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8 things to know about Swedish Death Cleaning

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Weybridge House Refurbishment Minimalist living room by Timothy James Interiors Minimalist
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A name such as ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’ does sound quite ominous, sure, but its rewards are truly satisfying. Actually, it’s just a hostile-sounding name for the latest cleaning craze that is helping numerous households worldwide become much more clutter free. It is based on a concept by Swedish writer Margareta Magnusson who wrote a bestseller based on this idea shortly after her parents died.

The main idea behind Swedish Death Cleaning, aimed at people aged over 50 years, is to gradually start cleaning their homes and making them neater so that when they pass on their abodes are virtually clutter-free for their children and surviving relatives. Quite a gloomy concept, yet it’s something we all have to face, right? 

So, how do you start Swedish Death Cleaning your home? 

1. Where to start

CLOS-IT - Dressing Room Shelving System Classic style dressing room by Regalraum UK Classic
Regalraum UK

CLOS-IT—Dressing Room Shelving System

Regalraum UK

First, focus on all items that have little to no sentimental value. We suggest spaces like the attic or basement, your wardrobe or closet, or any other storage room – there are sure to be a few items hidden in your closet / dressing area that are no longer being worn. 

2. When to start

Botanical Monochrome Show Home Minimalist dining room by THE FRESH INTERIOR COMPANY Minimalist

Botanical Monochrome Show Home


Above 50 is the recommended phase to start, although once you reach 65 or so it is suggested that your house is already up and running on the Swedish Death Cleaning method. 

Once you start tossing out and selling stuff that you no longer use, it becomes a habit. But that feeling of living in a cleaner, roomier and altogether more welcoming home is definitely priceless. 

3. Save the crucial info in a document

Clerkenwell House 01 Eclectic style study/office by YAM Studios Eclectic
YAM Studios

Clerkenwell House 01

YAM Studios

Surely you want others to have it as easy as possible after you’re gone? Well then, make sure your stuff is in order! Create a document that contains all the need-to-know info pertaining to things like insurance, financial affairs, your will, etc. This should include contact info for the appropriate parties (i.e. lawyers, insurance companies).

Be sure to let the relevant family members know about this important document and where to access it. 

4. What to keep

Living room : Neutral tones Minimalist living room by In:Style Direct Minimalist
In:Style Direct

Living room : Neutral tones

In:Style Direct

There are things that are sentimental to us and conjure up good memories, and then there are other elements that we possessed or purchased during good times but are no longer being used – learn to tell the difference!

Rummage through your kitchen, for instance, and be very clear on what you use and what just gathers up dust. Also think about it logically – how many egg lifters, for instance, do you really need? A set of valuable crockery that you bought or inherited can surely be kept, but be ruthless with other stuff. 

5. Give away rather than toss

Living room with eclectic mix of furnishings Minimalist living room by Timothy James Interiors Minimalist
Timothy James Interiors

Living room with eclectic mix of furnishings

Timothy James Interiors

Not sure you want to donate something to a complete stranger? Then give it to a friend or family member who you know will remember you for it.  

6. Know how to reward yourself

We understand this concept can be a bit dark, and that’s why it’s recommended to reward yourself as you proceed – but not with more possessions! 

After a hard day of Swedish Death Cleaning, treat yourself to an outing to the cinema or a favourite restaurant. This gives you something to look forward to for a (not-so-pleasant) job well done. 

7. Deciding on what to keep

Not sure whether to keep or donate a certain something in your home? Ask yourself if anybody in your family or circle of friends would love to have that particular object. 

If it’s a set of valuable tea cups, for instance, then surely there’s someone in your family who has commented on it one time or another? How about leaving it to them, or better yet, gifting it to them right now? Unless you still use it from time to time, of course.

8. Remember the minimalist trend

APARTMENT IN AMBERGATE STREET, Kennington, London, 2012 Minimalist living room by Francesco Pierazzi Architects Minimalist
Francesco Pierazzi Architects


Francesco Pierazzi Architects

At the end of the day, remember that less is more – and that is the new trend that is sure to stay. 

Modern-day homes are becoming smaller, which means people are adapting by means of adjusting to minimalist lifestyles. If nobody in your family, for example, wants those old, overly adorned classic furniture pieces you have in your home, then consider donating or selling. 

Times are changing, after all!

These 10 painless ways to get your living room spick and span might also help! 

Ready to start on your Swedish Death Cleaning phase or not yet?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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