great because we were literally living out of said suitcases for two months while we looked for housing. 🙂
Our current rental has a beautiful built-in closet with very deep drawers.
Using the vertical folding method I am able to fit ALL the clothing for our family of four inside easily, with room to spare — in fact, I can fit four seasons of kid’s clothing into a single drawer.
Talk about wow!
UPDATE: We moved into a new home and now have a few *issues* with the vertical folding technique. Read more about that and what else Marie Kondo got “wrong”. (TBH, still adore her tho!)
How to fold clothing like Marie Kondo:
Here are a few little KonMari tips and rules to help you fold your clothing with love and beauty, just like Marie Kondo.
- The ultimate goal is to achieve a small, folded rectangle
- When folded properly, the clothing should be able to stand upright on its own
- Send love through your palms while folding
- Fold by halves and thirds
- Store vertically (in a shoebox or other box if possible)
You will see mention of “leave a gap” when folding clothing.
The small gap allows space for the clothing being folded to move and settle into place and get the perfect fold.
Remember, the thicker and larger clothing is, the more space it will take up, regardless of the folding method.
Case in point, dense and bulky knits sweaters will take up much more space than, say, soft jersey T-shirts would occupy.
Get personal help folding clothing from Marie Kondo herself!
I hope that this guide turns you into a KonMari folding pro; if you feel like you want to dig in even further, don’t forget she has an entire book on the topic!
This book includes lovely illustrations and descriptions on how to fold all types of clothing, in Marie Kondo’s own words!
How to fold like Marie Kondo
KonMari Folding: How to fold towels
How to fold a towel with the KonMari method:
- Lay the towel flat, with the tag up and fold it across the long end to long end (not pictured)
- Fold it lengthwise again
- Fold the towel by 1/3
- Fold by 1/3 a final time
- Store towels vertically
KonMari Folding: How to fold pants, jeans, and leggings
How to fold pants, jeans, and leggings with the KonMari method:
- Place the pants flat, zipper up
- Fold them in half so that the zipper is on the inside
- Fold them in half lengthwise, ankle to waist (leave a small gap at the top)
- Fold the pants by 1/3
- Fold by 1/3 a final time
- Store pants vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold shorts
How to fold shorts with the KonMari method:
- Place the shorts flat, zipper up
- Fold them in half so that the zipper is on the inside
- Fold the shorts by 1/3 (leave a small gap)
- Fold by 1/3 a final time
- Store shorts vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold skirts
When folding skirts with the KonMari method you need to consider the length of the skirt.
The folding method below works well for A-Line and pencil skirts, but if you have a maxi skirt you might choose to instead fold it like a dress as described further down.
How to fold skirts with the KonMari method:
- Place the skirt flat, zipper up
- Fold 1/3 towards the center, with the zipper on the inside
- Fold the other 1/3 towards the center (you should have a long rectangle)
- Fold hem towards waist by 1/3 (leave a small gap)
- Fold by 1/3 a final time
- Store skirt vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold dresses
How to fold dresses with the KonMari method:
- Lay the dress flat, front up
- Fold one side 1/3 way across the center
- Fold the other 1/3 across (you should have a long rectangle)
- Fold in half, neckline towards the hem (leave a small gap)
- Fold by 1/3 towards the hem
- Fold by 1/3 a final time
- Store dress vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold shirts
Two mistakes people often make when folding shirts with the KonMari method:
- Laying the shirt front down
- Having the collar facing outward
The front of the shirt should be on the outside, especially if has a logo, so that you can identify the shirt at a glance. Therefore it should be laid front down.
Also, when folded properly no part of the collar or neckline should be visible when the shirts are stored vertically.
Sweaters and hoodies can be folded the same way as shirts, except the front of the hoodie faces up for the hoodie if it has a zipper. The long arms will be folded back just like the shirt sleeves, and the hoodie is laid down on top of the sleeves once they are folded.
How to fold shirts with the KonMari method:
- Place the shirt flat, front down
- Fold the right 1/3 towards the center
- Fold the sleeve back halfway
- Fold the other 1/3 towards the center
- Fold the other sleeve back halfway (you should have a long rectangle)
- Fold the neckline towards the waist (leave a small gap)
- Fold by 1/3 toward the waist
- Fold by 1/3 a final time (collar should be hidden)
- Store shirt vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold socks
How to fold socks with the KonMari method:
- Lay socks flat
- Place one sock on top of the other
- Fold it in half, toe to cuff (leave a small gap)
- Fold it in half again
- Store socks vertically
KonMari Folding: how to fold underwear
This folding technique is good for all underwear types, including thongs, bikini bottoms, and boy short-style underwear.
How to fold underwear with the KonMari method:
- Lay the underwear flat
- Fold in half, crotch towards the waist
- Fold by 1/3 across vertically
- Fold the other 1/3 across
- Fold in half
KonMari Folding: how to fold scarves
Because scarves are very soft and loose and can be quite large, Marie Kondo actually recommends rolling them rather than folding them.
Depending on the size of your scarf, you may fold the scarf in thirds or in halves. Again, this depends on the size of your scarves and the size of the container you want to store them in.
How to fold scarves with the KonMari method:
- Lay the scarf flat, with the tag up and fold it across the long end to long end (not pictured)
- Fold the scarf by 1/3 across
- Fold the scarf by another 1/3 (you should have a long rectangle)
- Roll the scarf from one end to the other
- Store scarves rolled
KonMari folding method YouTube video
This “how to fold” guide includes the nine most common clothing items that benefit from vertical folding.
However, if you would like to see the complete 10-minute video on how to fold absolutely ANYTHING, including hoodies, fitted sheets, and men’s collared shirts, you should definitely watch the full video below.
This KonMari folding YouTube video includes all of the items above as well as:
- how to fold fitted sheets
- how to fold hoodies
- how to fold dress shirts
- how to fold long-sleeved shirts
- how to fold bathing suits (one- and two-piece)
- and more…
Marie Kondo “KonMari Folding” FAQs
Now that I have been using the KonMari method of folding clothes for several years now I have definitely learned the ins, outs, and so many KonMari folding secrets!
So let me share some KonMari folding tips with you, now!
1. How do you decide what to fold versus what to hang with the KonMari method?
While Marie Kondo does prefer clothing to be folded rather than hung, she allows you to make the decision based on your wardrobe and how your clothing feels “happiest”.
As for us, I prefer to hang dress shirts, maxi dresses, suits, and long-sleeved blouses versus hanging them.
It really is a personal decision based on how much space you have and what clothing storage method feels best to you!
2. Do clothes get wrinkled being folded vertically?
Not at all!
Because one of the key steps of the KonMari folding method is to smooth the clothing before you start folding, infusing it with affection and care, you are pulling out all the wrinkles and making the clothing taut before folding and storing.
As long as you smooth out the wrinkles in advance, your clothing should remain lovely and wrinkle-free!
3. How do you stop the clothing from falling over once it is folded and put in the drawers?
If you use Marie Kondo’s folding technique properly the folded clothing should stand upright inside of the drawers – that’s in a perfect world, of course!
But we don’t live in a perfect world and neither do our dresser drawers, so here are some of the main reasons clothing would fall over.
- The drawers are getting empty (hey, it’s almost laundry day)
- The clothing is made of flimsy or slippery material, such as satin, which does not hold it’s shape well
- Your children or husbands are carelessly slamming the drawers, causing the contents to shift and fall
Luckily, all of these problems have a simple solution.
You can use small boxes — even free shoeboxes! — or expandable drawer organizers to keep items in place; even when laundry day is drawing near, the rigid sides of the boxes and organizers will hold the clothing nicely in place!
PS, for clothing that you prefer to hang versus fold, nude velvet hangers are LIFE-CHANGING! They stop clothing from slipping off the hangers and also prevent friction wear.
4. How does Marie Kondo fold oddly-shaped clothing?
When in doubt, always remember the golden rule of the KonMari folding method: fold by halves and thrids until the clothing is in a neat rectangle!
When dealing with weird-shaped clothing pieces, fold in any straps, bits, or bobbles into the center, then just keep folding until you have a rectangle that fits in your drawer.
5. Does KonMari folding take a long time?
When you first start to learn how Marie Kondo folds clothing, it’s true it might take you a bit longer to get used to the unfamiliar folding method.
However, I have found that now that I have “rules” about how and what to fold, KonMari folding has actually helped me fold laundry faster!
My husband likes to watch me fold clothing — he says it’s therapeutic watching me grab clothing, folding them origami-style, and stacking them up to be whisked away to the drawers.
Now you know how to fold clothing the KonMari way!
I hope you enjoyed this visual guide to using the KonMari method.
Remember, the key is to fold in halves and thirds until you get a small rectangle that can be stored vertically.
If you keep these two rules in mind, you can fold literally anything with the KonMari method!
Great post Marissa. I did this a few weeks ago and cannot believe I lived the other way all my life. Now reading the book and getting ready to tackle the rest of the house. Her method is truly a game changer.
I’m so glad that you are enjoying it and that you decided to read the book! Great to have a friend doing it. 🙂
I have been folding and storing most of my clothes this way for years. I don’t know where she got the idea, but a friend put me onto it for my T-shirts about 9 years ago and I was amazed how much neater it made my dresser drawers. This works so well, I just might have to get KonMari’s book. I do my towels a little differently, though, because I like them to be folded lengthwise first – the way they would hang on the towel rack. Thanks for the tips.
Too bad your friend didn’t write a book about it! I can understand the towel thing; also, some people’s drawers are not deep enough to store certain items folded this way, so sometimes it’s all about trial and error! In the end, personal preference is what matters most, since the KonMari method is all about joy! Thanks for stopping in. 🙂
Thank you this was great! How do you choose what to hang and what to fold up? I have room for both! I have hung up my skirts and dresses because they did not seem to want to be folded! (and I hadn’t seen this post!)
Sarah, I think it all depends on your personal preference AND the space you have in your home! While Marie Kondo prefers folding, on her show you don’t see her telling the people to empty their closets, lol. I personally also like to hand my skirts and dresses…if you do want to hang your stuff, however, she says that the should move in lightness/length from left to right in a rising line. It sounds a little confusing to read it, so check out this post (tip #9) to see what it would ACTUALLY look like IRL. https://www.squirrelsofafeather.com/konmari-clothing/
I have to start storing my folded clothes vertically – I need more space! My teen daughter just reorganized her t-shirt drawer with everything stored vertically, and it looks fantastic!!
Let me know how it goes with your drawer — sounds like your daughter is on top of her game!
Marissa, you’ve inspired me to give this a go! I like the clear explanations here. Found you through this Pinterest post. Good that everything is up and running again. I would like to suggest that you start a Konmari challenge on yiur blog. I’d be the first to sign myself up!
So glad that you found me, Fiona! I would LOVE to set up a KonMari challenge in the future. My family is gearing up for a big move to Germany (in fact, I am doing the KM method a SECOND time to really declutter/donate/sell everything for the move) and I plan on creating a challenge once we get settled in. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck with your decluttering and organizing! 🙂
How do you fold fitted sheets?
Aha, Pat, I see that I must have missed an item! I will work on shooting some photos to update this soon, but in the meantime, the way that she folds is by placing the sheet with the fitted bands facing up, dead center in the middle, and pulling out the edges as much as possible to form a rectangle. She then either rolls it or folds it by thrids across the long way, pretty much like you would do a towel. Smoothing as you go is a must! There is an excellent video demonstration of this from her Netflix show, which you can probably find on YouTube. Hope this helps!
I will be doing my bedroom storage today.
Looking forward to increasing the space in my units.
Good luck, Janet! I think you will find vertical folding will save tons of space.
I know this is about “neat folding & storing clothing items”, but i have 2 comments: “Fold lines” – The longer item is stored the stronger the folds become. 2. Rotation of spaces from used items to KEEP it all orderly whether hanging or vertical fold method.
My solutions to these 2 issues:: 1A. Vertically Fold everything that is NOT for daily or in-season use, into lidded tubs. Exceptions for coats /suits /formal, which can be hung in zippered bags and stored in the least accessible hanging space. (Long term storage also helps with de-cluttering for the next season, as “not seeing items” for awhile gives a clearer idea to keep /donate/trash when the new season arrives.)
1B. Hang ALL “Outer” clothes for daily in-season use (separated into before and after ironing as preferred) and fold/roll underwear, sleepwear & accessories vertically.
Aim is for everything neat and visible. Hanging space is still reduced by half and takes less time than folding. Since I prefer ironed, i also wash inside out and that becomes a visual sign as to what’s ironed and ready to wear from hang space. (Un-ironed can also be hung to the rear of each item group.)
2. Rotation: Fill in the spaces from absent Hung or Vertical Folded items by moving everything forward either daily or when re-storing after wash day. Items that are being overlooked often, also stand out for deciding to “keep /donate/trash” too.
There is no doubt that neat storage maximises usage potential. Thanks very much for your fantastic content and presentation 🙂