It’s a well-known packing hack roll your clothes to reduce wrinkling and take up less space in your suitcase. And I admit, when it comes to packing for a trip, I’m firmly on Team Roll, especially when the hack is combined with space-saving packing cubes. But is rolling clothes only suitable when traveling, or is it still applicable when you’re organizing clothes for everyday use or seasonal storage?
“The roll vs. fold debate has been going on for a long time,” says Darla DeMorrow, a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of HeartWork Organizing. “But the type of organization you prefer won’t change the dimensions of your drawers or how much stuff you can put in them. As good as we are, even we professional organizers can’t change the laws of physics!”
We asked DeMorrow and a colleague to weigh in on the pros and cons of rolling versus folding and they had a lot to say on the subject.
Roll or Fold: Which Saves More Space?
As you might expect, the space-saving benefits of rolling or folding clothes depend largely on the space you’re trying to fit those clothes into. We asked our pros to address the following scenarios, and whether they’re Team Roll or Team Fold.
Organizing everyday clothes
Whether it’s more effective to roll or fold clothes in a bedroom dresser depends on the type of clothing, says professional home organizer and declutter expert Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space. “Folding saves more space but it depends on the bulkiness and size of the item, she says. “Children’s little clothing can be either folded or rolled but adult size t-shirts or jeans are much larger and take to folding better.” DeMorrow adds that If you have very shallow drawers, “rolling can help you keep everything visible in a single layer. Deeper drawers may not work as well for rolling lightweight and mid-weight fabrics.”
Putting clothes away for seasonal storage
Scott is Team Fold on this one, while DeMorrow is indifferent. “You are likely to wash them all before you wear them next season,” she says. “Pack them away however they fit best in your bins or containers. For all but a very few garments, like ballgowns and tuxes, a wash-and-dry cycle (or just a fluff cycle) will remove any storage wrinkles.”
Packing for a trip
“I prefer rolling,” says DeMorrow, “not because it eliminates wrinkles (it doesn’t), but because rolling a day’s worth of travel clothes into a tight little package can make staying organized easier on the road.” Scott is also a fan of rolling clothes for travel packing because it, “saves space and items can be rolled together.” If you don’t have time to unpack in your hotel room, rolled clothes also offer a quick glance at your wardrobe choices without having to take things out of your suitcase.
Packing for a house move
If you’re packing up all your clothes for a move, Scott says to fold clothes and put them in vacuum bags in order to reduce the size of the container needed. “You can get more into a moving box if the air is removed. This is especially true for sweaters, parkas, bedding and towels.” DeMorrow adds that short-haul moves often allow you to keep folded clothes in drawers and dressers. “If not,” she says, “and for long-haul moves, place your clothing in moving boxes in layers, with a towel or packing paper separating layers going in different drawers.”
Roll or Fold: Which Is Better for Your Clothes?
Many of us have bought in on the idea that rolling clothes reduces wrinkles, but it may not be true. “Wrinkles happen,” says DeMorrow. “The idea that rolled clothes don’t wrinkle is ridiculous. What does change, though, is where you put the creases and whether you create pressure on flat folded items by stacking more flat folded items on top of them.” For example, she explains, “If you flat-fold garments and then store them in stacks, the weight of the other garments may cause creases.”
But rolling might not be the answer. “If you convert a packed drawer full of t-shirts from folded to rolled, but then you crush the stacks from the front to the back of the drawer, you’ll still end up with wrinkles,” says DeMorrow. “Remember, there’s no new space created in that drawer without editing out some items.”
Scott prefers rolling slinky fabrics, like satin. “Rolling will reduce wrinkles that folding may cause,” she says. “Even when rolling, you need to have the garment as smooth as possible. Rolling doesn’t mean crumbled up in a ball!”
Whether rolled or folded, DeMorrow likes clothes to be visible from the top, or “filed” inside a drawer if there is room. “This means you can see everything at a glance, with nothing hiding under a pile.
Is Roll vs. Fold Just a Question of Personal Preference?
I once tried rolling all my tween daughter’s shirts and pants, so that she could more easily see the contents of her dresser without tossing things hither and yon searching for a favorite item. I was proud of my system, but it lasted all of a week until my mother-in-law came over and kindly offered to fold my laundry. Since I don’t complain when people offer to fold my laundry, I let it go, and we went back to folded clothes.
Which one of us was “right?” Scott says it’s as much a matter of personal preference as anything, along with “hand dexterity, mental capability to solve the folding puzzle, the time you allocate to putting clothes away and the space available for clothing.” DeMorrow agrees and says Team Roll or Team Fold is 100% a question of personal preference. “Well, maybe 95%. Some drawers are oddly narrow, too deep or frustratingly shallow, and need to be optimized for your wardrobe. It might take several tries to really optimize the space in drawers and on shelves for folded and rolled clothing. Don’t stop at the first try if you think there might be a better way to store your stuff.”
And she closes this roll or fold debate with a brilliant closet storage hack: “Maximize all of your hanging space, swapping out a single clothes rod for a double-hang rod.” This is an especially helpful tip for a small closet.
“This is one instance where you literally can double your useable space,” says DeMorrow.