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Swedish death cleaning

Intriguing New Wardrobe Clearout Hack - What Is Swedish Death Cleaning?

First of all, a TW for talking about death.

We've all heard of the Marie Kondo method for clearing out personal possessions and clothing. But instead of thinking about what brings you joy, you might find it more motivating to think about your death.

Did that make you shudder too? 

What is the Swedish Death Cleaning Method?

A Definition

Swedish death cleaning (Döstädning) is a way to help organise and clearout your clothing by thinking about where your belongings might go when you die.

The whole reason behind it is to minimise the amount of work your friends or relatives might have to do when you die.

This is of course really quite morbid. But the technique, based on Margareta Magnusson's book gives you a whole new way to cut down on stuff you just don't need. 

Magnusson says “Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly".

The Basics of Swedish Death Cleaning for Fashion

Swedish Death Cleaning is a bit like most other decluttering tips in that you need to think about whether an item actually serves you. Are you just holding on to something 'just in case', without actually wearing it?

The key difference is that when you're thinking about what items you might pass on when you die, you're also considering the wants and needs of your loved ones. 

This is how Magnusson writes about our relationship to items in her book, The Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: “One’s own pleasure, and the chance to find meaning and memory, is the most important thing.

“It is a delight to go through things and remember their worth. And if you don’t remember why a thing has meaning or why you kept it, it has no worth, and it will be easier for you to part with.”

When Should you Start Thinking about Swedish Death Cleaning?

Without getting too morbid, it might seem a bit premature to be sorting out your clothing depending on how old you are.

Magnusson's book was originally aimed at folks older than 50.

But that doesn't mean her tips aren't really useful for decluttering your wardrobe today.

It's interesting to think about what we might leave behind as a legacy. It helps you to buy better and help avoid those unnecessary purchases.

Getting into good habits regarding how you consume fashion will put you in good stead for the future. 

Why Bother Death Cleaning?

Swedish Death Cleaning is first and foremost a way of learning to live with less.

And when you have fewer possessions, you have less to worry about. But this might not be the case for everyone.

Depending on whether you're a maximalist or minimalist, everyone's homes will look different. It's the same for wardrobes. You may have a whole room stacked to the rafters with clothes. Or you be very frugal in wearing only a few items. 

One of the main benefits of living with less is minimalism's argument of being able to enjoy life more. There are less things to get in the way and more space, time and energy to enjoy experiences. 

You might also find it easier to get ready in the mornings if you haven't got a sea of clothes to wade through!

Bring a Friend/Family Member

Sometimes it can be easier to enlist the help of a friend or family member when clearing out your wardrobe. This is especially the case when opting for a bit of dostagning. 

The whole idea of the Swedish death cleaning method is that you're trying to reduce the amount of work that your folks will have to do in the future when you've passed on. 

So think about who the best people are to help you clear some space in your wardrobe. It helps to take an honest but patient look. We can be attached to some items and that's okay, even if we do not necessarily wear them. Over time we can place those aside and decide if they can be rehomed, eventually.

Best Places to Take Used Clothes

Once you're done it's time to make sure those clothes go to a good home. Here are a few places to take them:

  1. Clear your wardrobe the easy way by using a free service like
  2. Charity shops are often looking for donations. Just make sure you check before you travel.
  3. Want to earn some extra pounds? Trying listing your clothes on eBay, Depop or Vinted.
  4. Try a clothes swap near you! There are also some great clothes swapping platforms online including Dopplle and Untagged.
  5. Got damaged or worn out clothes? There are lots of things you can do with them including turning old clothes into cleaning cloths or draught excluders.

Avoiding Clutter in the First Place

One of the easiest ways of dealing with decluttering is to keep the clutter to a minimum in the first place. 

This is an art in itself. But there are a few things you can try to reduce the amount of clothes that you accumulate over the years. 

  1. Keep a capsule or wellbeing wardrobe! This keeps you focused on maintaining a smaller wardrobe that all fits and works together. 
  2. Embrace preloved fashion. The world of second hand fashion isn't just about buying used clothes instead of new when you need them. It's recognising that preloved fashion is one big circle. You buy, you use, you donate. 
  3. Set yourself a challenge to buy nothing new for 30 days. See if you can take a month without being tempted!

More Decluttering Tips

Here are some more tips for decluttering your wardrobe.

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