The KonMari Method — Does It Actually Work? Here’s What Decluttering Experts Think Now

Marie Kondo's method has been long admired by many around the world, including myself, but how realistic is this method? Experts zoom into the details

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‘Does this spark joy?’ A question professional organizer and consultant Marie Kondo wants us to embrace when we declutter and organize a space. Marie is someone that I, as well as many others look up to for her unique tips and tricks on tackling a messy home.

The organizing expert, best-selling author and star of the Netflix show ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ is known for her phenomenal work in helping people build a polished space through The KonMari Method. The method is a 'simple but effective tidying method, ensuring you will never again relapse to clutter,' Marie explains. 'It uses a unique selection criterion – choosing what sparks joy! You are not choosing what to discard but rather choosing to keep only the items that speak to your heart'.

Her book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ also strives to inspire people to let go of unnecessary items. There was a passage from her book that stuck with me most, where she discusses attachment to items and the difficulty of letting go of them. Marie notes: ‘But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future’.

Whether you love The KonMari Method or not, it has helped many — including myself. So if you want to better understand how to declutter your home, The KonMari Method might just be the one for you.

But can this method be applied in everyone's life? Here’s what decluttering and organizing experts think.

What is The KonMari Method?

Woman folding clothes

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In order to look at if this method really works for everyone, you need to understand what it involves. Marie explains on her website that there are 6 basic rules of tidying, which should be followed step-by-step to give you a chance to ‘reset your entire life.’

The steps are: 1) Commit yourself to tidying up, 2) Imagine your ideal lifestyle, 3) Finish discarding first, 4) Tidy by category, not by location 5) Follow the right order, and last but not least, 6) Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

'Throwing things out isn't really organizing'

Boho style living room with earthy tones

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Ben Soreff, from House to Home Organizing tell us while The KonMari Method is helpful to some, for others, ‘it should be viewed as more aspirational’. For instance, Ben says people with children ‘may find it difficult to apply all the Kondo rules’ — something Marie has previously spoken about after having her third child.

In an interview with The Washington Post in 2023, the expert and mother of three said external tidying had taken the backseat in her life. She said: ‘My home is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this time at this stage of my life.

'Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times. I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realise what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home,’ Marie added.

Ben explains that Marie's method might not work for everyone as he believes organizing is not just about the items itself but, ‘it is about time’, as time is an essential part of decluttering and organizing. Throwing things out can also often lead to regret and instead, Ben says you should ‘focus on what we are keeping and the best place for it to live in our space’.

He adds: ‘It is less important to get rid of things and more important to have a plan and to decide where it is going to live’.

'The KonMari Method works for everyone who is ready for a change'

An organized modern kitchen

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Jenny Albertini, public health expert and author of Decluttered, is quite the fan of Marie's method. She tells us the method is a 'deeply personal and mindful way to approach decluttering and organizing'.

'It places the focus first on introspection and prioritization by spending time imagining an ideal lifestyle and committing to the process, as opposed to other methods,' Jenny adds.

She explains that it also allows people to organize their mental space as well as be 'grounded in joy as opposed to feeling rushed by fear'. When it comes to the 6-steps, Jenny says she doesn't always follow in the order Marie suggests, due to clients having 'too much emotional attachment to clothing so it wouldn’t be a good place to start, or they are very focused on getting started with another category like books so we’ll do that one first'.

If you are dealing with busy schedule, Jenny says The KonMari Method might just be the right choice for you. She adds: 'I think The KonMari Method works for everyone who is ready for a change'. Change is the first step to decluttering and organizing.

Jenny highlights that the method can be worked into busy lifestyles and says having children should not stop you from trying it out. 'Marie’s children book ‘Kikki and Jax’ offers a nice way to talk with kids about what to keep and how to organize things,' she says.

Are there any other methods we could use to help stay organized?

Storage Room With Organised Pantry Items, Non-perishable Food Staples, Preserved Foods, Healty Eatings, Fruits And Vegetables.

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Andrew Mellen, professional organizer and author of 'Unstuff Your Life!,' says that The KonMari Method may not work for everyone. A method which he is quite fond of instead is the 'organization triangle'.

He says rule one of the triangle involves having 'one home for everything — meaning everything has one home and only one home. Where you keep your keys can be different from where I keep my keys but our keys each have their homes'.

Andrew's second rule is 'like with like,' where all 'like objects live or are stored together. That way you only have one place to go to find all things in common'. The third rule is 'something in, something out,' which he says is 'how you stay organized'.

'If everything has a home and all its siblings are together, you are organized and one can assume if you have more than you need and have to declutter, you don’t need additional things. So then, when something new comes in, something must be ready to be released or retired,' Andrew adds.

Advice & Gardens Editor

Faiza is the Advice & Gardens Editor at Livingetc. She previously worked for The Independent as a News Feature Writer, where she wrote articles on lifestyle, entertainment, news and more. She also worked as an Audience Editor for the newspaper for over two years. Spending a few years in the newsroom, Faiza also previously worked for Sky News as an SEO reporter, where she produced stories based on trending topics. Lifestyle and Interior design is a space Faiza has been interested in for quite some time and as she continues to grow in the field, she will be diving into an interior design course to further her skills. Faiza has a background in SEO, social media and reporting. Her passion for writing goes beyond her work as she loves all things poetry and creative writing.