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The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

May 02, 20235 min read

You may have heard of your things sparking joy from Marie Kondo or creating book rainbows with The Home Edit. There is a new way to think about minimizing your belongings. It’s Swedish Death Cleaning!


Airing on Peacock in April, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” is inspired by the 2017 book by Margareta Magnusson. It is produced by Amy Poehler and Scout Productions (best known for creating “Queer Eye”).

Why are we talking about this?!

The Organizing-Etc. team was lucky enough to be part of the show! Taping of the first season of the show was here in our great Kansas City. The Swedish team, organizer/therapist/designer, helped individuals at a crossroads in their life to declutter their homes of items they no longer use or enjoy. As amazing as the hosts and coaches were, the projects were large enough to warrant some additional expertise. We were happy to help to make the spaces show ready!


The Swedish art of döstädning, or death cleaning, is a method of organizing and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden of your loved ones. But it doesn’t have to be just at this time in your life! Practicing the Swedish Death Cleaning method during any life change or shift creates a tidy, organized home. It helps you to decide what items are really important to you and maybe some that you are willing to part with.


In her book, Magnussen challenges readers to consider the loved ones who will have to sort through all of your belongings after you have passed. She provides suggestions for making their experience as painless as possible. “Sometimes you just realize that you can hardly close your drawers or barely shut your closet door,” says Magnussen. “When that happens, it is definitely time to do something, even if you are only in your thirties. You could call that kind of cleaning döstädning, too, even if you may be many, many years away from dying.”

Here are the basics of this method:

  • First, sort through all of your clothing.

  • Then, declutter items that occupy the most space.

  • Finally, clean out your digital files.

Clothing First

Closets are one of the most popular things that we organize, and it makes sense. You spend your whole life wearing clothes, and need somewhere to store them. However, with so many items coming in and out of drawers and hanging space, it is easy for these areas to get disorganized.


Usually, you can look at an item of clothing and tell if it fits or not. You can also usually tell if you have worn it recently, or still like the style. Look through each item of clothing and create a donation pile for all the things that don’t make the cut.


Then, create a system. Main sections (and easily accessible areas) of your closet should be for items you wear all the time. Seasonal items should be put towards the back, or up high in bins.

Decluttering by Size

Looking around your home, start to eliminate things that you don’t use or want that take up a lot of space. From there, you can start to work towards smaller items and memorabilia. We like to create a box of items that you might not be ready to let go of to go through at a later date. This makes it easier to start the decluttering process. Then, once you have seen the benefits of organization and decluttering, you can revisit those more difficult items.


Look at each item you own and ask yourself when the last time you used it was. If you aren’t sure, or it was over a year ago, the item should go. Again, you can always make a labeled bin of items you aren’t sure about and make an appointment with yourself for six months later to go through it. If you still haven’t used the items, let them go. If you have, then you know you should probably keep it.

Digital World

When we die, our loved ones don’t just go through our furniture, they have to sort our finances and all of our digital belongings. Make sure you have all of your login information for them (like bank accounts and other important information). This could also mean going through your phone, iPad, and desktop and getting rid of anything that is taking up space there.

An Ongoing Process

Instead of thinking of organization and decluttering as getting rid of things, consider that rather than having random objects around your home, you have things that are meaningful to you. You don’t always have to donate or trash things, either! Decluttering is a great opportunity to give items to your friends and family that perhaps they have more of a use for than you do. Some items you don’t use might also be worth some extra money! Consider selling items like furniture, workout equipment etc. on Facebook Marketplace and enjoy a little extra cash in your pocket.


Our lives change and our needs change. You won’t always need baby clothes you needed when your kids were small. You won’t need project tools once you are done with a project. Going through your stuff periodically keeps the items you currently need close, and frees up the space around you for the future.


The first season of ”The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” will air sometime this Spring on Peacock. Be sure to watch for it!

The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning
Karen has been a professional organizer in Kansas City since 2015. With her experience in sales & marketing, complemented by a lifelong side gig as a fitness instructor, she discovered that maintaining organization is her method of cultivating tranquility in her life and thoughts. Her frequent family relocations were managed with ease thanks to her organizational prowess, a talent she now imparts to her clients.

Karen's enthusiasm is rooted in devising systems, overseeing projects, and utilizing her meticulous attention to detail to craft spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical. As her enterprise flourishes, so does her team—comprising only the most professional, efficient, and discreet organizers. She's selective, ensuring her team exemplifies their high standard of service. For her, organization transcends the mere purchase of attractive storage solutions; it's about equipping individuals with the means to alter their habits and revolutionize their lives.

Karen Swart

Karen has been a professional organizer in Kansas City since 2015. With her experience in sales & marketing, complemented by a lifelong side gig as a fitness instructor, she discovered that maintaining organization is her method of cultivating tranquility in her life and thoughts. Her frequent family relocations were managed with ease thanks to her organizational prowess, a talent she now imparts to her clients. Karen's enthusiasm is rooted in devising systems, overseeing projects, and utilizing her meticulous attention to detail to craft spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical. As her enterprise flourishes, so does her team—comprising only the most professional, efficient, and discreet organizers. She's selective, ensuring her team exemplifies their high standard of service. For her, organization transcends the mere purchase of attractive storage solutions; it's about equipping individuals with the means to alter their habits and revolutionize their lives.

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Organizing-Etc. - Professional Home Organizers - Serving Johnson County and Greater Kansas City

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“I cannot recommend Karen Swart and her team enough! We were in the Kansas City area for a full summer, filming “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” and Karen and her team were our behind the scenes death-cleaner helpers! They helped our Death Cleaners move quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly through people’s homes - and they did it with heart. Thank you, Karen! Stay Gentle!”

— J.J. DUNCAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF “THE GENTLE ART OF SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING”