The Life-Changing Magic of KonMari Folding: Why (And How) You Should Fold Everything Vertically

How and Why to Fold Your Clothes Vertically. This will transform your wardrobe! From The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpIn my last post I discussed some of my favourite ideas from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I love Kondo’s method of vertical folding so much that I wanted to devote an entire post to the subject.

What Is Vertical Folding?

I had to head for the Interwebs to get help understanding Kondo’s suggestion to fold things so that they “stand on end.” What did she mean by that? I needed a visual.

After watching this video, followed by this one, I finally understood.

This is how I would sum it up: first, you fold an item into a long, thin, vertical rectangle (usually by folding it in thirds vertically). Then you fold that rectangle in halves or thirds horizontally, from the bottom up, until you end up with a tidy little package. Then you can stand it up on end in the shape of an upside-down v.

Here’s what that looks like, roughly, for a shirt:

How to fold a shirt vertically (i.e. the konmari way)If it helps, watch this video.

In the first row you can see me folding he shirt into a long, vertical rectangle; in the second row you can see me folding it horizontally into a neat little packet. Then voila! It can stand upright on its own!

Each item will be slightly different in terms of how many times it must be folding to achieve that shape. The garment’s size and the fabric’s bulk will affect the outcome. You need to experiment a few times. Kondo says it will “click” when you get it right, and I have totally experienced that.

Anyway, when your clothes are folded this way, they can be tucked into rows, side-by-side, in a drawer. It looks like this:

konmari folding - shirt drawer

(If your drawer isn’t totally full it helps to use a shoe box  to help things stand upright. I’ve used one to separate my tank tops.)

I’ll show you how to fold other items this way in a bit — first I might need to convince you just how awesome this method of folding is.

What’s So Great About Vertical Folding?

You guys. Once you start folding your things so that they stand on end you won’t want to stop.

Here’s a list of reasons I love KonMari folding:

1. It makes a ton more space.

After folding my clothes vertically and utilizing a couple of shoe boxes to divide my things like Kondo suggests, I could fit twice as many clothes into a drawer. In turn, I was able to take things off of shelves and off the closet floor and organize them into the newly-emptied drawers in a much more efficient, attractive manner.

I already showed you this in my last post, but apparently I can’t get enough of showing the world my underwear drawer:

The Konmari method: underwear drawer before

Konmari method: underwear drawer afterSee? Look at all that room! I could now fit the contents of the lower drawer into this one:

Konmari method - after

With that lower drawer empty, I now had a nice place for swimwear, which was previously always just kind of stuffed wherever it could fit.

Soon, everything has a place and there was no more stuff piled on my closet floor.

Yay for more space!

2. I can see everything at a glance.

That makes it much easier to find and select what I want. No digging around and messing things up when I can’t find that one shirt.

It also helps you keep track of your possessions. When you fold things like this, none of your clothes end up hiding under your other items for months on end until you forget about them. You get a much better sense of what you really have.

3. It makes every item I own feel more valuable.

When I slow down to smooth each item with my hands and carefully fold it just so, I am encouraged to treasure each item. It makes every item feel like a precious gift.

folding pants

And when all my clothes are arranged in neat little rows, they seem more valuable. (In my closet, I achieved the same thing by hanging everything on velvet hangers. All my clothes feel couture now!)

4. By contrast, folding this way highlights the things I no longer cherish.

It’s easy to ignore and forget about items that I just ball up and toss into a drawer until my drawers are bursting with things I don’t really like. KonMari folding encourages me to take more careful stock of what I own. It might force me to question why I even own certain things. If I feel irritated by having to take such care with an item that repulses me, that might be a sign that the item needs to go.

I recently chucked some old, ugly t-shirts I was wearing to bed for that reason. It felt weird to carefully fold clothes I hated. I replaced them with some pretty, matching, cotton pajamas which are a pleasure to fold.

folding pajamas konmari

5. It forces me to straighten up my environment so I have a surface to work on.

You need a decent-sized workspace for this this kind of folding. I usually fold the clothes in my bedroom. Before I begin, I need to make my bed (if I haven’t already). I have been trying to get in the habit of making my bed as soon as I wake up in the morning; this is an added incentive to get the job done.

6. It’s very satisfying, making your clothes all crisp and tidy.

I cant’ be the only one to feel this way.

7. Your clothes get less wrinkly.

Nothing gets bunched up or flattened under the weight of everything above.

Convinced yet? Here are some more visuals:

How To Fold All Your Clothes the KonMari Way


Fold in half, then fold in the pointy crotch part to make a rectangle. Then fold in halves and thirds until you have that neat little package.

Howto fold pants the KonMari wayAgain, here’s a video if you need some extra help.

Here they are in a drawer (Ben and I can now fit both of our pants into the same drawer. P.S. He is not as good at folding this way but he’s got the right idea):

pants drawer - konmari styleUnderwear:

OK, so I hesitated to show you how I fold my underwear because I do have a little bit of dignity. But then I remembered I had a few pairs I hadn’t worn yet! These still have the tag on them. Okay? These are not underwear I have worn.

Anyway, same principle as the shirt:

how to fold underwear the Konmari way

And here’s how they look in the drawer. (I’ve used a shoe box again as a divider. The bigger box contains my socks.)

underwear drawer - konmari style(Ignore my rumpled sports bra. I’m not perfect.)

There you go! Give it a try, I promise it’s awesome!

How and Why to Fold Your Clothes Vertically (aka Kon-Mari Style). This will ransform your drawers! From The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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  1. Can you comment at all on how much time this takes? For my clothing, space isn’t as big of an issue (I’m already sorta a minimalist and I also have a nice big dresser) but my husband’s clothes seem to be more of an issue. I’d love to work on getting his clothes going in this style but with a toddler and another one on the way, I’m not sure if I want to take something on that adds more time to my already daily laundry routine :)

    • I feel ya, Ashley. It does take a bit longer to fold this way. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not THAT much longer, but while you’re still learning it might take twice as long. But on the positive side, you save time later when you’re not rummaging around looking for things, etc. Depends how beneficial you find it, I guess! Not sure if that helps?

  2. Being married to an outdoors man taught me how to save space in our families camping gear, backpacks, luggage, etc. This is exactly how I fold everything – either vertical or rolled. So when the boys came along (11 and 14 yo now) I decided to do this in their dressers as well. Who knew it was a thing? It does save space. However what I like most is being able to see what’s in there. So do they. I also color coordinate all items. It doesn’t take ANY extra time. In fact, it probably saves time. If clothes are just strewn in the drawer there’s the time to dig through and find what you’re looking for. Then possibly need to iron the item(s). Not to mention the frustration of “the dig.” Also, rolling keeps clothes pressed so no need to iron a mass of wrinkles. This is how my linen closets are organized too. All based on wilderness tripping! xo (What I have yet to explore in the Kon Mari style is dumping everything into a pile in the middle of the room and sorting….eeek!)

  3. I just finished reading her book…I got to say that I wasn’t really that impressed by it and felt I only came away with two points I have been pondering.

    1) The folding of clothes you mentioned, I actually took everything down from my closet and am now trying to get my wardrobe down to a single drawer

    2) To sort by category, not location,

    Your post I actually felt really helped clarify that folding point, thanks for sharing your journey.

  4. This. was. SO GREAT!!!! Thank you for posting this thorough and helpful how-to. Confession: my dresser drawers tend to be unfolded masses of discarded clothing. No more! My dresser drawers will never be the same.

    I like, too, how you quoted Kon-Marie’s point that you should fold your items lovingly. It’s really making me consider my belongings and how I care (or, more often) don’t care for them. I also got rid of a bunch of stuff.

    PS: Did you notice any commonalities once you had your wardrobe all sorted? Apparently, I love blue and green and stripes–because that’s all I have! haha :)

  5. I’m pretty clear how to vertically fold for drawers but what about regular shelves. How to vertically fold for shelves? Marie says in her book that clothes shouldn’t be stocked in a pile coz it stresses the clothes which are below.. I’m looking for some images on vertical folding for shelves in case if someone has a link or can give an advice. Thanks! Irina

  6. I was linked to your post from Her Heartland Soul’s blog. This is an awesome way to organize. I’ll be starting to do this with my undergarments and my socks. It’s pretty messy in both drawers, and this will free up some space. Thanks for the post!

  7. This is great, just got new drawers that I didnt think would fit all of my things. After folding like this I had space left over! :)

  8. My question, do they wrinkle more when folded like that?

  9. Very nice an information. we really happy to see your images about vertical folding. This is great. Only few people know about clothes folding. we recommend this blog post to other peoples so they can get these tips. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful and informative blog post.


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