WATCH: How to Swedish Death Clean Your Closet
Simple steps for a more organized life
By now, you’ve probably heard of Swedish death cleaning. Also known as döstädning—from the Swedish words for “death” and “cleaning”—this home organization strategy is becoming popular around the world thanks to Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.
Why döstädning? The goal of Swedish death cleaning is to minimize clutter, get organized, and live a tidier life. The purpose is to get rid of anything you wouldn’t want loved ones to have to deal with and to pare down possessions so that only the essentials remain. The rationale for the process promotes being efficient with your stuff and considerate to your loved ones.
While Swedish death cleaning is more a state of mind than an afternoon project, you can start small by tackling one storage space at a time. First up: the closet.
Sorting through belongings, de-cluttering, and paring down the sheer amount of stuff in your home is paramount to this process. When approaching the closet for a Swedish death clean, you’ll need to look through every box and in every corner. Sort each item into piles, and decide what to keep. According to Magnusson, you should throw away or give away anything that isn’t essential or sentimental—which means you can hold onto the heirlooms, photographs, and keepsakes but should get rid of the clothes you’ll never wear again.
A benefit to the Swedish-death-cleaning clear out is organizing the essentials, i.e. what is left over. Once you decide what to give away, throw away, and keep, you’ll be astonished at how much space you have. You’ll be able to reorganize your closet, see what remains, and enjoy both the essentials and the keepsakes in equal measure.
Live Your Life
The goal of Swedish death cleaning is not only to unburden your loved ones but also to live in a better, tidier, more organized fashion, which is easier to do with fewer things. Revisiting items that have been boxed away for decades has the potential to bring joy, and the paring down of possessions is bound to improve the quality of your home environment. In this way, Swedish death cleaning is also about the way you live your life.
For an in-depth explanation of the benefits of Swedish death cleaning and strategies for implementing it in your own home, read Magnusson’s The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Magnusson recommends beginning this process around age 65, but we’re convinced that a healthy approach to cleaning up, clearing out, and staying organized is timeless.
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Have you implemented Swedish death cleaning strategies in your organization efforts this season? Let us know what you think and if it works for you.