“Going through life without knowing how to fold is a huge loss.” — Marie Kondo
Whether discussing furniture foam or the sharpness of fork tines, no domestic detail is too dinky to delve into. That includes the art of folding. In my constant pursuit of an orderly home, I have come to believe that after godliness and cleanliness comes folding.
Perhaps no one has elevated this art more than Marie Kondo, that famous neatnik who in her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” turned folding into a sort of religious experience. “It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it,” she writes.
I don’t know if I would go that far, but I do agree that proper folding imposes a certain serenity in spaces that in most households look like chicken roosts. When folded, clothes, sheets and towels take up less space, get less wrinkled, are easier to find, and look better on shelves or in drawers.
“The goal should be to organize contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves,” Kondo writes. If you, too, want to discover the life-changing magic of folding, these 10 tips might help you bend your ways:
• Get ‘em while they’re hot. The best time to fold clothes and linens is straight out of a warm dryer, said Emma Glubiak, spokeswoman for The Spruce, a digital lifestyle publication. Folding clothes fresh from the dryer lets you hand-press them before wrinkles set in. When folding sheets, grab pillowcases first since they will be most visible. Sheets are easier to smooth flat when they are on the bed. Fold towels last since they don’t wrinkle.
• Miss the bell? If you left a load in the dryer too long, steam the wrinkles out by placing a wet, clean towel in the dryer with the wrinkled load, and running the dryer on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, Glubiak said. Then fold immediately.
• Find your folding place. Fold garments on a large, flat surface such as a kitchen table, the top of a dryer or even a bed. By using a flat surface you’ll get cleaner, sharper folds and have space to stack folded items by household member and category.
• Aim for same. When folding one category of clothing or linens, whether t-shirts or towels, fold them the same way. Strive for smooth, compact, uniform rectangles, Kondo says. Adjust the size of the rectangle to fit the shelf or drawer.
• Go for thirds. When folding shirts, pillowcases or towels, think threes. Lay the piece flat and fold each lengthwise side in so the edge is past the center, and sides overlap. The shape will resemble a stick of gum. You will have three even layers, and no visible free edges on the sides. Tuck in sleeves. Then take up the short sides and fold again in thirds or, depending on shelf depth, in half and, possibly, in half again. The goal is to hide free edges, leaving only thick folded sides showing.
• Don’t hang if you can fold. “By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage,” Kondo writes. For instance, depending on their thickness, you can fit from 20 to 40 garments in the same amount of space needed to hang 10.
• Store in drawers vertically. Kondo upended the world of folding by demonstrating how standing folded items upright in a drawer instead of stacking them in piles lets you see all items at once without rummaging, and also saves space.
• Face folds out. Whether storing items vertically in drawers or stacked on shelves, face the thickest folded edges up and out. Free edges should face the wall or drawer bottom. This not only streamlines the look but also makes pulling out items easier, Glubiak said.
• Roll ’em. Another attractive, space-saving way to store towels is to roll them. Fold them into thirds longwise, then fold in half and roll. For washcloths, fold them in half, roll them and then place them vertically (free edges down) in a basket.
• Folding fitted sheets. With the fitted sheet inside out, place one hand in each of two adjacent corners. Bring hands together and nest one corner inside the other, flipping the outer one so the right side now faces out. Do the same for the two remaining corners below. Lay flat on a surface. Smoothing the curved, elastic edges in toward the center, fold into a neat square or rectangle to match the size of its corresponding folded flat sheet.
Join me next week for 10 tips to organize a linen closet.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books. Reach her at marnijameson.com.