If you’re packing for a trip, trying to fit all your necessary items plus clothing into your suitcase can sometimes be a struggle.

Many people recommend rolling clothing to save space, but others find that folding clothing is the better option.

Although each option seems simple, they both offer benefits, and each option works well in various scenarios.

folded tshirts and rolled clothing

Space Saving

The biggest benefit to rolling clothes instead of folding them is that it can often help save space.

When you roll a piece of clothing, you compress it, flattening it and removing some of the air trapped in the fabric.

Clothes that are tightly rolled often take up much less space in a suitcase, so you can pack more items without feeling cramped.

clothes rolled up on a table

Rolled items can also be stuffed down into the sides of the suitcase, between other items, or packed more closely with other clothes.

Folded clothes are usually stacked, which leaves unused space.

However, rolling clothing doesn’t save space all of the time. For example, bulky items like jackets and sweaters can actually take up more space when they’re rolled because they can’t be rolled or compressed as tightly.

These items are also more likely to come unrolled, so they often create more of a mess.

Wrinkles

Another important thing to consider is what your clothes will look like when you unpack them. Sometimes, rolling can help to eliminate wrinkles and can protect fabrics.

Other fabrics are crushed when they’re rolled, and this can cause many wrinkles. Rolling some clothing can even damage it.

Organization

If you fold clothes and then stack those clothes in your suitcases, you might need to dig through your entire suitcase to find the clothing item you’re looking for.

Rolled clothing, on the other hand, can help with organization. For example, if you roll t-shirts, you’ll be able to line them up neatly, and you should be able to see where all of the shirts are with just a glance.

It’s also easier to move rolled clothing around without unrolling it. This means that rolling can not only save space but can help keep your suitcase organized if you don’t plan to completely unpack while you’re on your trip.

rolled clothes in a suitcase

Is rolling or folding better for storage or packing?

Neither rolling nor folding is always the better option. Instead, it’s often best to use both techniques. Smaller or thinner items can be rolled to create more space and increase organization.

Bulky items can be folded and laid on top. This also increases space and keeps things neat and organized.

Which clothes should be rolled and which folded?

In general, smaller or thinner items of clothing work better when they’re rolled. This can include t-shirts, leggings, jeans, swimsuits, pajamas, socks, and casual dresses.

Thinner items compress more easily, and the rolling can help keep them from becoming wrinkled.

Bigger items like sweaters, jackets, trousers, or hoodies should usually be folded. These items don’t roll well, and rolling can cause wrinkles. Button-down shirts should also usually be folded.

folded clothing in a suitcase

Although these shirts compress well, the shape of the shirt causes the fabric to bunch when it’s rolled, which can cause many wrinkles.

Formal wear, fancier dresses, and dress shirts should always be folded or placed in a separate garment bag.

It’s also important to consider the material type before you decide whether to roll or fold a particular piece of clothing.

Cotton and linen materials crease more readily, so it’s better to fold these items and make sure they’re packed or stored in such a way that they won’t be jostled around too much.

Synthetic materials tend to react better to rolling and will wrinkle less.

What are the best ways to roll clothes?

If you’re rolling pants, such as jeans or leggings, fold them in half at the waist. You can then fold them in half in the opposite direction or simply roll them up.

When rolling a shirt, there are a few options. You can fold the shirt in half vertically and then tuck the sleeves in before rolling. This creates a dense but short roll.

You can also tuck the sleeves and edges of the shirt in first by folding it inward on each side from the top of the shoulders. The shirt can then be rolled up.

This creates a longer roll, but the roll is thinner and it will let you see what’s on the front of the shirt.

rolled jeans tied with string

Are there other ways to save space when packing or storing clothes?

One of the reasons why rolling clothes is so effective at saving space is that it removes excess air from the fabric. You can also achieve something close to this effect when folding clothes, however.

If you fold your clothes and stack them on top of each other, this stack can then be pressed down to remove the air. Even simply leaving your folded clothes to settle can help to reduce volume.

The weight of the clothes themselves will help to compress them and remove air.

Some people also use packing cubes for storing clothes. These small cubes act somewhat like mini suitcases, and they can be placed in a larger suitcase or on a shelf.

Packing cubes help ensure that, once clothes have been rolled or folded, they don’t expand, unroll, unfold, or move around. The compression of the cube keeps everything compacted and in place.

Other people wrap a rubber band around their rolled clothes to keep them compressed. Although this technique ensures that the clothes won’t come undone or expand, the rubber band can leave a mark on the clothing items.

vaccum storage bag for clothes

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