A cozy sweater is a cold-weather wardrobe staple, but figuring out how to store your sweaters can be a challenge. Hangers can cause sweaters to stretch out and leave marks in the shoulders. Folding sweaters the wrong way can leave creases and wrinkles in all the wrong places. And a sloppy fold can make them hard to stack, so they take up way too much space on your shelves or in your drawers — or worse, they fall down on the floor. But once you know how to fold a sweater the right way, you can create perfectly organized stacks that rival a retail display. Here are the experts’ best tips and tricks.
How to fold a sweater for stacking horizontally
When you’re staring down a mountain of laundry, it can be tempting to go with the fastest possible folding strategy: Fold your sweater in half, then in half again. But this common folding mistake will leave sharp front-and-center creases in your sweater. “Wrinkles often happen with careless folding,” says Shana Draugelis, founder of the fashion site The Mom Edit. This way of folding also creates lopsided piles that topple over every time you try to grab a sweater.
Of course, any time you fold a sweater, you may end up with a few creases. But when you know how to fold a sweater the right way, any creases will be much less defined and in more discreet spots. Draugelis recommends this simple technique for folding sweaters into tidy stacks while minimizing creases and wrinkles.
Draugelis’ step-by-step guide on how to fold a sweater to avoid wrinkles
- Lay the sweater face down on a hard, flat surface like the floor or the dining room table.
- Using the neckline as a guide, fold the right side of the sweater in towards the middle. The goal is to have the folded edge start right at the edge of the neckline. (For asymmetric or wide necklines, pick a point three inches from the center and make that the fold’s edge.) Smooth the sweater with your hands before continuing to the next step.
- Fold the right sleeve down, making sure that the sleeve edge is perfectly aligned with the folded edge of the sweater. Once it’s aligned, again, smooth the folded area with your hands.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Carefully fold the sweater in half, smoothing it with your hands.
- Flip the sweater over, smooth it again, and place it in the stack.
“Taking the time to really smooth wrinkles out with your hands between each step of the folding process helps to keep the sweaters wrinkle-free,” Draugelis says. “It seems like such a small thing, but I’ve found that it really makes a big difference.”
If you store your sweaters on a shelf in your closet, you may also want to invest in the secret weapon that many clothing stores swear by: a folding board. (Buy it on Amazon, $17.99). “This will help you fold all your sweaters in the same size and shape so they can easily stack on a shelf,” says Heather Aiello, professional organizer and founder of The Organized You. You can also make your own DIY folding board, shown in this TikTok video.
How to fold a cardigan
Even if you know how to fold a sweater perfectly, cardigans might throw you for a loop. Long lengths, flowy knits, buttons, belts, and fringe can all make it hard to achieve that perfect fold. “Cardigans are the worst to fold,” Draugelis acknowledges. Using the steps above as a starting point, here’s how to handle a few common cardigan challenges.
For a cardigan with buttons: Button it up first, then fold it the same way you’d fold a regular sweater.
For an open-front cardigan: Lay the cardigan face up and fold in half lengthwise. Fold the sleeves back and down, smoothing as you go. Fold the entire garment either in half or in thirds, depending on the length. Keep in mind this style of cardigan may not stack well.
For a long cardigan: Follow the steps above, but instead of folding it in half in the final step, fold it in thirds — or even fourths, depending on length.
How to fold a sweater around a hanger
Hanging sweaters can stretch them out and cause fabric bumps in the shoulders. However, Lina Dickinson, co-founder of MERSEA, a clothing brand known for its travel wrap sweaters, says there is a hanger hack that works well. “Hanging a sweater without stretching out the knit or creating hanger bumps can be achieved by hanging it in a completely different way.” The key is to fold it on the hanger, not hang it the traditional way.
Here is Dickinson’s step-by-step guide to hang a sweater without ruining it:
- Lay your sweater flat and fold it in half, lining up the arms on top of each other. This creates a V-shape in the “armpits” of the sweater.
- Lay a clothes hanger diagonally on top of your sweater, so the body of the hanger is resting on your sweater and the hook is sticking out of the V-shape. (The hook should not be touching the sweater.)
- Fold the body of the sweater over one side of the hanger, then fold the arms of the sweater over the other side.
This method typically works best with a velvet or non-slip hanger. “If the sweater needs extra anchoring to stay put, you can tuck the arms and body under the hanger rung,” Dickinson adds.
This hack has been going viral on TikTok recently, so if you’re having trouble visualizing it, this is how it should look when it’s all folded:
How to fold sweaters so they can stack vertically
Most people stack their sweaters horizontally. However, if you are folding your sweater correctly, then it can stand up like a book (which makes them easier to store). Marie Kondo, the queen of organization and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has Certified KonMari Consultants around the world, employing her methods for tidying up in a minimalist, mindful fashion. Watch this popular YouTube video on the KonMari way to fold a sweater.
How to fold a sweater for packing
If you’re traveling anytime soon, you may be wondering how to fold sweaters for your suitcase so they aren’t a wrinkled mess by the time you reach your destination. “When I pack, I actually roll my sweaters to avoid wrinkles,” says Dickinson. “It saves space in the luggage and doesn’t create creases.” Here’s her tried-and-true technique:
- Lay your sweater upside down with the sweater neck facing you.
- Fold in each arm into the sweater body, staying within the width of the sweater.
- Fold in each side of the sweater towards the center so the sides are parallel
- Starting at the neckline, gently roll your sweater and place it in your suitcase or garment bag.
How to keep your sweaters in perfect condition
Knowing how to fold a sweater is only half the battle. Once your sweaters are neatly stored away, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep them looking their best.
- Secure your stacks. If you’re storing your sweaters on a shelf in your closet, consider investing in a wire shelf divider to keep sweaters neatly stacked and help prevent the dreaded sweater-pile avalanche (Buy it on Amazon, $21.99).
- Ward off pests. “I had a moth infestation that ruined a few sweaters, so I would recommend buying cedar planks and sachets to put around your wool sweaters,” Dickinson says.
- Get rid of pilling. “We always recommend keeping a sweater shaver in your closet,” Aiello says. “If you pull out a sweater and it has any pills on it, you can quickly use the sweater shaver to get it back in good shape.”
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