Hang or Fold? Here's the Best Way to Sort and Store All of Your Clothes
Decide which garments get the hanger treatment—and which are better off tucked away in a dresser.
Whether you just scored a brand new pair of jeans, refreshed your wardrobe for spring, or finished a load of laundry, there's one question that's likely to come up over and again: Do you fold your clothes and put them in the dresser, or should you be hanging them in your closet? And the answer is, it depends. "What to fold and what to hang depends on several factors, [including] how much space you have in your closets and dressers, what your personal habits are, what type of garments you own, [and] what types of fabrics they are made of," says Darla DeMorrow, professional organizer, owner of HeartWork Organizing, and author of Organizing Your Home with SORT and Succeed ($15, barnesandnoble.com). Ahead, DeMorrow and other professional organizers break down how to know when to hang and when to fold.
Hang: Flowy Fabrics
First, let's start in your closet. Which clothes absolutely belong on a hanger? Anything composed of flowy fabrics, says DeMorrow. "Anything made from silk, chiffon, or other 'flowy' materials—commonly dresses or blouses—[should be hung]," says professional organizer Melissa Keyser. "I like to tell my clients to think about how the fabric moves in a breeze; if it seems to float or dance around, it wouldn't be happy folded and stuffed in a drawer."
Linen is notorious for becoming wrinkled—which is why it's much better to hang any linen pieces in your closet. "Hanging [linen] prevents unnecessary creases," says Robyn Reynolds, professional organizer and the CEO and owner of Organize2Harmonize, which specializes in residential organization. DeMorrow agrees: "Linen almost always needs ironing to look its best. Definitely hang anything linen."
While jeans don't necessarily need a place in your closet, you should definitely plan to hang all your other pants (like dressier slacks). "Dress and casual pants should always be hung," says Reynolds. "You can hang them the long way or fold over the hanger."
If you don't want your nice blouses to be full of creases and annoying wrinkles, make sure to keep them on a hanger. "Blouses should always be hung," explains Reynolds. "This will help to eliminate major wrinkles."
Jackets are large pieces—and if you try to fold them and put them in a dresser, not only will it cause wrinkles (and potential damage to the structure of the piece), but it will also monopolize most of your space. "Jackets of any kind should be hung," says Reynolds. "No matter what kind—blazers, jean jackets, outerwear—they are too bulky to fold."
Hang: (Most) Dresses
Most—but not all—of your dresses deserve vertical space in your walk-in. "Dresses, for the most part, should always be hung," says Reynolds. "The exception would be heavy sweater dresses or heavy dresses of any kind. When these are hung, they can end up stretching. Fold these so this doesn't happen."
Fold: Thick Sweaters
Now that you know which clothes to hang, let's cover which clothes to fold—starting you're your thicker winter knits. Fold these, say our experts, both to preserve their structural integrity and to save space in your closet. "Really chunky sweaters should generally be folded," says DeMorrow. "There are folding techniques to gently wrap your sweater around a hanger to avoid making hanger marks, but it's generally not intuitive for most people, and a chunky sweater can take up a very thick width, often the space of six or more hanging blouses."
Yoga pants, workout tops, activewear—anything you'd wear to the gym, plan to fold. "These can get wonky and stretched out if on a hanger," says Keyser.
While you don't necessarily have to fold shorts, there's really no reason to hang them—so they'd probably be better off folded and stored in your closet. "Shorts should always be folded as it really doesn't make sense to hang them," says Reynolds.
Hang or Fold: T-Shirts
Some clothing items, on the other hand, can be folded or hung, depending on space and personal preference. T-shirts are one such item. "T-shirts can be hung, folded, or stacked," says DeMorrow. "There's no doubt that hanging them reduces the chance for wrinkles. But most modern tees have some amount of stretchy fiber in them (Lycra or similar) that allows them to be relatively wrinkle free in any case—[including when folded]." If you do decide to hang your t-shirts, be sure to use the right hangers—Keyser prefers padded ones. "A softer (and wider) option can help prevent the distortion that a narrow hanger might cause," she adds.
Hang or Fold: Jeans
Jeans are one of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe—something that absolutely holds true when it comes to storing them. "[Jeans] are the easiest of pants to fold since they are usually on the thicker side and will hold their shape," says Reynolds. "Of course, some prefer to hang them. If so, I would say folding them over the hanger is best."
Hang or Fold: Scarves
Have a collection of scarves? "Scarves can be folded, rolled, or hung," explains DeMorrow. While scarves can be stored a variety of ways, the size of the scarf will often dictate whether it makes more sense to fold or hang. "Bigger scarves that act as shawls should be folded as that is easier for something so big," says Reynolds. "Small ones that are worn around the neck can be folded and stored in drawers or a container as well as hung from scarf hangers."