‘Tidying Up’ With Marie Kondo: What Is the KonMari Checklist

Forget spring cleaning — January is the perfect time to declutter, deep clean, and organize your space. Or, at least Netflix thinks so. The streaming service recently partnered with world-renowned organizing expert, Marie Kondo to bring her KonMari method to subscribers in a new series titled, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Launched on the platform on January 1st — just in time for New Year’s resolutions — the show has attracted some serious buzz in the first two weeks of streaming. But, it’s not the first time Marie Kondo’s expertise has sparked a movement.

Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method has changed the lives of so many. | Marie Kondo via Instagram

From the moment her New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, landed on bookstands in America in 2014, Marie Kondo experienced a wave of international success. Since then, fans and hoarders alike have completely transformed their lives by tidying up their spaces with Marie Kondo’s method.

What is the KonMari Method?

Marie Kondo’s special style of decluttering and organizing — called the KonMari Method — offers a minimalistic approach to the stuff we accumulate.

The KonMari Method’s main goal isn’t exactly about organizing our things — though that is an added plus — it’s about creating a space filled with things that spark joy, rather than things that add to the stress of our daily lives. (If the thought of opening your closet, garage, or pantry door exhausts you, then you know what we are talking about).

Simply put, the KonMari method is actually a checklist with six basic rules:

Make the commitment: Committing to decluttering and organizing your space is half the battle. Once you commit yourself to tidying up your home, you can apply the method and spark more joy in your life.

Consider how tidying up might change your life: Before you begin the KonMari checklist, ask yourself why you want to tidy up and what your life will look like once you are done with the process. Dreaming up the outcome helps spark motivation and keeps you in check when putting things away in the future.

Get rid of items first: One of the key aspects of the KonMari method is to get rid of unwanted items first — that way all you are left with is what needs to be organized. Before discarding, thank each item for serving its purpose.

Think category, not location: Another big part of the KonMari method is tackling one thing at a time and organizing your efforts by category, not location. For example, it’s not about cleaning out the master bedroom closet, it’s about cleaning out all clothing items in the house. Or, organizing all books under your roof, not just the cookbooks in your kitchen.

Follow the checklist order: The KonMari cleaning checklist is set up in a specific order and you should not stray from it. Start at the top and work your way down.

Find joy: It’s not about getting rid of things you no longer want, it’s about keeping things that spark joy. So, always think from a positive standpoint and simply ask yourself if something brings you happiness versus making a case for why it stresses you out.

What is the KonMari checklist?

With the rules covered, all that’s left to do is start organizing. Much like the guidelines, the KonMari checklist exists to simplify your cleanout and helps give some order to the chaos. After all, the hardest part about starting is knowing where to start! Here’s the exact order Marie Kondo wants you to follow when tidying up.

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Komono (miscellaneous items)
  • Sentimental items

Starting with clothes, she asks that you remove all clothing from its set area and make a pile. Then, go through each item and ask yourself if there is value in keeping it (does it bring you joy?). If you choose to discard it, thank the item for serving its purpose and move on. Do the same with books and papers.

Komono stands for all the miscellaneous items in your home. That means, kitchen items, the dreaded garage, beauty products — basically anything that doesn’t fit within the first three categories. While the larger section might seen daunting at first, you’ll have experience tidying up at this point so it should go a lot smoother than you think.

Sentimental items are the last piece of the KonMari puzzle. While decluttering the rest of your space, you might have collected a few items that fit this category. Depending on its purpose, make use of your sentimental items. For example, if you come across an old photo of your siblings and you as kids while cleaning out the garage, add it to a frame and display it in your home to spark more joy.

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