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Spring cleaning – no Kondo
L Word

Spring cleaning – no Kondo

by Sarita Rao 4 min. 27.04.2019 From our online archive
Why the latest craze for KonMarie cleaning doesn't work for Sarita Rao
Kondo has six basic rules to tidying Photo: Shutterstock
Kondo has six basic rules to tidying Photo: Shutterstock

Spring has sprung, but sadly I have no bounce when it comes to spring cleaning. I haven't vacuumed under the rugs for six months and there are so many crumbs in the kitchen cupboards I'm expecting a family of cockroaches to move in any day now.

Marie Kondo, and the KonMari method, is all the rage at the moment. Only last week I read that you can Kondo your wardrobe to make way for this season's "must have" clothing items.

Must-have? Really?

As in "must-have" water because I've been crawling through the desert for a week? Or "must-have" more wardrobe space because I haven't used up my landfill quota this year?

Kondo has six basic rules to tidying but I seem to be missing the point:

1. Commit yourself to tidying up

Does this mean commit yourself to an asylum because that would be preferable to tidying up? Or does this mean make a commitment and "tidying up" will commit to you? Not sure I want "tidying up" hanging around me all the time, making me feel bad.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

Imagine if I never got married or had kids. Imagine if I won the lottery and could afford that huge house in Limpertsberg I've always dreamed about. Imagine if I was 20 years younger? I think Kondo means, imagine your ideal lifestyle within the parameters of the one you are leading. You are not allowed to tidy away or throw out your children, even if when you question yourself they hold less sentimental value to you than that can of sardines at the back of the cupboard.

3. Finish discarding first

Aha, so you mean throw out that ever-growing pile you've been meaning to take to the recycling centre for months but which has now morphed into an under-the stairs monster? The trouble with this is that the recycling centre is filled with the temptations of other people's discarded items, like books, toys and hand-woven baskets (you can never have too many hand-woven baskets).

4. Tidy by category, not location

I'm a bit mystified by this. Human, vegetable and mineral, perhaps? Edible, readable then wearable? I prefer a more methodical room by room approach. That way I can feel instant satisfaction that my tidying efforts are paying off, or better still, I can buy more storage units from IKEA and fill them with the things I haven't discarded.

5. Follow the right order

Just in case you didn't understand the rule before, you should apparently tidy in this order – clothes, books, papers, Komono (which means "everything else" but sounds better than saying "everything else") and finally sentimental items. Why leave the sentimental ones until last? Because once you've purged your wardrobe, bookshelf and kitchen cupboards, you won't feel in the least bit sentimental, you'll be on a roll, and ready to throw out all those cards your kids made for you. After all, the new you, with your new "must-have" spring fashions, doesn't want drawings of you where your hands are bigger than your head.

6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

So should I ask that very old jar of artichoke hearts if it sparks joy? Should I ask the drain fluid the same question? Maybe I can stand my husband up and ask myself if he really, truly, sparks joy? Without him I'd have a much bigger wardrobe space to fill with this season's "must-have" items.

Space to buy more stuff

I am willing to admit that Kondo at least gives you a list with which to start the marathon and daunting task of a good spring clean. But the truth is Kondo-ing your house is more complex. I have a bedside drawer stuffed with the baby teeth of my kids. My colourful Mexican hall rug matches nothing and is very dirty, but I bought it on my honeymoon. I will never throw out that oolong tea, even if I never drink it, because it reminds me of a dear friend from Japan.

The other no-no about Kondo-ing is that faint whiff of consumer spending about it all. Exactly why am I clearing out my wardrobe to refill it? Do I need new clothes or do I just want them. Could I wear things just a little longer to save the planet for one more second? Kondo is like a dream come true for all fashion and home furnishing retailers, because after you've thrown out anything that doesn't spark joy, you will probably have very little left. That means you will need to go on a big spending spree to fill up your empty dwelling. K'ching for capitalism. Nil points for the environment.

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