"Swedish death cleaning" might sound extreme, but this decluttering hack could finally help you let stuff go

This decluttering idea is all about reducing the burden on family after you're gone, but it can also work wonders for anyone trying to keep their home more organized

a minimalist bedroom
(Image credit: Manolo Langis. Design: Mandy Graham)

You might have been struck by the intense headline but this technique isn't as morbid as it seems. Swedish death cleaning is a process, approved by experts, that helps make everyday life more manageable. It could be the answer to all your organizational prayers.

Although this method may seem extreme it will help to restore harmony to your space like you never thought possible. If you are hoping to figure out how to declutter your home in 2024, you will want to learn more about this trending technique. 

We have discussed this new style of decluttering with organization professionals to find out if it is truly transformative or a bit of a fad. We can tell you now that they were united on its revolutionary power. You will not want to overlook this technique.

What is Swedish death cleaning?

Although it has cleaning in its name, it is more of a decluttering technique, similar to something like the move-out decluttering method. It has a deeper meaning and connection to death, but actually, it just serves as a good organizational practice.

'Swedish death cleaning is widespread in Scandinavia,' says professional organizer Amelie Saint-Jacques, 'and it is essentially the practice of tidying one's belongings now so that others don't have to do it for us after our death.' The origins of this technique suggest one should complete this later in life, however, it doesn't need to be reserved just for older generations.

Swedish death cleaning has become a useful method of decluttering for a more manageable everyday life. Anytime is a good time for an adult to ‘take stock of one's belongings and declutter,’ Amelie says. Incorporating these principles into your life will have a transformational effect on your space.

Why is Swedish death cleaning so beneficial?

Azabu residence by Norm Architects

(Image credit: Norm Architects)

This decluttering technique is particularly beneficial because it completely simplifies your living space. It isn't about organizing the clutter, it will change your perspective on your belongings so that you see no need for it.

This thoughtful practice has a deeper purpose that gives meaning and more striking results. 'The ultimate goal of Swedish death cleaning is to reduce the burden on your loved ones when you pass away and to lead a simpler, more intentional life,' says professional declutterer Karina Toner

Whilst completing this task you are not only getting rid of physical clutter, but the emotional stuff too. 'It can be emotionally cleansing and help you let go of attachments, leading to overall improved emotional well-being,' Karina explains.

The most effective lessons are those that change your entire perspective on space and belongings, this does just that. After you do a rigorous round of deep cleaning you will be more mindful of future acquisitions.

How can I use the Swedish death cleaning concept at home?

minimalist living room with light colors, curved sofa and fireplace

(Image credit: Marco Ricca. Design: Ali Budd Interiors)

'This method of purging and organizing involves a process of going through EVERYTHING in your home,' says Amanda Wiss, Founder of NYC-based home organizing firm Urban Clarity, 'urging whatever you find unnecessary and excessive, and only keeping items that are essential.'This might feel overwhelming but it is something everyone can do. Our experts have a few tips to get you started.

It is important not to try to do everything at once. 'Keep in mind that this style of organizing is more of a slow, gradual process leading to a lifestyle shift,' advises Amanda. Take it one area at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Start with creating an organized living room as one of the places you spend the most time relaxing.

When auditing your belongings consider what the item brings to your life, if it's nothing then it needs to go, immediately. Items that have gone unused for over a year are also a candidate for instant removal. Take the time to reflect on all your personal belongings, considering their purpose and value to you.

Swedish death cleaning, in spite of its morbid name, is a positive experience. 'It helps us align our home with the life we want to lead,' explains Amelie. It might seem extreme but this is a rewarding practice that will add necessary harmony and meaning to your home.

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.