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CleaningNews & Trends 018

«Döstädning»: the Swedish way to declutter

What happens to my belongings after I die? Margareta Magnusson, a Swedish artist, has come up with an answer and started a new trend: Death Cleaning. What on earth is that?

You might be thinking «Death? WTF?!» – don’t worry, it might sound morbid, but it’s not. Let’s start at the very beginning; with the title of this article. «Döstädning» sounds like an idyllic Swedish village, but’s actually a compound of the Swedish words «dö» («to die») and «städning» («cleaning»), a concept known in English as «Death Cleaning».

In today’s times, we have everything we need, including many unnecessary things. Therefore, getting rid of things we don’t need makes absolute sense. Death Cleaning is one way of doing just this.

Death Cleaning refers to the process of decluttering and cleaning your home before you die, rather than leaving it up to your loved ones to do so after you’ve passed away. Magnusson emphasises how important it is to tidy up yourself – nobody likes the thought of others having to go through all your clutter. This doesn’t only apply to people who are actually preparing for death, but anyone. Death cleaning helps us live an easier life by getting rid of any clutter we don’t need.

Marie Kondo, also successful author of a book on tidying up, describes Magnusson’s approach as follows:

«No matter how old you are, Swedish Death Cleaning will help you declutter your life and find out what’s really important to you.» – Marie Kondo, Author of «The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: a magical story.»

When to start with Death Cleaning? I’m 25 years of age and I don’t feel prepared to think about my own passing. However, as Magnusson points out, we should all begin with Death Cleaning as early as possible. «Don’t accumulate things you don’t like», she explains. I think to myself: I’m doing fine, I got rid of loads of stuff last time I moved house (although my friends aka helpers might claim otherwise).

Here’s Margareta Magnusson herself explaining why it’s so important to get rid of things:

How does Death Cleaning work?

The Death Cleaning method bears similarities to that of the tidying-up guru Marie Kondo: Keep what you love and use and get rid of what you don’t. Also, only keep things that make you happy in that very moment. Magnusson’s method, as opposed to Kondo’s, makes you think of your own mortality. The very idea of this makes me sad. According to Magnusson, you’re allowed one box of things with sentimental value. As she describes in the video, she has a «throw away box», a box that can be thrown away when she dies – without looking at what’s in it. I can’t bear the thought of this; if any of my loved ones had such a box, I’d want to keep things from it that have a sentimental value, such as pictures of the good old days. Aren’t these the most valuable possessions? Who’d want to inherit money if you can have pictures and memories of happy days together? Maybe I just don’t get it.

Let’s get started

It doesn’t matter if you reduce all your belongings to one box or just get started decluttering the cellar, every little thing will make you feel better. You could start off by getting rid of clothes and shoes you never wear. Personally, I think you shouldn’t do this for others, but for yourself. This will make you feel great.


Tanja Schütz, Zurich

  • Category Marketing Specialist
Travelling to exotic countries, trying out yummy recipes and enjoying mild summer evenings with friends and family is what makes me happy. At work, I take care of the culinary department; at home, I’m an avid amateur chef. What’s more, I love the outdoors and seeking new impulses that add colour and joy to my life and the lives of others.

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