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10 Tips for Joyfully Decluttering Clothing with the KonMari Method

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Be honest now — how many items of clothing do you have hanging in your closet that still have the tags on them? What about shirts in your drawers you haven’t worn for years? Turns out even those unworn clothing items have something to teach you; learn what that lesson is and how to KonMari clothes effectively with these 10 simple tips!

Clothing folded with the KonMari method

KonMari method: clothes

Here’s why you should use the KonMari method to declutter your clothing. Marie Kondo’s decluttering method isn’t just a method; it’s an entire philosophy.

According to Kondo herself:

The approach is rooted in a single question: Does this item spark joy? Identifying what sparks joy leads to a tidy home filled only with items you cherish. It’s also a path to self-discovery, mindful living and fulfillment.

That’s what makes the KonMari method so special. Whereas most other minimalist philosophies focus on the getting rid of part, the KonMari Method is all about mindfully choosing to keep things that spark joy.

By focusing on what to keep rather than on what to discard, the process becomes positive and empowering. You might even experience grand moments of self-discovery while tidying up!

(Indeed, it’s not called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for nothing; it has literally changed my life and helped me move on after decades of grief. If you are interested in this method, there really is no substitute for reading the book yourself…definitely check it out!)

The KonMari method is perfect for decluttering clothing, shoes, and other wearable items; in fact, clothing is the very FIRST category that you tackle with the KonMari method.

10 tips to joyfully declutter your clothing

1: Remove all items and place on the bed

The first step of decluttering clothing with the KonMari method is to remove all clothing items from their positions and place them on the bed, floor, or other work surfaces.

The bed is preferable but if you run out of space or like to sit while working the floor is fine too!

Leave no drawer unturned, no hanger unexplored! Every single item in the clothing category should be removed for examination.

I already own much less clothing than many people to begin with, so I found this relatively easy! I took all my clothing and accessories out and placed them on the floor or the bed.

(If you have more clothing, make sure you have enough space so that you can both sort through AND have a place to set aside discarded items for donation, recycling, selling, etc. It helps if you get trash bags beforehand and pre-label them for donation, recycling, and selling — more on that below!)

KonMari method clothing being decluttered

 

2: Don’t forget anything

Besides clothing, shoes and accessories are also included in the KonMari “clothing” category. Don’t forget your off-season clothing that may be hiding elsewhere in the house, like coats and scarves!

By the way, jewelry and hats count too! They are worn, just like clothing! 🙂 Take all of those items out and lay them on the floor.

Even unworn clothing and accessories are not exempt from this decluttering effort!

In fact, Kondo says that unused items have a special message for us: despite the fact that items were purchased with the intention of using them, if we haven’t by now, for whatever reason that item’s purpose was to teach us that we didn’t need it!

Psst! Make sure you don’t forget anything while decluttering with this FREE five-page KonMari Checklist!

3: Start with off-season clothing

As we haven’t been using our off-season clothing (in my case, summer clothing at the time of this writing) they are less “charged” accounting to Kondo and are easier to sort.

That makes it easier to identify if they spark joy and to get rid of them if they don’t.

4: Hold each item and ask if it sparks joy

You need to pick up every single item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”.

  • Items that are loved, no matter their condition, can be kept.
  • Items that do not spark joy should be placed in the “discard” pile.

Below are some of the favorite items I kept that spark joy:

  • A vintage kimono from a sweet Chicago thrift shop
  • A gorgeous floral skirt in aqua and orange that I bought while vacationing in Berlin, Germany
  • A cozy sweater in an adorable fox print
  • A daring tropical romper-dress
  • A pair of well-loved oxford heels and Steve Madden booties
  • Two of my favorite statement necklaces, including my “mermaid” necklace
Finding clothing that sparks joy with KonMari

5: Know what your “joy” feels like

When people talk about the KonMari method, this key distinguishing factor often makes people nervous.

You might be asking yourself, “What if I can’t tell what brings me joy? What does “sparking joy” actually feel like?”

To put your mind at ease, the answer is, yes I was able to identify items that sparked joy and items that didn’t,  and the process got even easier as I progressed.

For me, the “joy” felt like a tickle somewhere between my chest and my throat…I get the same feeling when riding a Ferris wheel or reading a moving scene in a book. You may feel joy in a different way, but I am confident you WILL feel it.

6: Downgrading to loungewear is taboo

This rule gave me some trouble.

I love loungewear! I am definitely a yoga-pants-sweatpants-no-pants kind of girl at home, so getting rid of prime lounging candidates (like comfy shirts with holes in them) was tough for me…but I feel better about it in the end.

Now, if you have a shirt with holes it in that truly brings you joy, who am I to say no? Keep that sucker until it falls apart!

7: Fold > Hang

According to Kondo, folding is preferable over hanging when possible, as it is more space-efficient and tidy. She prefers to hang only coats, jackets, and suits.

I still like to hang up my nicer clothing for easier access and breathability, but I was AMAZED by how much more space we had in our drawers with Kondo’s vertical folding method!

8: Fold correctly

There is a certain way to fold your clothing to maximize space efficiency and keep wrinkles at bay. The KonMari folding method basically involves folding clothing into smaller and smaller rectangles, until you are left with a small rectangle of cloth that can even stand up on its own!

Check out this complete visual guide that will show you how to fold absolutely ANYTHING with the KonMari method!

9: To the left, to the left

As Beyoncé says, to the left, to the left!

According to Kondo, you should place weightier items (longer, heavier, darker) to the left and lighter items (shorter, lighter, brighter) to the right.

If you drew an imaginary arrow you would see it move from your lower left and rise as to the right like the image pictured below.

How to hang clothes with KonMari method

10: Store Simply

No need to buy expensive and fancy storage containers! The best storage items are the ones you have on hand…old shoeboxes and Apple boxes are some of Kondo’s (and my) favorite.

We actually had too much space in our drawers after decluttering and had to fold some clothing normally. May need to revisit them in the future to reorganize.

Here is a picture of my youngest son’s drawer after KonMari.

Folding and storing clothing vertically with KonMari
I used two shoeboxes here to keep the clothing in order.

Special note: what to do with clothing after decluttering

Obviously, you are going to have a lot of stuff you are going to need to get rid of after decluttering.

Step away from that trash can — did you know even damaged clothing can find a new home and life? Check out this list with eco-friendly places that will take your old junk (torn clothing, old toothbrushes, worn shoes, EVERYTHING).

I repeat, no trashing allowed! (You could even sell your old stuff online — I have made over $15,000 doing so!)

Your clothes, shoes, and jewelry are nearly 100% reusable, even shirts and pants with holes in the knees and worn shoes! I had five huge bags to get rid of and I didn’t even have that much clothing to begin with!

Also, because we all know that shoeboxes can’t solve all of our storage issues, get this list of the most popular organization tools that will have your home in sparking joy shape ASAP!

Bags of clothing decluttered with KonMari method

* Update: read all my other posts about the KonMari method:

How’s it going?

Thinking of using the KonMari method to declutter your clothing? Already started or finished? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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A closet full of organized, beautiful clothes

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12 Comments

  1. Another thing to do with clothes is to just ask your neighborhood. I never would have thought about it but my husband had some nice shirts he was going to donate when a neighbor asked for donations for his brother who had lost everything in a fire. He was my husband’s size and very happy for the shirts even if he only used them for a little while.

    1. That is a good point and local Facebook groups can be GREAT for that! We have a similar group who was also collecting after similar circumstances.

  2. I KONMARIED my clothing a year and a half ago. I ended up on a HUGE buying spree a few months later and is still going on! I have given myself through January to buy then that’s it…for awhile anyway. This was the worst category for me to start KONMARI with because clothing is very important to me. This is my interest, career and even my Bachelors is Fashion Merchandizing. I learned from another blogger that she boxed up the ones that didn’t spark joy then gave herself a few months to see if she missed any thing boxed up. She allowed herself to pull clothing out that she found she missed. Then she discarded the rest. Next time I do this I will do it her way. Otherwise thing went pretty smoothly.

    1. That’s a nice idea, too, Natalie! Isn’t it funny how we all get attached differently to different things? I have never worried or missed a single item of clothing I have decluttered, but I know some who have regrets! Definitely take it as slow as you need to and GOOD LUCK!

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