Swedish Death Cleaning: It's Not as Grim as You Might Think

Okay, a little less grim. But a lot less grime.

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Dostadning, otherwise known as, “Swedish Death Cleaning,” is the latest, somewhat morbid, Swedish trend that’s sweeping the masses. Pun intended.

Spooky though it may sound, SDC is anything but. The idea is drawing attention thanks to Swedish writer, Margareta Magnusson’s upcoming book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. All you organizing freaks out there, keep reading. You’re going to eat this up.

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Empty room with minimalist fireplace with ethnic decor objects - 3D Rendering

Photo by: archideaphoto

archideaphoto

Simply stated, Swedish Death Cleaning encourages those in their early-to-mid 60s to begin the process of slowly and systematically decluttering their homes. The decluttering process should be maintained throughout the remaining years of ones’ life. The idea is that, by doing so, you can free your friends and family from the responsibility and/or burden of managing a lifetime of accrued material items (read: clutter) after you're gone. 

Ways to Organize

Ways to Organize

If you think this all still sounds a bit daunting, you’re not alone. Magnusson's tip? Start small. Get rid of the obviously unnecessary stuff — donate clothes that no longer fit, toss gadgets that no longer work or eliminate anything that no longer brings you joy. Take it one step at a time.

So what do you think? Would you give Swedish Death Cleaning a go, or no?

50 Things to Get Rid of Right Now

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Cardboard Food Boxes

Ditch the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that go with your cereal, snacks and dry goods. They're ugly, take up lots of space and don't keep your food fresh. Instead, opt for glass jars (like HGTV Magazine did here) or airtight food storage containers.

Photo By: Lincoln Barbour

Wire Hangers

Mommie Dearest said it best: No more wire hangers! Ditch those dry cleaner hangers for matching plastic or wooden versions.

Your Dish Sponge

When was the last time you replaced the sponge in your kitchen sink? If it's been more than a month, toss it. In between, sanitize it with a spin in the dishwasher.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Natalie Wright

Dirty Air Filters

It’s important to schedule a maintenance checkup for your HVAC system every spring and fall, but in the meantime, filters need to be checked once a month. When they’re dirty, change them; dirty filters shorten the lifespan of your system. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/slobo

Old Shoes

Get rid of any shoes that are broken beyond repair, worn out or missing a mate. Can't remember the last time you wore a still-good pair? Donate to a thrift store.

Clothing You've Never Worn

Donate or sell any items of clothing you've had for more than a year without wearing.

Too-Small Kids' Clothing

The same goes for clothing your children can no longer wear: Unless it's an heirloom, donate or sell to free up the space.

Old Toys

Donate toys your child has outgrown, then get ideas for upcycling hand-me-downs they can't bear to part with.

Old Halloween Costumes

If they've moved on from ninjas to superheroes, go ahead and donate that old costume.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Filled Coloring Books

Display your child's favorite works of art in a gallery wall or a photo album, then recycle the rest.

Photo By: Courtesy of Jamielyn Nye and HomeGoods

Socks Without a Mate

We all have that bag of socks without their, ahem, sole mate. If you've done a full round of laundry without finding their partner, it's time to let them go.

Expired Makeup

How long have those cosmetics been lurking in your makeup bag? Mascara should be replaced every three months. Foundation and concealer are good for about a year, while lipstick, eye shadow and blush should be replaced every two years.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Melissa Hruska

Makeup Samples

Give away anything you know you won't use. That perfume you didn't like would go great in a DIY spa gift for your loved one.

Expired or Unidentifiable Medication

Dispose of old prescriptions and anything you can't identify. 

Old Spices

Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

Photo By: Faith Durand ©Elana's Pantry

Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush once every three months for maximum brushing power.

Last Year's Holiday Cards

You've enjoyed them, now it's time to let them go. Record any addresses to your phone or computer before chucking them into the recycling bin.

Last Year's Gift Wrap

You probably refresh your wrapping paper supply while Christmas shopping, anyway, so go ahead and recycle the old stuff. If you can't bear to part with it, try keeping it organized in a rolling mesh laundry basket. You can also turn last year's leftovers into festive decor.

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Last Year's Calendar

Embrace the current year by recycling last year's calendar. The same goes for a dated datebook.

Unidentified Frozen Objects

Toss any unidentifiable objects in the refrigerator or freezer.

Photo By: Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Movies You Don't Love

If you'd only give a film one thumb up or you wouldn't watch it again, give it away or sell at a used electronics store. And those VHS tapes? If you don't have a player, let those go, too.

Photo By: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Expired Food

Throw away any canned goods past their expiration date. If you discover still-good packaged food you didn't like or won't eat, donate to a local food pantry.

Cookbooks You Never Use

Give unused to your foodie friends who will get more use out of them.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images

Take-Out Menus

You can typically find menus and numbers for all your go-tos online. Keep your favorites in one place by placing them in a plastic folder and adhering the folder to the inside of your kitchen cabinet — it also works well for recipes!

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Take-Out Condiments

How many ketchup packets to you really need?

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Unidentifiable Keys

Most recycling centers have mixed metal bins you can toss old keys in. Make sure to remove any rubber coverings before you recycle.

Old Formal Wear

If you know you'll never wear it after the event, sell it or donate it — there are several organizations that will take that old bridesmaid, prom dress or tux off your hands to give to someone in need.

Old Glasses

When you get your next pair of prescription frames, donate the old ones.

Business Cards

Congrats, you just got promoted! And now you've got 300 unused business cards with your old title. Go ahead and recycle them.

Broken Umbrellas

The frustration a flimsy, broken umbrella brings is worth the cost of replacing it.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Old Chargers and Cables

A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Remote Controls

Between digital video recorders, DVD players and cable boxes, most homeowners have more remote controls than they know what to do with. Get rid of extras you don't recognize anymore.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Mixtapes

CD collection getting dusty? Organize the ones you really want to keep and sell or give away the rest.

Photo By: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Old Paint

If it's more than a year old, throw it out. (You'll probably have moved on to the next color sensation by then, anyway.)

Photo By: malerapaso

Receipts

If you think you might return it or need to keep a reciept for a warranty, try scanning the receipts and keeping copies online instead of an old shoebox.

Books That Are Falling Apart

If your favorite read is falling apart, it may be time to buy a new copy.

Curtains From Your Old Place

You brought them thinking surely they'd fit a window in your new place — your new set of windows say otherwise. If you're handy with a sewing machine, old window treatments can be altered to fit your new space.

Your Old License Plate

Appliance Manuals

Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

Super-Specialized Appliances

If you've only used that fryer once since you bought it, give it away.

Soap Scraps

Unless you're really dedicated to melting down the slivers into one mega-soap, toss them out.

From: Genevieve Gorder

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Broken Picture Frames

An exception: If you love the frame but the glass is shattered, you can get a new piece cut to size at a local glass repair shop.

Bottles and Jars

Your kitchen cabinets were meant for better things. From DIY Network: 11 Ways to Upcycle Mason Jars and Wine Bottles

Photo By: Eric Perry ©2014, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Games With Missing Pieces

It's not nearly as fun if you don't have all the pieces.

Photo By: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/istockphoto.com

Old Maps

Let your GPS do all the hard work. Try mounting keepsake maps as wall art.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Stale Potpourri

Once the scent fades, potpourri quickly turns into a dust magnet.

Disposable Cameras

Everyone's still got a couple lying around. If you've still got some that you haven't used, turn it into a game — hand them out to family and friends then get the pictures developed to see what you get!

Old Craft Supplies

When you're crafty, supplies take up space and fast. Throw away any dried up glue sticks, old paint and paintbrushes and then reorganize the supplies you want to keep.

Instruments No One's Playing

Giving up on the flute lessons? Musical instruments can be donated and given a second life to someone who needs them.

©2010, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved/Image courtesy of HGTV Design Star

Plastic Storage Containers

If it's got a spaghetti stain that just won't come out, let it go.

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