What is Swedish Death Cleaning
Answers From a Swedish Speaking
Certified Professional Organizer
Are You Curious About Swedish Death Cleaning?
The name alone is enough to make you wonder!
As a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) who lived in Sweden for twenty-two years, I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about the book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, in 2017. I’ve now read the book several times, both in its original language, Döstädning - Ingen Sorlig Historia, as well as the English translation.
I was even fortunate enough to be warmly welcomed into Margareta’s home for coffee with my three daughters. We saw firsthand her approach to Swedish death cleaning and living a life unencumbered by stuff. But that doesn’t mean her home is empty — she’s simply intentional with her belongings.
Let’s dive into what death cleaning is, what it’s not, and how I can help you through the process.
What is Swedish Death Cleaning
Death cleaning isn’t morbid — it’s reality
The main premise is simple. After a lifetime of accumulation, what do we want to leave behind? Swedish death cleaning is simply the act of downsizing your belongings before you die. It’s more of a mindset to purposefully de-own objects rather than an organizing method.
While the book and term originated in Sweden, death cleaning is for everyone and isn’t restricted to Swedes. You can start at any age and you don’t need to be ill to consider death cleaning. There’s no hurry either. It’s good practice to death clean over a long period of time, and Margareta Magnusson notes that it's never too late to start, until it is.
But you might be wondering,
WHY is this important?
Death cleaning will:
Free up physical space and mental energy
Allow you to comfortably say goodbye to objects you’ve accumulated over a lifetime
Relieve your loved ones of the overwhelming task of sifting through too many belongings
Swedish death cleaning is about enjoying what you DO have,
and eliminating excess — because excess has to be
maintained, dusted, and remembered!
Swedish Cultural Influence
In Swedish culture, there is a concept of “not too much, not too little” that is captured in one word — lagom. This concept of balance comes from old stories of Vikings sitting around the fire and sharing a pot of ale. They would pass a bowl and each person would drink just a little in order to keep things fair and equal. When applied at home, this balanced approach keeps a healthy amount of objects in your space, so you can more fully enjoy your home.
This awareness of how our actions affect others is central to Swedish culture. Swedes inherently have a high sense of social responsibility — they would never unload their own burden onto someone else. So the idea behind Margareta Magnusson’s book is really the highest act of love and appreciation you can show your family, friends, and society when you’re gone.
My Swedish Death Cleaning Services
Swedish death cleaning is not a quick fix. I like to say, “You don’t Swedish death clean your pantry, you Swedish death clean your entire home!” This requires time, focus, and direction — all of which I can help you with.
Ready to get started? I can guide you through the process.
I can't begin to to thank you enough for your support and guidance! I don't know when I've felt such positive energy as I think about my future. Your death cleaning exercises were exactly what my home and family needed!
I am in my 70s and have one son. When I die (which I sure hope isn't before we get this basement cleaned up) I don't think he's going to want to read through every birthday card I have ever received. Having you by my side to help me make decisions has brought me so much clarity. I get it now, I get how death cleaning can help me honor the past AND the future!
Kelly brought order to my collection of family treasures and papers and taught me how to be comfortable letting go of what I was done with. She was supportive, non-judgmental, and a pleasure to work with!