KonMari with Kids? Wardrobe Clean Out Guide

Marie Kondo has rapidly become the reference when we talk of cleaning out our homes – she even figured on the list of the 100 most influential people by Times Magazine in 2015. Queen of tidying, her now famous manual has hit the screens and is all the rage on Netflix – with good reason. Inspired? We bet you are. Maybe even enough to tackle… duh duh duh… the kids’ room, and specifically, their wardrobes.

Kids clothing is a huge ongoing issue until they stop growing so damn fast, with a constant need to replenish the stocks. Even the clothes you buy a few sizes up have a relatively short life span thanks to playground tumbles and muddy outdoor games. Whatever their state of use you’re undeniably left with an overwhelming pile of unwanted garments. So what to do with them? Solutions vary on a case by case scenario.

Outgrown but almost new

Starting with the very obvious, reach out to friends, school friends’ with younger siblings, cousins, neighbours… Many families have helpers here in Singapore – so consider asking your family helper, or neighbours’, if she/they would like you to send anything to their children or family. Create your own family group on WhatsApp or Facebook too to see who among the cousins could benefit from hand-me-downs.

There are so many parents looking for solutions so as to not break their bank, especially when having a first child that can’t benefit from hand-me-downs. Facebook provides a great platform for this, with groups such as Preloved Baby Goods by that boasts 35K members, as well as Preloved Baby Goods SG (25K members). Remember to always check the rules pinned in the groups prior to posting anything. Facebook Marketplace is not a bad idea either. Think to also check your local maternity ward and women’s shelters as they can always do with clothes, or of recyclers who distribute the clothes to those in need for you such as Green Square which holds several drop-off locations throughout Singapore and Blessings In A Bag. Other places to donate are The Green Collective and the FB group A Journey to Zero Waste has quite a comprehensive list too, which we discussed here.

Finally, if you can consider placing the clothes in a vacuum sealed bag (omg I finally used this for the first time to save up on moving boxes in our relocation and wondered why I hadn’t done it before – the space saved is ri-di-cu-lous) and keeping it stored for.. who knows, a new sibling?


Small stains

This one is actually fun. You can either just not care about the stains (which 99.9% of mothers don’t for everyday use, it’s just embedded in kid nature to integrate [ice-cream, juice, chocolate] into their wardrobes. In fact, I am quite sure a kid’s diet could be identified just by analysing all the clothes.

Special occasion clothes that could definitely serve again (baptism clothes, Sunday and church outfits, etc) were it not for the stain can be patched up with a little creativity and re-sold or donated. Think cute bows, diamontes, ribbons and patches. Even cool buttons as a decoration work well! Can’t sew to save your life? While I’m a designer and my grandmother herself an incredible seamstress, my mother, on the other hand, proved us that you could almost fix anything with fabric glue (yes, even trouser hems.. But then we were stuck with ankle-length trousers when we seemed to only grow vertically and couldn’t just undo the hem…). So while I wouldn’t recommend glueing ahem, fabric glue is a great trick for adding decorative elements.

Outgrown and stained, a little used

Another DIY for the crafty parent: make some keepsakes. From making a Patchwork Baby T-Shirt Stocking and Onesie Plush Elephant from all those onesies to a Baby Clothes Memory Quilt that they will cherish, you can still give clothes a completely new second life if you are a bit of a sewer or have a skilled gran you can assign the task to (unless she’s my mum, as discussed). Do you have pets or want to give to a local animal shelter? You can make dog toys from T-shirts, or socks. Talking of which, we all, big and small, have armies of mismatched socks due to the paranormal activity that takes place in our washer (2 in 1 out?), but rather than throw those single socks out, here’s a cool list of upcycling ideas for socks only (the cat is the cutest)! Singapore is infamous for its humidity, but you can use socks filled with charcoal to absorb moisture in your closets.
If you are not into DIY, keep the cotton for housework, instead of buying new towels to clean your surfaces and polish your shoes. For poplin type garments that have a pretty pattern, once cut into squares where there are no stains or damage (optionally overlocking / zig-zag stitching the edges) they’re presentable enough to become reusable pocket handkerchiefs and napkins (another great zero-waste resolution in itself). Finally, consider giving away to groups like Art Don’t Throw (SG) where you’re trash might be a creative someone’s new gold. 

The warrior pieces

You don’t even know how they got to look so bad, but here they are: the chocolate covered onesie, trousers with a hole at the crotch, the art class victim… They who cannot be saved shall die valiantly at textile recycling facilities. Do not throw away textiles!
Reason #1: whether from natural fibres or not, they will not biodegrade in a landfill but rather generate methane gas (worse than carbon dioxide).
Reason #2: even though Singapore incinerates all its waste, it’s polluting the air.
Reason #3: it’s a waste of resources, regardless of the material. Indeed, clothes manufacturing requires huge amounts of natural resources: from the raw materials to the spinning of threads, the weaving, the manufacturing, transport, term in service… all that goes into its make, distribution and maintenance deserve to be valued for what it’s worth. Schools often run collection programs where recyclers come and pick up the items to then supply them to the best channel for recycling. You can also find the specific companies one the NEC website.

With that, I hope you have found what to do with your unwanted clothes! Surely there’s at least one solution to fit every piece you don’t want in the wardrobe and getting your kids to join in, won’t just help you, but help them to recognise the value of their possessions. And now you’ve done the worst part, you can head on with the rest of the home: in comparison, it will feel like a breeze! You can get the best tips and advice on how to declutter your own wardrobe here AND check out our HIGHLIGHTS stories on Instagram, where we declutter 7-year-old Sienna’s room for toys! 

Aaaah, Marie Kondo we have done you proud.

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