KonMari Tidying, Life, Organize

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Folding

By now, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Marie, a Japanese cleaning expert, developed what she calls the KonMari Method of decluttering based on three principles:

  1. Tidy by category, not location.
  2. Keep only the things that bring you joy.
  3. Discard completely before organizing.

These three “rules” of KonMari will change your life, I promise – they’ve certainly changed mine! In her book, Marie explains why traditional decluttering methods fail, how to tell if an item sparks joy, and what to do when something no longer does (thank it for serving its purpose in your life and discard it without guilt.) I’ve written many blog posts about my decluttering journey (you can read my introduction here; links to other posts are at the bottom.) I’ve found the process to be effective and liberating. Completing each category, knowing I won’t have to declutter in the future, gives me more satisfaction than I could have imagined.

Today’s KonMari lesson is a little different from the others. Instead of showing you before, during, and after pictures, I want to introduce you to the KonMari method of folding. Marie goes into depth about folding in her book. She prefers folding to hanging most clothes, including t-shirts, pants, and jeans. I think some of that is due to the Japanese having smaller closets than we do, but it’s also easier to see what you have when everything is stored vertically rather than horizontally.

Aileen, a lifestyle blogger at Lavendaire, created videos on KonMari folding for her YouTube channel. First up: folding shirts and tank tops.

The key to KonMari folding is to fold everything into rectangles, then into thirds. When you do this, you can stand your clothes vertically instead of stacking them in piles. Think about your stack of folded t-shirts. Can you see what’s on the bottom? Do you wear anything from the bottom third of the pile? Standing up your t-shirts allows you to see what you have and prevents you from piling them up too high.

I started folding my t-shirts this way before I learned about KonMari. I saw these nifty Pliio® Clothing Filers on another blog and purchased them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You can also get them on Amazon.

Pliio Small Filers

Folding your shirts with the Pliio® filers gives you the same result as Marie Kondo’s method but with a little more structure. Marie prefers to use items you have around your house (or in the case of folding, your hands) instead of expensive organizing products, but these bring me joy, so I’m using them for my shirts. 🙂

T-shirt Folding Collage

This is what my t-shirt drawer looks like:

T-shirt drawer

Marie also recommends folding socks into thirds and standing them up; she folds stockings in half and then rolls them up like little sushi rolls. (You could do your socks like that, too.) Again, the purpose of storing them vertically is so you can see what you have.

Here is Aileen’s video on how to fold socks and stockings:

This is my sock drawer:

Socks and Stockings

It really doesn’t take more time to fold everything the KonMari way than it does to stack t-shirts or ball up the socks (which is a big no-no in Marie Kondo’s world,) and the presentation is more aesthetically pleasing, which means you’re more likely to keep everything in your drawers folded properly. My drawers – I kid you not – still look like this weeks after I KonMaried them.

Marie has a video on YouTube of how to fold the perfect underwear drawer. The top drawer in my dresser is shallow, so I don’t fold my lingerie like she does – I lay it out like you would see in a department store – but this method works well if you have deeper drawers. Marie suggests using things like shoe boxes to corral your socks, stockings, and underwear, but I prefer these pretty containers and dividers from The Container Store. What can I say, they bring me joy!

Folding is a big part of Marie Kondo’s organizing style. I’m in a KonMari Facebook group, and folding shirts and socks and underwear into thirds then standing them up in drawers is something most members do (I swear!)

Blogger and illustrator, Juju Sprinkles, created this darling illustrated guide. Happy folding!

Wrinkle Free Folding

For more folding videos and resources, follow my KonMari board on Pinterest.

Follow Kelly Gartner Style’s board Tidying Up the KonMari Way on Pinterest.

Kelly Gartner Style KonMariClick here to read more posts in this series.

4 thoughts on “Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Folding

  1. Thank you for sharing this information! i just started and I feel stuck. I think I’m aiming for perfection and over thinking but I’m stuck. Do I discard all categories before organizing or can I organize after I complete each category? I just finished going through my clothes and moved the unwanted pile into my office. It makes me feel uneasy to leave my clothes spread out in the bedroom until I finish discarding all categories. Please help. Thank you!!

    1. Congratulations on getting started! I relate to your feeling of being overwhelmed – we have so much stuff, and it’s daunting to think about going through everything, but I promise it will be worth it!

      I discarded and organized by category. I went through all of my clothes, shoes, and accessories and organized what I kept before starting books. It’s nice to complete each category before moving on because you can bask in the glow of your perfectly ordered space while you work on the next category, which is very motivating.

      Let me know how it’s going for you!

      1. Phew! I was overwhelmed just looking at all the clothes so I couldn’t imagine having to wait to organize. Thank you so much for your insight. I’m super excited to continue to journey.

  2. I just don’t get this method of folding t-shirts. Surely they are creased when you unfold them and then need re-ironing? I much prefer to stack mine (just folded in half) on a shelf – I can certainly see what t-shirts I have and don’t need to pack them vertically in a drawer.

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