Decluttering Clothes Using The KonMari Method
Marie Kondo is the author of the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, and now she has a series on Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo’s decluttering method, KonMari, focuses on keeping items you love, not what you can throw away.
She suggests that when you’re putting your home in order you should start with the easy things first. The category she advises you to tackle first is clothes. Marie also includes shoes and handbags with this category, as well as accessory items like scarves and belts. Here’s how to declutter your clothes using the KonMari method, in just 5 simple steps.
#1 – Create a designated space to work in
For me this was my bed, I took off the bedding so I had a nice clear area to focus in. You might also want to use your bed, or a space on your floor, an area of another room or even a spare room. Clear the space you decided on and give it a quick clean or hoover (vacuum) if necessary.
#2 – Gather all your clothes to that designated space
If you think you’ve got it all, think again. Have you left any in another room or in a bag somewhere? Don’t worry about clothes that need washing, you can go through them as you’re folding them after they’re washed and dried. You’re collecting:
- Jackets and coats
- Suits and uniforms
- Socks and underwear
- Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc)
If you think you have too many to tackle in one go, then just work on one sub-category at a time, off-season clothing first.
When I was going through the KonMari method the second time** I looked at the pile I’d just accumulated and had two thoughts: how do I have this much when I KonMari’d just 2 years ago? And, why did I start this again? This is going to take forever!
But, I made myself a cup of coffee and dived in, remembering to focus on what I’m keeping NOT what I’m discarding.
**Marie Kondo will tell you that her method has a zero repeater rate, and to an extent that is true. I’m not doing this again from the same point I was in before, however, I am going through the process again. Why? Because we change. Our lives change, people come in and out of our homes with all their belongings, our tastes change, we get older and are continually discovering ourselves. 29-year-old me is living a very different lifestyle to 27-year-old me. So although I KonMari’d 2 years ago, I feel like new me needs a refresher course.
#3 – Focus on what to keep, the items that “spark joy”.
If you’re like me the phrase “spark joy” will really confuse you. As I picked up each item I never got a thrill, or a zing, or felt ecstatic about a piece of clothing. For me, the items that sparked joy were just ones that I quite liked, or they were my favourites, or I knew if I got rid of it I would replace it pretty soon with something the same. By focusing on what to keep, not what to discard, I just started by picking out the items I knew I really wanted to still have. This felt much easier than other decluttering projects I’ve done where I focused on what to get rid of.
So start by picking out your “spark joy” items and make three piles:
- things to keep that can be put away (items that spark joy).
- items to keep that need fixing/stain removing (if it turns out it can’t be brought back to life then you can discard it knowing you tried, rather than having it take up space in your wardrobe till you “get round to doing it”).
- things to discard/donate (a lot of areas have clothes bins that take all your unwanted items, regardless of their condition. Have a look in your town to see if you have a place to donate).
It’s OK if you end up having a maybe pile too. You can try these on at the end and see how they look and feel when you wear them.
I often see people talking about their KonMari journey and only mentioning the things they discarded.
“Oh my goodness! I dumped 80% of my clothes.”
“I got rid of 300 books.”
“We had to fill the car up 5 times with all our old stuff.”
To me, it seems like they’ve missed the point a bit. It’s not about how much you discard – although the shock of the amount might prevent you accumulating so much in the future – really it’s about the things you keep. The items that represent who you are and how you want to live your life. It doesn’t matter if you toss 2 bags of clothes or 20, what matters is that what you have left makes you happy.
#4 – Put your clothes away
Marie recommends folding anything “soft and pliable” because when they’re folded you deflate the air from them and they take up less space. Her basic instruction for folding is to first make a rectangle, then fold it in half, and then fold it again two or three times depending on the size and thickness of it.
There are some things that “prefer” to be hung though, like jackets and coats, suits, dress shirts, dresses, and things made from very thin or fluttery material. Marie says that hanging the longest items on the left and the shortest on the right gives you an uplifting feeling as they rise to the right. Try it for yourself.
I don’t fold most of my clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I think her reasoning for folding is sound and the clothes do take up a lot less space when they’re neatly folded and stood vertically. The reason I don’t fold many things – only underwear, socks, nightwear and sports gear – is because it hurts me. Folding clothes for even a couple of minutes hurts my back and wrists due to my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I’ve tried folding in different positions and at different heights but it always causes pain.
So, for me, hanging up the majority of my clothes brings me joy because I’m not injuring myself. Luckily my kids are old enough now to fold their own clothes so I don’t need to do theirs either.
Now, if you don’t have any problems that prevent you from folding I do recommend using the KonMari method of folding, purely because you can see everything and it takes up less room.
When putting your clothes, shoes and bags away, don’t panic if you’re not really sure where to put them. All the storage spaces you’re using during this process are temporary. After you’ve completed each category you’ll have a good idea of what you have, and how much storage you have to put things in, so deciding where to keep everything will be much easier.
#5 – Bag up your discard pile and get it out of your home.
Having a stash of bags and boxes full of things waiting to leave the house is not going to spark any joy. As soon as you can, get them out of the house. Even if you just put them in your car or garage for now and arrange to drop them off another day. Just get them gone soon so you don’t end up discouraged and feeling like your space isn’t getting any better.
And that’s a wrap!
If you haven’t read Marie’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying yet I highly recommend you do so. Even if some of her methods seem a bit strange to you (like talking to your belongings), it’s worth the read to get a firm grasp on the KonMari method. If you’re trying to save money check if your local library has any copies.
Have you completed the KonMari method? More than once? Let me know, I’d love to hear your life-changing story!