I recently discovered the easiest way to clean out your closet, thanks to an interesting article about a Japanese organizational method called KonMari. I’ve read dozens of articles on cleaning out your closet, very few of which have inspired me to actually take action. But this one resonated with me for some reason and I went home and looked at my closet (and the rest of my tiny apartment) in a new light.

konmari method to clean out your closet

I realized when I moved in a year ago, I lugged a ton of stuff from my previous apartment without stopping to evaluate whether I needed everything I was packing up. Dresses I’d only worn once, shoes that had seen better days, apartment knick-knacks that felt more like clutter than decor… Honestly, I probably only needed half of what I mindlessly brought into my new space. And when you’re living in 400 square feet with one closet, that extra fifty percent of stuff makes a pretty big difference.

the easiest way to clean out your closet konmari method

The KonMari method, founded by Marie Kondo, is simple but effective: you keep the items that “spark joy” and eliminate the ones that don’t. It’s not some taxing twelve-step program to closet recovery; you simply weed through your closet asking whether each piece makes you happy. And because Marie believes that clothes have energy, you have two easy choices: either keep a piece because it brings you joy or say “thank you and goodbye” to a piece you can donate. Thanking my donate pile felt a little bizarre at first but it actually made me feel less guilty about getting rid of items that don’t fit or don’t make me feel good about myself.

how to clean out your closet with the konmari method

The result? I filled three boxes with clothes and shoes that went straight to the Goodwill in my neighborhood. Among the things I parted with: a dress I haven’t fit into since high school, a pile of blogger gifts that never fit to begin with, jeans that I’d accidentally had hemmed too short, and at least three shirts with billowy sleeves that I don’t know why I ever bought because they made me feel huge when I put them on. (Note to self: put down the billowy blouse.) I culled my closet into an assortment of items I actually wear and rediscovered more than a few old favorites in the process. I can’t tell you how enjoyable it was to purge the items that were weighing me down and how nice it is to space out the hangers in my closet so I can actually see what I own. Even if most of the pieces that spark joy for me are all blue, white, and striped. 😉

how to clean out your closet with konmari

I’m now totally sold that this is the easiest way to clean out your closet and can’t wait to apply the same thinking to other corners of my apartment, starting with the drawers in my kitchen. Would you try the KonMari method to clean out your closet? (I really recommend it!) What other methods have worked for you?

*images one / two / three / four / more closet inspiration here


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  1. I loved this article! May I ask you where/how you built the drawers in your closet? I’ve been searching for drawers to accommodate Kon Mari but I can’t find any that are wide enough

  2. I have actually already done quite a bit of decluttering in my closet, but this post is really inspiring me to go back and so some more and get it to a point where it really feels “clean” of that stagnant energy from items that you wish you’d wear more but really don’t, and thing like that. Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. What do you think about basics like black cardigans and every day jeans? Sometimes I just need them even if they dont make me happy!

    1. Easy basics like that actually DO make me happy, albeit in a different way. Reaching into my closet and knowing I’m stocked up on pieces I can wear a million ways totally sparks joy so I say “keep!”

  4. I’m living in a little college dorm, but when I moved in, I pretty much brought my entire closet from home! I really should try this method because I just have so many clothes in there!
    xx, Mikkaela

  5. I love this idea!! So simple and easy and so very necessary!!! Love you and your blog – keep up the great work!! xoxo

  6. Wow, what an interesting method. I really appreciate you sharing! With it being GO Month for Organizers, like you, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on cleaning out this and that. They all sort of mesh after a while – this is a really beautiful and energizing method though!

  7. Well, my house/room is bigger, but I think my closet is smaller! It needs to organized, too… I end up having to stack things in a haphazard way sometimes because of a lack of space :/

  8. I just cleaned out my closet yesterday and I didn’t know about this philosophy, but this is what i did too! Two bags of things that did not make me feel wonderful. It is all about what makes you feel like a million bucks.

  9. As a person who lives in a 500sqft studio in downtown DC, I feel the “one small closet” pain. I like this idea of decluttering, because it’s an instantaneous “do you love it, yes or no” feeling, and doesn’t require a lot of additional thought. This past year, I’ve been all about streamlining, but I’ve found that I bought items I don’t love because they a “neutral go with everything” items that serve a streamlining purpose, but I still don’t want to wear them!

    As far as donating vs. consigning, if it’s a brand name item (example, I have to part with my Tieks because I can no longer walk in them after breaking my ankle), i will take the time to consign ot eBay. But anything I don’t think will lead to a financial return to put in savings or towards items I will love, I donate. I like thinking that someone else will get good use out of them, but I also like the little boost I get in my taxes.

    Thank you for the article, and an idea for my next book to read!

  10. I’ve been slowly purging with the same mindset—it’s hardest for me with dresses, because while I don’t wear all of them often, I do love so many of them and am attached to them for different reasons!! I’m also always afraid of going TOO far overboard with purging, which I’ve done before and later regretted. So, I do it in steps. If I’m unsure about something, I keep it til I re-evalutate again; if I feel less attached, it’s more likely I’ll get rid of it, so on and so forth tip I’m just ready to say goodbye.

    1. I do it in steps too because I have a hard time parting with items. I recently put a pile of potential throw away items in a box and brought them to my basement. I figured I’d re-evaluate in a bit and if I haven’t even thought about them then off they go.

  11. 100% yes I am going to be doing this as soon as I have multiple days in a row home and can actually devote myself to consolidating three closets worth of stuff into one area. Question: If it sparked joy, but didn’t go with anything else in your closet, did you keep it or say thank you and donate?

  12. I think another reason why it may be difficult for people to get rid of things, especially nicer clothing, is simply the fact that we paid for it. It stings more if you realize you probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place and after only a few uses you are getting rid of it. It is still taking up space, so it might as well go, but I’d say that is a major factor in addition to sentimentality over a piece. What do you think would help lessen the sting of it appearing as if we’re throwing out money (instead of unused items)?

    1. I totally know what you mean! Isn’t that the worst feeling? In that case, I give myself two options: consigning or donating. There are a thousand options for online consignment if you don’t have a shop you like locally and it’s always nice to make a little bit of cash to cover part of the expense of the item. In defense of donating, I read somewhere that “your worst may be someone else’s first” and I love thinking that someone will find a dress or sweater of mine and give it a happy home.

  13. I received her book from my parents for Christmas. I love organizing and I’d love to be a bit more minimalistic. I haven’t read the book yet, I admit I’m afraid of starting!

  14. I have definitely been in the same boat feeling lackluster about a closet clean out, but considering that going through the effort will actually make me happier when reaching for an outfit everyday is some serious motivation. Looking at a disheveled closet is no fun. I’m going to give this method a shot this weekend!

  15. I’m always looking for ways to trim down my wardrobe. Even though my closet is pretty well-curated from moving abroad, there are always some things that I feel guilty for getting rid of, but I never wear! I might try the KonMari method this weekend!

  16. Great advice. I’m planning a major declutter soon, so I have been collecting tips from all over. i love the “throw away 100 things” challenge from Jess Lively, but this idea of “sparking joy” would also work really well for me since I certainly have items that I hate every time I try on. Why did I even buy those things to begin with??

    Thanks for sharing!