Konmari Method of folding clothes

Is the Konmari method of folding clothes worth the time?

A great way to find extra storage space is to learn how to organize dresser drawers for maximum efficiency. In doing so, you should try to accomplish two things:

  • You should be able to free up more space to store more items
  • You should also make rummaging through an entire drawer to find one item a thing of the past.

The Konmari method for creating a tidy home…

These days it seems as though everyone is in love the Marie Kondo and the Konmari method of folding clothes has really caught on. Since her Netflix series success, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, it seems as though decluttering and organizing your home will never be the same again. Right down to the way you fold your clothes.

Why the Konmari method of folding clothes made me skeptical…

Being the natural skeptic that I am, I was far from convinced. Many of Marie Kondo’s methods were very practical. Although her folding method looked intriguing, it seemed far too cumbersome, fussy and time-consuming. It reminded me of learning origami, only this time, it was with fabric. Also,  I am something of a folding klutz. (I fully confess to being an origami dunce!) So, I was convinced that instead of neat, organized rows, I would have a hot mess.

The other issue was that for some people, organizing is an end to itself. This type of method can easily bring out an element of OCD in almost anyone. The method was going to be more time-consuming than my traditional folding method. But trying to keep things neat might end up taking on a life of its own.

You see, I think of organizing as more of a means to an end. Having an organized home isn’t really the goal. It’s all about having a workable living space that makes the rest of my life easier.

It’s about not having to dig through an entire closet to find two matching shoes. Or about not having to up-end an entire drawer on my bed or desk to find one item. These things are time wasters which make life harder. But I didn’t want the price I had to pay for order to be an hour of coaxing my clothing into neat folds. That would cancel out the benefits.

So, in giving the Konmari folding method a try,  I set out to answer the following questions:

  • Is the Konmari method for folding clothes really practical for daily use?
  • Does it truly save drawer space? And if so, how much?
  • Is it really worth the extra time it takes to fold all your clothes this way?
  • What about wrinkling and folding marks?

My Konmari- style folding method for sloppy people with lives…

Let’s be totally honest here. I’m not an OCD person for home tidying and organizing are life goals. I organize to live, not live to organize. I’m not interested in finding items that spark joy. I know what I need. I know the things in my life that bring me happiness. Learning how to organize dresser drawers is a means to an end. I know I have limited space. But I still want to keep the things I need and the things that make me happy. Still, I would rather slit my wrists than spend more time organizing anything than I absolutely have to.   So, I developed my own Konmari folding method experiments to see how her system would fit into my downsized life.

Experiment 1: Does the Konmari folding method actually free up dresser space?

 

Materials & supplies:

  • Four dresser drawers full of “stuff”
  • A queen-sized bed – cleared off for sorting and folding
  • Yours truly – the klutzy clothes folder

Method:

In my first experiment, I decided to apply a “sloppy version” of the Konmari folding method to one of my dresser drawers. The drawer in question contained a mixture of knit tops and tank tops.

By sloppy, I don’t mean that I folded haphazardly or carelessly.  Instead, I moved quickly and did not try to create perfect hospital corners with my folding. In other words, I purposely didn’t let myself get caught up in perfectionism.

Self-knowledge is a very important thing. I was trying to determine if this method would work for me, personally. The reality of my life is that although I like a dresser where I can find things, I simply do not have the personality or time that will allow me to expend a major effort creating perfect rectangular bundles. I simply followed the instructions and folded up the drawer full of clothes as quickly and efficiently as possible without fussing over every fold.

One thing I didn’t do (at least not initially) was to discard items. My purpose was to see if the method was practical for my life and that the effort truly created more dresser space, even if I didn’t discard anything. (Later, I confess that I went back and culled a few items.)

Results:

I was pleasantly surprised that the method freed up a substantial amount of space in that dresser drawer. My traditional folding method had the drawer pretty much at 100% capacity. But the Konmari folding method freed up about 1/3 of the drawer space. This was done without obsessing over every inch of saved space or trying to create perfection.

Here is the result of that initial drawer. As you can see, the drawer was “full” using the traditional folding method. I dumped the contents on my bed and refolded everything using the Konmari method. I purposely didn’t discard any items because I wanted to see how much extra space the folding method created with the same amount of clothes. (Full confession – I went back later and decluttered as well!) As you can see, there was plenty of leftover space for more items.

After - Konmari folding method

I proceeded to use the same folding method on 3 other drawers which included a drawer of light summer tops, my underwear drawer and a drawer of yoga pants, leggings, and jeans.

In each case, significant space was freed up. The method freed up one full drawer and change (maybe about 1/3 of a drawer. That’s a significant amount of space. It was more than a quarter of the total space. Some selective culling of items (which Marie Kondo recommends that we do) freed up nearly 2 drawers of space. Later, I added some items that had been hanging in a closet.

Experiment 2: Will my clothes be a wrinkled mess or show a visible folding pattern when I try to wear them?

For this experiment, all I did was wait…tick-tock, tick-tock….for about a week. When I unfolded the clothes in order to wear them, were the fold lines evident? How about wrinkles?

I was actually quite surprised. I was afraid my clothes would look like an old-fashioned unfolded road map. If anything, there were fewer fold lines in the clothes folded using the Konmari method then the traditional method. How more folds could produce less wrinkling seems almost magical, but there it is…

Experiment 3: How much extra time will it take to keep my dresser drawers organized the Konmari way?

 

Materials & supplies:

  • 1 dresser drawer full of clothes
  • A queen-sized bed – cleared off for sorting and folding.
  • Yours truly – the klutzy clothes folder

Method:

I upended one of my fuller drawers that had knit tops as well as some camisoles and tunics. I set a timer and folded all the clothes the old-fashioned way. Then upended the drawer and folded all the items using the Konmari method.

Yes. the Konmari folding method took longer, but not MUCH longer. It took a little over 8 minutes to fold the clothes the regular way and about 12 minutes to fold them all using the Konmari method. Certainly, the freed up space and easier access to my clothes more than makes up for that difference. I also think that over time, I will probably learn to fold the items more efficiently.

Learning the Konmari method of folding clothes…

I actually began this section as a tutorial and then realized it was like trying to write instructions about how to tie shoelaces. Observing is far more effective than explanations.

In such a case, YouTube is your friend. There are many people, including Marie Kondo herself, that demonstrate the process.  I did a pretty exhaustive search of my own. Below was my favorite video for this process. In fact, it is the video that I used to guide me when I folded my own clothes for the first time.

But everyone is different. I thought this was just about the clearest presentation, but that might not be true for everyone. If not, there is plenty of help out there. Just a word of warning, you can fall into a YouTube vortex of variations.

Pinterest might also be helpful to those who prefer static photos to learn the folding process.

Variations on the Konmari method…

Some YouTube channels offer minor tweaks on the basic Konmari folding method. One of the more popular variations is to fold things like T-shirts with graphics facing outward. The general method Marie Kondo uses is to fold the front of shirts to the inside of the folded packet. It makes for a neater folded shirt, however, it hides graphics and patterns that you may want to see without unfolding your shirt.

To all this, I say – for goodness sake, do what works for you. To my best knowledge, there are no Konmari folding police out there to catch your slightest deviation. And God is probably way too busy to smite you for not adhering religiously to the original method.

Learning the Konmari Method…

Folding Clothes the Konmari MethodThe Konmari method of folding clothes is but a small fraction of the Marie Kondo method for keeping your home tidy. Her books are best sellers world-wide. For those who would like to read more about her methods, here are some links:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing… 

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: The Book Collection: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy…

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up)

And for more information on Marie Kondo herself, I found this brief bio very informative. There is a spiritual aspect to everything she does. 

Final thoughts…

The need for homes to be efficient has never been greater. Super-sized McMansions are now passé and micro-apartments are now touted as a “solution” to a nationwide housing crisis. The result is that we are bursting at the seams with our “stuff” as we cram ourselves into ever smaller living spaces.

We can declutter, but we can’t get past the fact that there is a certain amount of “stuff” that we need to function effectively There are also sentimental and artistic things in our lives that make us happy and comfortable in our own surroundings. It’s not ALL about saving every scrap of space. Our homes would be soulless sterile boxes if that was the case.

Finding ways to maximize space with minimal hassle is of great value. For those living in small living spaces learning something as simple as how to organize dresser drawers can make our lives much easier. For those inclined to use it, the Konmari method of folding clothes can be a valuable tool for maximizing dresser drawer space and keeping things tidy and accessible.

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