In recent years, the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning, or ‘Döstädning‘ in Swedish a combination of the word ‘dö’, which means death and ‘städning’, which means cleaning   has gained attention and a certain degree of admiration for its practical philosophy around decluttering. Developed by Margareta Magnusson, a Swedish artist and author, Swedish Death Cleaning is not as macabre as its name might suggest. Instead, it’s a thoughtful and proactive approach to organising one’s life and possessions, with a focus on relieving the burden for your loved ones after passing. The name Swedish Death Cleaning is meant to jolt you into action and ultimately lessen the physical and emotional load on your family.

Let’s roll up our sleeves, get out the clearly marked containers, and explore the core of Swedish Death Cleaning, its benefits, and how it can lead to a more meaningful and clutter-free existence.

What is Swedish Death Cleaning?

Someone packing up their clothes into marked containers as part of the Swedish Death Cleaning method

At its core, Swedish Death Cleaning is about reducing the clutter in your life and only keeping items that have value, meaning, or bring joy. It’s a process of simplifying your surroundings and, in turn, your mind. It’s essential to note that the process is not exclusive to the elderly or those approaching the end of their lives. People of all ages can embrace it to stay organised, in control, and emotionally unburdened by unnecessary possessions.

The Top 5 Benefits of Swedish Death Cleaning

  1. Reduced stress and anxiety: Clutter can create a sense of chaos and overwhelm our lives. Decluttering can build a more peaceful and calming environment, removing a source of constant stress and anxiety
  2. Improved organisation: Swedish Death Cleaning encourages deliberate organisation, making it easier to find and enjoy possessions that genuinely matter
  3. Greater appreciation: By letting go of things that hold little value, we can truly cherish the items that are most significant to us
  4. Lightening the load for loved ones: By taking responsibility for our possessions now, we save our loved ones from the burden of sorting through our belongings in the future
  5. Renewed focus: Swedish Death Cleaning prompts self-reflection and helps us prioritise what truly matters in our lives


How Can You Use Swedish Death Cleaning for Yourself?

An elderly man sorting out his items as he does the Swedish Death Cleaning technique with loved ones helping

One of the central pillars of Swedish Death Cleaning is to gradually declutter throughout your life rather than leaving the burden to your loved ones after you pass away. Taking a proactive approach can make the process more manageable and less emotionally taxing for yourself and those you care about.

Begin with smaller tasks, like clearing out old paperwork, organising your wardrobe, or sorting through kitchen utensils. As you gain momentum and confidence, move on to more sentimental items, such as letters, photographs, and mementoes. Consider donating, selling, or giving away things that no longer serve you, and cherish those with precious memories or practical use.

Why Should You Apply Swedish Death Cleaning To Your Life?

Parting with possessions can be emotionally challenging, as we tend to link memories and sentimental value to various items throughout our lives. Swedish Death Cleaning encourages a gentle and mindful approach to letting go. Rather than focusing on the sadness of parting with certain things, shift your perspective and appreciate the memories they represent.

You should also consider the positive impact your decluttering efforts can have on others. By donating or passing on items you no longer need, you’ll bring happiness to someone else’s life while lightening your load.

Those who are 65 and older are the main focus group for this decluttering strategy, but it’s useful for people of all ages. 

The Swedish Death Cleaning Checklist

A woman living comfortably in her clutter-free home

Ultimately, Swedish Death Cleaning is a decluttering process with the bigger picture in mind: how your friends and family have to deal with the stuff you leave behind. The objective is to winnow down your possessions to only what you need while identifying what’s important to you. 

Start With Simple Tasks 

Quick victories can be motivational cheerleaders, so make your first foray into the process of Death Cleaning a relatively easy one. Start with bulky, impersonal items like furniture and finish with small, nostalgic ones like photographs.

Typically it would be best to start with clothing because you almost always own more than you need. It’s also amongst the easier things to give away when someone has passed on. As you go through your articles, take the time to identify the items you want to sell or donate and what to recycle or discard.

Declutter the Digital 

Delete the accounts and services you don’t need or haven’t used in years. For the accounts you still need and that others will use even after your passing, find a secure way to store passwords and other information. You could write it all down on a physical file you’ll keep with your last will. 

Work With Others 

Swedish Death Cleaning needs others to be involved. Telling your loved ones about your plan will help keep you accountable and enlisting their help can make for a memorable bonding experience. This activity provides a good opportunity for sharing any final wishes so that no one is left guessing after your passing.

Documentation Is Important 

During this process, begin putting together a document that holds any crucial information, like logins and passwords that will be tough to find after your death, especially those related to financial institutions. 

Swedish Death Cleaning is not about embracing the end of life but rather about embracing life itself. It’s a thoughtful and compassionate approach to decluttering, organising, and taking control of our lives. By gradually letting go of possessions that no longer serve us, we make space for the things that truly matter and gain a deeper appreciation for life’s meaningful moments. So let us embrace the wisdom of Swedish Death Cleaning, clear the clutter, and discover the clarity and joy it can bring to our lives. 


Whether you need a self storage unit to stay organised while decluttering your house or a small storage locker to store seasonal items, Pink Hippo has the space you need. Start storing with us today and become one of our many happy and satisfied customers!

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