Common types of komono - Tidying by category works like magic

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Common types of komono
Tidying by category works like magic


A surprising number of things are instantly identifiable as disposable without even asking, “Does this spark joy?” I have already pointed out how important it is to relinquish the things that you find it hard to part with. It is equally important when putting your house in order to actually notice the things you have kept for “no particular reason.” The majority of people are surprisingly unaware of the odds and ends taking up space in their homes.


A plate received as a wedding favor that still sits in its box on top of the china cabinet. A key holder you received as a souvenir from a friend that now lies in your drawer. A set of peculiar-smelling incense presented to you by your colleagues on your birthday. What do these items all have in common? They were gifts. Someone important to you used precious time to pick them out and buy them for you. They are an expression of love and consideration. You can’t just throw them away, right?

But let’s consider this more carefully. Most of these gifts remain unopened or have been used only once. Admit it. They simply don’t suit your taste. The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it. Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.


Do you have a collection of cosmetic samples that have been hanging around for a year or more unused? Many people keep these to use on trips, but then never seem to take them when they travel. I contacted various manufacturers to inquire about the shelf life of these products. The answers were varied. Some only last a few weeks, while others are good for a year. When the quantity is very small, such as for samples, the quality deteriorates faster. To use possibly outdated cosmetics, especially when you are supposed to be enjoying your travels, seems rather foolhardy.


Boxes are surprisingly bulky. Discard or recycle the box your cell phone comes in as soon as you unpack it. You don’t need the manual or the CD that comes with it either. You’ll figure out the applications you need through using it. All of my clients have discarded these things yet none of them has ever been inconvenienced by their absence. If you do have a problem, you can always get help from the Internet or the clerk at the shop where you bought it. It is far quicker to ask a pro for the answer than to struggle to find one in the manual by yourself.

Some people save the boxes for electrical appliances because they think they can get more money for the appliances if they ever sell them. This, however, is a waste. If you consider the rent or mortgage you pay, turning your space into a storage shed for empty boxes costs you more than what you could earn selling an appliance in a box. You don’t need to keep them for moving either. You can worry about finding suitable boxes when the time comes. It’s a shame to let a boring box take up room in your house just because you might need it someday.


If you see a cord and wonder what on earth it’s for, chances are you’ll never use it again. Mysterious cords will always remain just that—a mystery. Are you worried you might need it if something breaks? Don’t be. I have seen countless homes with duplicates of the same type of cord, but a tangle of cords just makes it harder to find the right one. In the end, it is quicker to buy a new one. Keep only those cords that you can clearly identify and get rid of the rest. Your collection most likely contains quite a few that belong to defunct machines you have long since discarded.


I often come across broken TVs and radios in my clients’ homes. Obviously, there is no need to keep these. If you, too, have broken appliances, see this as an opportunity to contact your local recycler and get rid of them.


Quilts, pillows, blankets, sheets—spare sets of bedding take up a lot of room. This is another common item that gets discarded during my lessons, and again, my clients rarely miss it. Although it’s worth having spare bedding if you have regular guests, it’s unnecessary to keep extra sets if you only have overnight visitors at most once or twice a year. Bedding stored indefinitely in the closet often smells so mildewed you wouldn’t want to let your guests use it anyway. Take a whiff and see for yourself.


You will never use spare buttons. In most cases, when a button falls off, it’s a sign that the particular shirt or blouse has been well worn and loved and has now reached the end of its life. For coats and jackets that you want to keep for a long time, I recommend sewing spare buttons to the lining when you first buy them. For other clothes, if you lose a button and really want to replace it, you can always get what you need at a large handicrafts shop. From my work in the field, I have come to the conclusion that when a button falls off, people often don’t bother to sew another one on even when they have kept the spares. Instead, they either keep wearing the outfit without a button or leave it lying around somewhere in their wardrobe. If you’re not going to use spare buttons anyway, it shouldn’t matter that you get rid of them.


Slimming belts, glass bottles for making kefir, a special blender for making tofu, a weight-loss machine that mimics the movement of horseback riding—it seems a waste to get rid of expensive items like these that you bought by mail order but never fully used. Believe me, I can relate. But you can let them go. The exhilaration you felt when you bought them is what counts. Express your appreciation for their contribution to your life by telling them, “Thank you for the boost you gave me when I bought you,” or “Thank you for helping me get a little more fit.” Then discard them with the conviction that you are healthier for having bought them.


A cell phone screen cleaner that came with a soda bottle, a ball pen engraved with your school’s name, a paper fan you got at an event, a set of plastic cups won at a fair, glasses bearing a beer company’s logo, Post-its stamped with a pharmaceutical company’s name, a folder with just five sheets of blotting paper, a promotional calendar (still in its tube), a pocket calendar (unused even six months into the year). None of these are going to bring you any pleasure. Discard or recycle them without any qualms.