How to Do the Military Clothing Roll

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Rolling clothes  allows for more room in your suitcase.
Rolling clothes allows for more room in your suitcase. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

It's more important than ever to pack light when traveling by plane, and the way you fold your clothes affects how much you can get in a suitcase or duffel bag. The military roll, used by enlisted men and women to ensure that their baggage is easy to transport, is an effective folding technique. What's more, the method leaves your clothes wrinkle-free upon arrival.

Shirts, Blouses and Jackets

Button the buttons and zip the zippers on your tops.

Lay your first item face down on a flat folding surface.

Fold back the sleeves so that they cross in an X-fashion behind the back of the garment. If the sleeves are not long enough, just fold them so that they would cross in this fashion if they were longer. There should be no part of either sleeve hanging over the sides.

Smooth out any wrinkles.

Fold the very bottom edge of the item upward, then begin rolling tightly toward the neck.

Place the roll in your suitcase and continue on to your other items.

Pants and Shorts

Lay out the pants or shorts so that the inner hems of each leg are lined up.

Work out any natural creases and wrinkles with your hands.

Fold up the bottom cuff, then roll the garment tightly, working your way to the waist.

Dresses and Skirts

Lay the item flat on your folding surface.

Fold in one side, then the other over that, as if you were folding a letter into thirds to fit it inside an envelope.

Roll upward into a tight roll, starting at the hem.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid wrinkling silk items, put them in a plastic dry cleaning bag before rolling and packing.
  • Roll underwear similarly to how you roll pants, and place socks inside shoes you are packing.

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