8 decluttering tips from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo can help anyone achieve a higher level of organization without too much extra effort. Here are my favorite tips from her Netflix show.

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
1 of 15 Denise Crew/Netflix

Finding joy

The basic premise of Marie Kondo's Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, is to test all your stuff. If, while holding the item, it doesn't spark joy, thank it for its service and get rid of it. 

This may sound a little woo-woo, but the point is to toss stuff that you no longer use or want. I've given similar advice in articles like this one.

Beyond the whole "sparking joy" idea, the show offers several great organizing tips. Here are some of my favorites and how I adapted them to my home.

2 of 15 Denise Crew/Netflix

Don't toss all of your boxes

While boxes may not bring you joy, don't toss them right away. Kondo advises watchers use them in drawers to keep items separated. 

3 of 15 Alina Bradford/CNET

Tiny boxes

For example, I used tiny boxes to organize what used to be a catch-all drawer for art supplies. Now I can actually find things!

4 of 15 Boston Globe/Getty Images

Storing things upright

Folding clothing, towels and other cloth items so they stand up by themselves is a big part of Kondo's tidying process. This allows your to store things vertically so they are easier to see in drawers.

5 of 15 Alina Bradford/CNET

Boxes for the folding impaired

If you can't figure out Kondo's special folding technique, you can still store items upright. Just place a cardboard box -- like a shoe box -- into drawers to prevent your folded items from falling over.

6 of 15 Denise Crew/Netflix


One of Kondo's tidying steps on the show includes organizing mementos. Her best tip for photographs is to go through and find photos that are very similar. Then, choose the one you like best and discard the other. 

If throwing away a photograph gives you the hives, give the extras to relatives. 

7 of 15 Alina Bradford/CNET

Store them upright

Once your photos are sorted, store them upright so they are easier to thumb through. I don't know about you, but being able to find photos easily gives me joy.

8 of 15 Denise Crew/Netflix

A box of joy

Another tip for organizing mementos is to store your favorite keepsakes in a decorative box or trunk. 

Pick a box you want to display somewhere in your home, rather than one you'd rather put away in storage. If it's out in the open, you're more likely to enjoy the contents inside on a regular basis.

stack of books
9 of 15 Tony Taylor / EyeEm


A lot of people have had some strong feelings about Kondo's tips about getting rid of books, including CNET's Bonnie Burton

Following Kondo's method, you are supposed to hold each of your books to see if they spark joy, and if they don't, you toss or donate them. Toss my books? I have to admit, this part of the show makes me queasy. 

10 of 15 Bonnie Burton

Book happiness

If you're a book hoarder (and I fully recommend that you become one if you're not already) going through every book can feel like an impossible task. 

My advice is to think of your book collection as a whole. Does it make you happy? Then keep it. 

If you're running out of room for new books though, take action. Find any books you really don't like and donate them. 

11 of 15 Bonnie Burton

Make them visually pleasing

Our own Bonnie Burton came up with a great way to make your books look tidy without tossing a single book. She color coded her shelves by placing books that are the same color together. 

Her bookshelves -- like the one above and in the previous slide -- look perfectly tidy without sacrificing any books. I tried it out and now my books give me even more joy.

12 of 15 Denise Crew/Netflix

Tackle your clothes

The part I love best about Tidying Up With Marie Kondo is the closet cleanups. 

I am notorious for having an overflowing closet. In fact, we were forced to build my husband his own separate one. But, I am reformed, thanks to Kondo.

13 of 15 Alina Bradford/CNET

Make a pile

To get on board with decluttering your closet, all you really need to do is take everything out and make a pile. This makes a huge mess, but it is a must. Trust me.

Then, go through and only keep your favorite pieces and toss or donate everything else. Here's some more of closet cleaning tips I've learned.

stacks of dishes
14 of 15 Carlos Hernandez/Getty Images

Kitchen items

Make a piles in your kitchen, too. Clean out each drawer and cupboard and pile everything up on your counters. Sort through the mess and only keep appliances, utensils, dishes, pots and pans that you use and love. Then, find them a permanent home in your kitchen.  

You'll be amazed at what you have that you don't actually use. For example, I found a snow cone machine that hasn't seen the light of day for around five years.

15 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

Tidy your tech

How does Kondo's tidying techniques deal with tech clutter? We walk you through organizing your tech using the KonMarie Method here.

More Galleries

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work
iphone 15 in different color from an angled view

Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work

21 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos
Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos
CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

9 Photos
2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

14 Photos