14 Jul 2024
Declutter Your Life With Swedish Death Cleaning
Housing

Declutter Your Life With Swedish Death Cleaning

Swedish death cleaning — or döstädning — is the latest home organisation trend that involves decluttering your home before you die, so the responsibility doesn’t fall on your grieving loved ones. The term and method was developed by Swedish author Margareta Magnussen when she was tasked with sorting out a loved one’s belongings after their death, a process Magnussen found “extremely difficult and emotionally draining”. But although Swedish death cleaning is largely about preparing for the future, it isn’t just for people in later stages of life. Anyone — young, old, and everyone in between — can benefit from decluttering and streamlining their belongings every so often. 

Swedish death cleaning is for everyone 

At its core, Swedish death cleaning is about adopting a minimalist mindset and putting an end to the continual accumulation of stuff you don’t really value or need. So, rather than having a home filled with lots of random things, you’ll be mostly left with special belongings that mean more to you. The process of decluttering can make your life simpler and more efficient right now — no matter how old you are. 

“Sometimes you just realise that you can hardly close your drawers or barely shut your closet door,” says Magnussen. “When that happens, it is definitely time to do something, even if you are only in your thirties. You could call that kind of cleaning döstädning, too, even if you may be many, many years away from dying.” 

Where to begin

The prospect of decluttering can feel overwhelming at first, so it’s best to start small. Rather than tackling emotionally-loaded items, begin with something less intimidating like a piece of furniture or clothing. Do a little bit every day, so it becomes a habit. Eventually, you can move onto things like mementos, photographs, and letters. 

To assess what to keep and what to throw out or donate, consider how much you value the item. Do you know why you have it? Have you completely forgotten about it? If so, it’s probably time to part ways with the item. And, although it may be hard to get rid of certain belongings, you can always give them away to friends and family who you know will appreciate them. There’s comfort in knowing your things are going to a good home.

Clean your home

Once you’ve decluttered your home, it’s time to give it a good clean. Cleaning has actually been proven to boost mood and give people a sense of control over their environment, which in turn has a calming effect. Before you start, make a list of what you want to achieve in the room. This can make the job seem less overwhelming, and keep you on track. Also, avoid using multi-purpose cleaners on every surface. These types of cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can damage granite, wood, glass, or porcelain. So, always double check you’re using the right cleaning products for the right task. 

In fact, you may even want to switch to natural cleaners as much as possible. Natural cleaners made from ingredients like lemon juice, baking soda, and white vinegar are just as effective as conventional cleaners, but don’t come with the same health risks. Conventional, chemical-based cleaners typically contain volatile organic compounds that lead to headaches, allergic reactions, and respiratory issues. But, with natural cleaners, you can avoid these health issues, and enjoy a brighter, cleaner home. 

Ask for help 

Death cleaning isn’t something you have to do alone. In fact, if you can find a helping hand or two, see if you can bring them on board. “I would highly recommend to engage your friends or a neighbour or anyone that you feel comfortable — call your kids,” suggests Magnussen. “Doing this cleaning, it’s uplifting, but it’s also a burden and tricky to face those painful moments alone. So you want to share the uplifting parts and you want to share the more heavy parts as well.” 

Ultimately, there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to Swedish death cleaning. Anything you can do to cut down on clutter will help you create a more peaceful and relaxing home, as well as potentially make things easier for your loved ones in the future. 

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