Swedish death cleaning is the ultimate organisational exercise 

Although macabre-sounding, Swedish death cleaning promises to help adopters enjoy living in their homes more and make life easier for others once they’ve passed away.

There is no doubt that many of us own more objects than we could ever need or use; objects that are, often, just left lying around or stored in boxes, piling dust and forgotten. 

As such, it’s of little wonder that many cleaning and organisational methods continue to make waves: just think of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, which asks us to let go of anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’, or The Home Edit, a decluttering system that tells us to categorise, edit, and contain.

Well, there is now another system, whose premise can seem somewhat grisly at first: the Swedish death cleaning method. 

Derived from the Swedish word ‘döstädning’, which is a compound noun made up of “dö” (meaning death) and “städning” (meaning cleaning), this method asks adopters who reach middle age to start going through all their belongings and getting rid of anything which is not strictly necessary for them to lead a good life. This process, it promises, will make life easier for those who remain after their demice, as they will not have to do the exercise on their behalf. 

The Swedish death cleaning exercise is by no means a new trend, however, with Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your Own Life More Pleasant hitting bookstores across the globe in 2017. Nevertheless, there has been a recent rise in its popularity, with the likes of Good Housekeeping publishing Swedish death cleaning checklists, and The Guardian and CBS News discussing the best times to take up the organisational process.   

As a method, it aims to be a more permanent fixture in people’s lives, asking them to consistently go through what they own in a bid to reduce clutter, items in storage, and things that are generally not needed.

Having said that, this process may also make you think about death more often. After all, the intent is to clean up after yourself before you hit the can, which is rather macabre. But, in her 2017 book, Magnusson had a reply to this: “Some people can’t wrap their heads around death. And these people leave a mess after them. Did they think they were immortal?” 

Although harsh, it does have a ring of truth to it…

What do you think of this, though? Would you take up the Swedish death cleaning method?

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