There is a new cleaning fad catching on in the United States and most of the world that originated in Sweden. The name is slightly off putting yes, but it’s the closest translation we have. The original word is döstädning, which derives from the Swedish words “dö” which translates to “death,” and “städning” which means “cleaning,” which gives us the name “death cleaning.” This article is all about this new and completely practical form of home cleaning.
“Some people can’t wrap their heads around death. And these people leave a mess after them. Did they think they were immortal?” - Margareta Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter
You can buy her book about Swedish death cleaning on Amazon
What Is It?
Let’s get to brass tacks. What is Swedish Death Cleaning? It’s not as funereal as it sounds. Essentially it means clearing out your home of anything that will just be junk after your death. Okay, that might be a little morbid. But the fact that you are permanently getting rid of items in your home makes clutter much less of an issue.
It’s cleaning with the intent of making sure your loved ones don’t have to deal with a mess of random knick-knacks that might just be easier to throw out than find a new home for.
Generally people in Sweden tend to do this in their late middle ages, when they still have full range of motion but have lived over half their lives. The objectives of döstädning are as follows:
- Clean your home
- Reduce clutter
- Sort out what you really need
- Identify certain heirlooms
- Make future final arrangements
- Make it easier on your friends and family when you’re gone
- Make the process of sorting through your belongings easier
Where to Start
In a word: the closet. Anything that you don’t wear regularly can and should be thrown out or given away. This may be a hard choice for many homeowners, but just think if anyone could fit into your clothes when you’re gone, and if so, why not simply give your clothes to those people now? Clear out the closet with this in mind and give, donate, or toss anything you can. Swedish death cleaning tips are generally going to indicate starting with the clothes and larger items in your home.
What to Keep
Knowing what to keep is the hard part. You should always keep things that are valuable and useful for your family like photographs, heirlooms, expensive appliances, and the sort. Anything that is useful or memorable to someone else, essentially. Anything else that isn’t used in day to day life can probably be cleared out. The Swedish death cleaning book recommends asking, ”Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?”
What to Throw Away
In a word: junk. The biggest part about death cleaning is reducing clutter and making it easier for your grieving family to move on without a hassle. So things like ancient appliances, broken items, worn items, and electronics made before 1970 should probably be thrown out unless it’s a keepsake.
Of course there are exceptions, such as vintage items and musical equipment. Again, the main focus of döstädning is to reduce clutter in your life and make it easier for your loved ones after your life is over.
What to Document
Another large part of Swedish death cleaning is doing so with your family. This gives you time to tell them which items you would like to go to whom, which keys open what locks, and perhaps most importantly in this modern age, which computer passwords open what devices.
Again, the whole process is supposed to make things easier for your family after you’ve moved on, not give them a headache because nobody knows your login. So be sure to go over your household items with family (and/or friends). It might also help to create a document, legal or otherwise, that addresses this.
Make sure your home doesn’t complicate things for your loved ones. Did you know the cost for services changes based on where you live? For example, in Dumfries, VA the average cost for cleaning service is slightly lower than in Barre, VT. Want to get a more accurate estimate for free? Get in touch with a homeyou pro near you!
What to Ask
Aside from “What Is Swedish death cleaning?” There are several things to keep in mind during the process. Here are some of the main pointers:
- Will anyone be happier if I save this?
- What can comfort those left behind?
- Will I wear this again?
- Will I ever use this again?
- Is my home easy to sort through?
- Is this valuable to someone I love?
Want to make sure your home is cleaner? Have a pro help you out. Get a free estimate today!
- 7 Things You Didn't Know Are Grossing Out Your Guests
- 10 Top Cruelty-Free Cleaning Supplies for a Conscious Home
- 10 Cleaning Supplies That'll Give You Dramatic Before-and-After Photos
- The 12 Best Cleaning Hacks You Need to Know