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The Best Way To Fold Socks & Organize Your Sock Drawer

Buddha the cat surveys his owner's sock collection.

In or out of quarantine, I am kind of an organization nut. Sorting and arranging our sock stock is one of my favorite things to do at at the store — especially when we get new stuff! While our storefront was closed during the pandemic I had excess downtime at home, so I turned my talents to my own dresser which was EXPLODING with socks. It’s just not a pretty look for someone who works at a sock store! Here's how I did it:

A pile of novelty socks

It hasn’t always been like this, I swear.

Believe it or not, I actually organize my sock drawers frequently. The problem is that they always find a way to get out of order again. So each time I go to organize my socks, I get a little more clever and my methods hold out a little bit longer.

At this point, I think I’ve finally done it! I think I’ve perfected the sock drawer game and I’m excited to share my professional sock drawer organization tips with you. I’m pretty hip to the Marie Kondo “Konmari” method so you’ll no doubt see her influence throughout this tutorial.

Sock Care

Before we jump right into organizing sock drawers, let’s briefly start with how to treat your socks before you store them. You never want to put away socks when they’re still damp as it promotes mildew and odor. If your socks are sweaty at the end of the day, wash them immediately to avoid contaminating your hamper with moisture and sour smells and to make the socks last longer. You can add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash to help remove stubborn stink from socks and other clothes. Additionally, you can add a bundle of lavender to your sock drawer to likewise help promote sweet-smelling feet.

Freshen your sock drawer with lavender

Freshen up any musty drawer with a bundle of lavender.

Storing Socks

No matter the size of your sock collection, where and how you store your socks makes a difference. You’ll want to store your socks in an easily accessible place where you don’t have to bend low or reach high to see what you’re working with. Keep your sock drawer within standing eye level so that you can quickly and easily pick the style you need for the right situation.

Funny socks with dinosaur slippers

I think this COVID-19 situation calls for socks and slippers 24/7.

If you have a small sock collection, pick a drawer or two just for your socks. If you have a large sock collection, I recommend a dresser of drawers with each drawer containing specific styles. You can be as thorough or as general as you like categorizing up your socks, just think about how you choose your socks on a daily basis.

Do you choose your socks by color and length? Texture and thickness? Occasion? Divide up your sock drawers according with how you live your sock life. For example, you could have a drawer for casual socks and a drawer for dress socks. Or a drawer for novelty socks and a drawer for solid and patterned socks. It’s all up to you!

The shop's display of socks in rainbow order

Sock store tip: organize socks by color.

As for me, I have a drawer for crew socks, a drawer for knee-high socks, a drawer for over-the-knee/thigh-high socks, a drawer for ankle and holidays socks, and a hanging organizer for hosiery. Within each of those drawers I organize my socks by color so I can easily pair it with my outfit of the day. Am I a little hyper-organized? Maybe.

Folding Socks

If socks could talk, they would say: “STOP BALLING US UP!” Trust me, you’ll increase the longevity of the elastic and design of your socks if you smooth them out and fold them together as seen in this clip. You’ll probably even notice that by default socks are much more inclined to be folded this way than balled.

Folding socks instead of balling them up also allows for you to clearly see the design of the sock when you open the drawer.

I’m a bit of a stickler for smoothing out my socks since realizing that proper and thoughtful folding really does make socks last longer. Not only that, but your socks will “remember” these fold lines and it will get easier and faster to fold them together and put them away every time you do it. You’ll start to wonder why you ever balled up your poor socks to begin with!

Chaotic sock piles

Now where did I put those socks that say "BUTTS"?

Sock Organization

When you open your sock drawer, you don’t want to have to wade through a sea of loose socks and sock balls to make a selection. You want to immediately see your options, pull out what you want, and still maintain drawer composure. You want to be sure all your favorite socks get equal attention. How do we do this? With rows of folded socks!

Drawer organizers for separating rows of socks

Folded sock rows are the way to go!

Over the years I have amassed an absurd number of socks, and I have tried countless methods to keep them from exploding all over the place every time I get dressed. I’ve tried throwing loose sock balls in a drawer, piles of folded socks, and more. But the best sock drawer organization technique I have discovered is to store folded socks upright in rows (the “fold-n-row” method). Now, there are a few ways you can accomplish this of varying price and efficacy. I use all of them. I’ll explain.

Freeform Rows (Cost: Free)

Sock drawer with rows on folded socks

Freeform rows work great with large socks or small collections.

This was the way I first started organizing my sock drawer with the fold-n-row method, and it works great for smaller sock collections or larger socks like tube socks and thigh-highs. In fact, I still use freeform rows in my OTK sock drawer since the socks are large enough that when I pull them out, all the others don’t go flying out or falling in. The problem with freeform as you can probably guess then is that if you do have a larger sock collection – say lots of crew socks – you’re going have socks flying out and falling in anyway because the socks are packed more tightly. The larger the sock and more loosely packed, the easier it is to use freeform rows.

DIY Drawer Dividers (Cost: Free-ish)

Socks organized into rows inside shoeboxes

Shoe boxes make excellent drawer organizers, especially for socks!

To solve the problem of socks falling into disarray when you pull them out of the rows, I’ve found that drawer dividers are the key. You can make your own slats out of sturdy pieces of cardboard, wood, or even shoeboxes. I hang on to all of my shoeboxes just to help me organize my drawers and closet space, but the ones that have the removeable lids are best. If you’re using cardboard or wood you’ll need to fold or cut the pieces to fit snug in your drawer. You really don’t want them to shift or else your socks will continue to jumble up throughout the week.

Sturdy Drawer Slats (Cost: $$)

A well-organized sock drawer

Drawer dividers are a spendy, but effective method for making your socks stay put.

If you’re not a DIY-er, you can buy sturdy adjustable drawer organizers from most home improvement and organization stores that will keep your socks tightly organized. The plus side is they’re very robust and adjustable. The downside is they can cost $15-$30 for just a pack of three.

Socks & Memories

I missed physically being at the shop when a fresh batch of socks arrives. These happy moments would not only give me an opportunity to flex my organization skills, they would also give me a chance to soak up new designs and think about who in my life might enjoy them. While confined to home, I didn't have the same opportunity to explore the new stuff. But I found that organizing my sock drawer at home can be an adventure too. Instead of looking forward as I do with the new stock, I’m looking backward at all the fun times I wore these crazy socks! As I consciously work through and fold my messy piles of socks, many of them bring back some pretty good times.

Sock store memories with fun socks

The sock shop and socks in general are at the center of so many good memories for me!

So if you can, take the extra time that many of us have right now and let sorting your sock collection be more than a chore. Let it be a nostalgic stroll through the great memories made when you were wearing your favorites. I truly believe that if you honor your socks in storage, they will grace your feet for the good paths ahead!

Lindsey Frazier


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