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Folding and Packing Tips: How to Pack a Suitcase

We fold a lot of laundry. We know how to save space and prevent wrinkles. Here are some laundry tips to help you become a better suitcase packer!

How to Pack a Suitcase

Packing a suitcase is all about laundry management. We know laundry management… 

Folding laundry is an art. And, so is packing. 

Packing a suitcase and folding laundry are both something most people take as a chore – not an art. How many people actually try to do either really well?

We do. And, maybe you do too?

To do them well, you’ll need attention to detail, organization and efficient use of space. Here are our favorite laundry and packing tips to get the most out of our suitcase.

Laundry Tips on How to Pack a Suitcase | Doing Laundry While Traveling

Pack Less – Do Laundry Instead

More isn’t always better. 

While it might not be for everyone, packing less and planning to do laundry on a trip is one way to become a more efficient packer. Doing laundry on vacation allows you a bit of freedom when it comes to:

  • You do not need to pack as many clothes in your suitcase
  • Prevent the pattern of bringing way too many clothes on your trip
  • Allow you to return home with clean clothes to better transition back into your day to day life at home.

If this is something you are interested in, take laundry into consideration while planning your trip. Airbnb rentals tend to have washers and dryers in the homes. Hotels typically offer laundry service. However, if you are using a hotel laundry service be sure you know the difference between their wash and fold laundry service and their dry cleaning service. There is also the ability to use a laundromat or a delivery laundry service.

Rolling Your Clothes in Your Suitcase Helps Fit More Clothing When Packing

Rolling Laundry is Best for Packing

Rolling is often considered the best way to maximize space when packing, but is this really true?

The effectiveness of rolling versus folding depends largely on the type of bag or suitcase you are using. Rectangular suitcases are typically filled more efficiently with flat, folded items, while duffel bags can be packed more completely with rolled items, as the rolls can slide around each other to fill gaps.

Many people claim they can pack more by rolling. The key advantage of rolling is the reduction of air gaps in the folds, provided you roll each garment into a tight spiral. It’s less about compressing the fabric and more about minimizing air gaps. When you pack rolled items, each roll can deform slightly to fit snugly against its neighbors, creating a higher packing density than with rigidly folded clothes. This makes it easier to avoid air gaps between garments.

Ultimately, if you compress the entire bag, either technique should yield similar results. The overall volume remains the same, but the way you utilize that volume can significantly affect how much you can fit.

Personally, I prefer a hybrid method: I layer the bottom of the suitcase with folded items and then fill the top and sides with rolled garments. This way, I can place items side by side and on top of each other with minimal gaps. However, since the dimensions of a suitcase rarely perfectly match the dimensions of folded clothes, this hybrid approach works best for me. I have no concrete data to prove this is the optimal method, but it seems to maximize my packing efficiency.

Put a Dryer Sheet in Your Suitcase to Make Your Laundry Smell Better While Traveling

The Dryer Sheet Trick

Oftentimes, a suitcase can be a sampler platter of smells – even for the cleanest travelers. Think about it – your shoes mixed with your clothing mixed with your toiletries and other electronics.

Offset any smells by using dryer sheets in your luggage. It is particularly effective to put them inside any shoes that may be packed alongside your clothing. While you may not care that your shoes smell, you do not want all of your clothing to smell when you unpack your suitcase. 

Some other helpful places you can use dryer sheets to combat bad smells are in your closet, gym bags, trash cans, pet areas, and storage boxes. 

Bring a Laundry Bag in Your Suitcase While You Travel

Always Bring a Laundry Bag

This is a packing hack!

Look, we’re in the business of laundry bags. So, we understand the natural bias. But, when I travel without one, I notice a very stark difference. Things are less organized, more cluttered, and it is generally less enjoyable. 

It helps keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones, preventing unpleasant odors and potential stains from spreading. This separation also makes it easier to manage your laundry when you return home, as you can simply transfer the contents of the bag directly into the washing machine. A dedicated laundry bag also saves space by consolidating used clothing into a compact, manageable bundle.

Separate Dirty Clothes on One Side of Your Suitcase - Packing Tips from 2ULaundry

Manage Your Laundry on Separate Sides of Your Suitcase

Be intentional about where you put things in your luggage.

At the beginning of your trip, split the wearables on one side of your suitcase and the non-wearables on the other side of your suitcase. This separation means that your clothing is not mixed with your shoes, toiletries, and accessories. 

Later on in your trip, you can separate one side of your suitcase for clean laundry and the other for dirty laundry – making sure your dirty laundry is never mixed with your clean laundry. Note – This is easier if you bring a laundry bag!

Packing is all about laundry management. Being intentional about packing to “sides of your suitcase” is an important part of a good laundry management plan.

Use Packing Cubes to Make More Space When Packing

Use Packing Cubes or Vacuum Seal Bags

Using packing cubes or vacuum seal bags while packing your suitcase is not a beginner tip – this is for the pros. Seasoned travelers know the benefits!

Packing cubes are small, flexible containers that help organize your clothing and accessories, making it easy to locate items without unpacking everything. They maximize suitcase space by neatly compressing and compartmentalizing your belongings, preventing clothes from shifting during transit.

Vacuum seal bags, on the other hand, work by removing air from around your clothes, significantly reducing their volume and allowing you to fit more into your suitcase. These bags are especially useful for bulky items like sweaters and jackets, which can otherwise take up a lot of space. Both packing cubes and vacuum seal bags protect your clothes from wrinkles and potential spills. They provide a clear system for separating clean and dirty laundry, ensuring your suitcase stays organized throughout your trip. 

Wrap Shoes in Shower Cap to Protect Them While Traveling

Use Shower Caps to Cover Shoes

Shower caps make great shoes covers. 

Typically, shoes take up a lot of space. This means you are often forced to pack them alongside your clothes. As much as you would love to have them packed separately, they’ll inherently touch your clean clothes.

But, you don’t want the dirt from the bottom of your shoes or the smells from the inside of your shoes to get on your clean clothes. Consider using shower caps as a cheap way to cover your shoes.

The shower caps provide a lightweight and reusable barrier that is easy to pack and helps maintain a clean and organized suitcase.

How to Fold a Suit for a Suitcase

How to Pack a Suit in a Suitcase

Packing a suit in a suitcase without creasing involves several techniques.

Using a dry-cleaning bag can also help minimize wrinkles. For suit pants, fold them lengthwise and then widthwise, placing lighter items on top to keep them flat. Ensure shirts are buttoned and folded neatly, and use shoe bags to prevent dirt from soiling your clothes. Opt for wrinkle-resistant fabrics and unpack your suit promptly upon arrival.

To avoid suit wrinkles, choose a suitable suitcase that allows the suit to lay flat without being squashed. Use tissue paper or dry cleaning bags between layers to reduce friction, and consider rolling the suit instead of folding it. Avoid overpacking to prevent excess pressure on the suit. If possible, hang the suit in a steamy bathroom upon arrival to help smooth out any minor wrinkles. Proper planning and packing techniques can keep your suit looking fresh during travel.

How to Fold a Suit - Traditional
How to Fold a Suite - Shoulder Inside Out
How to Fold a Dress in a Suitcase

How to Pack a Dress in a Suitcase

If you don’t have to fold your dress, don’t. Garment bags and hanger bags are preferred. However, if you are here and reading this, those are likely not an option.

The key to folding dresses is to limit the number of folks. 

Dresses are inherently complicated to fold. They are not symmetrical and often have a variety of layers – compared to male formalwear that only has one layer. 

To fold a formal dress for luggage, start by laying it flat on a clean surface. Fold the dress lengthwise, aligning the sleeves and sides. Next, fold the dress in half horizontally, bringing the hem up to the bodice. For long dresses, you may need to fold it into thirds. Place a layer of tissue paper between folds to minimize wrinkles. If the dress has delicate details, consider using a garment bag. Finally, place the folded dress in the suitcase, ideally on top of other items to prevent it from being crushed.

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Laundry Tips on How to Pack a Suitcase

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