Pants! No wardrobe is complete without them. From classic jeans to cozy sweatpants to smart slacks, they’re some of our most reliable clothes, but figuring out how best to store them is another story. We talked to experts about why you shouldn’t hang them; four space-saving ways to fold them and several ideas on how to maximize space (one hack involves using bookends!). Now you can keep your pants looking fresh with minimal fuss.
Why not just hang pants instead of folding?
Most experts agree that while hangers can work well for dress pants, hanging pants can hog up a lot of closet space. And hanging can also cause some pesky problems. If you’re using a a hanger with a straight bar that the pants drape over, this can lead to unsightly creases. And if you use one with clips that are affixed to the waist. this can leave dents on the waistband. Folding your pants instead of hanging them can be a practical solution.
The 4 best ways to fold pants to save space
1. Easiest way to fold pants: Make a rectangle
If you try folding pants willy-nilly, they may well end up becoming messy blobs (and wrinkle), so it helps to have a shape in mind. Jane Stoller, a professional organizer and author of Decluttering for Dummies, says a rectangle is the way to go. Start by making sure they’re wrinkle-free and the seams are kept symmetrical. From there, she has a simple folding strategy:
- Lay your pants down on a flat surface and ensure that all seams and edges are aligned.
- Fold your pants in half lengthwise, matching up the inner seams. This creates a long rectangle.
- Fold your pants in half again. You should now have a smaller rectangle that will be easy to store.
Once you have your pants rectangles, you’ll find that they’re a breeze to stack. This technique is also easy to modify, as you can fold the pants in thirds once they’ve been folded lengthwise to create an even smaller rectangle.
2. Fastest way to fold pants: Roll them up
“Another space-saving technique is to roll your pants instead of folding them,” Stoller says. Rolling your pants might sound strange at first, but it’s one of the quickest solutions, with just two steps:
- Start by folding the pants in half lengthwise.
- Then roll them up tightly from the cuffs to the waistband.
And there you have it, a pants roll-up that Stoller says is perfect for a grab-and-go lifestyle.
3. Best way to fold pants: Try file-folding
Files aren’t just for the office! Laura Price, a pro organizer who owns The Home Organisation, says she regularly recommends a technique known as file-folding to her clients. She explains: “File-folding is a great way to keep your pants easy to access and save space. With file-folding, you can fold an item to match the shape and size of the storage container or drawer so you will always be making the best use of the space.” Here’s how to do it:
- Lay out your pants on a flat surface.
- Fold over one leg so it is directly on top of the other.
- Using one hand, tuck in the loose material around the bottom so you have a straight line from the waist to the ankle. Hold it there.
- Use the other hand to take the bottom of the pant leg to meet the top, so it’s folded in half with the tucked-in material sandwiched in between.
- Starting from one end, fold in a third of the material, then fold again and again until you have a tight shape that feels secure.
- You may want to fold more or less times to best fit the space you have. It’s a bit of trial and error to get the perfect shape, but once you have it right, the rest of the pairs will be easy.
File-folding may take a few more steps than other folding techniques, but Price says it’s worth the time. As a bonus, “File-folding also means you can store your pants vertically so you see each pair easily and nothing gets lost and forgotten at the bottom of the pile.”
4. Best way to fold jeans: One leg at a time
Instead of folding your pants in half, you could try folding them up one leg at a time. It’s easier than it sounds! Here’s how you do it:
- Take a pair of pants and lay them out flat.
- Then, take the bottom of the legs and fold them to the top of the pants where the waistband is.
- Now that your pant legs are folded in half, take the folded bottom and bring it to the waistband again.
- Now that both legs of your pants are shorter and folded up, bring the two pant leg sides together.
This technique, which went viral on TikTok, is particularly effective for jeans.
The 2 best ways to store folded pants
So, you’ve learned how to fold pants to save space using a rectangle fold, roll-up, file fold or one leg at a time fold. The next step is putting them in a drawer or on the shelf while maintaining the sense of organization and keeping them as accessible as possible.
1. In a drawer using drawer dividers
Nicole Gabai, the founder of B. Organized, a member of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals and the author of The Art of Organizing: An Artful Guide to an Organized Life is a big fan of drawer dividers. “They can make a huge difference,” she enthuses. She recommends the OXO Good Grips Expandable Dresser Drawer Divider (Buy from Amazon, $22.95 for a 2-pack). “These handy dividers spring-load to create two or three sections in your drawer,” she says, which provides a compact area for your folded pants to sit and allows you to find them easily, which means no more digging through your drawer’s depths!
2. On a closet shelf using bookends
You can also put your pants on a shelf in your closet. The problem with shelf-stacking is that sometimes the piles can become wobbly, especially if you’re reaching for pants from the bottom of the pile. Gabai has a genius hack: Bookends! She explains: “Using slender metal bookends to organize your stacked clothes on a shelf can prevent them from falling over. This allows you to stack items higher, as tall as your bookend, without worrying about them toppling over when you remove something from the middle.” Turns out they’re not just for books! She likes Acrimet Premium Metal Bookends (Buy from Amazon, $10.90 for a 2-pack).
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