1 Woman's Guide to Spring Cleaning Without KonMari'ing Your Whole Place

Man and woman cleaning


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Kiyomi Appleton Gaines316
SHRM-CP, Nonprofit Culture, Writer, Storyteller

I’ve always been a fan of paring back to the essentials. But the KonMari Method goes beyond pure necessity of getting rid of old things; It asks the deeper question of whether something “sparks joy." If it doesn't, you're supposed to let it go with gratitude. A small act on the surface, this requires connecting with your core values and how you want to show up in the world. Rather than simply getting rid of things, the KonMari method is about being thoughtful and intentional about the items you keep, and making sure they add value.

I read the book a few years ago and made a few unsuccessful attempts to follow Kondo’s method. Recently, I was inspired all over again by watching "Tidying Up." I “Kondo'ed” my wardrobe, and now, every item makes me feel happy when I put it on.
Despite its perks, Kondo acknowledges that her method can take several weeks to complete — more time than many of us can devote. But, in the words of Gretchen Rubin, outer order contributes to inner calm. So, here are some suggestions for how to capture some of the joy of tidying up without KonMari'ing everything. 

1. Get rid of anything expired.

Pantry items, medicines, even make-up make up has an expiration date (read here for a quick reference guide, and check the PAO symbol on the packaging), and if it’s passed, be grateful for the benefit those things contributed and toss them guilt free! Expired items won’t be as good for you, and may even make you ill, so clear out that space, and give your shelves a quick wipe down - instant joy!

2. Get rid of anything with holes or stains.

including towels, dishtowels, washcloths, and other linens. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the blanket knitted by your grandmother when you were a baby that is now in tatters. Remember, the point isn’t just to get rid of things, but to focus on keeping things that are meaningful in some way. It does mean the sheets you’ve had since college that are sort of threadbare, have that bleach stain, and don’t really fit on your current mattress can go!

3. Get rid of containers that no longer have lids.

and lids without containers, or that no longer seal shut. We all have a few of these, and when you’re trying to pack up leftovers after dinner or brown bagging your lunch, they just add a tiny bit of extra hassle to the day. Who needs that?

4. Get rid of that book you won’t read, or that shirt you’ll never wear.

It makes you feel bad every time you see it, but it was a gift, or something you felt like you needed when you bought it. Let it go. If it was a gift, take a picture – take a page from Marie Kondo and thank the item for what it has taught you about who you are, your likes and preferences, the relationship it represents – and then, send it out into the world to someone who will be able to get full use and enjoyment from it!

5. Get rid of all the extra coffee mugs. 

I’ve never been in a house that doesn’t have more coffee mugs than the people living in it will ever use in a year. Again, if it’s your favorite mug, by all means keep it, but surely there are a few that haven’t made it out of the cupboard since they were first placed there. Consider donating household goods that are in good condition to a local charity that helps young adults aging out of foster care, or those transitioning from homelessness.

6. Get rid of that bag of stuff needs repairing.

or stack of broken things – that you will definitely repair… someday. I have both a bag of items that just need to be re-dyed or hemmed or need some other small fix, as well as a desk with broken dishware and curios that need to be glued. Whether it’s a junk drawer or a front closet, we all have a place where these things end up. Set a reasonable timeline, say six weeks, and if they don’t ever move on from that to-be-repaired transition point, it’s best to let them go.

7. Get rid of all the paper.

Toss your junk mail, or better yet, take a few minutes to unsubscribe from solicitation lists. You can also toss old invoices and receipts (even if you’re saving them to do your taxes, you definitely don’t need anything over seven years old!), flyers and programs for events that have passed. Consider setting up an “in-box” to organize important papers that need attention, and recycle the rest.

8. Open up all the windows. 

Don't under estimate how much outside airflow can improve the quality of a room.  Let the fresh air in for a few minutes, light a candle, and reflect on having a roof and four walls, running water, electricity, and enough stuff that you actually want to get rid some of it!

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