The latest trend in cleaning and organizing philosophies has taken a darker tone: Swedish Death Cleaning. In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” The idea is to remove unnecessary things and get your home in order as you get older. To minimize the amount of stuff (junk, clutter, things you don’t need, etc.) that you will end up leaving behind for others to deal with. As people are less and less interested in inheriting furniture and other heirlooms, living your life with only the essentials and saving your relatives the hassle of throwing away all your tapes and old wrapping paper, does seem to make sense.
The process of death cleaning should actually bring relief and even happiness. After all, getting rid of stuff is a time-tested way to bring order to chaos.
Start your death cleaning with easy-to-get-rid-of items
Take death cleaning in sections, starting with what’s accumulating dust in the attic or basement. Start with what’s easy to chuck: clothes that still have tags on them, presents you’ve received that you pretended to like before stuffing in a box, kitchenware such as excess plates that you’ll never use unless you open a diner.
Take your time
Death cleaning shouldn’t put you in the ICU. Yet anyone who’s opened a junk drawer knows even the simplest decluttering can be stressful. Break down death cleaning by room, making lists of everything in the room and what you want to do with each item – be it giving it to a friend or charity.
Hold onto the sentimental items
You don’t have to turn into a minimalist. Everyone hangs on to sentimental must-saves such as photos, love letters, children’s art projects. But keep in mind that those sentimental items might not be of interest to others in the long run. A simple solution is to separate your sentimental items into two boxes: the stuff you must keep and everything else.
For more information on Swedish Death Cleaning check out Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter