As a self-proclaimed type-A person who likes organization, I am constantly finding ways to optimize and organize everything I own. I have a pretty good handle on doing regular purges in my home (sometimes I even rope in my husband Matt for a day of “fun”), but for some reason this year I was extra antsy to do a big spring closet clean out in my bedroom. Like, a dramatic one. I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a couple of years ago, and although I’ve practiced her general methods here and there, I never fully committed to the full process of a major Marie Kondo closet cleanout.
I decided to fully dive in to the KonMari method by starting with the category she suggests tidying first: clothes. In this post you’ll find the full process on how to do a Marie Kondo closet cleanout, extra tips to make this process successful, and the exact items I use to organize my own closet.
How To Do a Marie Kondo Closet Cleanout
Who is Marie Kondo and What is the KonMari Method?
Created by professional organizer Marie Kondo, the KonMari Method is the name she gave her specific tidying method. At a very high level, and what may ring familiar to you, is the concept of items that bring you joy.
Her method has you tidy by category rather than room, and these categories must be followed in strict order, one at a time: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and ending with sentimental items.
Rather than choosing what you get rid of, Kondo suggests changing your perspective. That instead of choosing what to discard, you’re actually choosing what to keep based on this “spark joy” notion. By doing so, you’re surrounding yourself only with the things you love the most. She also has you picking up items, verbally thanking them for a job well done, and treating any items you keep as friends. This all admittedly sounded a little nuts to me when I first read this in her book years ago, but adopting this practice has not only made it easier for me to get rid of items, it’s also given me a filter for new things I’m pondering purchasing, has overall helped me buy less, and when I do, it’s stuff I really love.
Trust me with this method, you’ll have your closet clean quicker than you think.
How to Marie Kondo Your Closet
Step 1: Visualize Your Ideal Space
Although you may be antsy to get your closet cleanout started, visualizing your final space really helps establish the goal for your project. Obviously, it’s to decrease clutter and get rid of items, but you should spend some time imagining not only the details of your organized closet, but how you’ll feel when entering it. Amazingly, this will innately guide your instinct on what does or does not spark joy.
I wanted my closet to be less encroaching than its previous state, with little to no shoes on the floor. I also wanted to know that everything in my closet to fit me, so when I pulled out a piece of clothing, I knew I wouldn’t run into the stress or sadness of something being too small.
Step 2: Gather All Clothing in One Area
The idea is to gather everything in the category you’re tidying up, so that you’re looking at the full assortment of what you own and there are no after the fact “oh shoot” situations.
I purposely chose my closet cleanout day after I did the laundry to account for every piece of clothing item I own, although in Kondo’s book, she does state laundry is an exception.
Seeing a giant pile of all my clothes in one place (and therefor a messy room) felt a little overwhelming at first, but then a sudden urge of immediacy hit me that I wanted this pile gone. That sense of urgency ultimately helped me be better at the next step of the KonMari method: discarding.
Step 3: Discard First – The Spark Joy Method
This step of discarding all items that don’t spark joy is a big chunk of Marie Kondo’s method, regardless of category.
Pick up every single item individually. The power of touching your pieces provides a strong indication of your feelings toward them. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to move through your pile by picking up each item and feeling an immediate reaction. I thought this step was going to take me half a day to sort through, and it ended up only taking me about one hour.
When you hold that top, those shoes, or that necklace, does your body feel happiness and excitement? If so, that is the feeling of sparked joy.
Once you’ve worked your way through every piece in your pile – and not a moment sooner – you’re ready to put away your items.
Step 4: Organize and Store Items Last
Storing and organizing closet items should only happen once you’ve fully completed discarding items. This ensures that you’re working with final items and giving each piece it’s dedicated home in your closet.
Step 5: Have a Designated Space for Everything
In her book, Marie Kondo shares some important things that I never really thought about. First, is that an item without a home increases the chance for clutter. Second, is that clutter is caused by not putting an item back where it belongs.
It’s important to give each item in your closet a proper home (even if that’s as simple as a clothing rod) and also put it back in said home each time something isn’t being used.
By giving each item a designated area, you’ll be able to maintain order in your closet since you’ll know exactlywhere to put it, every single time.
Organizing Your Closet
How to Arrange Your Clothes in Your Closet
Start by hanging like items together in your closet (ie. coats, pants, tops, etc) in whatever feels natural to you within the “heaviest to lightest” framework. Repeat this process within each category, until you feel like you’ve exhausted organizing every category. You can do this at a high-level in your closet right down to the details.
For me, I have all my bottoms hanging on a single rod. The heavier weight items (jeans) are on the left, while lighter weight bottoms (pants, then skirts) are hung to the right. Looking at just my jeans, I’ll then sort those from lightest to darkest color. With pants and skirts, I’ll do the same.
You can get as granular and detailed as you want while sorting your clothing categories. If you don’t care about the specifics between jeans, pants, and skirts and just want one big row of bottoms that go dark to light, you do you! There is no right or wrong here. This just needs to be a system of organization that makes sense to you (so that every item has a home!), that you can maintain in your everyday life.
Perfect Your Folding Technique
Marie Kondo’s famous folding technique will have you folding your items so that they stand vertically, instead of the traditional stacking method. This took me a bit of time to learn, and I’m still perfecting my folding, but I found this video to be extremely helpful to visually see her folding method.
I’ve found that this folding technique lets me to see all my shirts, and therefore I wear a variety of them rather than just grabbing whatever is on top of the pile. It’s also saved space, and… wait for it, almost makes folding laundry fun?
Storing Underwear and Socks
Folding my underwear and socks using the KonMari method has not only significantly saved space in my drawers, but it has also decluttered them. My sock and undies drawers used to be a hot mess, and I never knew how to tackle the problem until I started using her folding method.
Marie Kondo Closet Before And After
Other Tips to Successfully KonMari Your Closet
Do Your Closet Cleanout All at Once
I mentioned this at the start of this post, but make sure you do your closet cleanout all at once. Start early in the day so that you’re energized and have plenty of time to gather your clothes, figure out what you want to keep, and put everything back.
Purge Your Closet Alone
The only person who matters in your closet cleanout is you. Clean your closet alone and select the items that spark joy for you and only you. Opinions, and even guilt, will prevent you from getting rid of what you truly want to.
Simplify Your Storage Items
Other than a few shelf dividers to help my designer handbags stand up straight, I don’t have a bunch of complicated products for an organized closet. Plain, simple open boxes or clean bins work best. Scroll down for all the storage pieces I use.
PRO TIP: Make sure to remove labels from any boxes. Words and bar codes just add more visual clutter to your brand-new closet, and you don’t want that!
Remove Clothing Tags Immediately
Finally, be sure to remove clothing tags on any new pieces immediately. For one, this way they’ll be ready for you to wear at a moment’s notice, and secondly, because loose papers like hanging tags also add clutter.
My Favorite Closet Organization Products
Slim Velvet Hangers
Swap out your old, mismatched hangers so that all your hangers are the same. Not only will this bring uniformity to your closet, it’ll provide a clean, streamlined appearance. I’m a big fan of slim velvet hangers. They save lots of space in my closet, and the velvet flocking helps straps and sleeves from slipping.
Multi-Purpose Woven Baskets
Open woven baskets along the top of my shelves house things I don’t wear all the time, like bags, swimsuits, duffel bags, and extra hangers. I’m limited on shoe space, so all flat summer sandals get stored in woven basket, too. I invested in nice woven baskets because I wanted to make sure I felt happy when looking at them (aka – they spark joy, too!).
Sock and Underwear Organizers
If you need to create sections inside drawers to separate categories like socks, bras, underwear, and hosiery, I really like these velvet boxes. Technically, these boxes are for jewelry, but I find them to be perfect for delicates and socks.
I love these boot shapers. They prevent cracks and creases in leather by maintaining the shape of your boots. They also make for an impressive, tidy display so you don’t have sagging boots in your closet.
Bag Pillow Inserts
Just like with boots, you don’t want the leather on your purses to crease or sag. I keep nearly all my bags, especially designer ones, filled with some kind of stuffing so that they keep their shape and stay in like-new condition.
Although most of my slouchy purses have tissue paper to hold their shape, I’ve been slowly adding Bag-a-Vie purse shapers to my closet organization inventory, particularly for my most special bags.
To help create some kind of visual order on my closet shelves, I have shelf dividers. This way, each purse on my shelf has its own dedicated slot to return to when I’m not using it.