The Japanese method of tidying up and cleaning that is older than Marie Kondo’s

If you are one of the people who faces September as the ideal time to make a clean slate, almost as if it were the beginning of the year, you are likely to take advantage of these days to “make a Marie Kondo”, that is, to tidy up, clean and get rid of everything that is left over in your house. And, although it is true that the method of the Japanese organizer, based on storing things in the right place and keeping only what really makes us happy, has hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, there are other related Japanese traditions with the order and with the cleanliness that are much older. One of them is the Oosouji, a custom that is usually performed in some homes in Japan every December 28 to end the year on the right foot and start the next period from scratch with a renewal eagerness.

But if the Konmari method is more focused on order than on cleaning, in the case of Oosouji the opposite happens, as it is based on eliminating any type of dirt that may exist in a home. In fact, as Gerardo Montoiro, manager of Bissell in Spain, who has analyzed this practice, explains, this is related to the fact that in Japan it is seen as a bad omen to carry both old business and dirt from one year to the next. It could be said that the closest thing that exists in Spain to this type of action is what we popularly know as general cleaning. However, in the case of this ancient Japanese custom, they intend to go further, since they consider that “great cleanliness” (the Japanese prefix ‘O’ means great) as something as healing as it is spiritual.

Steps to follow the Oosouji method

The first thing we have to do is reserve a day on the calendar for the Oosouji, as it is a task that will probably take us several hours or even a whole day. On that day, in addition, we will avoid distractions such as the mobile phone (it is essential that we have it disconnected or in airplane mode) and we will also have to have all those things that we will need ready: cleaning products, electronic devices that facilitate the task, bags of garbage, labels to classify things and boxes of different sizes.

The ideal is to start the day first thing in the morning, when everything is quiet and our minds are clear. The first thing we will do is open the windows to ventilate all the rooms.

Once we are prepared, we will roughly plan a time to review room by room to select everything that does not work, is broken, does not work or simply makes us feel uncomfortable. It will be useful to have the garbage bags on hand to be able to say goodbye at that moment to everything that during the rest of the year we have kept “just in case” or by simple attachment. When it comes to systematizing this task, it is advisable not to be afraid to get rid of things that we no longer use. In the event that you consider that someone can give it a second life, don’t hesitate to donate it, but if not, throw it away and make room.

It should be remembered that it is a method that must involve all members of the household, since each one will have to make their own decisions about their belongings and select what they want to get rid of.

Once we have freed ourselves from all that we do not want in our home in our new stage, it is time to clean the rooms. Remember that also in this case we must do it in order and that it is not advisable to move to another stay until one has completely finished one.

During the cleaning phase we will do a deep cleaning, not routine, since the idea is that it be exhaustive. Thus, we will clean the furniture and cabinets inside and out; the floor, the ceiling, the lamps, the electrical appliances inside and out, each and every corner of the bathroom, the terrace (if we have it), the storage places or even the storage room.

Regarding the order in each room, it is recommended to start from top to bottom and following a clockwise direction. In this way we can start and end at the same point and we will know where we are going if for any reason we have to interrupt the task.

In addition to cleaning, we must bear in mind that the method also includes the need to change burned out bulbs, repair what is worth fixing and replace what does not work with something new.

Benefits of the method

House cleaning relaxes. Cleaning, ordering and throwing away what we no longer need works as a catharsis.

Having a clean home directly influences our happiness and our mental well-being.

Having the house tidy helps you put your head in order. As simple as that. Our environment is connected with us and with our mind. Put order in your external chaos and you will be happier.

You live in the present. When performing Oosouji, our mind is focused on the present, ‘here and now’ without negativity.

It will make you feel more free. Cleaning has a liberating and regenerating power in those who practice it, because things not only take up physical space, but also mental space. Cleaning, ordering and throwing away the old will make us feel freer and more prepared to receive the good that is to come.

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