Declutter Your Life: The Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

While the name might sound a bit morbid, Swedish death cleaning (döstädning in Swedish) is actually a proactive and practical approach to decluttering your home. Pioneered by Margareta Magnusson in her book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter,” it’s about taking control of your belongings throughout your life, not just at the end.

What is it?

Swedish death cleaning isn’t about deep cleaning your house. It’s a holistic decluttering method where you gradually sort through your possessions, deciding what to keep, sell, donate, or discard. The goal is to ease the burden on loved ones who would otherwise have to deal with your belongings after you’re gone.

Why do it?

There are many benefits to Swedish death cleaning, beyond just helping your family. It can:

  • Free you from clutter: Letting go of unused items creates a lighter and more manageable living space.
  • Spark joy: Reconnecting with meaningful possessions can bring back happy memories.
  • Gain perspective: The process can help you evaluate what truly matters to you.
  • Simplify your life: Knowing your belongings are organized can give you peace of mind.
  • Leave a legacy: You can ensure cherished items go to loved ones who will appreciate them.

How to get started:

Swedish death cleaning is a marathon, not a sprint. Here’s how to begin:

  • Start small: Choose a manageable area, like a drawer or shelf.
  • Ask yourself questions: Does this spark joy? Have I used it in the past year? Would someone else benefit from it more?
  • Sort ruthlessly: Be honest with yourself about what you truly need and use Home
  • Categorize: Keep, discard, donate, or sell.
  • Involve your family: Discuss your plans and ask for their input on specific items.


  • Focus on the positive: View this as a chance to simplify your life and create a legacy.
  • Take your time: Don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • It’s a process: You can revisit and refine your decluttering efforts over time.

Swedish death cleaning is a thoughtful approach to decluttering that benefits you and your loved ones. By taking control of your belongings today, you can create a more peaceful and organized present, and a less cluttered future for those who come after you.