Death Cleaning 101 - Me In Order

Death cleaning is the latest talk in the world of expert organizers. Sounds appropriate for Spooky-Halloween-Time…right?

To be honest, I’m not too crazy about the name; but the actual concept of death cleaning is a good one that we, as adults can incorporate into our everyday lives.

What is Death Cleaning?

Death cleaning is a concept that was developed in Swedish culture. The term describes decluttering before you die, so that your family will not be left with all your…ahem…junk. By taking responsibility for our items and decluttering overtime, we can avoid leaving our mess with our friends and families when we pass.

Can You Give Me an Example of Death Cleaning?

I connect with Death Cleaning, simply because I just went through something similar. My grandfather was moving out of his old apartment into a nursing home and he had acquired tons and tons of items throughout his 85 years. My mother, aunts, cousins, and other family members and I spent days cleaning out everything from old high school t-shirts to rusted furniture, and even cigarette butts that were practically embedded into the carpet.

The process was trying, and it took time. My grandfather protested every time we attempted to throw out something as simple as an old stitched pillow and argued that each and every one of his items had sentimental value. That’s great, Granddad…but how can everything in your apartment be of real, true value…?

Death cleaning helps eliminate the items that collect dust; the items that have sat in a corner untouched for years; the items that you, frankly, forgot they even existed. By tossing out these old items, we experience a sense of relief and a lightness to what we carry around and refer to as “value.”

Sounds Overwhelming…How Do You Do It?

Now, I know some people might be reading this article and think they have to start today. If you want to tackle your entire house right here, right now, then go ahead; but death cleaning is a concept that is meant to happen over time.

If we start now by slowly cleaning out unused items, and if we stop collecting junk that we know we don’t need, then we have already started the death cleaning process. The process can be overwhelming, and yes, it will take time; but here are some tips you can use to help:

  1. Keep a book or document of passwords/important information for your family. This will be extremely helpful if and when something happens to you; with all your important documents in one central location, you will already relieve a load of headaches from your family and friends.
  1. Donate. There are people out there that would love more than anything to have what you have; so keep that in mind when decluttering. Clothing is needed everywhere and so are books. Put together you’re own “donation box” and start filling it with items you think someone else could use more than you can.

  1. Limit yourself to only a couple boxes of “important” items. Tell yourself that you will only fill up a couple boxes of your most prized possessions; and every time you see your box getting full, go through it and throw out what you truly don’t need and what has started collecting dust. This will limit your most-needed items to a minimum.

It’s as simple as this: don’t collect things that you don’t need. At the end of the day, it will be someone’s burden. By limiting what you truly care about and what really matters to you, you may not be able to live as a minimalist, but you as a person will feel lighter; mentally and physically from lack of clutter-overload.



Order University Content Creator

Natalie enjoys pugs and Pinot Grigio.

1 Comment

  1. PKS

    Good article. I had never heard of Death cleaning before. However, on reading it, I realized that I have actually already begun to think about this issue in my own life. I have begun to resist acquiring more “stuff” and to think about paring down items not really needed. Thanks for the article. Enjoyed it.

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