Swedish Death Cleaning: The New Konmari Contender

Just when you think the Konmari phase had fizzled out, a new one emerges. Make way for the newest trending cleaning fad: Swedish Death Cleaning.

No, it has nothing to do with being Swedish or cleaning your house so much that you pass out and die.

Swedish Death Cleaning is known as intentional decluttering, the process of clearing out one’s space in the mindset of preventing one’s clutter to burden loved ones after you’ve passed on. But the beauty of death cleaning is that you can start at any stage or age in your life.

Sharing similar trendy thoughts on home organization and approaches to life, such as hygge, which caught on last year, the term “Swedish Death Cleaning” is garnering a lot of attention – and for good reason and purpose.

Once you uncover the reason behind it, it’s a pretty sensible, practical way to deal with your possessions as you approach your later years. Based on a book, titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson.

Magnusson is a Swede artist who began this journey when she was grieving the deaths of her parents and husband. During her grievance, she struggled to find ways to part with their personal possessions.

The author refers to this method as a Swedish idea of döstädning, which translates to death cleaning.  means death in Swedish and städning means cleaning. The gist of the book is to begin decluttering so your death isn’t such a burden for those you leave behind later on as “life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance.” Magnusson also writes: “I often ask myself, ‘Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?’”

If you want to practice this cleaning style in your home, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Know which items hold value

You might have accumulated many items over the years, thinking someone might want them later on, but by doing this you may be hoarding without even realising. The longer the item stays unused or hidden, chances are, you’ll most likely forget about it. Always keep in mind that what you consider a treasure may be a burden to others.

2. Document important belongings

A vital thing to note about the Swedish Death Cleaning method is to always involve others. Be it, family or friends, it’s important to keep them in the loop of your purpose. This process will be useful because it gives you the opportunity to vocalise and inform the ones closest to you of your wishes. This will also be a good time to jot down personal information, numbers and passwords to allow the ones closest to you to know where to access it when the need arises.

3. Sort from easiest to hardest

Just like how Konmari teaches us to leave our personal possessions like photos and letters the last thing to sort, Magnusson teaches us to do the same. Instead, she advises us to start with our clothes as the first entry point to the Swedish Death Cleaning method. This way, you would feel less inclined to be emotional and subsequently achieve what you have set yourself to accomplish.

4. Donate unnecessary items

Have an old scarf you don’t want anymore? If you’re feeling charitable and need to clear out some space, you may decide to donate the items away. Subsequently, you may even invite your friends and family over to let them choose what they want from you most and give it away. You may also try to sell your items on apps specially dedicated to selling your pre-loved items such as Carousell or Mudah.my.

5. Think of others, and not yourself

Yes, you read that right. The purpose of the Swedish Death Cleaning method is to declutter in the mindset that you’re cleansing your space in consideration of how others would feel versus cleaning up the mess for your behalf. The author states that keeping sentimental items such as handwritten notes, postcards or even memorabilia will only mean value to you and not to others. If you must, keep only the most important letters and place them in a dedicated box only if you think it would be valuable for your loved ones to read later on.

6. Get help

Swedish Death Cleaning is an organised effort. But, once you are done, you may not have the energy left to clean up your home from the dust and debris that’s left behind.

But don’t worry, Recommend.my has thousands of professional cleaning companies in Malaysia who can help you. From regular house cleaning to sofa or mattress cleaning, or even aircon or carpet cleaning, just book your cleaning appointment online and our pros will respond in minutes.

Note: When making your booking online, don’t say that you just did a “death cleaning” and need help. Otherwise, an ambulance may arrive at your door instead of a cleaner.

Is Swedish Death Cleaning in your future?

What are your thoughts about this decluttering method? Does it sound too morbid? Or is it a practical step towards minimising our war against our build-up of what seems like never-ending clutter?

Want more? Purchase a copy of “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson at a Kinokuniya bookstore.

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