The Big Spring Spruce-Up

We Asked KonMari Consultants for Their Best Decluttering Tips

Marie Kondo's team gives us 6 doable tasks to tackle right now.

March  6, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

For The Big Spring Spruce-Up, we’re throwing our windows wide open and letting in all that fresh air. Follow along for handy tips and game-changing tricks—cleaning and organizing to-dos, home decorating projects, and more.

Large-scale decluttering can be a multi-day process, especially if you’re using the KonMari method, and sometimes you just aren’t feeling up to that—not yet, anyway. You have to be in the right mindset to take on a whole-home cleaning adventure, and taking a few baby steps in the right direction can be a good way to pump yourself up.

To help ourselves get in the tidying-up spirit, we asked certified KonMari consultants for their favorite tiny decluttering tasks that make a noticeable difference. All of their suggestions will take just a few minutes, but you’ll immediately see the results—which will hopefully get you in the mood for spring cleaning. Even if it doesn’t, your house will still feel a little bit neater, and we count that as a win.

Designate a Donation Basket

Instead of carving out a big chunk of time to declutter, why not just do it little by little each day? Caitlin Roberts, owner of Minimize With Purpose and a Master-level KonMari consultant (that means she’s held more than 500 tidying sessions!), suggests creating a donation bag or basket in your home. As you and your family go about your daily routine, pick out items that rarely get used and don’t “spark joy” and put them in the basket.

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Top Comment:
“It feels like Spring this morning. I’m the only one awake. With my newly inspired, ready-to-clean mindset I’m going to tackle my bedside table. By the time everyone else wakes up I’ll feel accomplished and ready to take on the day! ”
— Debbie

“As you go about your everyday life and notice an item no longer serves a purpose in your life, drop it in the donation bag,” she recommends. “When the bag is full, it is time to donate.” Using this method can make decluttering seem much less daunting. Here’s where to donate all your home goods, from kitchen appliances to electronics.

Clear Your Countertops

Patty Morrissey, a professional organizer and Gold-level KonMari consultant, says your kitchen counters are a rewarding place to declutter. This area tends to accumulate a lot of “stuff,” whether it’s dishes, mail, bags of chips, small appliances, or other random items. “In the kitchen, aim to keep countertops clear,” she recommends. “This will make it easier to clean up after cooking.”

Roberts echoes this sentiment, explaining that, “You can really transform a room by keeping your countertops clear and clutter-free.” Plus, it only takes a few minutes to put away any items that might be lingering on your kitchen counters. Tiny task, big benefits.

Open Your Mail Immediately

Another way to banish common clutter? Open and process your mail every day. “When you receive your mail, immediately dump any junk mail into your recycling bin,” recommends Roberts. “Identify what items need to be dealt with, and either process right away or schedule a time to do so.” This will prevent piles of paper from building up on the counter, table, desk, etc.

Organize Your Computer Desktop

Most of us spend at least part of our days on computers or phones, so why not take a few minutes to tidy up your digital space, too? This can be as simple as organizing items that have accumulated on your desktop or going through your phone and deleting a few apps you haven’t used in a while.

Tackle One Small Category of Items

If you notice an area of your house is looking particularly messy, try tackling it one type of item at a time. “Group items by category first so that you can see just how much of each item you have—you may not have realized that you had so many wooden spoons, for example,” says Morrissey. Following with the kitchen theme, pull out all the spatulas and sort through them. Repeat with knives, then whisks, and so on.

When you put the items back, “arrange things to make them easy to put away,” she recommends. The idea here is if you have to move a bunch of items to put your slow cooker back in the cabinet, you’re probably just going to leave it on the counter for a few days. “This will make it more likely that things will get put back after use.”

Clean Off Side Tables

Finally, another small cleaning task that can make a world of difference is cleaning off side tables. Whether it’s your bedside table or the coffee table in your living room, these areas are hot spots for clutter.

Recycle any lingering water bottles, and put cups and plates in the dishwasher—don’t be tempted to leave them on the counter. Put books back on shelves, and throw away any trash. It will only take a few minutes, and you’ll be left with a clean, clear surface you can feel good about.

What helps you declutter in a manageable way? Let us know below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • WOW
  • McKenzey
  • Carol Moholt
    Carol Moholt
  • Debbie
  • M
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


WOW March 16, 2019
WOW. Good ideas. No judgement clutterbugs. Just don't let it get to "Horders."

I loathe clutter. But we live in a country that makes clutter seemingly unavoidable. I live in a clutter-free home. Yeah, get a load of me, I'm that lady. But I do have some clutter. I just hide it in a very organized fashion. Unaddressed mail, docments to be filed, cards that need to ne sent, mags, Chewey and other good coupons, etc., are put into a 18" by 18" beautiful box with a flip magnetic top. It is kept in my entrerance coat closet. Just chuck stuff in; go through it once a week.

The kitchen. I have an awesome stainless steel bread box with a roll top. Everyone is low carb now. Put that b box to use. Gum, cough drops, straws, the good take out chopsticks that are not attached, matches, a switchie screw diver with the flat and phillips head, manuals and warrenties on the bottom, etc.. "Junk drawers" are unspeakable to me. A drawer of junk. Nothing ever gets retrieved from it because it a drawer so stuffed with junk it can not be opened. And you are wasting a drawer. Enough said about foul j drawers.

The office. No want desk covered with office stuff. Want clean desk. Get a nice cabinet, not glass front, which is my weakness, that works with your office furniture. An awesome op to add a pop of color. Put all supplies, pencil sharpener, stapler, electronic communication devices, reference books and manuals, files you use regulary on the "go to shelf," etc.. I had a hole cut in the back of my cabinet so I could access electrical outlets for phones, ipads, pencil sharpener, whatever, with the cords concealed in the cabinet.

Lastly. While watching tv with commercials. Get up off your bummy during said commercials and put away the dry cleaning, go through the coat closet box, reorganize one of the cabinets under the sink, take out the recycling, dust a couple things, clean out your pocketbook, make yourself a cocktail etc.. : )

My shame. I am a hoarder of grand boxes. I am currently box sober. But is an ugly disorder just waiting to get a hold of me again with the next fancy box that crosses my path.

Fondest regareds.
McKenzey March 8, 2019
When clearing off counters and floors, I systematically pick up the three largest items at a time and either put away, throw away, or give away and then go back and repeat. If I get pulled away midstream, I can still see progress made in, usually, under a minute at a time. It helps to always leave a room three things in my hands.
McKenzey March 8, 2019
It gets the "motor" running if I go to a closet, cupboard, pile of paper or drawer that is out of control and eliminate 1/3 of its contents. That's usually the easiest part, and then the new empty space inspires me to do a little bit more.
Carol M. March 8, 2019
Duclutter the refrigerator door shelves! Getting rid of half the condiment and related bottles you never use frees up space there for things that usually go in the main part of the refrigerator. Put stuff in the main parts of the refrigerator in like categories and once a week clear it out, moving things back to their "spot" -- after a while you get in the habit of putting it there in the first place. Toss fruits and vegetables past their prime into the compost bin (and maybe in the future find the time to make a vegetable soup broth base -- I'm not quite to that point yet.) Knowing what's in your refrigerator makes it easier to find leftovers for lunch, have a mental picture of what's there when you are at the grocery store, and more.
McKenzey March 8, 2019
I have a rule to take two things OUT of the fridge every day. It might be ingredients to include in a meal, leftovers, containers with expired contents, etc. It makes for less fridge clutter, and also keeps me mindful of using up bits of veggies, dressings, etc.
kfreed March 8, 2019
I put condiments in bins on the refrigerator shelves (not the door). It's easy to pull the bin out and fetch the bottle I need, freeing up the door for things I use more often. The bin makes it easier, too, to wash the shelf -- just remove the bin. I like a short-sided, plastic coated wire bin, which is easy to clean.
Anne H. March 9, 2019
I love this idea, bravo.
Margaret L. March 22, 2019
I use plastic shoe boxes, without the lids (Container Store is my favorite for their straight, smooth sides) to make "drawers" on the shelves of my small-ish refrigerator and freezer. Not every fridge/freezer is configured in a way that makes this helpful, but it allows me to use the backs of shelves as easily as I use the fronts. Makes cleaning really easy, too.
Debbie March 8, 2019
It feels like Spring this morning. I’m the only one awake. With my newly inspired, ready-to-clean mindset I’m going to tackle my bedside table. By the time everyone else wakes up I’ll feel accomplished and ready to take on the day!
M March 6, 2019
If you need small-effort motivation for bigger-scale de-cluttering, then take on one small, long-neglected space you know is jam-packed with things you will want to get rid of. (junk drawer, bathroom, closet shelf, bureau, etc)

General tidying is not going to be a big motivator for people feeling reluctant to tidy, but the more accomplishment you can pack into the least amount of effort just might.