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The Best Secret to Decluttering Clothes that You Can Do Today


Easy and practical tasks for organizing and decluttering clothes. Follow these step-by-step tips to tidy up your wardrobe.

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Hey there!  I’ve been wanting to share my KonMari experience with you for a while.  My friend suggested I read the best seller a couple of months ago and I was immediately hooked!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is a decluttering method I’ve never seen before.  

Decluttering Clothes the KonMari Way

Is it a happy coincidence that we actually live in Japan? If you are new around here, we are a military family living in Okinawa. This method couldn’t have come at a better time for our small space living situation in a rental.

I can’t wait until we move stateside and I can apply everything I learned to our long-term storage!

A picture of KonMari book and graphic for decluttering and organizing the closet.
How to Declutter Clothes

Decluttering clothing? What is the KonMari method? In a nutshell, you declutter by category (not by room or closet/drawer).   For every item that you own, you literally hold it and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”  

In the end, you are surrounded by things you love which totally goes with my slogan, “love your space”.  Super duper.  

Kondo’s method promises that if you declutter and organize by category all at once (she mentions this could take up to 6 months so take a deep breath!), it will have such an impact on every area of your life, that you will only have to do it once!  Sounds awesome, right?

The Kon Mari Method, Book on table with flowers and paper clips
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I’m going to take you through my experience of tidying up starting with the master closet.   I have to warn you since we live in Japan, 70% of our belongings (mostly furniture and cold-weather clothes) are in long-term storage.

This is why I mentioned that I’m looking forward to practicing the KonMari method when we move back to the States. With that being said I absolutely love simplifying and organizing things by making sure each item has a home and getting rid of things we don’t love, use, or need.

How to Declutter Clothes

Decluttering order for Clothes:

  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • Clothes that should be hung
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bags
  • Accessories
  • Clothes for specific events
  • Shoes

The first step for the magic of tidying up is decluttering clothes!

Put all your items in a sub-category on the floor.  Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy!  At first, it was difficult to not have dialogues like  “does this fit?” “I just wore this last week” “it still looks new” with myself.  

After a few garments, I finally started getting the hang of it.  It was simple, when I picked it up, did it put a smile on my face?  

An example of decluttering clothes by folding them using the konmari method in a drawer.
Declutter Wardrobe Marie Kondo

After going through my tops, I quickly went through the other sub-categories.  I have to tell you, a few items that I felt apprehensive about and kept, I have gotten rid of since then.

The next step is organizing.

Kondo suggests folding as much as you can.  Only hang items that won’t stay folded, outerwear, and dress clothes. Our walk-in closet was large enough to hold two government-issued dressers with plenty of space for hanging items. I was happy to have the ugly furniture out of sight.

To make the most out of drawer storage.  Fold your items so that they sit up vertically in a smooth rectangle.  You will find that different clothes need to be folded in a different way.

3 steps for folding:

  1. Fold each lengthwise side of a garment toward the center.
  2. Tuck in sleeves and straps so that you have a long rectangle.
  3. Fold the end up in half then again in half or thirds. 
Close up of pants and shorts folded in vertical rows in a dark chest drawer.
Drawer with neatly folded pants, shorts, and skirts.

I contemplated showing each of my drawers but I decided that I didn’t want my undergarments published on the web!  All of my clothes, including socks and bathing suits, are folded into neat little rectangles.  I LOVE getting into my dresser now.  

Kondo also suggests going from light to dark in your drawers.  The lightest clothes being in the front.   Hanging clothes from light to dark should go right to left.  Your hanging and folding clothes should also be arranged by type.

Woman's decluttered clothes hanging in an organized and decluttered closet from light to dark.
Organized hanging clothes.

I’m happy to say that I now have an empty dresser drawer and that all seasons (in Okinawa that’s only two: hot and not so hot) of my clothes fit in our closet easily.  

Decluttering clothes in my closet by category and color view from bedroom.
Declutter Closet

Since we were only allowed to bring about 30% of our belongings, we had to be very picky about what was coming with us to Japan.   I brought only my favorite shoes and accessories but still found out that not all of them sparked joy.   I guess I had only thought they were my favorite!

A woman's bust with necklaces on bedside table with clock and Domino book.  White curtains, walls, and table top.
Bedside Table
A drawer organized with jewelry inspired by the magic of tidying up and decluttering clothes.
Organized Drawer
A close up of jewelry boxes on a government issued dresser organized by the kon mari method. Colorful and eclectic decorating style.
Dresser Top

An important step to remember when you are doing the KonMari method is that you look for your items in a specific category everywhere!  Your car, purse, and every closet/room in the house need to be searched.   When you are organizing them, keep similar items stored together.    

A display of necklaces hanging on command strip hooks in the closet for renter friendly jewelry display and storage when decluttering clothes.
Necklaces hung on removable hooks in our master closet.

A note on the things you are getting rid of.  Marie Kondo says “throw it away!”  I decided to try to sell a few high-value items and donate the rest.  Let me suggest that you GET IT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE ASAP.  Otherwise, family members and fond memories might persuade you to keep a thing or two!  

After I looked at my “get rid of selling/donating pile” for a few days,  I finally put it in my car and took it to the thrift store.  It felt SO GOOD to just get all of it off my hands.

Are you taking this journey with me?  I would love to hear about your KonMari method experiences and whether you have found joy!  

Can you believe I got my kids on board?  I shared about we decluttered the kids’ rooms and KonMari”ed” their clothes, books, and toys.  A couple of nights ago my husband said he was ready to declutter and organize his clothes. Be still my heart!  Kondo mentioned in her book how the family will go along once they see you sparking joy!

pinterest graphic for How To Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes! showing a bright closet with hanging pink shirts.
How to be ruthless when decluttering clothes!

How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes

Do your best by only keeping things that are necessary and that spark joy. If you are still on the fence about what that might be, here is another helper method that you keep you on task.

  • Tie a piece of ribbon to the right of your clothes hanging in your closet. There can be a ribbon for each category and/or rod.
  • Place an article of clothing to the right of the ribbon after you wear it.
  • At the end of the season you’ll see what you acutally wear and what is still left untouched.
  • You can do the same for drawers. Place a post card at the front of your clothes in each drawer (this works when your clothes are folding horizantally like I mentioned above).
  • Place cothes behind the card after you wear them. See what’s left at the end of the season!

Check out this article on decluttering your closet with a capsule wardrobe and other great tips and signs that it is time to declutter your closet right now!

Curious about our small Japanese rental?   You can learn all about it on our home tour.

You can find all the best decorating ideas and DIYs for Spring and Easter on this page! It also includes seasonal printables, checklists, and worksheets for Spring decluttering and organizing.



    1. Right?!? I told my kids they can pull clothes out but they aren’t allowed to put them away. So far their dressers have stayed neat. (A couple of months now!) I just finished my husband’s clothes today, we’ll see how he does!

  1. I have almost finished the book! We started with our clothes the other day (although I still have shoes and bags to do this weekend), but i’m in love already! I had already done a huge cull before moving to Japan, and then again recently, but still managed to discard about half my clothes! I can’t wait to get to the rest but can see it will take a while. KonMari, where have you been all my life!

    1. That made me laugh out loud!! Papers are tricky. Since we live across seas, my husband thinks we need multiple copies of everything! I told him they don’t spark joy but at least I have room to keep them organized since I “KonMari” everything else. lol

  2. Great tips, Kathryn! I’m always leery about these organizational “methods”, but this one actually seems simple and useful. Thanks!

  3. I’ve read this book and it’s very useful but I want to add that iImixed some the ways for organizing and de-cluttering mentioned in the book with 12-12-12 challenge. For one week you need to decide which 12 item to throw way, 12 to give a new place at your home and 12 to donate. Even my kids helped me with this project.

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