How to File Fold Clothes for More Organized Drawers (Step-by-Step With Pictures)

Save a little space and get on the road to decluttering your drawers by trying the file folding technique.

Published March 1, 2023
Clean folded cotton denim and bright colored T-shirts

You've probably never thought of folding laundry as an art form. It's a never-ending chore, for sure, but an art form? Surprisingly enough, there is an art to it, especially if you want to fit all your kids' clothes into those tiny little drawers.

Introducing the file folding method. Just like you might stack your books with the title out, you stack your clothes like a file so you can see and grab what you need quickly and easily. It might be a little weird in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be file folding your clothes like a laundry champ.

File Fold Any Clothing in Your House With KonMari Method

The KonMari method made waves. Or at least it did in the cleaning world and my house. Her take on cleaning upped the decluttering game for many. One of her greatest cleaning tips was the file folding method. It takes small space organization to an 11 by stacking your clothing vertically. Not only can you see exactly what's in the drawer, but if you do it right, you know your Metallica t-shirt from your Star Wars one. Get a quick breakdown of how to fold everything from your shirts to your shorts using the file folding method.

How to File Fold T-Shirts

T-shirts are by far one of the areas you're going to notice the most difference when you start file folding clothes. It makes your drawer so much cleaner. You can also find the t-shirt you want in a hurry without having to dig. And bookends can be very helpful in bigger drawers to keep your shirts standing up. Just move the bookend up as you take a shirt out. You can also move it back as you put shirts in.

  1. Lay the shirt with the logo or design face down.
  2. Fold the shirt lengthwise into thirds. (Fold one side into about the collar, then fold the other side over and tuck the sleeve.)
  3. You are left with a long rectangle.
  4. Fold the top toward the bottom lengthwise. Stop about one inch from the bottom of the shirt.
  5. Fold the remaining shirt lengthwise into thirds.

Make sure the graphic is facing out in your drawer so you can easily see which shirt you need.

Long Sleeve Shirts and Sweaters File Folding Method Instructions

Long Sleeve FIle Fold Infographic

Sweaters and long-sleeve shirts follow pretty much the same method, but you need to make sure you tuck the sleeves in correctly.

  1. Lay the shirt or sweater out flat.
  2. Fold 1/3 of the shirt into about the collar.
  3. Spread the sleeve out toward the left.
  4. Fold the sleeve toward the right at the edge of the shirt.
  5. Fold the sleeve downward in a triangle shape so it's flush with the fold.
  6. Fold in the other side, following the same format with the sleeve.
  7. Fold the top toward the bottom, leaving about one inch of the bottom of the shirt remaining.
  8. Fold into thirds.
  9. Stand in the drawer.

If your long-sleeve shirt has any graphics, remember to put this face down when folding so you can see them.

Instructions for File Folding Hoodies

Hoodies and sweaters can get a bit bulky when file folding them. But if all you have are drawers, then you need to know how to fold them.

  1. Zip up the hoodie and lay it flat.
  2. Fold the left side in at the collar.
  3. Fold the sleeve diagonally across to the line at the collar, then down.
  4. Do the same thing with the other sleeve.
  5. Flatten everything out.
  6. Fold down the hood.
  7. Bring the top toward the bottom, leaving an inch of material at the bottom.
  8. Fold in half.

Steps for File Folding Tank Tops

One of the key things about file folding you figure out quickly; it's all about the thirds. This theory holds with tank tops as well.

  1. Lay the tank top logo down.
  2. Start your first fold at the tank top sleeve and fold in toward the middle.
  3. Follow with the other side.
  4. Fold the sleeves toward the bottom, leaving a gap.
  5. Fold into thirds.

Easy Instructions for File Folding Pants and Shorts

Many people, myself included, find hanging pants to be easier than folding them. But if you've got lots of pants and a small space, file folding them can save you space. Check out these steps for effectively file folding your denim.

  1. Fold the legs in half.
  2. Bring the cuff toward the waistband leaving the gap.
  3. Fold into thirds.

Shorts pretty much follow exactly the same steps. Only after folding the legs together, just fold them in half. Simple and easy!

How to Make a Shirt File Folding Tool

Simple is always better. So, if you can make a tool to make folding laundry easier - why not? A cardboard file folder can come in pretty handy when you want a hack. To create a perfect file folder, you need:

  • Cardboard, enough to have nine 9x12 pieces
  • Box cutter
  • Duct tape

Making the tool is really easy. Before you get started, you might want to measure the collar of the shirts you will be folding and make your cardboard pieces about that wide. Nine inches works pretty well for most types of shirts.

  1. Cut nine 9x12 pieces. They don't need to be this exact size.
  2. Lay them out 3x3 with a little gap (for folding).
  3. Duct tape them all together.
  4. Fold all the pieces to break them in.

How to Use the Homemade Folder Tool for File Folds

Kids typically hate helping with laundry. But somehow, when you add a folding contraption, they are all for helping. Put them to work and still keep your file folds by using these steps.

  1. Lay the shirt in the center of your file folder with equal space on the top and bottom.
  2. Fold in the left side.
  3. Fold in the right side.
  4. Tuck in the sleeve.
  5. Fold up the top.
  6. Fold up the bottom.
  7. Pull shirt off the contraption and fold it in half.
  8. Voila!!!

When using this with long-sleeve shirts or sweaters, you need to take a second to properly tuck in the sleeve to ensure the fold isn't bulky. But it will work even if you don't. This is tried and tested by lazy teens.

File Fold Your Clothing With Ease

File folding is super handy. And you can use drawer organizers to separate your littles' pants from their shirts while keeping them in the same drawer. This can be helpful if you have kids sharing a dresser. KonMari also breaks down how to file fold your socks and underwear, but rolling them is just as effective and less time-consuming. Grab some cardboard and clothes - you've got some folding to do.

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How to File Fold Clothes for More Organized Drawers (Step-by-Step With Pictures)