Swedish Death Cleaning

While watching something else on YouTube, a video on Swedish Death Cleaning caught my eye. Which then led to me requesting The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson from my local library. My library has books available on Overdrive which you can request and download for free, and there wasn’t even a wait for the book… so be sure to try there first!

Here it is on Amazon:

It was a very quick read; it took me probably only an hour or so to read the whole book. I loved the voice of the author though – it was much like following around your granny while she rambled on about her thoughts of letting go of things she doesn’t need. This is certainly not a ‘how to’ book, but more the emotions behind why you’d want to undergo Swedish Death Cleaning.

So, what is Swedish Death Cleaning?

In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you.

Much like Marie Kondo’s method, Swedish Death Cleaning isn’t about getting rid of things you love or use regularly. More about giving you the permission to get rid of things you don’t actually want or need, but hold onto anyways. Some of her examples are: unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you would ever use, etc. The idea is that you don’t want to leave the burden of going through all these items to your loved one after you have died.

Having helped my family clean out the homes of both sides of grandparents over the past decade, I feel it in my heart when she talks about all the crap we are leaving behind for family to deal with.

Immediately upon reading the book, I attacked a cabinet in my kitchen that was literally overflowing with cups and water bottles. There were some we used and loved, some that were pricey but we always passed over, and some that were gifts or freebies that we somehow felt bad about discarding. From there, my purging grew to a couple more kitchen cabinets. And then my closet (again) and then an overflowing junk drawer.

I found it especially fun to yell out “SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING” as if it were the name of a heavy metal band throughout my efforts. My husband didn’t find it *quite* as hilarious as I did…

I immediately put the items in the trunk of my SUV so that they were out of the house. I added some more items throughout the week and made a drop off at the local thrift store over the weekend. I’m not done though.

Swedish Death Cleaning is more a long-term state of mind. So as we continue {slowly} working toward the completion of our home renovation project, I plan to keep looking at other cervices of our house that need a good purge.

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One thought on “Swedish Death Cleaning”

  1. I did a good cleaning of a kitchen cabinet, and now, it is time to declutter again! I think it is a long process, that you have to continue. I told myself not to change it, to leave it nice and decluttered, but that didn’t work. But, I will declutter both my double cabinets. Maybe that will give me more room.
    Thanks for reminding me to do this!

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