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Cleaning | Decluttering

Japanese Cleaning and Decluttering Ritual: January Osouji

Dec 25

About Me

I’m a West Coast girl turned small town, Midwest Mom. I love the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time with my family. I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have many years of experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

I am a high energy person, and love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am miraculously able to help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 


Osouji is a popular Japanese cleaning and decluttering ritual that takes place in January.


What exactly is this Japanese cleaning ritual they call Osouji?

To observe Osouji means to practice the Japanese cleaning method of clearing the clutter, dirt, and dust of the past. The purpose is to banish any old problems or ways of thinking and to welcome a new start, with a clean slate and a clean clutter-free home. In Japan, the word Osouji translates to “big cleaning.

We are inspired to take action in January

With the onset of a new year, many of us start thinking about how we can improve on how we lived last year. Implementing new routines and helpful habits that keep us healthy, organized, productive…and ultimately, happier. We are inspired to take action in January, and a fresh start is just what we need to kick off the new year.

Keeping with the spirit of the January Osouji, let us turn our attention to decluttering and cleaning our living spaces. It’s a great time to lighten the load when it comes to the number of things we have in our homes.

With the passing of Christmas, we likely have accumulated more belongings. With the incoming of the new, it is important to let go of the old to make room for it all.  And now that the bustling holidays are behind us, there is nothing to distract us from doing just that.

January’s cold weather gives us ample time to practice this yearly Japanese cleaning and decluttering ritual.

For those of us living in a cold-weather area, January’s foreboding weather leaves us with no choice but to stay indoors and think about improving our surroundings. So, it is the perfect time for making our homes comfier, cleaner, cozier, and clutter-free.

January calendar

Consider making this Japanese cleaning and decluttering tradition a Yearly Routine.

If you are not already in the habit of cleaning and decluttering your home at least once a year, consider adding your own yearly January Osouji to your calendar.

Dedicate a day or two for you and your family to go through and declutter all of the spaces and places in your home. Then, donate, recycle, toss or sell everything that is no longer used or valued. Also, let go of anything that no longer works, or that you have too many multiples of. For tips on how to ensure that your Osouji is successful and to dodge common decluttering and organizing mistakes, be sure to read, “10 Biggest Organizing Mistakes to Avoid”.

Put it on the calendar

Be sure to put your January Osouji on your calendar and communicate with all members of your family in advance. By making this event a priority, it is less likely to get pushed aside by other commitments.

Apply the yin and yang theory to decluttering

The Yin and Yang are a representation of how everything in life functions best when in balance with its opposite value. Too much or too little of anything takes us out of balance with nature.

It is no different when it comes to our possessions and our home environment. Our homes function best when we maintain a balance of not too much or too little when it comes to the amount of stuff we have in our living spaces.

Also, the clutter in our homes and in our minds is often bound together, and one directly affects the other. So when you clear your space, you clear the clutter in your mind as well. You create a more peaceful space that supports you when you declutter.

What comes in, must go out

We have new items coming into our homes on a constant basis. So, if we want to keep our homes balanced, we need to have the same amount of stuff leaving our homes each year.

It is also important to leave enough space in your home for energy to flow through it. Too much empty space will make your home feel less cozy. On the other hand, too much furniture and other clutter can make a home feel smaller, more restrictive, and chaotic.

Establish a year around donate box to make decluttering automatic.

In addition to having a yearly January Osouji routine, you can make decluttering more automatic by placing an empty donate box in your home. Be sure to find a convenient but out-of-the-way spot for the box. This way, family members are encouraged to use it. Explain to your family that this box is for tossing donatable items into. Use a permanent marker and write DONATE on the side of it with large black letters.

Japanese cleaning and decluttering

Wrap up your Japanese cleaning and decluttering ritual by giving your home good scrubbing.

The second step to performing your own January Osouji method is to give your home a thorough cleaning. For best results, it is best to clean after you have removed all of the clutter from your home since it is difficult to clean around things.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to rid your home of the dust and grime of the year before. What better way to start off a new year than to give your whole home deep cleaning?  Cleaning is a great way to put a fresh new shine on your home without having to spend a dime on purchasing something new.

Learn more about how you can get one-on-one virtual help by visiting my Virtual Organizing page. 

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