The downside of the Konmari method that no one’s talking about

I’m seeing a disturbing trend in my Facebook group. People are watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show and they’re feeling overwhelmed and defeated before they even start decluttering.

And that breaks my heart!

Decluttering should be a freeing, positive experience; not one that ends up leaving you struggling for perfection and burned out.

Does the Konmari method always work?

In this video, I share 4 reasons the Konmari method doesn’t work for so many people and what you can do instead.

Why I'm not using the Konmari method

We need to talk about the Konmari method…It doesn't work for everyone… It may make you overly consumed with the technicalities instead of focusing on the goal of decluttering….There's another way to declutter! Learn more here: https://declutteringschool.com/

Posted by Decluttering Club on Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Why Konmari doesn’t work for everyone

1. So much folding!

Most of my readers don’t want to spend the time folding their laundry perfectly. It’s just not that important to them and that’s ok.

It’s hard enough to get laundry put away without adding extra requirements to the job!

I’ve taught my kids to fold their laundry (evidence below!) but they mostly choose to do a “less exact” version. That’s fine with me as long as their clothes are clean.

A non-Konmari way to fold clothes

2. Too much at once!

If I encouraged my students to dump out all their clothes into a giant pile, they’d likely end up wanting to shut the door and quit decluttering for good. That’s way too large of a focus.

It’s much easier to declutter in short spurts, doing 1 micro-target at time to gain some momentum.

3. It doesn’t all spark joy!

I realize Marie makes exceptions for things that don’t spark joy that you still want to keep but that is still the focus, no?

There are a million other ways to decide whether to keep or declutter something. This question doesn’t work well for me or many of my students.

4. You’ll have to declutter again. I promise you. 

Was it just me or did she say you’ll never have to declutter again? I don’t agree with this.

Our house with 4 kids is a revolving door for clutter.

Kids generate a lot of clutter just by growing and changing!

Plus, our tastes change. Much of what we love today will eventually wear out or otherwise be outgrown.

You can absolutely declutter your house but life happens and it’ll need more decluttering attention in the future.

You can declutter in a way that works best for you.

If the Konmari method works for you, that’s fabulous! But if it doesn’t, I want you to realize that you’re not a failure.

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Our free print book, Step-by-Step Decluttering, will have you making progress on your home in manageable, bite-sized chunks. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed and defeated before you even start!

step-by-step decluttering print book

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16 thoughts on “The downside of the Konmari method that no one’s talking about”

  1. I think you missed the point of Marie’s method. The whole idea is to look at that mound of clothing and make an association between the massive pile and your need to purchase. You don’t get that visual closet by closet. I found the Netflix series much more beneficial in demonstrating her total philosophy than the book.

    You probably are not in the same shape as the couples on the show which would make your method more practical for you.

  2. I think there is very useful information in the Konmari method that can be utilized. I feel that no matter what your situation is it can be helpful. Did I follow everything in the book to get my home completely organized? No , but I did adjust things to get the job done without thanking each purged item for its service. I feel as though you can take some things to literally. Meaning, If you can’t gather all your clothes because that would be to overwhelming, just start with catagories, as in just all the socks, then move to gathering all the jeans, which makes it easier to deal with. The idea behind gathering all like items together at one time is to see how much you really have and only keep those that you really like or that “spark joy” and purge the rest. That part of the process really helped me make some decisions and declutter items that I probably would not have if I didn’t gather like items together. I don’t feel that would be overwhelming for anyone.
    I also feel once you get the initial declutter complete it is more of maintenance afterwards and I haven’t had to do major decluttering since doing the first major one. Yes, there are things that are required that don’t spark joy. But that cannot be take literally on some items of course. I really wanted to purge every bra. Do they really spark joy? No but the idea is only keep the best and get rid of the rest.
    Folding/storing the clothes the Konmari way should not be stressful. Once you done it for a while it is totally wonderful. I can see everything in my drawer at first glance and keeping it that way is easy. Again having less is key to keeping it in order. Folding is folding …. either way we have to fold or hang clothes unless you live out of a laundry basket. So why not get into the more convenient way of folding/storing your clothes and teaching the kids that way while they are young will make everyones life easier.
    I know everyone is different and all situations are different however, no program would or should stress people out if we just used some of the guidelines and made it work for our needs.

    • I did use the method fo rmy clothes, especially in terms of folding. I can find everything without rummaging through my drawers.
      Mari did have a person ask her about stuff like can openers, that it is useful and doesn’t spark joy. Mari said that in a way it does spark joy because it helps you. The other thing that i wanted to comment on is the thanking items. I think what she is trying to get at for some of us is that it helps us to let go. One blogger mentioned this, how she thought thanking the item was stupid. But then one time she accidentally thanked it and she suddenly felt better about parting with that item. I think doing some of this type of stuff with her, the “spark joy” and the thanking helps you get into a mode of gratitude for what you have and have received. It’s a very mindful approach.
      So I understand what you are saying, that this method can be very stressful on people. I think that it can be tweaked and parts of it taken that are useful and toss the rest.

  3. I don’t feel like you went on a “rant.” You offered a different perspective. Personally, I totally agree with you. I’m happy to have the clothes put up and folded. For years I could hear my mother-in-law (over and over in my head) telling me I didn’t fold a towel right, or I didn’t cut the celery right, or I didn’t make the bed right. Feeling like you can never do something “right” or “perfect” is so discouraging. On the other hand though, God blessed me with a wonderful loving mother who was a farmers wife. She didn’t have time for neatly folded laundry, there were fields to how, gardens to tend, family and hired hands to cook for. She encouraged us to do our best and loved us unconditionally. I praise God for her. I prefer your method – taking small steps – and I thank you for sharing them with us! Thank you!

  4. I understand the “spark joy” but… my panties do spark joy, I like having my butt covered. I don’t think she gives enough info on what is a joyful amount. All 40 of my panties spark joy but do I need all 40? I really think people with clutter tend to have more of everything we need.

  5. I read her books a couple years ago and I knew I would not be going to bed if I put all my clothes in a pile. Did the closet one weekend, then the sock drawer and underwear drawer the next weekend, and so on. It’s burnout to do it all at once. Little by little Ive done the upstairs, (working on the basement with my husband). I’ve continued to use one method to keep like colors together. That made a huge difference in buying clothes (or not). As for folding the underwear, sometimes I do and sometimes I’m lucky they are clean and in the drawer. My cabinets and linen closets have been easier to maintain but those are from many different ways not just one. My sisters would have done an intervention if my house looked like those in her videos. My mother was a Clorox junkie but not necessarily with closets and cabinets. Had to clean the dirt out of the corners but try finding a roll of tape. Most helpful to me has been a cleaning lady everyone three weeks. It’s so worth the cost and time. People need to use what works for them from every different method but be careful not to get overwhelmed. Decision making is draining. Might end up with a bigger mess and no motivation to clean it. Be sure to plan out breaks and schedule lots of time. It takes longer than we think but it’s wonderful when it’s done. Happy decluttering.. it didn’t get that way in a day and it’s not going to be cleaned in a day.

  6. I really like the Konmari method, but it doesn’t work when you are depressed. Because nothing sparks anything. Once I was a little out of the dark, it began to work.

  7. Not only does the Konmari method not work for everyone, for some of us it is hazardous for our health, as you’ve hinted in your intro. Some people have a mental health issue with hoarding and her book is no help at all to people in that situation. If you are a ‘neat freak’, fair enough, but for those of us who struggle daily with mountains of clutter and the arduous business of making decisions about disposal, forget it. It’s not a case of one size fits all. Good on you for speaking up!

  8. I have to say that I totally agree with you. My kids are long gone but I am been systematically getting their stuff together to give to them to go through. Not my decision if they purge it or not.
    Secondly, she lost me totally when she stated that more than 30 books could not possibly spark joy. I understand that some people may feel that way but when she went on to say that you should throw books away or rip pages out of books to keep information, well,… I about had a heart attack over that. If fact, her whole idea to throw away instead of donating because she has some deep seated issues about wearing hand me downs is disturbing. Clothing, books, other items shouldn’t be going to a land fill when they can be reused or repurposed.
    All in all, I am not a fan.

  9. EXACTLY – I did the “spark joy” test to my craft stuff a couple years ago. It is not a once and done. New stuff keeps coming in. I’ve tried to be more realistic about what I bring in- but I still have too much and I need to pare down. Looking at my entire room- it is OVERWHELMING – but taking it a spot at a time is so much better. Sometimes tho my hardest struggle is just to start. My closet I just could not do the joy test on… there are clothes I have I don’t love- but they have a function I need. Example- gardening clothes- I have old military pants and t-shirts with paint on them- these are my work clothes. But they don’t and never will spark any joy.

    I have yet to watch one of her shows- but I did read her book a couple years ago… haven’t repeated the process because it’s not realistic.

  10. If this is a rant, you are a most gentle ranter! Brava! I’m probably a born minimalist (if you don’t count yarn) but both my biological and by-marriage families are, uhm, borderline hoarders. We joke that my role is to provide them with room. You see that humongous trailer for a rally car in the driveway? And, even as a minimalist and acknowledging that it is a translation, few material objects “spark joy.” Family, friends, pets, a few artworks, and (yeah, OK) some skeins of yarn spark joy. The rest—I use it, it works.

    I think the folding and many other ideas may be based on the much smaller space in an average Japanese home. For me, all US closets and drawers provide twice the space I need for unfolded garments. And, I don’t anthropomorphise innamate object. Yes, I clean out my purse regularly. No, I don’t think it needs to rest

    Ms Kondo seems like a reasonable and humorous soul. Regrettably, as oft happens, many of her followers seen to have turned her ideas into a cult, I’m for a gentle, flexible approach. It seems to be what works for my beloved hoarders.

  11. I have CFS, 5 kids, a three bedroom home and I home educate. I can’t pull out everything at one time. I run out of time and energy before the job is done and then my little ones scatter everything left all over the house. Or they scatter it while I am cleaning. Flyladies 15 minutes a day doesn’t work either, in 15 minutes I don’t even break even on the daily mess. I’ve been decluttering for 15 years it’s really hard especially when I spend months in bed at a time and the house just gets messier and messier around me.
    With my current health I spend about 3 hrs twice a week cleaning and declutering with the oldest kids while hubby takes the little ones out. They gather a box from a room and I sit and sort into give away, put away, throw away and recycle and then the boys put away the put away and gather up another box full. It might not be the most efficient way to recycle and it depends a lot on how fast they work but it is the best way I have found given our family and health situation.

  12. I read the book and watched the Netflix series, but didn’t completely follow her instructions.
    I agree that it is ridiculous to pull every stitch of clothing and make a giant pile. I would have been overwhelmed by that monstrous pile.
    I did one drawer and one section of a closet at a time.
    My question about clothes is not whether it sparks joy.
    It is ‘does this suit my current and future lifestyle?’ or
    ‘If an important person saw me wearing this, would I be embarrassed or confident?’

  13. Bravo! It was refreshing your comments…. Comparable to hearing from someone that “The emperor has no clothes!” The Kon Mari has some goos ideas, but dumping all of my clothe or all of my books on the floor would immediately become a disaster. When I read Marie Kondi’s comments that we should not have more than 5 books in our homes. We had the Net and libraries, I drew the line. Hav to confess that the Kon Mari book was one o the first books I placed in my ‘donation bag’ as it did not ‘spark joy’ for me… Also, kneeling in front of items to ‘pray’ (thank them for their service before I tossed them out.. ah, no. This little old lady could perhaps get down on my knees, but easily getting up would be extremely difficult. Perhaps for me, my housecleaning/downsizing/organizing is a combination of Kon Mari, Fly Lady and a lot of other sources in books, on the Net and elsewhere. Just as in cooking, each of us often varies a ‘recipe’ to our own tastes.

    Thanks again for your wonderful You Tube video.



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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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