15 Life-Changing Laundry Folding Tips
Make at least one chore a thousand times smoother (literally).
For many people, doing laundry is such an integral part of the usual routine that it's practically done on autopilot. However, there are plenty of ways to make those laundry duties—which occupy about 77 minutes per week for the average American, by the way—go a whole lot smoother (literally). Before you toss another load in the wash, learn how professional organizers keep their homes looking spic-and-span, with minimal time commitment, by boning up on these life-changing laundry tips.
Wash everything on cold.
To keep your clothes looking ready-to-wear, it pays to know which laundry cycle to use. Newer washing machines are advanced enough to get your clothes fresh as a daisy even without hot water, and using a cold cycle may help you avoid having to iron later. "To avoid wrinkles, I always wash all my clothes (even whites) on a cold temperature setting," says professional organizer Katy Winter, owner of Katy's Organized Home.
Fold while your laundry is still warm.
If you have the habit of waiting until your laundry cools before folding it—as many of us are taught—you should reconsider. "Try to fold when the laundry is still hot," says Winter. "Your clothes start to wrinkle as they cool."
Invest in a wrinkle-releasing spray.
Of course, there are likely to be a handful of items you don't get to immediately after they're out of the dryer, leaving you with some serious wrinkles to contend with. In those instances, there's an easy fix: wrinkle-releasing spray. "I enjoy a product called Mojito Wrinkle Release Spray (Ironing Alternative) for my sheets when I don't have time to iron them," says Winter.
Give everyone their own laundry basket.
Instead of piling everyone's laundry into the same load, divide and conquer by getting each member of your household their own basket.
"Part of the huge headache of laundry is sorting every item once they all come out of the dryer. No one can help you sort and fold because it's a big fat mystery what belongs to whom," says Nonnahs Driskill, founding organizer of Get Organized Already! "The solution? Everyone's laundry gets washed separately."
Get hooks for things that end up in piles.
Everyone has those difficult-to-fold items that end up tossed in a pile rather than actually being put away properly. "Instead of piling the clothes…on the bed or a chair, [you] can put the most-worn clothes on hooks," suggests Driskill. "Install some heavy-duty hooks in the closet, room, bathroom. I'm talking about the kind used in ski-lodges to hang jackets and snow gear."
Separate your clothes by category first.
Rather than tackling the contents of your entire laundry basket in one fell swoop, separate your clothing by category before starting the folding process. "Batch clothes first by sorting them out so you can get into a rhythm folding one type of clothing all at once," suggests professional organizer Ben Soreff of Home-to-Home Organizing.
Use a folding tool.
There are tools to make virtually everything easier these days—folding included. According to professional organizer Jeanie Engelbach of apartmentjeanie, the FlipFold laundry folding tool makes it easier to uniformly fold virtually any garment.
"The FlipFold creates unity in everything you're folding, so immediately everything's cleaner and neater," says Engelbach. "It takes just as much time to fold clothing without the board, but with it, this there's nice consistency with stacking and display."
Alternate your shirt collars.
When folding and putting away shirts, alternate which end is facing you as you stack, kind of like they do it in a store. Otherwise, one end of the stack will tip upward, and you could, over time, find your collars wrinkled and weakened.
And this doesn't just go for button-downs! "If you want a flat t-shirt pile, you should intercalate the shirts' collars," says Alberto Navarrete, General Manager of Frisco Maids. "The next collar should be on the opposite side of the last one."
Use a clothespin to keep your pants folded
Bulky items like jeans can be difficult to fold neatly, but there's an easy fix. "Fold pants by the half and put them in a clothespin," to keep them from coming unfolded, suggests Navarrete.
Don't fold things that put up resistance
Even professional organizers know that you have to pick your battles when it comes to folding your clothes. "My tip is simple: don't do it if it's not something you can do," says professional organizer Lauren A. Williams, founder of Casual Uncluttering.
"If your skills and/or innate capabilities don't run to folding laundry and you have storage that lets you keep your laundry unfolded—go for it! I hang my dress shirts, suits, and pants in a closet. I stuff my t-shirts and sweaters into large, colorful cloth bins that get stacked in my closet. My underclothes are a jumble in a dresser drawer. My pajamas are a jumble in another drawer. Sweatshirts and warm stuff are in two other drawers," she says. "There is no one-size-fits-all method of folding clothes."
File your clothes vertically.
Instead of stacking frequently-worn items and risking upending the whole pile to pull a single piece out, file your clothes vertically whenever possible.
"Folding techniques should consider the size and depth of the drawer and the size of the piece of clothing," says Susan Santoro, professional organizer and founder of the blog Organized 31. "I fold an infant's t-shirt differently than I do a large adult's to fit into the same size drawer."
Reconsider what goes on a hanger.
You may think you have a solid grasp on which items deserve hanger space and which belong in drawers, but it might be time to reevaluate your storage techniques.
"Review why you fold clothes: to minimize wrinkling and to make it easy to fit clothes into drawers," says Santoro. "If you don't have time to fold clothes, consider hanging anything that will wrinkle on a hanger and only folding items like socks, pajamas, and underwear."
Stop balling your socks.
If you are putting socks in a drawer, don't ball them up first. "The easiest way to fold socks is to place them together and fold one down on top of both the socks. This keeps the socks together as a pair but requires minimal effort. My preferred way to fold socks is lay them both together flat on a table, fold them in half and in half again (or in thirds for smaller socks). This allows you to file the socks vertically in the drawer so that you can easily see and access each pair," says Santoro.
Fold your sweaters over a hanger.
You might be in the habit of folding your sweaters and putting them on a shelf, but putting them on a hanger might serve you better in the long run.
"Fold them over the hanger rather than hang them like you do a blouse, which will cause shoulder bumps from the sweater stretching on the sides of the hanger," says Santoro. "Simply fold the sweater in half, place it over the hanger with the hook at the armpit and fold the sleeves and then the body over the hanger."
Don't sweat it if things don't look perfect.
Even professional organizers have their off days when it comes to folding laundry, so don't beat yourself up if your finished product doesn't look magazine-worthy.
"One tip we endorse is folding forgiveness…fake [perfect organization] by using a quick fold, knowing the kids are going to destroy the clothes drawers," says Soreff. After all, "perfect is the enemy of done." And before you toss another load in the laundry, make sure you know these 20 Items You Should Never Put in the Washing Machine.
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