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How Effective is the KonMari Decluttering Method? (Survey)


Marie Kondo has inspired a decluttering craze around the world, leaving millions wondering what sparks joy in their lives. While her popular book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) has been around since 2011, Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo) has given people a renewed interest in her decluttering method.

We’re in the business of clean at Mulberrys and we are always interested in exploring popular methods for tidying up, whether it pertains to getting out a tough stain or masterfully organizing a pantry. All the hype around Marie Kondo method got us wondering: just how effective is the KonMari method? To explore, we surveyed 500 men and women who have tried the KonMari method about their experience. Read on to learn more about what we uncovered.

Why People Try the KonMari Method  

What inspires people to try the KonMari method.

We first sought out to explore what inspired people to try the KonMari method for decluttering. As we expected, the inspiration for more than half of the respondents was watching the new Netflix series. In fact, more than half of millennials (61%) watched the Netflix show before making the decision to tidy up. Only 15% of people tried KonMari because of a desire to be more organized or due to frustration over clutter in their homes. Additionally, we asked respondents whether they had either read Marie Kondo’s book or watched her Netflix series before completing the tidying up exercise, and 95% of respondents had done one or the other.

The Most Emotional Rooms to Tidy Up

Rooms that sparked the most emotion to declutter.

Some areas of a home are definitely easier to declutter than others. The rooms that contain the most personal belongings and mementos can be emotional to work through and many of the respondents reported feeling some level of emotion as they worked through their homes.  Tidying up bedrooms caused the most emotion overall, followed by closets. 20.3% of people from the Northwest felt the attic was the most emotional to tidy up after their bedrooms.

Interestingly, the rooms that sparked the most emotion also took the longest to tidy up. 40.4% of respondents thought bedrooms took the longest to tidy up, followed by closets (16.2%), and bathrooms (9.4%).

The Categories That Spark the Most Joy

Categories of objects that spark the most joy.

Marie Kondo divides belongings into five categories: books, clothing, komono, mementos, and papers. Komono is a catch-all category that refers to any miscellaneous items that don’t fit into the other four categories. As the name implies, mementos are any items with sentimental value. The KonMari instructs participants to hold up each belonging and ask whether it sparks joy. If it does, keep it. If it does not, thank the item and get rid of it. At the end of the process, participants are only be left with items that spark joy.  

The survey found that clothing sparks the most joy for 33.2% respondents, a surprisingly higher percentage than the 26% who found that sentimental items spark the most joy. The top 3 categories that spark joy for men are clothing (32.1%), books (24.7%), and mementos (26%). Women’s top 3 categories are clothing (34%), mementos (30.18%), and books (18.6%).

What People Got Rid Of

Number of bags filled with items to discard as part of the KonMari method.

So once you’ve identified the items that don’t spark joy, what do you do with them? 64% of respondents donated the majority of the items they got rid of, though 17.8% of people tried to resell their items for a profit. 3 bags was the most common number of bags of things that respondents got rid of, but 11% of respondents filled 11 or more bags with items that didn’t spark joy. Taking a closer look at what exactly people got rid of, 34% of respondents got rid of 1-10 books. Both men and women made a dent in their closets – 40% of women and 49% of men got rid of 11-30 clothing items.

While the goal of the KonMari exercise is to remove items that don’t spark joy, not all respondents followed that guideline. 3 in 5 respondents reported keeping items that didn’t spark joy for them.

The Emotions Associated with Tidying Up

Emotions associated with decluttering.

Working through all of your possessions is bound to drum up memories and emotions associated with those items, and as a result, the KonMari exercise can be very emotional to work through. 40% of respondents report crying at some point while working through the KonMari method. More men (43.7%) than women (36.5%) cried at some point while working through the method.

Not surprisingly, the memento category was the most emotional to work through for respondents, followed closely by clothing. While many people experienced emotional feelings while tidying up, regret was not one of the feelings for most people. 3 in 10 people who tried the KonMari method feel no regret over the items they got rid of.

After the Magic of Tidying Up

How long did decluttering last after using the KonMari method?

The KonMari method can be time-consuming to work through, so we were curious to see how the time input compared to the length of the after effects of decluttering. Interestingly, 34% of respondents’ tidying up efforts lasted only a few weeks and 22% lasted less than a week. There are many people that end up adopting the KonMari method as a lifestyle – 15% of respondents reports incorporating the method into their daily lives.

One popular aspect of the KonMari method is Marie Kondo’s unique folding method. Clothes are rolled and placed alongside each other rather than flat in stacks so you can easily see everything in a drawer when you open it. While the majority of respondents didn’t adopt the method as a lifestyle, 66% of people did adopt the KonMari folding method.

Satisfaction levels of people who tried the KonMari method.

Lastly, we asked respondents about their satisfaction with the results of the KonMari decluttering method. The large majority reported feeling either satisfied or very satisfied with the results.

All of our research leaves us eager to give Marie Kondo’s decluttering method a try. What do you think? Would you try to KonMari method? Let us know in the comments!