Marie Kondo and the KonMari method: The complete guide for home organization

Here you can find a guide on how to organize your home with the Konmari method. The guide will have sections that you can find just below, so feel free to skip to the part you need, but if you are new to organizing and the KonMari method, I recommend reading it from beginning to end.

1. About KonMari method

1. What is the KonMari method?

The KonMari method is a specific way to declutter and organize your house and workspace by deciding what items to keep by feeling if they spark joy. Decluttering starts with these five categories: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimental items. The main purpose is to be surrounded only by items that bring us joy, while the amount of the items is not essential. The method was invented by a well-known Japanese consultant for home organizing Marie Kondo.

2. What is the KonMari festival?

The method asks us to tidy everything only once and in one go (rather than gradually), which is why it is called a KonMari tidying festival.

3. What does the word KonMari mean?

The word KonMari is a combination of Marie Kondo`s name: Kon (beginning of her surname) + Mari (beginning of her name).

4. How many books did Marie Kondo wrote about KonMari method?

Marie Kondo wrote four books on this topic, one comic book as well as a picture book for children:


1.     “The magic of tidying up that will change your life”

2.    “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up”

3.    “Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life”

4.    “Kurashi a Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life”

Comic book:

5.    “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story” (comic book)

Picture book:

6.    “Kiki & Jax : the life-changing magic of friendship” (picture book)

She also has two Netflix shows: “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” and “Sparking joy with Marie Kondo”

5. What does it mean “to fold clothes in KonMari way”?

KonMari way of clothes folding means to make a small rectangle that can stand upright on its own, and then organize folded clothes like a file cabinet. In this way everything is visible at first glance and we can easily take the piece of clothing out of closet without affecting other clothes.

You can see the videos I made showing how to fold each piece of clothes here.

6. What does it mean that an object should “spark joy”?

It means that when you see and pick up the object you should feel a little joyful rush. The same rush you feel when you pick up your favorite coffee cup or favorite dress. One of the guidelines of the KonMari method is to only surround yourself with items that bring you joy or whose use makes your life simpler and hence joyful. You can read more about this rule in this guide down below.

7. What makes KonMari method different from other methods?

Although it focuses on tidying and organizing the home and workplace, the principles inevitably overflow all other aspects of our lives where we make decisions, causing us to live more mindfully. The desire to change and modify our habits is necessary for the method to work (as in anything else). A change of mindset will happen during and after tidying the home. When we face every and the smallest detail in our home, we discover how and why we make decisions in other areas of our life, and very frequently fresh insights and mental shifts take place.

Objects serve as a mirror through which we learn a great deal about ourselves, who we are, what we like, and how we want to live. Consequently, we begin to live and enjoy the present moment and small things more than regretting the past or having great desires for the future.

The KonMari approach is unique in two ways: one is mentally and physically, as we will see in the Konmari method’s six basic rules, and the other is emotionally, or better put, our personal growth.

After we finish the KonMari tidying festival, the goal is to leave us capable of keeping our place in order. That change is possible precisely because of the KonMari approach where we tidy everything at once (rather than gradually) and create massive piles. Only then we can see how we live. After we have achieved some visible results, we will be inspired to keep our home tidy every day, which won`t be hard because every item will have its own place.

We approach our home as a project that will take some time. Just as we built or renovated our home with external and interior parts, the same goes for the belongings and items inside of the home. It is the third and final step to finishing our home. Similar to the first two steps, we have to be prepared for dust, moving and some hard and exhausting moments, but in the end, the space we live in will be complete, providing us with comfort, peacefulness, and support for a lifestyle we so much desired when we started this journey.

As opposed to the first two parts of building a home, who are more on the technical side, the third one is the hardest because of that emotional side. Usually during and after tidying comes even more realizations on our other parts of life, because the messy room = messy mind. When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.

Tidying will lead us to an organized home or office, but on the other hand, we will discover some truths about ourselves, our decision-making, and our level of gratitude and respect not just for the items, but for all other small things that shape our lives, discovering whether we truly live our lives the way we want and need or as others and society expect us to.

2. Six basic rules of tidying

The Konmari method involves decluttering and organizing your belongings according to six fundamental rules:

1. Commit yourself to tidying up

Like any new decision that requires us to change our habits, detail-oriented tidying up takes time, as well as physical, mental, and emotional effort, however, it will be well worth it.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

The question of how our home will look and how we want to live in this space is key. This is not just our main objective but it is also our guiding star whenever we wander too far into the past or the future during our process. Does the item belong to our desired new ideal lifestyle, representing and supporting who we are right now?


To complete this step, we imagine explaining to a stranger or a fictitious interior decorator how our new home will look after the KonMari festival – we describe not only room by room and detail by detail, but also why we are doing this and how the finished version will look. We can use online images, and forums about home décor, or write down our daily activities and the emotions we wish to feel in our soon-to-be new home.

3. Finish discarding first

We can organize and store items only after we’ve identified what’s left and how much of it there is. Until we finish the last category, any location where we will put our valuables will be temporary.

4. Tidy by category not by location

For instance, when working with clothing we don’t organize a closet (location), but rather we assemble all of the clothing (category) in one spot, or more precisely in one pile. That includes everything from underpants to winter coats.


The pile will provide an important reality check; we’ll have a better sense of how much we own, evaluate each item in its right context, and we’ll be able to notice if we have multiple quantities of the same item, ie duplicates. As a result, we’ll be able to properly evaluate our storage habits and solutions.

5. Follow the right order

The approach is specifically created in order to help us improve our capacity to identify what provides us joy, from easy to difficult. Of course, there are exceptions; for example, if someone is deeply invested in a category, such as fashion, clothes will not be their first category because of a strong attachment. The right order is:

1.    Clothes

2.    Books

3.    Papers

4.    Komono (miscellaneous items; (hobbies, kitchen utensils, bathroom utensils, electrical equipment, etc.)

5. Sentimental Items

When it comes to business office, the categories are the same except for the first one (clothes). While in digital organization the categories are:

1.    Documents

2.    E-mails

3.   Smartphone applications

6. Ask yourself if every item sparks joy

In contrast to conventional procedures, which focus on what to get rid of, this method focuses on what to keep. We ask ourselves if each subject brings a joy in us. The object must be held firmly in both hands, and we must pay close attention to how our body responds. We get a rush of exhilaration when our joy sparks, a little thrill. The best example is when I request that you display one of your favorite shirts or a favorite coffee cup. We desire that emotion, or at least a similar one, for everything we own.


Some objects, like a hammer, do not instantly bring us delight when we touch them, but when we remember what role it serves and how it makes our life easier, the joy returns. 


It is important to thank the item after we have decided to donate it because at one point it gave us joy and now has helped us recognize what we love and what we don’t. Additionally, we are sending out good energy to the next person who will use this item.

3. The five main categories

In KonMari method we follow next five categories in specific order. Considering that we decide for each thing whether it remains based on does it causes joy, the method is specially designed to go in order where the client will be able to perfect his ability to distinguish what causes him joy, i.e. from easier to harder.


Of course, there are exceptions, if someone intensively works or loves a specific category, for example fashion, for him clothes will not be the first in line because he is more attached to it.

1. Clothes

2. Books

3. Papers

4. Komono – miscellenous items (kitchen and bathroom utensils, electrical equipment, hobbies, etc.)

5. Sentimental items

1. Clothes

Clothes category is most known for the KonMari way of folding clothes. However, before folding, we should go through every clothing item we own and make sure we enjoy wearing each one. Additionally included in this category are shoes, bags, jewelry, hats, scarves, and glasses. Due to the size of the clothing category, I divided it into several separate posts:

For a detailed post about how to declutter and organize your clothes KonMari way, please click here.

To find out how to declutter and organize clothes accessories KonMari way, click here.

In this post you can find out how to organize your closet KonMari way.

As for KonMari way of folding clothes, here you can see the videos I made showing how to fold each piece of clothes.

2. Books

Books are the category that usually brings two questions in mind. Should we have them even though the majority of time we do not read them, and what amount should we have?


To see the exact steps how to declutter and organize your books KonMari way (which can and should be different from the others) please click here.

3. Papers

Papers are the category in which organized system is the most needed because papers come very quickly and easily to our home and office, creating a clutter environment and making us loose time to find the one we need.


The main rule is to behave as though you must discard all of the documents; after following this rule you should be left with only the most crucial ones.


For a detailed post how to declutter and organize your papers KonMari way, click here.

4. Komono ~ miscellaneous items (kitchen and bathroom utensils, electrical equipment, hobbies, etc.)

Komono is the largest category given it has more than twenty subcategories. Everything from the biggest picture you own to the smallest clip is in this category. All of the bathroom and kitchen items fall under this category as well, but those topics will be covered in a different section from the other subcategories.

To see the list and how to declutter and organize miscellanies items KonMari way, click here.

To see how to declutter and organize a bathroom KonMari way, click here (coming soon).

To see how to declutter and organize a kitchen KonMari way, click here (coming soon).

5. Sentimental items

Because it includes everything that means the most to us, the last category is also the most difficult one. Through out the KonMari festival, we are advised to prepare a specific box for sentimental items in case we come across them while tidying. For example, we may have a special dress, or a special book that is connected to some person or occasion. The said item is placed in the box and left for the end; the faith of the item is not decided at that time.

The majority of the time, photos are the hardest to part with, making them the final subcategory under the sentimental category and at the same time the last decluttering we will have.

For a detailed steps how to declutter and organize your sentimental items KonMari way, click here.

4. The four main steps in KonMari process of decluttering and organizing

Step 1. Prepare your place and boxes for decluttering

In order to make our decluttering much easier, it is best to set up our space and some boxes. We should choose a big surface such as a clean floor, a large table or a bed where we can make a large pile of the same items.

If one place is not enough, we may either decide to separate subcategories in each room or make a pile of this specific subcategory and put the rest in the closet for the following day.

For example, if we have to many clothes for one room, we can place coats in one room, dresses in another, etc. or we may pull out just the dresses and leave the rest in the closet for later. I would suggest to prepare four boxes:

Box 1: the items you chose to discard by selling

Box 2: the items you chose to discard by donating

Box 3. the items you choose to discard by recycling because they are not possible to use anymore

Box 4: the items you chose to keep after a repair of some kind (lost button etc.)

Additional two boxes are:

Box 5: the items you’re unsure of and want to double-check at the end of the day, or if it’s clothing, the items you want to try on after you’ve finished all the other things. It is especially important in this situation, where you are unsure about the item, to not put them somewhere aside because there is a good chance you will return them back in your closet. If you run out of time, they are already gathered in one box and waiting for you when you have the chance to go over them once more.

Box 6: a decorative box for the items that spark joy but you are not sure how to use. At the end of the KonMari festival, when everything is decluttered and ready to start decorating, we look at this box to see how can we decorate your home with this items that you love. For example, if there was a beautiful scarf that you do not want to wear, but it does make you happy, we will come up with a different use for it, such as hanging it on the wall.

Step 2. Gather all the items from the category and make a pile

Even though it takes some time to gather the same items (such as every book we own) from various locations in the home or workplace to create this pile, this time it should be the last time.

The shock factor we get when we put the same category all in one place is one of the key reasons why this method is so successful. Not only can we see if we have a proper amount of the said category but it makes decluttering much more effective because we can now dedicate a special place for these items without having to look for them again.

Step 3. Joy checking ~ check to see if every item brings you joy

“When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.” ~ Marie Kondo


The following four values, with examples, should not be confused with joy-sparking:

  1. Functional – still usable sweater
  2. Informational – useful book
  3. Emotional – gift received from husband
  4. The element of rarity – figurine from a favorite band, limited addition


When our belongings have a history or we know they are in good condition and we may need them in the future, it can be extremely difficult to let go. In that case, it’s critical to experience the object through the eyes of a child; can we feel excitement and delight when we hold and look at it? Would we buy something if we had never seen it before and strolled into a store and saw it?


When we do feel torn about something, there are three possible reasons:

1. item once brought us joy but has fulfilled its purpose;

2. it does bring us joy but we don’t realize it;

3. we need to keep it regardless of whether or not it sparks joy (contracts, outfits, special occasion items)


To solve first two challenges, the best thing to do is keeping it with confidence, that means that we will keep it in a way that we can always see the item. So, for example we keep the shirt in the front, on our eye level reach. One of the two scenarios will happen after a short amount of time, either it will bother us so much because it doesn’t give us the same sparks as other shirts, or it will start to blend perfectly with other shirts and we will feel happiness that is still ours. Either way, we will be certain what is the future of the item and the cloud of doubt will disappear.


For the third challenge, joy sometimes needs to be shifted to the purpose of the object, if an item makes us life easier and its functional, like scissors, that is also a representation of joy. We should show gratitude towards that item because it is saving us time and effort, helping us to focus on our next task much quicker.

Step 4. How to store and organize your items the KonMari way

The four principles of storage:

1. Fold it 

Fold any soft or flexible object. Not just clothing but also gloves, komono items made of cloth, plastic bags, and laundry nets. This minimizes its size and increases the amount that may be stored.

2. Stand it upright

Rather of storing flat in a drawer, everything that can be held on edge without falling should be stored upright. That includes folded clothes, stationary supplies, medicines etc.

The main advantages of holding objects upright:

a) Enables you to utilize the height of your storage area to its full ability

b) See everything that is stored at glance and to take it or return it without disturbing the rest of the items

c) On the other hand, a pile leaves the bottom things useless, crushed, and frequently hidden from sight. Towels are the exception because they are regularly used and are taken from top to bottom, unlike t-shirts which are usually chosen from the middle.

d) Stacking things leads to clutter – If you stack items, they can accumulate indefinitely, and you won’t realize when you need to remove them as you would if you stacked them vertically

3. Keep related items together in one location

If you share a home with a family, sort your belongings in order of person, category, and type of material. Storage will be lot easier if you do it this way. For example, it would be easier if not all of the towels were in the bathroom and instead, each person’s towels were kept in their own rooms in a certain area of the closet (one spot).

4. Divide your storage space into square compartments

Due to the fact that homes are made up of a variety of square spaces, try to use square boxes rather than round ones whenever possible.

If it is to hard to remember all four principle just focus on the first two. You’ll quickly discover that you use much less space and that the interior of your drawer is organized.