Skip to main content

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter
By Margareta Magnusson
Scribner, 2018
Source: Library
Audience: Adults

From Goodreads:
In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädningmeaning “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 expecting more of a "how-to" manual for decluttering from The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, like first start with clothes, then the closets, then the basement, etc. However, that is not what I got. Instead, this book was more about the importance of decluttering - how it helps everyone in the long run. The author, who is charming, does offer a few tips and ways to make good decisions about what to remove from the house. She also includes ways to avoid accumulating more things that you won't need, which I found helpful. Overall, the book was interesting and I'm especially glad that I read it before I cleaned out my closet because it definitely helped me to decide about the "maybe" items - just get rid of them!