The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.

In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.


I was in Barnes & Noble last week and just browsing the tables when this immediately caught my eye. It’s morbid yet I also know it’s inevitable so I often think about the junk I’ll have to go through after my parents pass on.

I also think about what will happen to my stuff (mainly books and artwork) when I go, especially if I don’t have children. Even when someone who never had children passes on, someone has to clean their mess. And so Margareta Magnusson states to be thoughtful of those people who you leave behind, whoever they are.

I have often thought about leaving a set of instructions detailing what can be done with certain items and who gets what.

I just never knew that there was an actual Swedish term for it. So when this book caught my eye I had to get it. I read the whole thing the moment I got home.

I found it useful and smart. Magnusson gives some helpful pieces of advice of where to start decluttering and how to maintain a home without clutter. She also provides short, to the point, sentimental stories from her own life that was well balanced with the topic of the book.

I placed some bookmarks in my copy so that when I get started on döstädning I can quickly refresh my memory. (The older you get the hard it is to go through it all!)

The book is to the point and she doesn’t claim to have the knowledge of how to handle the psychological issues when trying to help a loved one who’s a hoarder. I will have to read another book for that.

4 out of 5 Organized homes.

Bonus!  Here is a  video of Margareta talking about döstädning.

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