Anyone for Swedish Death Cleaning?

swedish death cleaning book


That’s one morbid book title up there don’t you think? Actually, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a lot more uplifting than it sounds. It’s one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time.

Previously the attitude amongst clutter clearing books such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has been all about identifying those possessions that have most meaning for you. Does it Spark Joy? If not then chuck it out.

In contrast, Swedish death cleaning is all about seeing your belongings in the context of ‘Will the next generation give a toss about this when I’m gone?’ And if the answer is no, out it goes. It’s all about taking a positive attitude to the stuff that is no longer serving us as we move through life, and choosing to surround yourself with the stuff that supports you now. It’s not so much about being minimalist, as about being mindful of what we leave behind for those who come after us.

Author Margareta Magnusson (“aged between 80 and 100”) is your pleasingly nuts guide. The book is peppered with sorts of pleasantly bonkers asides, like the time she went to a party wearing a wok as a hat, or that time she went skiing in a bikini. As you do. I really like this woman – we need more role models like her.

The only negative thing I would say is that I do think that the £12.99 I paid is quite steep for a book just over 100 pages.  I realise that there is a certain irony in wanting more of a book that is about having less, so perhaps I should measure it by depth of wisdom instead.

Also the bit where she gets her dog put down is kind of harsh. That’s some extreme clutter clearing alright. Dennis the Cat was looking at me a bit nervously during that bit. He’ll be OK though, he might be malevolent but he has a lot of fans.

What do you think of the Swedish death cleaning attitude to clutter clearing? Leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think

Product details

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson is out now in hardback, published by Canongate. RRP £12.99, currently reduced to £9 on Amazon.


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  • Corinne C

    That’s a bit of a morbid idea for cleaning, but I can see how it would work.

    Corinne x

    • It is, I agree with you, but I guess it needs to be slightly shocking to make people stop and think

  • I have to say that this is a perfect way of looking at the clutter I have and seeing if my children would want it, or if it would go straight in the bin! I think I need to read this first, then put it into practice!! xx

    • Yes it’s a good outlook because it takes you away from simply focusing on what is meaningful to you, plus what sort of work you’ll be leaving behind for your kids.

  • Very unusual look at cleaning, but I do agree with decluttering. I don’t hold on to many old possessions myself.

    • That’s the best way to do it so it doesn’t accumulate in the first place

  • This sounds like a really interesting book, I will have to give it a try as I really need to declutter! #triedtested

    • Don’t we all Jenni! I think it’s worse after Christmas, all that stuff just seems to breed

  • Kate Fever

    I really like the idea behind this, and it definitely makes sense to me! Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

    • No problem Kate, I’ve enjoyed reading and commenting on lots of the posts. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Nital Shah

    This sounds like an interesting book I and I like the idea of extreme clutter clearing! I have got rid of so much over the years and majorly in the last 3 years, I don’t think there much left. I still want to be more minimalist and mindful though. I do have some things which I keep just in case as like yourself I expect we can’t all afford to keep buying new things when we need them.

    • Well done Nital, I aspire to get rid of more stuff, but it’s slow going. So many bits and pieces get gathered up over the years when you have a family at home.