A clean space is a clean mind, especially amid a pandemic
A silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the discovery of new hobbies by many.
With people encouraged to stay home as much as possible, there has been a rise in the number of home chefs, while others have used the time to clean and reorganize their living spaces.
Studying and working from home has meant more and more people want their personal space to be clean, comfortable and convenient.
Earlier this month, 29-year-old Park Seo-yu did a major clean-out of her home with the aid of some cleaning experts.
Park lives in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, with her family. From the outside, the home seemed to be in good order, but once the family and experts began opening drawers, it was a much different story.
Of all the spaces, the wardrobe was in particular disarray. "I often give up looking for the clothes I want," said Park.
As the eight cleaning experts began to remove everything piled high inside wardrobes and dressers, a surprising amount of clothes was uncovered.
A scarf kept in a box as a gift, unopened, a brand-new shirt and skin scuba diving suits from 20 years ago were just some of the items found deep inside Park's closet. She said she didn't even remember that she owned such things.
More odds and ends were found in the kitchen. A shaved ice machine Park used when she was a little kid, old sauces, out-of-date ingredients and faded lunchboxes were all unearthed. Bottles of vitamins that the family doesn't even remember buying were added to the trash pile.
The cleaning experts sorted every item into three categories: things to possess, share and discard.
Next was finding the right place for each group of objects. When organizing a vast volume of belongings, it's said that placing similar items together is best. In addition, the family's lifestyle needs to be considered. For example, it's better to install a dresser for towels near a bathroom.
The cleaning began at 9 a.m. and was finally finished by 6 p.m.
After hours of cleaning, there were enough bags of trash to fill up a small room.
"I just can't believe that I've been living with all this stuff," said Park. "I will try not going back to the past."
Park In-seon, 42, lives in an 89-square-meter (957-square-feet) apartment building with three bedrooms. But one of the rooms has become a warehouse from long ago. Old tables, chairs and junk occupies the room, so much so that he hardly ever enters it anymore.
The terrace was spacious when Park moved in but is now crammed with camping gear. The living room lost its identity after work desks were added alongside a large sofa.
Since Park and his wife have mostly been working from home because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, he desperately wanted to tidy up their living space.
Cleaning experts came in to assist Park cleaning up his house. According to the experts, the most important rule to remember is "arranging all items so they are visible."
File folding is a good way to follow this rule as it means all clothing items inside a drawer can be seen, rather than things being dumped at the bottom and remaining there for an unknown period of time.
If people make a habit of storing items deep inside their pantries or at the back of a closet, they easily forget what they have. They buy the same thing again and end up with more stuff than they have space for.
Park ended up getting rid of three large bags of trash along with an old sofa. Usable products were put up for sale on an online flea market.
"My voice echoed in the space after I had cleaned the house. I felt like I just moved in," said Park.
The recent TV show "The House Detox" on tvN has been well received by those forced to spend more time at home.
The TV show's hosts visit a celebrity's house each week with a group of cleaning professionals and they help the celebrity clean and organize. Without major remodeling, the featured homes are starkly transformed with just cleaning and organizing. Each week's transformation is dramatic enough to encourage viewers to tidy up their own space.
The TV show was first aired in June and its viewership ratings have been gradually on the rise since.
According to Naver Trend, which analyzes keywords, the volume of searches for "quarantine" and "organization" increased drastically in August compared to January.
Purchases of home organization products, such as storage cube bins, have also been on the rise.
Home décor smartphone application Today House said it saw a 250 percent increase in sales from the storage and organization category in August compared to January. The sales figure in August is four times higher compared to a year ago.
E-commerce website Gmarket, operated by eBay Korea, said sales of dressers and storage bins all surged. Online flea markets have also seen a jump in the number of users and the deals they make within the applications. Bungae Jangteo, also known as Pic & Go, is a platform for secondhand goods. The app said it saw a 25 percent increase in the number of deals made within the app between January and August, compared to the same period last year.
Choi Hee-suk, the head of Home Consulting, a company for house organization, said, "Everyone leads a hectic life and they tend to ease their stress by shopping. But the house is soon filled with goods. No matter how many things you have, you can't use them on time if you don't organize them well."
From an economical point of view, keeping your house organized is important because it prevents you from making unnecessary purchases.
For those wanting to declutter, here are some simple tips from the experts.
Take everything out of the home and sort them into three categories: things to possess, share and discard. Rearrange similar items into the same categories. While sorting, consider how frequently you use each item.
For example, seasonal items such as Christmas tree ornaments should be stored in an area that you don't access frequently.
Don't try to clean everything at once. Divide your home into sections and make a plan to take on one area at a time.
Another rule is to file fold instead of stack. You can file fold clothes, kitchen cloths and other textiles. It saves space and allows you to easily see what you are storing inside your drawers.
Lastly, try to make a habit of putting things back after each use.
The most important part of organization is to throw away things that you don't use that often.
An easy way to do this is to make a 'Think Box' and use it for things that you don't want to throw out right away. "If you find yourself not using the item after two or three weeks, let it go," said Choi.
BY YOO JI-YOEN [firstname.lastname@example.org]