“Swedish Death Cleaning” Can Improve Your Life

You’re reminded of it every time you move: You have too much crap. It piles up in closets, under beds, in basements, and even in the garage. It might surprise you to learn that dealing with all that clutter is actually bad for your mental health. The psychological weight of hoarding is easy to understand, but it can affect you even if you’re not navigating canyons of trash in your house. Even modest levels of clutter can negatively impact your life because you have to expend mental and emotional energy on things that are no longer vital to your everyday life. Another thing people forget about is that someone is eventually going to have to deal with all of it after they die. That’s why “Swedish death cleaning” can help. It’s a simple concept with powerful potential. The idea is simple: deal with the stuff you have accumulated so your loved ones won’t have to. The key to Swedish death cleaning is not just a burst of decluttering and getting rid of old junk, but developing a new and permanent way of organizing your life. It’s less about cleaning and more about being in charge of your life. Here’s how it’s done: 


Start with the easy stuff. Get rid of obvious stuff like old clothes that no longer fit. Then move on to stuff that’s been hidden away for so long you forgot your own it. 


Take your time. There’s no need to make this an intense ordeal. Just get into the habit of consciously taking stock of all the stuff you have, making sure not to bring more useless stuff in. 


Consider options. Consider what can be donated, what can be gifted, what needs to be trashed, and what can be sold. There’s no rule that says you can’t profit from Swedish death cleaning. There’s also no reason to get rid of something if there’s someone in your life who would benefit from it, so keep your friends and family updated as you go through your stuff. 


Go minimalist. The goal is to leave behind as little as possible for others to deal with, so only keep what you absolutely need. That means the dishes and place settings you never use, the shoes you never wear — it all goes. 


Don’t forget to declutter digitally. Part of the mess you leave behind for people is your digital footprint — social media accounts, online photos, email accounts, etc. You don’t need to get rid of these, but you should make sure other people have the necessary rights and logins to delete those accounts after you’re gone. 


The main thing to keep in mind when considering how Swedish death cleaning can improve your life at any time is that it isn’t about death — it's about control. It’s about deciding what the rest of your life will look like.