How to Properly Fold Shirts and Sweaters

Properly folded sweaters will keep their shape and form better than those stored on hangers.
Properly folded sweaters will keep their shape and form better than those stored on hangers.
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There's nothing more daunting than a big pile of clothes that needs folding. Well, nothing except a big pile of clothes that you've put off folding for a day or two, making them deeply set with wrinkles. It's OK. Who hasn't put off folding laundry for a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream and a favorite reality TV show?

But we know that putting off folding only leads to more ironing, so, why do we keep doing it? Perhaps it's utter annoyance for the task. Or maybe it's just that we haven't had a folding lesson since adolescence. If that's the case, then you're in for luck because this is a great little refresher on how to properly fold shirts and sweaters.

How to Fold a Shirt Properly

Shirts come in many varied styles -- dress shirts, T-shirts, tank tops, tunics, cow necks, long-sleeved -- the list goes on and on. There might be just as many ways to fold a shirt. No offense to Martha Stewart and the U.S. Navy, who each have their own unique and interesting ways to fold shirts, but we're going to focus on the basic method.

The first thing you need is a generous, flat and clean surface for folding. If you don't have the counter space, your bed is a great spot. First, if the shirt has buttons, be sure to button all of them. This will help ease the folding process and eliminate wrinkles. Next, lay your shirt front-side-down on the surface and use your hands to flatten out any wrinkles so it lies perfectly flat. If the shirt has sleeves, fold them into the middle of the shirt so they are parallel to the shoulders. Take care to flatten any more wrinkles. Carefully fold each side of the shirt in so the two sides touch at the top of the shirt. Finally, bring the bottom of the shirt up to the top, folding it in half. You may fold the shirt in half one more time if you wish to create more room for storage.

Read on to the next page to learn about how to properly fold sweaters.

How to Fold and Store Sweaters Properly

There's no point in neatly folding your clothes if you're not going to store them properly.
There's no point in neatly folding your clothes if you're not going to store them properly.

Rihanna helped bring shoulder pads back, but those funny stretch marks your clothes hangers leave on your sweaters will never be in style. To prevent this unwelcome fashion faux pas, it's recommended you fold your sweaters instead, which will ensure they maintain their correct form. Folding your sweaters also prevents unwanted snags that might form as you're browsing through closet.

To fold a sweater, follow the same instructions for folding a shirt, but with one added step. Lie the sweater face down on a flat surface. Carefully flatten out any wrinkles, taking care not to stretch, pull or snag the delicate sweater. If your sweater is a cardigan, buttoning it will help reduce wrinkles. Fold the sleeves into the middle of the sweater, straight across to the opposite shoulder. If the sleeves are long and stick out past the opposite side of the shirt, fold them back over themselves for a clean, tight fold.

Here is where folding your sweater may differ from folding a shirt. To protect the sweater and prevent unwanted creases forming from the fold lines, place a piece of tissue paper down on the sweater after you've folded both arms into the center. Fold the bottom of the sweater up to the top, allowing the tissue paper to fold over itself. If the sweater is thin and you're short on storage space, you may fold it one more time in half.

On the next page, we'll explore other helpful tips and tricks for your clothes and accessories.

Folding Tips, Tricks and Accessories

Although folding is the best way to keep the shape of sweaters and stretchy shirts, if you must hang your clothes for lack of drawer space, experts recommend creating a clean, flat fold lengthwise for your tops to hang them on the bottom rung of the hanger. You should also use a piece of tissue paper between the hanger and the sweater to prevent unwanted creasing. You've probably noticed your dry cleaner using this same trick.

And when it comes to organizing your closet and chest of drawers, many experts say you should keep everything in plain sight. In other words, drawers stuffed to the brim are unacceptable.

The premise behind this idea is that you will seldom wear what is buried at the bottom of your drawer or back of your closet because you can't see it. How many times have you said you have absolutely nothing to wear while you're staring at a closet full of clothes? A little closet reorganization might be just want you need to discover shirts and sweaters you've forgotten. Of course, folding sweaters and delicate shirts is best, so try storing them in open-air shelves for easier viewing.

Related Articles


  • "Blocking and Folding a Sweater." 2008. (April 22, 2012)
  • Garfied, Maria. "How to Fold a Sweater." (April 22, 2012)
  • "How To: Fold a Dress Shirt." (April 22, 2012)
  • "How to Fold a T-Shirt." Sept. 2005. (April 22, 2012)
  • "How to Hang Clothes." July 2007. (April 22, 2012)
  • "How to organizing your closet." Lucky Magazine. 2011. (April 12, 2012)
  • Jio, Sarah. "20 Tips to Make Your Wardrobe Last." (April 22, 2012)
  • Sherif, Nourhan. "Tips for organizing your closet by Lauren Conrad." MSN Lifestyle. (April 22, 2012)