Marie Kondo

Pandemic Friendly Decluttering Tips

Declutter using social distance

We love that so many people are taking time to organize and declutter their homes while self-isolating and staying home. It’s a productive way of passing the time. Decluttered and organized spaces yield satisfaction and add calm in stressful times.

Along with the big challenges presented by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, we are hearing for the first time that clients are struggling, not with starting their organizing projects, but with finishing them. Getting your discards out the door is an important part of the process. In fact, “discard first” is one of the main principles of Marie Kondo’s organizing approach.  Organizing takes place after discarding, as only then will all your storage options be revealed. 

With many of the usual places to send discards, like thrift shops and charities temporarily closed, how do you handle discards so you can start organizing your space?

Pandemic-adapted organizing tips:

Mix it up

While we love Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy method of organizing by category (starting with clothing, ending with sentimental items), starting your declutter project with clothing may not be the most feasible or practical way of decluttering currently. Since recycling is still being picked up, you can (gasp!) start with the “paper” or “books” category. (Hey, desperate times! 😊).  Discarded paper can be immediately recycled and discarded books can be tucked away to pass along at a later date.

A Recycling we will go!

Beyond the usual bottles and cans, hunt throughout your home – attic, garage, basement, closets, junk drawers for unused or unneeded items that can be recycled. Search for old glass jars, boxes electronics came in, health craze products, plastic odds and ends – they can be sneaky contributors to clutter.  Go get ‘em and put them in the recycle bin!

Purge Tupperware and food storage containersTupperware messy

They have an uncanny ability to become permanently separated from their lids. Now is the time to go through your collection of food storage containers, match lids to all the containers, find stragglers and get bottomless, topless or decrepit containers in the recycle bin! While you are at it, have a think about how many food storage containers you actually need and send the extras to the recycling bin – having too many contributes to clutter and chaos in your kitchen.

Go on a Garbage Quest

Scour your home for items that don’t spark joy and are not donatable or recyclable. The garbage category includes items that are broken, torn or have otherwise reached their useful life span. Look, for example, for old bedding/linens, broken appliances and expired medications.

Time to toss!


Tea – a mess of boxes taking up a deep drawer!
Easy to find decanted tea bags – taking up half the space!

Discover Decanting

Decanting isn’t everyone’s style, but you might find out it works for you.  “Decanting” in the context of decluttering means removing food items from their original packaging and putting them in containers of your own. Decanting allows you to optimize storage space with containers that suit your cupboards.  Once you have decanted the items you want to decant recycle the original packaging. May the additional cupboard, drawer space spark joy for you! Look at the ‘best-before’ dates on packages and toss the ancient stuff.

Food decanted into glass containers

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Kijiji are still active

With some additional steps, it is possible to give things away or sell them, while abiding by social distancing rules. With a bit of extra communication, you can work out a process for meeting and keeping safe distances. We’ve seen some creative solutions with handing items over with a hockey stick (very Canadian) or some very involved pulley systems. Admiration aside, the exchange need not be that complicated.  You will want to meet up in a space that allows you to be appropriately distanced. For instance, you could place an item on the ground and then move back so the other party can move forward to inspect the item and make their decision to purchase it or not. Cash can be handled similarly, or better yet choose e-transfer as a form of payment.

If your need to discard is high, consider offering the item for free. A new baby on the way means that big old dresser must go to make room for a changing table, coronavirus or not, so let it go for free and make somebody’s day.  1-800 numbers for some salvage and junk haulers indicate they are still operational to take things away but they charge a fee and typically handle high volume removal of discards. 


One last, critical note: COVID-19 can remain viable on surfaces for a period of time, be sure that both you and the seller are following good hygiene.

Don’t touch your face before washing your hands after interacting with a new item. Items that can’t be easily sanitized should be ‘parked’ for a few days before you integrate them into your home. Stay informed and follow the latest public health orders!

If you did full-on Marie Kondo your clothes, put the discards in black plastic bags and place the bags in the trunk of your car. Your items will be out of your home, out of sight and ready for drop off when donation locations reopen. Plan to be patient with organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army as ramping back up to face a backlog of donations will no doubt be challenging.

Finally, if you need help decluttering Moreganize does virtual tidying sessions. We are here (or anywhere actually since it’s virtual) to help!

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