The best methods for decluttering

The best methods for decluttering

Decluttering has turned into more than just cleaning, it is almost an artform. The idea of out with the old and in with the new is appealing to many people. There are different approaches to having a clean-out that can bring about different benefits – such as peace of mind, a house that is easier to keep clean and even saving money by being more mindful of your possessions.


Method 1: Learn from Marie Kondo

Even if you haven’t heard of the name Marie Kondo, you probably have heard the phrase that is associated with her: Keep only things that “spark joy.” The “KonMari Method” has gained a lot of attention around the world and Netflix even has started a series this year called “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” – her professional organising talents have taken the world by storm.

The principle is relatively simple: imagine the lifestyle you want to live and clean accordingly, declutter by item category instead of room and show your appreciation (realise items deserve some respect) but still get rid of the items that do not continue to spark joy in your life. She even provides step-by-step tips on the proper way to fold clothing.

If you decide to KonMari your home, consider doing it on a holiday or weekend when you have time to finish sorting through all of your possessions. Or, you can choose one category at a time and see how it feels.


Method 2: Have I used this item this year?

Another method for getting rid of unneeded items is not to delve in the philosophical, but instead, consider the useful needs. Ask yourself: “Have I used this within the last year?” If the answer is no, it might be time to get rid of it. A good follow-up question is also: “What is the likelihood that I will use this in the next year?”

Of course, there are items that might be in the grey area, especially seasonal items: your badminton set that didn’t make it out for a while, but you are quite sure that it will be used later. Or skis that are perfectly useful next winter getaway.

Clothing, on the other hand, can benefit from this method. Many people keep clothing that they don’t actually like, doesn’t fit correctly or doesn’t fit at all. If you are within a couple kilos of your pair of jeans, maybe it can sit on the shelf until next clean-up. But also keep in mind that if it will take years to wear something again – better donate or sell on items that are trendy, because you probably won’t wear them years down the line.


Method 3: The Oprah Winfrey closet hanger experiment

Although not her method exactly, American talk show legend Oprah Winfrey has brought attention to a simple way to declutter your clothing. Related to the “Have I used this within the last year?” method, this technique helps you see more clearly what you have worn.

All you have to do is hang up your clothing that is in the “maybe go” category. The key is to hang them reversed and only hang them the right way after you have worn them. In 6 months, you will be able to see what items you wore and what you did not wear. If you live in a place with drastically different seasons you could try a warm-weather edition and a cold-weather edition of this method.

Of course, there is the possibility that you will wear these items more because they are accessible and have your attention. Nonetheless, if you didn’t wear it when it was at your fingertips – to draw on Marie Kondo, it probably doesn’t strike joy.


Method 4: Room by room cleaning

Cleaning room by room is a classic method. One of the plus sides to this is the fact that you can wrap up the project in a shorter time than if you go for an all-out frenzy on your entire house’s clutter. Although there are exceptions, the typical modern house has a lot of stuff stored that isn’t necessarily useful – or not useful to your household any more. Maybe it is time to take a look into your kitchen cupboards.

After all the talk about clothing, kitchens are often neglected because it is assumed that the dishes and small appliances are useful. Before getting to that, take a look into your refrigerator and food pantry. If you track the expiration dates on your food items and have a good idea of what you have in stock, you can save money and reduce wasted food.

When you have gotten through the food items, maybe it would be good to evoke some KonMari method here too – do those old dishes bring you joy? Do you need a dozen mugs with funny sayings on them? You can donate the dishes that are in good shape to your local charity, especially if they are a set because they are more likely to be purchased and be put to good use.

After you have reorganised and gone through your home, what then? Try to find the appropriate place for any items that you are getting rid of – whether it is a charity shop, something you sell online or items that need to be recycled. And remember to buy what you need or what you really appreciate, quality over quantity will help keep anyone’s home a little bit cleaner.