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How to Roll Clothes for Packing — Easy Tricks to Save Space, Time and Money

Plus, which clothes you should never roll. 

To many, the worst part about traveling is actually just packing for it. It makes sense: More than anything else in the process, this takes the most amount of strategy. And if you forget something, or your clothes are wrinkled? Ugh! While we can’t guarantee you won’t leave something at home, we can help you save space so you can fit more and without worrying about wrinkling! Below, Hitha Palepu, author of How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip, helps us give you the lowdown on how to roll clothes for packing.

Why roll clothes when packing

The reasons to roll your clothes when packing are numerous, with each one ensuring smoother travels (literally). 

  • Reduce wrinkles: “I find you can minimize wrinkles when rolling your clothes,” says Palepu, “especially when you fold them along the seams.” If you opt to fold instead, upon arrival you’ll have to deal with the inevitable creases lines from every tuck. Also consider that it’s very difficult to get clothing to stack neatly and equally on top of each other, leading to movement and friction in transit that will cause wrinkles as well.
  • Maximize space: Every roll squeezes out more air, which naturally compresses your clothing and creates more space in your suitcase.
  • Save money: The more efficiently you can pack by rolling your clothes, the less likely it is that you’ll need to pay to check a bag!
  • Increase visibility: Instead of packing everything vertically and stacking your clothing on top of each other, rolling allows you to pack horizontally. Not only will you be able to see everything at a glance, but doing so will also keep your clothes neater because you’re not digging through your bag for a certain item.
  • Simplify getting dressed: Palepu points out that you don’t have to just roll individual items — you can roll full outfits together to make getting dressed when you’re on your trip easier. When you go to change looks, all you have to do is pick one of the bundles from your suitcase and put it on.

Related: How to Fold Towels to Save Space: 8 Genius Tricks for Bathrooms and Closets

Clothes you can and can’t roll

The general rule is to roll clothes that are lightweight, soft and made out of a fabric like cotton or linen. More specifically, you should not roll these:

  • “I avoid rolling clothes made from stiff or delicate fabrics such as chiffon, silk and fine knit,” Palepu says. These would benefit more from a garment bag, which reduces friction and allows them to maintain their structure. Any more formal clothing, such as a suit or gown, should go in a garment bag as well (for the same reasons).
  • Denim, heavy knits and other similarly thick fabrics simply don’t need to be rolled because they don’t wrinkle easily, plus they can actually take up more space rolled because of their density.
  • Palepu also avoids rolling clothes with a collar (that can become warped while rolled) or embellishments. 
  • It’s worth noting that synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester don’t wrinkle easily either, though all the other benefits of rolling clothes are still relevant.
  • Palepu doesn’t roll bikinis, socks, or underwear, instead choosing to simply “stuff” those items wherever she has empty spaces in ner suitcase. 

Related: The Brilliant TikTok Sweater Folding Tip That Outsmarts Wrinkles Once and For All

How to roll clothes for packing

Though there are methods to rolling different types of clothing, they’re all easy to do and will become second nature once you start doing them.


  1. Place the shirt front down on a flat surface.
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  3. Fold the sleeves in along the seams, if applicable.
  4. Fold the left side of the shirt into the center, then the right.
  5. Fold a couple inches of the bottom of the shirt up.
  6. Tightly roll the garment from top to bottom.
  7. Use the bottom of the shirt you folded up before to tuck it into itself.

Related: How to Fold Shirts to Save Space: 3 Easy Tricks That Keep Them Wrinkle-Free Too

Pants and shorts

  1. Place the garment front up on a flat surface, then button and zip if applicable.
  2. Fold the waistband out, plus a couple extra inches, and make sure it’s even.
  3. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  4. Fold the left leg into the center.
  5. Fold the right leg into the center, overlapping the two legs to create a rectangle.
  6. Tightly roll the garment from bottom to top.
  7. Use the waistband you folded out before to tuck it into itself.

How to roll dresses for packing

  1. Place the dress front down on a flat surface.
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  3. Fold the sleeves in along the seams, if applicable.
  4. Long dresses should be folded crosswise at the center.
  5. Fold the left side of the dress into the center, then the right.
  6. Tightly roll the dress from top to bottom.

One-piece bathing suits and skirts

  1. Place the garment front down on a surface.
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  3. Fold lengthwise along the seams.
  4. Tightly roll the garment from top to bottom.

Bonus tips to make packing easy

Rolling is only one element of packing — Palepu recommends keeping these tips in mind too:

  • Put the largest and bulkiest items in your suitcase first, then smaller items. Stuff underwear, socks, etc., wherever there’s open space.
  • Place your shoes in a separate bag before putting them in your suitcase. Their soles can be dirty, and you don’t want them touching anything else.
  • This sounds basic, but it’s easy to overlook when you have so much else to do to get ready: Check the weather forecast of your destination! If you know exactly what to expect, you’ll know exactly what to pack.
  • Make a list so you stay on track and don’t under- or over-pack.

For more genius space saving tips, click through the links below!

The Tension Rod Shelf Secret — and 8 Other Genius Ways To Organize a Small Pantry

The Best Ways to Organize Containers With Lids — In Whatever Space You’ve Got

Need More Room for Cooking? Use These Hacks for Maximizing Kitchen Space

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