7-steps to Swedish Death Cleaning

Written by Team SM

February 28, 2024


As we journey through life, we gather more than just memories. Our homes become places where we store the things we’ve collected over time. Yet, there comes a time when the weight of these belongings becomes too much to bear. Swedish Death Cleaning offers a gentle, proactive approach to decluttering — one that not only lightens the load on our loved ones but also frees us from the mental and emotional toll of having too much stuff.

Swedish death cleaning is a well-known concept in Swedish and Scandinavian culture, as the process of eliminating unnecessary items from your home so loved ones won’t be burdened with this task after you pass. 


Owning less is better than organising more – Joshua Becker

At its core, Swedish Death Cleaning is about taking control of our space and our lives. It’s a systematic process that encourages us to look at our things and decide what truly adds value to our lives. By gradually letting go of what we don’t need, we create space for clarity and peace of mind.

The journey begins with a simple question: 


Will anyone be happier if I save this?


In 2017, Margareta Magnusson wrote the charming book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter (The Swedish Art of Living & Dying)” introducing the rest of the world and inviting us to think about the importance of our belongings and the legacy we want to leave behind.


The process of Swedish Death Cleaning gives you the time to be mindful about what you have versus what you really need. You will find

Your quality of life improves with less clutter
You can get rid of things that are associated with not-so-great memories
You’ll detach from things to live in the present and refresh your space
You are reminded of what really matters in life


The 7 steps to your Swedish Death Cleaning journey

Step 1: Let your loved ones know

This is an essential part of Swedish Death Cleaning. It helps you stay on track and gives you a chance to share wonderful stories with the people you love.

Having them around can make things easier. They can help lift heavy stuff and decide if they want to keep anything. It’s like a team effort to tidy up and reminisce about the good old days.

Step 2: Start with less personal items

Begin with areas like your closet, where the process is easy to see and feel. Simplifying your wardrobe sets the tone for the rest of your home.

Separate items you no longer use and consider giving them away or donating them.


Step 3: Gift possessions away gradually

Consider who would truly appreciate and cherish each item. Turn gifting into a moment – rather than dumping everything on family members all at once.

Step 4: Keep mementos for yourself

Along the way, you’ll encounter items that hold sentimental value. By all means, keep these. However, make sure you recognise not everything will hold the same meaning for others.

Consider setting aside these cherished items in a designated box marked Keep.

Step 5: Donate and sell the rest

Let go with a purpose. Items that no longer serve a purpose for you will bring joy to others.

Donate to charity or sell them to someone who will give them a new life.

Step 6: Make a list of important documents and passwords

As you’re decluttering, don’t forget about the very important stuff such as your documents and passwords. This is not just for your benefit: it’s crucial for your loved ones too.

Make sure these documents are easily accessible and stored in a safe place. Be sure to tell someone in the family where to look so they can find it easily.

Step 7: Declutter regularly

Swedish death cleaning isn’t about gloom and doom – it’s a way of life. And it’s not just for older folks either.

The key is to make decluttering a regular practice: Keep an eye out for items you no longer use or need. Declutter. Repeat.



Some things cost way more when we keep them – Neeraj Agnihotri

Feeling overwhelmed by clutter? Needing to downsize? Let’s tackle it together and Declutter, Pack and Organise with a FREE 20-minute Discovery session >here.

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