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How to Keep Your Home Organized Based on Japanese Cleaning Philosophies

Cleaning can also improve your state of mind.

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Photography: Shutterstock (main)

By now, you probably know that there’s more to cleanliness than just dusting, and Japanese cleaning techniques are actually a testament to this. We’ve already spoken at length about oosouji as well as Marie Kondo’s system, and when you go deeper into them, you’ll realize that decluttering actually requires a certain mindset. Organizing your space is also about organizing your mind, and the result can give you a calmer, more efficient home.

So, if you’re faced with the monumental task of deep cleaning, you may want to take a few notes from the experts and follow these Japanese philosophies:

Have a process

In a feature on Japan Times, Japan Cleaning Association head Satoru Inamura shares four things that you should remember when talking about cleaning: “seiri (to organize, or discard items), seiton (to tidy, or arrange items for easy access), seisou (to clean, or physically dust, sweep and mop) and seiketsu (to maintain neatness and keep everything shiny and polished).” These constitute a cycle which you can go back to at any time you plan to organize your home.

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Have the right tools, and if you don’t, improvise

Laundry expert Yuichi Nakamura doesn’t only go with one kind of bleach and one kind of detergent; in the same Japan Times feature, he shares his collection of different products for different purposes: “He notes, for example, that powdered detergent and bleach are stronger than liquid types, while soap bars are good for dingy clothes.”

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Having the right tools doesn’t mean that you have to get the most expensive ones off grocery shelves. You just have to pick the correct product for a specific purpose, and if you can’t find the right thing for what you need, simply improvise. For example, a writer for Japanese Creations explains how he uses floss to clean dirt lodged in seam joints of faucets and stove switches. He also shares how cutting slits into the rubber blade of a squeegee can actually turn it into an effective carpet cleaner, and can even work wonders on bathroom corners and hard-to-reach areas. If the right tool can do multiple jobs, all the better.

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Use vertical space

In an interview with My Domaine, Yamazaki Home Seiko Kamiya says that as most Japanese homes have limited floor area, vertical space is important. “Some of the philosophies the Japanese swear by are using space vertically when possible such as stacking items.” Using uniform boxes to group things can also make your home look cleaner.

RL Tip: Need effective ways on how to use storage boxes? Read our article on it here: Storage Box Tips That Can Help Lessen Kalat In Your Home.

Always be in the moment

Inamura, who also founded a cram school, shares that living in the moment is one of the things he teaches students and adults who are finding it hard to adjust into where they currently are in life. These people share one thing in common. “They are either regretting their past or worrying about their future. So I train people on how to let go of the past and the future in order to concentrate on the present. Put simply, the best way to start is by cleaning.”

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The same mindset is applied in cleaning as well, especially when it comes to decluttering: at some point, you will have to let go of certain sentimental items that have served their purpose. It’s similar to Marie Kondo’s concept of items that “give joy” and those that don’t—when you’re in the moment, you’ll realize which things are still of value and which things should be left in the past. Once you manage to segregate those with an open mind, you’ll have more space for calmness and good vibes to come into your home.

As Inamura notes: “Concentration is key to any success and people typically need to be in a settled environment so that they can focus completely on what they are working on without distraction. When people are in a clean environment, they are undeniably able to concentrate better and are therefore more likely to succeed.”

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RL Tip: Japanese cleaning philosophies are closely tied to minimalism. You can read more about it here: 6 Easy and Effective Tips For Becoming A Minimalist.

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