Swedish death cleaning. You may have read the book or seen the reality show based on it. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of it. What exactly is Swedish death cleaning?


The book written in 2017 by Margareta Magnusson titled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, outlined the practice of reducing the clutter in our homes, gradually and purposefully. It’s known in Sweden as döstädning, which is a combination of the words death (dö) and cleaning (städning), and it is a thoughtful approach to examining our possessions, what we really need and what we can do without, to help declutter our lives. The goal is to help us remove the items we don’t need to create a more efficient and orderly living space.


And it’s not something that can or should be done just when death is eminent. By tidying up ahead of time, it offers many benefits to both the person who is doing the cleaning as well as their loved ones. Those doing the cleaning can consider what they truly need and get rid of excess items by selling them at a yard sale or donating to a charity. It allows for a more efficient and streamlined lifestyle, as well as reducing the stress that comes with clutter, bringing with it peace of mind. For those who are grieving when death occurs, it lightens the emotional load of them having to deal with an abundance of possessions.


When this is complemented with a preplanned funeral, those left behind can focus on their grief and create a memorial service that truly celebrates a life. Swedish death cleaning is much more than simply decluttering. It helps reduce stress, brings clarity, and like preplanning, is a meaningful gift to the people we love.