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Cleaning & Organizing

This Japanese Ritual Will Change How You Clean the Home

Start with a clean slate literally and figuratively

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Photography: Paolo Feliciano (Main Photo)

To welcome the year with a fresh start, many of us scheduled a cleaning session — throwing away clutter and finding space for things that matter. But not all of us get to do that and only find the time after January 1. Now if the life-changing magic of the KonMari method is too much pressure or the Lagom, the Swedish concept of moderation, won't cut it for you either, here's a Japanese cleaning ritual that may just help you breeze through this task.

Osoji (pronounced as Oh-Soh-Jee), is a widely practiced Japanese ritual that translates into “big cleaning/cleanup.” Often done at the end of December, its roots can be traced to another Japanese year-end tradition of susu-harai or “to dust the soot away.” Just how big is the big cleaning involved? According to different articles on Osoji, there are those who throw out furniture, electronics, and clothes. There are some who also stop bad habits and end toxic relationships.

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Simply put, Osoji is getting rid of excess baggage — literally and figuratively — so you can start the year right. Here are four reasons to give Osoji a go:

1. Osoji will teach to you to clean with intention

We have to admit, we don’t look forward to cleaning the house (we’d better catch up on sleep, yes?). An article on Home and Garden Design Ideas states that “to cultivate an Osoji home, one should adopt the attitude of cleaning and decluttering as a ritual, not as a monotonous chore. When you sweep the dust, you are also sweeping away the dirt of the past.”

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Think of cleaning as a rewarding experience — by getting rid of clutter, you make space for meaningful and useful things. How do you clean efficiently? Here are tips to get started:

  • Follow the top to bottom rule. Begin by dusting ceilings and chandeliers and giving the walls a good wipe down before sweeping and mopping the floor.
  • Prepare boxes or bins you can place in the different rooms in the house. These can serve as catchalls where you can place things you’re getting rid of. Once these are full, sort through each to see if there are some you can donate.
  • Immediately throw out your trash bags. Don't let them sit in your garage or kitchen for days.
  • Get rid of stains, whether these are on your clothes, furniture, or surfaces. There are kitchen staples that work effectively as stain removers to help you save on cash. Wondering why it’s a must to remove stains? According to Home and Garden Design Ideas, stains “remind you of the past in a negative way.”
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2. Practicing Osoji can help you focus and clear your mind

“When people are in a clean environment, they are undeniably able to concentrate better and are therefore more likely to succeed,” says Satoru Imamura, the head of Japan Cleaning Association in an article published by the Japan Times. Clutter doesn’t only cause anxiety, it can make you feel overwhelmed, too.

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To enjoy your home to the fullest and turn it into a relaxing space, develop cleaning habits that don’t take up too much of your time. Get started by fixing your bed before leaving the room in the morning, sorting through your closet, and washing dirty dishes immediately. “It’s important to clean for 10 seconds on a daily basis. And then keep doing it,” Imamura adds.

3. Osoji can teach children the importance of cleaning

Are you in the process of teaching your child to clean his room and organize his toys? Osoji doesn’t just highlight the importance of cleaning the home and banishing negative vibes, it also highlights how kids can learn the benefits of cleaning at an early age. The same article on Japan Times states that “cleaning classrooms and toilets have been a part of education for a number of generations.”

Mitsue Yamasaki, a homemaker, shares that “cleaning helps children learn that people need to look after themselves.” To get this practice rolling at home, teach them how to properly return the toys and things they’ve used into its designated bin.

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4. Osoji can help you develop new and healthier habits

New year, new me sounds cliché — but Osoji can help you make it a reality. Aside from letting go of clutter and ending toxic relationships, try to break your bad habits, too. Planning to give up the joy of sodas? Are you ready to commit to a healthier diet? Japan Today recommends the 66-day challenge. The article states that “it takes 66 days to properly rid yourself of a bad habit or to start a new one.” Two months sound daunting, but as always, baby steps can get you there. Hang a calendar that will remind you of how far you’ve come or set reminders on your mobile phone. Simple words of encouragement that you can see on a daily basis will surely inspire you to achieve your goal.

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This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Realliving.com.ph editors.

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