Swedish Death Cleaning: The Newest Way To Declutter

It seems every few years we go through a new home organizing trend. The latest craze in home de-cluttering is called dostadning. What? No, this isn’t the latest from IKEA but it is Swedish. Simply put, it is the hybrid of the words for death and cleaning. Swedish Death Cleaning is exactly what it sounds like: the process of cleaning house before you die, rather then leaving it up to your loved ones to do so after you’re gone. Now, you may think this is morbid. But in reality, it is a process of taking stock of what you have and what you really need. It’s a great way to start streamlining your life at any age. It’s about taking stock of your life at its current stage and planning ahead.

The author, Margareta Magnusson, says people should start thinking about death cleaning as soon as they’re old enough to start thinking about their own mortality. The author pegs this number at 50 years old but we think it’s applicable to anyone over 30. The whole idea is to keep what you really love and get rid of what you don’t. But while most of us currently send the unwanted items to the trash/recycle or donate them, Magnusson recommends giving things you no longer want to family and friends. It is like gifting them a memory of you they can cherish – while you are still alive.

Our top 6 tips we learned about Swedish Death Cleaning:

1. This is a slow and ongoing process
This cleaning technique, in its very process, can’t be started and finished in a day, a week, or even a month. This is going to take time and should be seen as a lifestyle change—not just a period of intense purging. It’s about de-cluttering and being self aware when you bring new items into your house. It’s about constant checks and balances.

2. As you sort your home, think about your will
The experience should be comprehensive and practical. The ultimate goal is to be prepared for the end of your life, allowing you—not others—to make the big decisions. This is a good thing for any of us to do at any age in our adult lives. Yes, it’s “adulting” but it’s not that hard.

3. Instead of donating your unwanted items, consider gifting them
When you drop by a friend’s house, or they stop by yours, give them a few books you no longer want. Or, gift them that sweater of yours they always loved and wanted. Begin the process of giving away your items to people who could use them or may want them. It’s actually very therapeutic to pass on an item you have loved to a loved one to cherish and enjoy.

4. Try starting with your closet
The author suggests that this is a less emotionally taxing way to start. After all, we have all done a closet purge before. But just go more in depth this time. That jacket you never wear but means too much to give away, could now go to a friend or loved one. Begin there and perhaps you’ll feel motivated to tackle your storage unit or the attic.

5. It’s very therapeutic
Death cleaning isn’t about dying. It’s about looking back on your life and only keeping what’s important. Through this process, you’ll take stock of what really matters and relive all your fondest memories. It’s a great way to take a pause in your life, taking account of what you really need in your life and clearing away the clutter as you move forward.

6. You should reward yourself, but do not do it with even more stuff
After you finish organizing an area or part of your life, treat yourself to a movie, a delicious meal or a day at the spa. Just think how much clearer your life will be when you get back from the spa now that you have death cleaned your home.

Want to know about The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning? Buy the book here.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at www.christiandareedited.com or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

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