4 Tips I Learned from Peacock’s “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”

published Apr 27, 2023
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Still from the Peacock TV show: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

Just like Mario Kondo’s Netflix hits, Peacock’s latest home reality series is based on a book of the same name: “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” by Margareta Magnusson. The book was originally published in Sweden in 2017 and has since garnered worldwide success, teaching the public how to declutter and organize their lives to make passing on easier for those who will remain on Earth.

“Visit [your] storage areas and start pulling out what’s there,” Magnusson writes in the best-selling book, noting that Swedish death cleaning should begin once you hit middle age. “Who do you think will take care of all that when you are no longer here?”

Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

“Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly,” she continues. “It is a delight to go through things and remember their worth.”

As someone who lives with a grandparent, it’s only natural for the end of life to come into conversation, as difficult as it may be. There are things you want to treasure and keep forever as a heartfelt reminder of your loved ones, and there are other things that aren’t as meaningful but you can’t bear to lose. There’s a fine line between the two, but that’s where Swedish death cleaning comes in.

I gave the show a watch, and it has truly opened my eyes on how to streamline this process. Swedish death cleaning is something we should all be taking into consideration to simplify this inevitable chapter in our lives, which will make it easier for our loved ones to celebrate our personalities through curated keepsakes.

If you’re even the tiniest bit curious, I recommend that you check out the show yourself. Here’s a look at just some of the things I learned from the fascinating look into Swedish death cleaning.

1. Make use of the RÖd Prick system.

To help you get things In order, Swedish death cleaner Ella advises her client Suzi (as seen in episode one) to use the Röd Prick system, also known as the red dot system.

“You have red and you have green stickers, and you decide what item you should save or get rid of,” Ella says.

After deciding what items can stay or go — there are also some yellow stickers thrown in for undecided items — Ella takes everything to an empty space so they can properly be organized into categories, rethinking whether an item really should stay green or turn red.

Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

2. Display your belongings with pride.

You’re going to be cutting down on quite a lot of items, so the ones that you do keep shouldn’t be hidden away. Suzi is bogged down by so much clutter that her grandmother’s hand-knitted throw, complete with a bright and beautiful floral design, is obstructed by lots of other items all over the couch. Of course, keeping something sentimental is a must, so you should be showing it off instead of letting it get buried.

3. Consider donating your unwanted items.

Once you start being more ruthless with your belongings, you may start to think that certain things are only worthy of the trash. Sure, that might be the case for items that are broken beyond repair or falling apart, but trinkets, toys, craft supplies, and old clothes are best sent to your local non-profits and reuse stores. Not only will you be freeing up your space, but you’ll also be donating to extremely worthy causes.

Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

4. Know that Swedish death cleaning is all about looking ahead.

At the core of Swedish death cleaning is heart and connection. One of the three death cleaners in the show, Katarina, is a psychologist who teaches clients about letting go of the past and looking ahead to the future with a brand-new space. Throughout the Swedish death cleaning process, you need to truly think about your connection with the belongings, and if they serve a purpose in your current and future life, rather than holding you back. You should also think ahead to future generations, and if your great-great-grandchildren would treasure certain items just as much as you did.