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Gig’s guide to tackling clutter and mess

Spring cleaning is more than an annual tidying up tradition. It’s a reboot to our living spaces, and to our psyches. The legendary personal space guru Marie Kondo describes the annual spring cleaning ritual as both an “expression of gratitude” to the belongings that have helped us survive the cold, rainy winter and the initiation of a new beginning in ourselves.

Nobody lives for spring cleaning, but anybody can do it. All it takes is a little initiative, a little elbow grease, and a helpful checklist.

Inspired by Marie Kondo’s famous KonMari Method, here’s ours.

Bring out the spring clothes and take inventory

The arrival of spring means it’s time to put away your heaviest sweaters, overcoats, and comforters – though Mark Twain might warn Bay Area residents not to put away all of their warm clothes and blankets. Our summers aren’t like other people’s summers, particularly if you live close to the coast.

Marie Kondo contends that spring cleaning is also the perfect opportunity to take inventory of your entire wardrobe. If you’re daunted by the prospect, she suggests sorting through your clothes and keeping only the items that “spark joy.” No joy, no closet space. Discard it.

Put down the rebellion (the dust bunny rebellion, that is)

Most of us vacuum on a weekly basis, but Ms. Kondo reminds us that springtime is the perfect time to attack those hard-to-reach areas where dust bunnies congregate to plot world domination. You know the places: under the sofa, behind the TV, in your home’s air vents and dryer ducts. These spaces may not be plainly visible to the eye, but you’ll feel better knowing they’ve been swept clean.

Pro tip: Savvy sweepers know how versatile a vacuum cleaner can be. Floors are just the start. They also work great on sofas and mattresses, walls and windowsills. Get to know your vacuum attachments and don’t be afraid to put them to use.

Create a storage system  

Think you have space issues? Marie Kondo gently points out that, in Japan, a 1,000-square-foot-home is considered large. How can you make your home feel larger than it is? A little organization can go a long way. Consider storing things by category – books, office supplies, beachwear, etc. – as opposed to scattering them in different places around the house. Well-executed household storage won’t simply help you declutter your home; it will actually make you feel like you have more storage space than you do.

Clean the attic and garage

The garage and the attic are often havens of last resort for items that you never use, but can’t quite seem to get rid of. They may be gifts from family members. They may be items of sentimental value. They may be your college textbooks. You have Marie Kondo’s blessing to get rid of them. Besides: No bona fide spring cleaning trip is complete without a thorough excavation of the attic.  

Don’t discard it, donate it!

You’ve cleaned the attic. You’ve decluttered your home. (Kudos!) Now, an even bigger issue looms: Where to take all of your stuff? Thrift stores nationwide can attest to Marie Kondo’s gentle insistence that donations are better than dumpsters. Thrift stores aren’t your only option, however. CharityChoices.com offers an exhaustive list of charities which can be sortable by item, who offers pick-up, who requires drop-offs, etc. Thank you in advance for taking the time to donate!


There’s more to spring cleaning than washing your windows, clearing out your garage, or eliminating the surprising amount of filth that can accumulate on the blades of one’s ceiling fans. Ms. Kondo maintains that spring cleaning can be a spiritually cleansing experience as well. Her KonMari Method isn’t a substitute for elbow grease, but it will help you view the annual tidying up ritual in a fresh light.

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