Halloween may be over, but a morbid-sounding new trend is on the rise. That’s right—Swedish death cleaning is the latest trend to sweep the decluttering and organizing space. The days of trying to figure out which items spark joy are over as the Scandinavian cleaning ritual döstädning—a combination of the Swedish words for death and cleaning—will have you clearing out your space and taking no prisoners.
So, what is Swedish death cleaning?
The premise is pretty simple and self-explanatory. It’s a way of cleaning that takes into account what will happen to all your stuff when you die—or as the Washington Post puts it, “If your family doesn’t want your stuff when you’re alive, they sure won’t want it when you’re dead.” It asks to take the sentimentality out of the items you might be storing needlessly by asking yourself the question on what will happen to it in the case of the unthinkable.
This concept is gaining traction through the publication of Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The book is not available in the United States yet, but it’s coming this January. In the meantime, this trend is already starting to take off.
Of course, this new trend ties into a major theme for us here at ScanMyPhotos. Preserving those boxes and albums of old photos by scanning and digitizing them is a great way to practice döstädning and ensure your stuff isn’t a burden on family members. It lets future generations hold onto valuable memories in a way that won’t take up physical space.
Interestingly enough, Magnusson recommends not to start with photos as you might get bogged down in memories and not finish the process. We politely disagree as preserving photos is never something you should wait to do until the last minute. Plus, by scanning and digitizing them, there is no need to determine which ones to keep or toss—you can digitize every last one if you want.
A few other tips from the book include:
- If you have nice items on hand that you don’t want to throw away—china, special linens, decorative pieces—consider giving them as gifts, rather than buying something new.
- Create a password book to all websites so your heirs can access accounts.
- Make a box of things that are of special importance that you need with you that can be tossed upon your death. This could include things like a baby blanket or stuffed animal.
While this may sound like a somber activity, many are saying how freeing it can be—not unlike that rejuvenated feeling you get after a good spring cleaning. Once the process is complete, you know that your heirs won’t be left with the burdensome process of renting a dumpster and spending hours trying to sort through valuables. And you’ll be left with a tidier home with much more space.
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