The Smartest Tips for Organizing and Folding Cloth Napkins, from Marie Kondo

updated May 24, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Kitchn Video)

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of cloth napkins around here. Not only do they look nicer on the table (or on your desk for an office lunch), but they also cut back on waste and make a typical meal feel just a little more special.

We have a million and one cloth napkins in the Kitchn studios. Our editors use them, our photo team scatters them around during shoots, our video crews pull them out — we have a lot of people using them. That’s all to say that, despite our best efforts, the piles can get a little messy. So when Marie Kondo volunteered to come to our office, we had just the project for her: Fold some of our cloth napkin stacks in a way that makes sense (and won’t get all messed up again in two seconds).

Watching her work was mesmerizing — and educational, as we took away three super smart tips.

(Image credit: Kitchn Video)

1. Sort the napkins by fabric type.

We have a mix of cotton napkins and linen ones. Storing them separately makes it easier to find specific napkins when we want them. And it makes the piles stack up in a neater fashion.

(Image credit: Kitchn Video)

2. Think about whatever container they’re going in.

Things like napkins belong in containers because it helps them hold their shape once they’re folded. We gave Kondo a few different-sized containers and she spoke to the napkins (“Ask the napkins how they want to be folded,” she says) to see what made sense. Once she picked her containers, she folded the napkins to the length of each container. This way, the fabric would be sure to fit and there’d be no awkward squeezing or forcing things in.

(Image credit: Kitchn Video)

3. Fold in thirds.

“This is especially important for thinner fabrics because it gives them more weight,” Kondo says. Fold all the napkins in thirds and they’ll stand up better on their own. Then, when you pull one napkin (or four) out of the container, they won’t all topple over.

Do you have any napkin folding or storing tips to add?