'Tidying Up With Marie Kondo' on Netflix: KonMari Method Tips for Folding, Organizing Boxes and Thanking Your Clothes

In 2019 Japanese organizing consultant and bestselling writer of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Marie Kondo brought her unique KonMari Method of organizing and tidying to Netflix with her new show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the series, Kondo helps American families to declutter their households and be thankful for both what they'll keep and what they'll discard.

Kondo describes the basis of her KonMari Method in the opening to her new Netflix show. "My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying," she says.

Whether or not an item "sparks joy" is at the heart of Kondo's decluttering process, so she puts special emphasis on how to discover that feeling for yourself. "You feel it when you hold a puppy or when you wear your favorite outfit. It's a warm and positive feeling. That's how it feels when 'sparking joy,'" Kondo says. "Your sensitivity to joy will be honed as you progress through the tidying process."

Her basic method involves organizing via five categories (instead of room-by-room), tidying each in a specific order: clothing, books, paper, komono (kitchen, bathroom, garage and everything miscellaneous) and finally, "sentimental items."

Marie Kondo lists the five categories in her KonMari Method in her new Netflix show "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo." Netflix

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Best Tips from the Netflix Show

Over the eight episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo that debuted New Year's Day on Netflix, Kondo shares a number of tips, from the spiritual to the specific, to help anyone organize, declutter and—to use her preferred term—tidy.

Most of the KonMari Method follows from some fairly basic practices. Taking one category at a time, begin by putting everything in a single pile, then go through the pile one by one and separate by whether or not each item "sparks joy."

The items that remain should be organized for visibility and, yes, joy sparking. Generally, Kondo advises storing clothes (and nearly everything else) vertically, so stuff is easily visible. Kondo also relies a lot on boxes, dividing items into like-sized categories and ensuring everything has its own space. When organizing ties, shoes, bras, books or nearly anything else, Kondo often arranges by color. "It'll spark joy if you arrange them in a way that creates a color gradient," she says in one episode.

KonMari Method: The Importance of Love

Related to Kondo's concept of joy is love, which she applies to inanimate objects to acknowledge the sentiment we attach to them. When people are stuck trying to separate items that spark joy, Kondo often advises them to begin with something they know they love already, to experience that feeling of connection. This can also help with tidying, transforming chores into a labor of love.

"It's important to convey love for your clothes from the palm of your hands," Kondo tells one couple while touching clothing. "By doing this you will start to like folding your clothes. Folding is not just making your clothes smaller. It is actually an important opportunity to talk to your clothes and thank them."

Kondo even advises thanking items to be discarded. "Many people may feel guilty when letting go of items," she says. "By expressing gratitude toward the items you let go, it will lessen the feeling of guilt."

This applies even to clothing you've never worn before.

"It's important to express gratitude toward clothes you never wore," Kondo says, using an orange shirt as an example. "This is because the shirt taught you that you do not like to wear shirts like this. By doing this it will become clear what is necessary to you."

How Marie Kondo Purifies Spaces

While Kondo focuses on eliminating and tidying clothes, books papers and other household items, it all leads to maintaining a household that supports your life and aspirations, rather than memorializing your past sentiment or finding yourself bogged down by clutter. In each episode, Kondo greets the house and often talks about how a particular space feels. Before organizing begins she asks that people imagine the ideal life they'd wish to live. In order to control clutter, Kondo recommends organizers "try and change the air" whenever they feel stuck.

Her suggestions:

  • Open a window
  • "Create a sound with a great vibration"
  • Light a candle
  • Aromatic room spray
  • Light incense

KonMari Method of Folding Clothes and Fitted Sheets

Kondo has become especially famous for her folding techniques. She presents many specific ways to fold throughout Netflix's Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, but a few examples should highlight her basic principles.

Jeans are folded in half twice, then folded in thirds.

Fitted sheets are first folded into thirds, then folded in half, then half again. Finally, the sheet is then folded into thirds again, for upright storage. Or rolled to fit in a small drawer.

Neckties are folded in half, but only to the label. From there, fold in half, again to the label, then roll it up. The resulting roll can be stored in a box inside a drawer.

With most items, Kondo's final fold into thirds is designed for vertical storage. "If they're standing upright, they will look neat," she says.

KonMari Method for Books and Papers

After clothing, the KonMari Method next organizes books. "Books are the reflection of our thoughts and values. So by tidying books, it will show you what kind of information is important to you at this moment," Kondo says, setting a standard for what should be kept. "By having these books it will be beneficial to your life going forward."

If a book doesn't spark joy, Kondo still recommends thanking it, just as with clothes.

Papers are also tidied beginning with a single stack, but the KonMari Method further divides personal papers into three categories, for storage separately (always after removing documents from their envelopes):

Pending documents: "Papers that are waiting for you to take action upon, such as letters and bills."

Important documents: "Papers that you need to keep permanently, such as contracts and insurance forms."

Miscellaneous documents: "Papers that you refer to often, such as recipe cutouts from magazines, or papers from a seminar you attended, that you frequently go back to read."

KonMari Method: How to Organize Other Household Items

Throughout Tidying Up, Kondo addresses specific categories of household items. Many follow from consistent principles: using tiny boxes, storing vertically, arranging by color, like-size or kind. But she also has specific tips for special cases.

Kitchen Drawers: Organize utensils by size, Kondo says. "Try to keep things of the same sizes together in the same place." She also recommends using tiny boxes to subdivided drawer spaces.

Holiday Decorations: Search for what sparks joy among holiday decorations with the entire family, since decorations embody shared sentiments. Store in clear plastic bins. "The key is to be able to see what's inside." Never store in trash bags (though Kondo does love their smell: "American trash bags are amazing!" she exclaims in one episode).

Purses and Bags: Use the KonMari "Bag in Bag" method. First take out any tissue paper, then put similar-sized bags inside each other. The final step: make sure handles are visible from the outside so the nested bags can be identified.

KonMari Method for Sentimental Items

In the Tidying Up episode "Sparking Joy After a Loss," Kondo advises a woman whose husband has died. The episode is a dramatic demonstration of why the KonMari Method saves sentimental items for last. "Tidying those items is very difficult," Kondo says.

One method she highlights is to create a treasure box, selecting items with powerful sentiments to store together in a box that sparks joy. Instead of having painful reminders all over the house, Kondo's recommendation stores items in one place, selected to bring joy rather than sadness. The treasure box isn't meant to be stored, but instead organized and displayed in a location in the house that sparks joy.

While Tidying Up keeps the focus on the act of decluttering, Kondo is always careful to emphasize the intended result: a home that better empowers the life you want for yourself. The whole family has a part to play in maintaining that new tidiness. Kondo suggests an ongoing division of responsibility, with each family member responsible for a specific room of the house (at home, Kondo specializes in laundry).

All eight episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo are available for streaming on Netflix.

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