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What is Swedish Death Cleaning?

There’s a new cleaning/decluttering trend that has become all the rage. It’s name is “Death Cleaning” or “Death Purge” in English, but a much more gentle sounding döstädning in Swedish.

What is this Death Cleaning trend?

To simplify it, this is cleaning your home with the intention to leave it very manageable for your friends and family when you “move out” of life. Here’s a description of the step-by-step process: Time Magazine on death-cleaning.

It’s not a fast one-weekend adventure. This involves deciding what you want to hold onto, and mindfully gifting or donating the things you think would serve others better now.

In a way, it’s not just cleaning your home. It’s tying up all the loose ends in life that connect to physical objects. Passing on, giving away, donating and disposing of things that no longer serve you can be a calming, centering practise.

Swedish Death Cleaning isn’t New

What is new, is the attention it’s been getting. This is partially because of a recently published book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margarita Magnusson.

Still, Death Cleaning isn’t new. Individuals and families that have long done this as a way to remove burden from others later. But there’s more to it. If you engage with and distribute your belongings while you’re able to send the histories and meaning with them, your stories move to the next generation.

What do you think? Does Death Cleaning sound like it can enrich a person’s later years? Would you try it?


This talk by Bob Stein lasts about 6 minutes, as is about his personal experience of Death Cleaning as a rite of passage.

To read one woman’s account of how Death Cleaning went for her, visit: Sarah Cottrell’s Swedish Death Cleaning review.

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