The modern age we live in is all about maintaining a clutter-free environment as a way of keeping our mind and body working in sync. Having a cluttered home or workspace negatively affects our mood, focus and productivity, which is why decluttering has become such a huge craze! Introducing the The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, a Swedish artist and world traveler.

swedish death cleaning declutter

In her book, Margareta Magnusson explained how one can become a decluttering pro through her method called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” She suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects).

The overarching goal of Swedish death cleaning is actually to make your eventual death less of a burden for your friends and family in terms of the possessions and clutter you’ve inevitably accumulated over a lifetime. You’ll organize and declutter your life so that when the time comes, your family doesn’t have to!

Okay, it might seem a bit morbid, but in reality it’s a just another perspective that might help you in decluttering your home and life – especially if the Marie Kondo KonMari method of asking whether an item “sparks joy” didn’t quite mesh with your lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at the steps you must take in order to follow ‘death cleaning’ and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

1. Get Everyone On Board to Declutter Your Home

Wondering how to do Swedish Death Cleaning? Well, the thing with decluttering your home is that, unless you live alone, you’ll need to consult the rest of the people who share your space. More often than not, if you propose a decluttering challenge like Swedish death cleaning, you’re roommates or family members will be on board! Decluttering is a great way to lessen stressors and organize your home.

In particular, the Swedish Death Cleaning method encourages the inclusion of your family and friends in the process because the whole point is to create and live a simpler life so that there is more room for joy in your life and, for those you love, after your death. So, death cleaning Swedish style is all about communication and love.

We know it sounds a bit morbid, but organizing your life in this way can really make you feel in control and be a great relief to you and your loved ones. It’s also a fantastic way to engage children in the process, as one mom did by asking each of her 3 young kids to fill a box with only the toys they actually enjoyed playing with – with the remainders being donated to charity.

swedish death cleaning declutter kids

2. Begin Swedish Death Cleaning with Storage

The point of Swedish death cleaning is to make your life simpler and more organized. A great way to do this is by looking into storage services that might suit your and your family’s needs. You really don’t need the holiday decorations taking up space in your home all year round, same goes for seasonal clothes and sports equipment.

decluttering swedish death cleaning

So, why not try a rotating storage plan where you and your family can only keep the things you need around the house, and because those needs change you can swap out your stored items throughout the year. Sound time-consuming and difficult? With Wayforth full service storage it really doesn’t have to be!

3. Divide items into categories

To make the process easier and more organized, separate everything into categories and work each category one by one. Don’t mix them up in order to avoid confusion and chaos. This is also a great place to get everyone on board in the home. No one – from young kids to roommates – likes being told that their stuff is “cluttering” the home.

That’s why one of our tips for decluttering using the Swedish death cleaning is starting by categories instead of rooms. Here’s some to get you started. But everyone’s home has different areas where clutter seems to pile up so personalize it to meet your needs!

  • Electronics (and their many accessories)
  • Books (including cookbooks)
  • Pantry, Fridge & Freezer (did you know spices expire?!)
  • Closets/clothes (seasonal wear especially)
  • Garage

4. Sentimentality and Decluttering Don’t Mix

One of the things that distracts us the most when cleaning and decluttering is coming across old photos, letters or other memorable items. Leave those for the end and focus on other categories of belongings for now. Maybe ask a friend or loved one to join you when you return to these items as they could shed some perspective on just how much you need to keep that high school trophy.

Extreme decluttering tips would probably have you throwing away anything that isn’t 100% functional. But that doesn’t seem like a the best answer to how to deal with clutter.

decluttering swedish death cleaning

The goal here isn’t to get rid of all the items you love and that mean something to you for sentimental reasons. Rather, those are the items in your home that will take the most time to contemplate. That’s why it’s a good idea to leave those questions for the end. Use your initial energy to make as much progress as possible with other items of clutter in your home.

5. Start Death Cleaning with What You See

So, you’ve finished the storage, now what? Not sure whether you should continue with the closet or the kitchen? Just go ahead and remove the items that are right in front of your eyes. Make sure your immediate environment is always clutter-free to keep the death cleaning going and keep the clutter at bay.

If you really don’t feel like getting rid of certain items, you can organize them in a way they won’t seem like clutter. Bring some order into your drawers and the problem is solved!

6. Plan the Decluttering Out

For the process to go as easily as possible, make a plan of what you’re going to do with the items. Create piles or lists with Keep/Store; Sell; Donate; and Toss. Unsure about an item of clothing that you think might be cluttering your closet? Ask yourself if you’ve worn that item in the last 6 months. If you haven’t, don’t feel like you should keep it around!

Keep things simple and follow your plan and you’ll be done in no time!

7. Remember the Vikings

If you need another reason to start decluttering, keep in mind that the Vikings buried their relatives with everything they owned. Would your belongings fit into your grave with you? If not, you maybe have too many things! Or maybe vikings lived hundreds of years ago and now we have more stuff. Might be a good point. Either way, you could probably benefit from some decluttering and Swedish death cleaning is a really cool way to do it!

swedish death cleaning declutter clutter

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a horrible, never-ending task. If you follow Swedish Death Cleaning, you will be on your way to a clutter-free life in no time! And, you’ll rest easy knowing that your affairs are in order, and that your life is clutter free and fabulous!

Not Quite Ready for Swedish Death Cleaning?

And for all those items in your home that you don’t want to get rid of forever in a wave of Swedish Death Cleaning, consider using on-demand storage with Wayforth! Wayforth takes all the hard work out of decluttering and makes more space in your home. Pickup and delivery on your schedule, at 15% lower than prices offered by self-storage options you might be familiar with. Clutter is no match!

With Wayforth on-demand full service storage we take care of everything so you can do anything. Sign up today!