Anita's is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

What is the KonMari Method? Here’s How to Declutter the Marie Kondo Way

A woman folding clothes.

Do you feel like no matter how often you clean your house it still feels messy? If so, you may need a crash course in tidying. Cleaning and tidying are two different things. Cleaning tackles dirt and grime, while tidying takes care of clutter and organization. Many people struggle with tidying because it can be difficult to know where to start, which items to discard, and how to store the items you keep. Here’s where the KonMari Method, created by professional organizing consultant Marie Kondo, can be a game changer.

Who Is Marie Kondo?

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Marie Kondo was drawn to tidying from a young age. She loved reading home and lifestyle magazines with her mother and learning cleaning tips. She also admired her grandmother, who always kept her house neatly organized and treated her household items with consideration and care. 

As a teenager, Kondo tested various methods for tidying and decluttering her own home. Using what she learned, she set up a tidying consultancy business at the age of 19. It did so well that she decided to write “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which sold over 13 million copies. Since then, Kondo has written eight more books and starred in her own Netflix series called “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”

What Is the KonMari Method?

The KonMari Method is the system Marie Kondo created based on her years of research into the most effective tidying strategies and her experiences helping hundreds of people declutter and organize their spaces. The name is a combination of parts of her name (“Kon” for Kondo and “Mari” for Marie). 

The goal of the KonMari Method is to create clean, uncluttered spaces that bring peace and happiness to the inhabitants. Basically, it teaches you how to identify which items to discard and which to keep and how to store the items you keep in the most efficient way. The method is also designed to prevent you from reverting back to the old ways of hoarding clutter.

The KonMari Method is unique for a few reasons. First, it’s not just about professional house cleaning. It’s about tidying up in a mindful way to help create the life you want. Second, it encourages you to start with categories of items like clothes and books instead of tackling specific rooms or areas. Finally, the main focus of the method centers on deciding which items bring joy and value to your life.

How Does the KonMari Method Work?

There are six basic rules to the KonMari Method. These steps should be taken for every decluttering session. The goal is to set a foundation for tidying that you can use every time to get the job done effectively and create a space that will help you work toward living your best life. These are the steps:

1. Commit to the Job

If you really want to see results, you need to commit fully to the process of tidying up. This will give you the motivation you need to jump in even when things look overwhelming. It will also give you the energy to keep going and get everything done in one session.

2. Visualize Your Ideal Lifestyle

Imagine what your ideal lifestyle looks like. What kind of space do you want to live in, and what do you want to do in that space every day? Try to solidify that thought by writing it down, drawing it out, or creating a vision board. This will give you a clear vision of why you want to tidy up.

3. Discard First

Before you can tidy up, you need to get rid of the things that you don’t need or no longer serve you. Think about each item carefully, thank it for what it gave you or what it taught you, and then let it go. This will create more space for the things that make you happy.

4. Focus on Categories, Not Locations

It may seem logical to tidy one room at a time, but this can actually create more work because you might have the same items in different areas of the house, forcing you to do the same job many times. Tidy by category, such as clothes, papers, or books, to get a better grasp of how many of these things you actually have and to complete each category in one go.

5. Follow the Correct Order

Kondo’s experience has taught her that there is a certain order to the tidying categories that makes it easier to streamline the process. Start with clothes, then follow through with books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items — in that order. This order will help keep your motivation up as you progress through each category.

6. Decide Whether It Sparks Joy

The main goal of the KonMari Method is to create an environment that makes you truly happy. To do this, you need to ask yourself whether the items you are keeping spark joy. Be mindful of how each of the items makes you feel and how your body responds to them. If an item makes you feel joyful, it’s a good fit for your home.

Tidying Up is Just the Beginning 

Tidying is the key to creating a living space that encourages you to live your best life. It can change more than just the organizational aspect of your life. Embrace this process. Once you have decluttered and organized your home, you may want to bring in a professional house cleaning service to do a deep clean so you have a space that is straightened up, sparkling clean, and sparks even more joy.


Anita's Housekeeping Editors