How to Organize Your Sock Drawer: 5 Sock Folds, Rated

A pile of darn tough socks ready to be folded and organized into a drawer

Have you ever opened your sock drawer, winced, and just closed it right back up again? Or maybe you resigned yourself to mismatched socks, because all your sock pairs were separated? Me too.

Here’s my story of sock drawer organization, featuring my thoughts on how to organize socks, how to fold socks, and an in-depth analysis from my research of the pros and cons of different sock folding methods.

Is it a bit over the top? Aren’t they “just” socks after all? Sure, and your time is “just” time and your feet are “just” feet. Join me in refusing to shy away from this moment of self-improvement.

Why Now?

There was a point in my life when I never worried about my sock drawer. To put it more accurately, I didn’t have a sock drawer. I just didn’t own that many socks, so what socks I did own got squished into the edge of a drawer largely dedicated to a different piece of my wardrobe.

Now, I own a lot of socks. Socks for different activities, socks for different shoes, tall socks, short socks… so many socks, that they no longer fit in a partial drawer. So, I gave my socks their own, dedicated drawer. However, this has a led to a new problem.

My messy sock drawer, with the socks all higgledy piggledy

My sock drawer is a mess. The entire goal of having socks that pair perfectly with certain shoes or support certain activities is all for naught if I don’t wear said socks. And I can’t wear socks I can’t find… and with the state of my sock drawer, it takes me a good long minute plus to find any sock I’m looking for. When I’m in a rush, I end up grabbing whatever sock is on top, ideal or not.

With the onset of cold weather though, I’m tackling more indoors projects and decided to (quite belatedly) hop on the sock organization bandwagon. So, I read up on a lot of articles and watched several videos to that effect and I’m here to share what I learned.

How to Fold Socks

The first step in organizing your socks is to pick the right way to fold your socks. How you fold your socks affects how they will sit in your drawer, and what your options are for organizing.

Up until recently, I thought there was one, maybe two ways of folding your socks. I was wrong, as I quickly discovered in my research. There are many, many, many ways to fold your socks. I didn’t try them all, but here are the sock folding techniques that I found to be either the most common, the most useful, or both.

I organized the methods from easiest to most complicated to execute (in my opinion). I included a brief description of the fold, a list of pros and cons, and some thoughts on how the fold works on different sock heights. A fold that works great for a no show sock may not be so useful for a knee high, so I tested each method on the following sock heights:

The Single Fold

This is the easiest way to fold your socks, by a mile. However, just because it’s easy to do does not make this fold the best when it comes to staying organized.

To do the Single Fold:

  1. Lay one sock directly on top of the other.
  2. Fold the socks in half.

Voilà, that’s it! My mom has folded my dad’s socks this way for years. Here’s the breakdown:

Works for all sock heights: 5 stars

This fold worked as described for every sock height, no adjustments needed, except for my over-the-calf socks. Simply folding the socks in half still left them quite long, inconvenient for placing in a drawer. The fix was simple though – I just added one extra fold, so the socks were folded into thirds instead of in half (I guess you’d call it the Double Fold?).

Single Fold Pros:

  • Easy and fast.
  • Won't stretch out your sock cuff, which protect the elastic in your socks and could give them a longer life.
  • Socks of the same height can be neatly stacked in your drawer.
  • Works for all sock heights.

Single Fold Cons:

  • No stability - since there's nothing holding your socks in place, they could easily separate (resulting in lost socks) in your drawer.
  • Not ideal if you own a large mix of sock heights. For this method, you're going to want to stack your folded socks in your drawer, and if your'e stacking knee highs on top of no shows on top of crews... you get the idea.

The Single Fold might be right of you if...

  • Your sock collection is uniform – 80% of your socks are the same height, so they’ll make neat stacks.
  • You’re neat. You will carefully open your sock drawer, remove a pair of socks, and close it up, not disturbing your sock stacks, causing them to unfold or separate from their pairs.
  • You have lots of space. This isn't the most space efficient folding method, so if your sock drawer is overflowing, you might want to try a different method.

The Cuff Flip

AKA the flip and tuck method. This is the sock folding method I grew up using and based on what I’ve seen of other people’s sock drawers, I think it’s pretty common.

To do the Cuff Flip: 

  1. Lay one sock directly on top of the other.
  2. Grab the cuff of one sock and pull it open.
  3. Pull the opened cuff up and over the cuff of the other sock, folding the top third to half of the sock as you go up into the cuff, so it ends up secured in the fold.

Works for all sock heights: 3 stars

I’ve got years of experience on this method, and the two sock heights I’ve run into problems with are No Show Hidden socks and Over the Calf or Knee High socks.

No Show Hidden (or Invisible) socks simply don’t tend to have a true cuff, and the opening is very large. This means there’s nothing to secure your socks in place when you fold them. My solution has always been to simply place one sock fully inside the other sock. Even then, the opening is so large the inner sock will often fallout.

To use this fold on Knee High socks, the problem is a simple fold over of the cuff leaves the sock ends way too long to pretend to be neat once you place them in a drawer. The solution is to fold the stacked socks into thirds before pulling the cuff up and around.

Cuff Flip Pros:

  • Easy and fast. This method takes only a fraction of a second longer than the Single Fold method.
  • Keeps your pairs together, with a very low risk of losing one sock.

Cuff Flip Cons:

  • Stretches out the cuff of the sock that you use to create the fold. The taller the sock, the greater the stretch required.
  • No good solution for No Show Hidden socks.
  • Not stackable – when I use this method, I end up throwing all my socks into the drawer higgledy-piggledy, as it’s not a convenient shape for stacking.

The Cuff Flip might be right for you if...

  • You don’t own that many socks. This method served me well for years when I only owned a dozen or so socks, so it was easy to sort through the small pile.
  • You want something quick, easy, and secure.
  • Space isn’t an issue. Like the Single Fold method, this isn’t the most space-saving fold (those are coming up).

The Military Roll

This sock fold is truly a sock roll, and it is super space efficient.

To do the Military Roll:

  1. Lay one sock directly on top of the other.
  2. Beginning at the toe, begin tightly rolling your socks up.
  3. Once you reach the sock cuff, grasp the cuff of the outermost sock.
  4. Pull the cuff out and around the sock roll, so the entire sock roll is inside the edge of the cuff.

You can skip step 4 and simply roll your socks without adding the cuff flip at the end. Your decision to flip/not flip the cuff affects the pros/cons, as I’ll call out.

Works for all sock heights: 5 stars

Every sock height I tested worked with this method, no variations necessary. I did find it was slightly easier with the No Show Hidden socks if they weren’t stacked directly on top of each other, so the top sock had the toe sticking out slightly over the top of the bottom sock.

Military Roll Pros:

  • Fast and easy. Rolling your socks does take slightly longer (especially for Over the Calf socks), but the overall time and thought needed is minimal. You can do this fold right the first try while watching I Love Lucy reruns.
  • Space efficient. If you get your roll tight, this method could really make a difference in the amount of space your socks take up.
  • Secure – your socks aren’t going to get separated from each other in your drawer or on-the-go if you’re traveling. You lose this benefit if you choose to not flip the cuff over and just roll the socks.

Military Roll Cons:

  • Stretches your sock cuff. The smaller the sock, the less I found the cuff was stretched. On my No Show socks, the stretch was so minimal I’d be skeptical it’s hurting the life of the sock, but on my taller socks the stretch was much more significant. This is not an issue if you just roll the socks without folding the cuff over.
  • Obscures the sock design. Those tight little sock rolls make it hard to tell what sock exactly you’re looking at.
  • Doesn’t stack. I’d call this a partial con though. Rolls certainly don’t stack, but I found I could place them all vertically in my drawer and create a tight, organized sock grid. More on that when I talk about sock drawer organization further down.

The Military Roll might be right for you if...

  • You’re short for space. I could make a case that this is the most space efficient method I tried.
  • You travel a lot. These sock rolls would be super easy to pack.
  • You own a lot of different sock heights. You can use this method on short socks, tall socks, and everything in the middle.
  • You’re not super concerned about sock patterns. Own a ton of black socks? White socks? Gray socks? If you generally don’t need to see the entire sock to know it’s the pair you want to wear, this method gets the job done.

The Fold and Tuck

This method seemed strange to me until I’d done it a few times. The more I did it, the more it grew on me.

To do the Fold and Tuck:

  1. Re-flatten your sock* so the heel is facing directly up (or down). Then flatten the heel by folding it against the rest of the sock. If you do this already, skip this step, but if you’re like me you typically lay your socks out flat so the heel is on the edge, folded in half. *Video demonstrating how to flatten your socks at the end of this post.
  2. Lay one sock directly on top of the other.
  3. Fold the toes in towards the mid-point of your socks.
  4. For a tighter final shape, fold this whole section over itself again. You can skip this step and proceed directly to step 5. 
  5. Fold the cuffs up to meet the toes/folded toes. 
  6. Tuck the toes of your socks inside the topmost cuff.
  7. Shape as much/little as desired. With some practice, you can come up with pretty neat squares 90% of the time.

Straight up: I find the re-flattening my sock task loathsome. It’s probably just me, so I won’t let that affect my scores. However, if you find yourself in the same boat, I found you could do this exact same fold without going to that effort. The end result is just less square. Your choice.

Works for all sock heights: 4 stars

For No Show socks, I found the fold could be a bit tricky, because you’re not working with a lot of material. I offset the socks slightly, which helped a bit, but it was still a tad tricky to get the toe end securely inside the cuff.

For Knee High socks, the fold requires step 4 to be effective. Otherwise you end up with a big sock loop, instead of a neat square.

Fold and Tuck Pros:

  • This method stacks well. This is especially true of Quarter height and above (the smaller socks end up a bit more like a roll than a fold).
  • Sock design is easy to see. You’re not flipping anything out, so you can identify and find your favorite sock with ease
  • Minimal to no stretching. Yes, you technically might be stretching the cuff by putting the toe end inside it, but I found this stretching to be super minimal.
  • Except for short socks (see cons below), this will keep your socks together and neat.

Fold and Tuck Cons:

  • A bit tricky with short socks. I found this especially true if the sock had cushion. A few pairs came undone on me.
  • Some effort required. Honestly, this is more of a setup cost than an ongoing issue. The more I did this fold, the faster I was able to do it, and the learning curve passed quickly. It’s just not as fast to do as some of the methods we’ve already discussed.

The Fold and Tuck might be right for you if...

  • You own mostly mid to tall socks. This sock fold organizes those sock heights really well, and they’ll neatly stack in your drawer.
  • You’re ready to upgrade your fold. Done some work and are ready to take your sock drawer to the next level of neatness? This fold will get you there, without going overboard.
  • You have fun socks. If your drawer is full of bear socks, striped socks, bicycling dog socks… this method makes it easy to tell what you’re grabbing.

The Square

This is the most complex fold I tried. Kudos to whomever figured out that this was possible. The key to getting this fold right is to maintain the square shape as you fold.

To do the Square:

  1. Re-flatten your sock* so the heel is facing directly up (or down). Then flatten the heel by folding it against the rest of the sock. If you do this already, skip this step.
  2. Take one sock and place it perpendicularly on top of the other sock. On most socks, I found that this means the heels are stacked. The area your socks overlap is the square.
  3. Grab the toe of the bottom sock and fold it to the center, so it lies over the top sock. If the toe is long enough that it sticks out past the edge of the top sock, fold it back over itself to maintain the square shape you are developing.
  4. Fold the cuff of the bottom sock into the center. Again, if it sticks out past the edges, fold it back over itself to keep everything within the square. 
  5. Fold the remaining sock cuff into the center, folding again if needed to keep the square.
  6. Fold the final sock toe up and over center, covering every fold you’ve made so far. Continue to bring it all the way around, tucking that last toe under the bottom layer of sock folds you’ve created.

Once you’ve mastered this fold, you’ll end up with your socks in neat squares, with more consistent sizing than I got from the Fold and Tuck method.

Works for all sock heights: 4 stars

I ran into trouble with two heights for this fold. Over the Calf socks are just too long, so you have to insert a step, first folding each sock slightly under halfway (so the cuff sticks out a bit). This makes the sock length more manageable to fold.

The squares come out understandably smaller for no show socks, so you’re not quite making uniform squares. I personally found it tricky to fold my No Show Tab socks into this shape, probably because I like them with cushion, which adds just enough extra bulk that it was tricky getting the final cuff tuck to secure everything.

Square Pros:

  • Makes you look like a super-neat-sock-folding pro. Seriously, if you enact this fold, it’s time to start showing off your sock drawer. It will be Insta-worthy.
  • Organized and visible. You can clearly see what socks you’re grabbing, as the designs face out. You also have some options – you can stack the squares vertically or horizontally.
  • Space saving. I’m not convinced this is more space-efficient than the Military Roll, but it definitely is going to help you gain back some ground.
  • Pairs are secure. This fold is unlikely to come apart in your drawer.

Square Cons:

  • A bit complex. This fold doesn’t come naturally (or at least, it didn’t to me), and it undoubtedly takes the longest to do of all the folds I tried.
  • The square isn’t so square/flat if your socks have cushion. Definitely works best if your socks are the no cushion option.

The Square might be right for you if...

  • You love folding things and have the time. Seriously, it was kinda fun, like sock origami.
  • You own mostly Quarter socks or taller. Anything above a 1/4 height, I was able to get a really uniform square shape, making the experience once the socks are in-drawer magnifique.
  • You’re an overachiever. No judgment, in fact I applaud you.

Sock Drawer Organization

Honestly, I think the fold you choose is 90% of the sock organization task completed. The only remaining question is, based on the fold you chose, how you’re going to put them in your drawer.

For the Single Fold, Fold and Tuck, and Square, your best bet is probably to stack the folded socks. If you want a bit of structure to support your sock stacks, there’s some drawer inserts that section your drawer into smaller, sock-sized rows.

If you opt for less stackable technique like the Military Roll or Cuff Flip, your socks still may be piled into the drawer – how neat that pile looks to the eye depending on which method. That is, unless you get (or make) a handy sock drawer organizer. It’s like a honeycomb for socks, and when paired with the Military Roll, can take your sock drawer to whole new level.

Where I Landed

Socks are personal, so do what’s right for you. But if you’re curious what conclusion I reached after all this research, it’s truly a hybrid, based on what I thought 1) worked well and 2) would be sustainable.

For Quarter socks and shorter, I’m using the Military Roll. For a few reasons:

  • My short socks aren’t about the design – the design won’t show above my shoe – so I don’t need to see the sock.
  • As I mentioned above, I found stretching to be minimal for this method with shorter socks.
  • It’s just so space saving. My sock drawer isn’t that big. Even with my new-found sock organization skills, it’s crammed.

For all my other (taller) socks, I love the Fold and Tuck. Here’s why:

  • Designs matter – I mean, I have hedgehogs socks! I need to see what the sock looks like.
  • The Square was too time-consuming, I knew I wouldn’t stay committed to it.
  • This sock fold hit the balance for me, improving my overall organization and ability to find the socks I wanted, without requiring so much extra effort I would hate the laundry.

My sock drawer now, after I started folding my socks and organizing my sock drawer better to be neat

So there you have it. Does your sock drawer need organizing? Is it a paragon of sock-folded perfection? Tag us on Instagram @darntoughvermont to share your story.

*How to Flatten Socks

About the Author

Jenny Hastings fell in love with hiking from spending hours in the White Mountains with her dad, spending most weekends in the summer and quite a few weekends in the winter out on the trails. She's always looking for a new summit and ways to spend more time outdoors, whether on the trail or reading in her hammock.

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