Lifestyle, organization

I Tried The Swedish Death Cleaning Method & This Is How It Went

As blunt as it may sound, we are all going to die one day. And all that stuff you’ve accumulated over the years can’t be taken with you. I recently decided to try out the decluttering method called Swedish Death Cleaning to further understand this morbid decluttering technique & see if this mindset is beneficial to downsizing our lives.

What Is The Swedish Death Cleaning Method?

According to the, Swedish Death Cleaning is a method of organizing and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden of your loved ones after you’ve passed. Typically, those of the older generation or those battling terminal illness will lean towards this method of cleaning. But I say, you can never be too old to downsize your belongings. From personal experience, the reasons I’ve leaned towards more minimalistic ways of living was due to family members passing on & then having to find new homes for their “cherished” items. It really placed things into perspective. And I think this method goes beyond the idea of becoming a burden to others & instead allowing yourself to free your space of excess clutter in a guilt free manner.

As morbid as it may sound, I truly think this method of decluttering can put perspectives on what you find important. Instead of simply asking yourself, “does this spark joy?” You are furthering it by asking, “would my family want to have this in their lives?” Now this isn’t saying you should just get rid of everything you own that makes you who you are. Obviously, we are all different & what we may enjoy may not be special to someone else. So, I think an even better question to ask yourself may be , “is this item worth holding onto / storing?” I recently went through my sentimental items again to see if I could condense the containers even further since my storage space is rather limited. It’s so fascinating to see what we deem as so near & dear to our hearts. I’ve talked about ways to declutter sentimental items in the past. Recently, I downsized said keepsakes by taking digital photos of the item instead of letting the physical belonging age in storage. And in other cases, I tried to see if I could repurpose or display the trinkets somewhere in our home. A quick take away I tell myself is, finding ways to give life to said items instead of having them collect dust in a box in the back of a closet.

You May Also Like: How to Declutter Sentimental Items

It Allowed Me To Examine My Home From Top To Bottom

The Swedish Death Cleaning Method has you question every aspect of your life. And I realized, I still hold onto items just in case I need it one day. And we know from my previous decluttering post, those “What If I Need It One Day” Items are such a waste of space. For example, in our spare closet, I kept our Halloween costumes from last year thinking we would MAYBE wear them again this year. And in all honesty – we never wear a costume more than once. So, during this decluttering session, I let those go. And as silly as it may sound in the middle of July – I also went through seasonal decor for both Halloween & Christmas. Most cases, I wait until that season to let go of broken or unused decor, but this method of decluttering allowed me to go through those areas here & now so I am not burdened by the clutter a few months from now. I also was able to take inventory of wrapping supplies & came to the conclusion, we don’t need to purchase any new supplies this year. Yay!

Giving Items New Life / Purpose

If we cherish an item so much, we should allow it to have significant meaning to our lives, right? Books should be read, journals should be written in & toys should be played with. It’s sad when belongings get stored away never to be used again. Think of the Pixar movie, Toy Story – wouldn’t you rather give those items a chance at a second life? We almost grow this sick attachment to your stuff for an array of reasons. But the Swedish Death Method allows us to understand the importance of only keeping what we truly need, use or want. Everything else has the luxury to be used by someone else. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? And finding purpose for something sparks so much more value than having it sit unused. For example, when I moved out – I was gifted a few ornaments that hung on our family Christmas tree. It always makes me happy to see those ornaments being used & passed down so when we have a family of our own – our kids can enjoy them as much as I did.

It’s Not Just a Burden To Others

It becomes a burden to you! And so, why can’t we just let those items go? According to the Swedish Death Method, reasons for having difficulty letting things go can be due to fear, our clutter instinct & our hoarder instinct. And as I said before, us humans have the tendency to hold onto items “just in case”. Swedish Death Cleaning grants us this freeing & eye opening perspective to let go of that burden for once & give yourself the gift of space.

The Longer You Hold On To Something The Harder It Is To Let Go

There are items I’ve had in my possession for YEARS! And some of those items, I can’t even remember why I kept it in the first place. But because I’ve had it forever, I just assume it’s for a good reason & so, there it stays in a storage bin or drawer. And the tough reality is a lot of items hold a certain form of value. Whether it was a gift from someone, holds a memory, reminds you of a special someone – these reasonings cloud our judgement. For example, when my dad passed away, I decided to take a few of his shirts home with me. I would sometimes wear them for comfort, but mostly – I’d just store them in my dresser as a security blanket if you will. It was almost like having his clothing made the feeling of him being gone sting a little less. Over time, I realized having those pieces of clothing was actually making the grieving process more difficult. And in all honesty – I don’t think my dad would really care if I had his clothing or not. So, a few weeks ago I ripped the bandaid & donated those few t-shirts. And I feel a lot better. A great reminder to myself is , “the item is not the person”.


I personally love the concept of The Swedish Death Cleaning Method. I find it so freeing. I love how it allows myself to really ask myself, “does this item serve a purpose?” & “would someone else want this when I’m gone?” And in turn these simple questions can give you the push to let a few extra things go. And ultimately – you can stop the excess clutter from affecting your life in such negative ways.

What are your thoughts on the Swedish Death Cleaning Method?

if you are interested in learning more about this decluttering method, be sure to check out Margareta Magnusson‘s book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.



Overcoming “What If I Need This One Day” Type of Clutter

One of the biggest questions that runs through a lot of people’s minds during decluttering is, “what if I need this one day?” Even I’ve battled with such obstacles from time to time. Those “just in case items” seem necessary to hold onto because you think you are saving money. “What if I need this quesadilla maker on the off chance I want to make a quesadilla?” “What if we go to Paris in the near future – this beret [ i’ve never worn before] may come in handy at that moment!” What if the person who gifted me that item [ I never use] questions where it is when they visit?” The scenarios could go on & on. And if you let this category of item get to you, you’ll find yourself in the midst of becoming hoarders.

The Scarcity Mindset

Sometimes the reason we develop clutter is through fear. We are afraid we won’t be able to attain said item again in the future. Many times this correlates with socioeconomic status & the growth from lower to higher income. It’s a subconscious fear you won’t be this well off forever. So, you decide to hold onto things with the notion you won’t be able to attain it later. But regardless of your socioeconomic status, everyone should follow the 20×20 rule instead.

What is the 20×20 Rule?

If you can replace the item in 20 minutes with $20 or less, you should probably donate or sell said item. From my experience, anytime I finally get rid of something, I rarely regret or need a replacement in the future. For instance, over last summer we hosted an engagement party at our home. We purchased a bunch of paper plates, foil pans to hold the food selection & plastic cups & utensils. We ended up only using not even half of the supplies, so I stored it in a cabinet for a while. This May will be a year since we hosted said party & we haven’t used the items since. The paper plates have begun to yellow & quite honestly in our town home, we don’t have the best storage space. So, although I thought, “we could use this for our next get together or party.” I ended up donating what was still useable to a local donation centers. I’d much rather let those items go now & repurchase supplies when we do decide to host another party. Now, we have plenty of space for other necessities in this cabinet.

Doesn’t That Waste Money?

A lot of the reason for hoarding is due to the thought of “saving money.” If you hold on to xyz now, you don’t have to spend money later. But what I found with the kept party supplies was, they became unusable over time. Nobody wants to use paper plates that are discolored or broken plastic utensils. Who’s to say, when a get together did arise, I wouldn’t have purchased new supplies anyway? I find, when we fill our home with clutter – we aren’t truly saving money. We are losing time & energy, we are purchasing storage bins to keep the clutter contained. We are purchasing more cleaning supplies to keep the chaos of our homes at bay. I’d much rather let go of the unused items & spend a little cash in the future than fill my home with unnecessary things.


Even though you may think you need to hold onto every little thing you decide to purchase. In reality – there is a slim chance you’ll ever use that just in case item anyway. Save your home from the clutter & finally let those items go. Do you still own any items that make you say, “will I need this one day?”



5 Things To Keep in Mind When Decluttering Sentimental Items

Why is it that sentimental items can be the MOST difficult to declutter? Is it the nostalgia built around each memento? Or is it the feelings of guilt for letting go of a piece of your past? When you open up these boxes you are flooded with countless memories & chapters of your life that made you the person you are today. 

    There’s a reason why Marie Kondo put decluttering sentimental items at the end of the process. It’s VERY difficult & it takes far more time than any purge you will do of your belongings. But I’m here to tell you it is important to let go of the literal baggage you carry around. I’ve discussed this topic before & why even sentimental items can become clutter if you let it. Why would you want to be hauling around tubs of containers filled with years & years of your life? You have to be sure, what you keep is truly worth moving from place to place. 

     Recently, I’ve been going through my own bins of sentimental items & although I’ve narrowed it down quite a bit, I too hold onto a lot of physical memories. And I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could get rid of even more. And by doing so, I learned a lot of valuable lessons I want to share with you. 


 I used to think if something was very near & dear to my heart, I needed to just store it away so it wouldn’t get lost or broken. But I realized it’s kind of sad if you let these precious things sit in a box forever. Wouldn’t you rather make use of it or display it so you can really appreciate it better? For example, I found this story book my Grammy gifted to me when I was very young. Inside the book she has it dated (1994) with a loving message inside. I thought to myself, “how neat would it be to have this displayed in a nursery one day?” “I would love to read this book to my future children.” So, although the book will stay nicely in my save box for now, I look forward to giving this to my children to read one day.


Now, I’ll be honest, when it comes to my dating life I’ve kept every single card my boyfriend has ever given me for the last 6 years. They make me very happy & I love reading through them occasionally. I’m the biggest romantic. But when it comes to cards from other people, no offense, I only keep a select few. For the most part, I’ll display cards around the house like if it was my birthday or Christmas time. After a while I will take them down though. I think it’s ok to have the mindset of appreciating them for the moment but to let them go when it’s over. In terms of holiday cards, I do save them in a baggy with the date on them. This allows me to know who to card the following year. If I do keep a greeting card, it’s either because the message inside is detailed or I want to remember a certain person’s handwriting, like my parents or grandparents. So, if you just sign a card with your name & nothing else, it’s trash. Haha! I kid…but kind of serious.


I’m a sucker for a good photo. It’s the best way to hold special memories no doubt. But remember it’s not the end all be all either. Don’t feel like you need to take a photo for EVERY holiday or EVERY event. But if you do, & you still like printing them out like me, be very selective of your choices. I know most people keep their photos digital (even their childhood ones) but I’m such an old soul & LOVE having prints. You just never know what could happen to them in the digital space. I regularly go through my prints & downsize them. I know how tedious this task is though. I remember I did this with my Nana’s albums. And she had an entire wall of books. The key thing to remember when it comes to photos is to always keep the ones that make you the happiest. Never feel like you need to hold onto a photo because it brings back bad memories. For example: ex relationships or friendships. I think I kept two photos from an old relationship & they were from prom. Otherwise I let them go. 


Like I said, when you are going through sentimental items you are going through literal baggage. Good memories. Bad memories. Losses. Awkward phases. You name it. And this is the reason I go through these items regularly. I don’t like when physical items are holding me back or keeping me from moving forward. I would keep pamphlets from my grandparent’s funerals, cards from my ex boyfriend, photos of friends who I don’t speak to anymore or even diaries with such sad & dramatic messages. I don’t want to be constantly looking at the past especially at those types of moments. I want to understand things like that happen but I’d much rather see only the positives. So, instead I keep photos of my grandparents & memories we had when they were at their best, or highlights of a relationship that were milestones to remember like homecoming or prom. I never want my belongings to keep me stuck. Another thing to keep in mind, is if you are going through items like these during times of grief, be kind to yourself. I personally waited to go through things once I felt more accepting of the situation. I can go more in depth with the topic of grief and special items in a later post. 


What I mean by this is don’t keep items you think you HAVE to keep because the majority of the world does. This is your life & you don’t have to hold onto something if you don’t want it anymore. My example is yearbooks. I threw out every single school yearbook I ever had. And you know why? They are HEAVY as SHIT! And I never really looked through them anyway. I did photocopy a few collages & photos that I keep in a folder. But the actual books seemed pointless. This also goes for any gifts or hand me downs you may receive. Again, never feel like you have to keep anything. If it is something from family, you can always try to give it to someone who would appreciate or use it. But there are times you have to be honest & let them go. Or you could just secretly get rid of them & not say a word. Whatever works best for you. Haha! 

I really hope these suggestions encourage you to go through your sentimental items. If you have any other questions or need advice on the topic, leave a comment down below. I love helping you all out.