Knowing how to fold clothes for packing so they come out of the suitcase wrinkle-free is a life skill so impressive it borders on magic. Some people just naturally seem to have the knack, while others pack carefully only to have their clothes come out with so many wrinkles you’d think someone tossed them into the suitcase in crumpled balls.
Those folks who magically produce unwrinkled suit shirts and dresses from their luggage weren’t born with an innate understanding of how to use a suitcase’s packing spaces: they had to learn how to pack a suitcase effectively. And that’s great news, because if they learned how to fold clothes for packing, so can you!
Some fabrics are just naturally more prone to wrinkling than others, such as cotton, linen, wool, and silk. In contrast, synthetic fabrics have a little more stretch and are less likely to wrinkle. Nylon, lycra, and polyester clothing are much better suited to travel, which explains why so many travel clothing brands work with these fabrics.
Synthetic fabrics like polyester have advantages above and beyond wrinkle resistance. Garments made with synthetic fabrics are quick-drying and more likely to have anti-odor and moisture-wicking properties.
If you’re unsure how susceptible an item of clothing is to wrinkles, crush a corner of the garment in your hand for thirty seconds. If it isn't wrinkled, or if the wrinkles shake out within a minute, it’s a good candidate for travel clothing.
How to Pack Clothes to Avoid Wrinkles
How you fold clothes for packing depends mainly on the type of luggage you’re using. What works for a large piece of checked baggage may not be the best choice for packing a carry-on. The type of clothing also plays a role: a casual T-shirt can be handled very differently from a silk dress shirt. We recommend three particular packing methods for avoiding wrinkled clothes:
The Rolling Method
Rolling clothing tightly prevents wrinkles while allowing you to maximize space in your luggage. To roll clothes for travel, fold along the seams and smooth out any wrinkles, then roll as tightly as possible without making any hard creases. Once in the suitcase, rolled clothes must be packed together tightly: if the roll loosens in transit, wrinkles can form.
The rolling method is best suited for pants, T-shirts, jeans, and some tops and is a practical way to pack if you’re only traveling with carry-on luggage or utilizing packing cubes.
Packing folders look like soft-covered briefcases that protect folded clothing during transit. The average-sized packing folder holds up to ten garments and fits into a standard-sized carry-on.
To prepare clothing for a packing folder, button up all tops and pants. Lay each piece of clothing face down on a flat surface and smooth away all wrinkles before folding. Most packing folders come with packing instructions to help you out.
Dresses, pants, tops, and button-up shirts are good candidates for packing folders. In checked luggage, combine packing folders with packing cubes, which are well-suited for underwear and wrinkle-resistant clothing.
Think it’s impossible to pack a suit without wrinkles? Garment bags offer a way to keep your suit looking great for weddings, business meetings, and other formal events. Plan your outfits and hang them in sets. Place the clothes, including the hangers they’re on, into the garment bag. Zip the bag up, fold it once or twice, and pack the whole thing. When you reach your destination, your clothes are all ready to hang up.
Larger garment bags are too big to fit into carry-on luggage, but there is an alternative. Carry-on rolling garment bags are available and the big 50” garment bag in the Platinum Elite is a popular choice for flight crews who need to keep extra uniforms looking smart.
Knowing how to pack a suitcase efficiently is an excellent advantage for any traveler. Be sure to match your packing style to suit the type of luggage you’re using, and you’ll be able to show up at your next travel destination with wrinkle-free clothing!