How to Konmari: Explaining Japanese Cleaning Methods

As much as we would all love to have Marie Kondo organising our lives or at least helping us out while we wait for UK Covid 19 restrictions to fully lift, we’re going to have to work on carrying out these Japanese cleaning methods at home by ourselves. Let’s face it, we’ve all been putting off a dull task (or ten), but there’s no time like the present to declutter your home. If you’re a keen reader or an avid Netflix user, you’ve probably already heard of Marie Kondo organising. Kondo demonstrates the joy of decluttering our homes, holding onto only what makes us happy, following a 5 step guide she coined “The KonMari Method”.

How to KonMari

Sadly, no exciting Japanese meaning here – it is simply her first and last name pushed together to make a punchy portmanteau! The mindset behind the decluttering is based on Japanese philosophical principles of the home and interior design such as simplicity and minimalism, craftsmanship and beauty, nature and versatility. Why not read more on Japanese interior design in our featured blog post?

こんまりメソッド = Konmari Method

かばん語(かばんご) = portmanteau

Kondo conceived a category-by-category Japanese cleaning method, rather than decluttering the home room-by-room as many of us tend to approach the daunting task. There are six key rules to the KonMari method:

1.     Commit yourself to tidying up all in one go

Kondo recommends setting aside an entire day – or even a weekend – to tackling the clutter rather than clearing out a different room each day. This is especially useful when you’re first figuring out how to KonMari, as it helps you really get into the mindset if you’re going to be at it for a while.

2.   Visualising the ideal lifestyle

It may sound a little unnecessary, but Kondo advises imagining your ideal lifestyle before diving deeper into each desire to discover why this is important to them. For instance, you may have the goal of taking up yoga and exploring this goal might lead you to your desire to find relaxation.

3.   Tidy by category, not by room

It sounds a little silly, but we don’t always keep our possessions in similar places (I’m sure you also have a drawer somewhere containing a dead battery, a paper clip, a disposable camera film cartridge from 2002, and that earring you’ve been looking for since last May). This is where things get messy and maybe a little overwhelming, but you must assemble the pile of your current category in its totality before you start rifling through.

For example, when looking through clothes, it doesn’t matter if you have a wardrobe in your bedroom, seasonal clothes in your attic and accessories like hats and scarves in a cupboard. To KonMari, you should pull everything out, put it on your bed (or on the floor in a large room), and go through it all at once.

4.   Do your items spark joy?

The iconic catchphrase! Marie Kondo’s organising rules tell us to hold each item and consider if it ‘sparks joy‘. The reason behind this is avoiding possessions that bring negative energy into the home. Instead, she urges us to focus on the things that bring us happiness. Before haphazardly throwing items away, she asks that we hold each item and ask ourselves if it sparks feelings of joy, and if not, it has to go! Before we throw it away, we must sincerely thank the item for its purpose. She clarifies that the focus is not on the item’s condition: it could be old, ragged and in disrepair, but if it brings joy and happy memories, it should be kept and loved.

ときめく= To spark joy

捨てる(すてる) = To throw away, to discard

“If you can say without a doubt, ‘I really like this!’ no matter what anyone else says, and if you like yourself for having it, then ignore what other people think.”

-Marie Kondo

5.   Discard items, then organise your belongings

It is important to the Marie Kondo organising process that we separate the two main phases, discarding items before organising the remainder of the category. This way you don’t get confused and you can focus on finding a home for all of the things that spark joy.


6.   Work through your home in a fixed order

Finally, ensure you stick to the following order devised by Kondo herself:

  1. Clothes = 衣類 (いるい)
  2. Books = 本 (ほん)
  3. Papers = 書類 (しょるい)
  4. Small and Miscellaneous Items = 小物類 (こものるい)
  5. Sentimental Items = 思い出の品 (おもいでのしな)

Some extra tips from Marie Kondo!

  • Kondo recommends undergoing the process in private, away from family and friends. However, she advises us not to throw away others’ belongings without their approval.
  • You could try figuring out how to KonMari in other areas of your life! Some have taken the process to their digital folders, as well as organising their smartphones.
  • We all have someday items – those things we can’t throw away because we might need them someday… right? We must ask ourselves when we last used these items or how often we forget they even exist. Kondo believes that we strip our possessions of their dignity if we leave them unused, so why not store or donate them?
  • Marie Kondo’s organising states that maintaining absolute simplicity is important even inside storage areas: items must not be stacked or scattered!
  • You could follow Kondo’s method of folding clothes to ensure simplicity, minimalism and positive energy in the home. She posts helpful videos for all kinds of clothing items on her YouTube channel (available below with English dubbing).



If you’re not sure you’re up to Marie-Kondo organising with this unique Japanese cleaning method, you can even hire one of Kondo’s 200+ consultants to aid you with tidying sessions! While you’re cleaning up, why not add some Japanese novelty to your hand-washing routine and check out our paper soap?

If you decide to ‘Marie Kondo’ your home, let us know how it goes – and ganbarimasu (good luck)!

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