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Unpacking Swedish Death Cleaning Dostadning

Over the years, there have been many decluttering movements designed to help us sort our stuff and clear out our overstuffed homes. The latest trend to sweep the UK is ‘Dostadning’.


Rooted in Sweden, Dostadning - or Swedish Death Cleaning as it’s also known - is the process of clearing our homes of unnecessary or unwanted belongings. It is predominantly aimed at those nearing later life, aiming to reduce the number of physical belongings we have to reduce the pressure on our loved ones once we pass away.

Over the course of our life, we accumulate decades’ worth of items. Our research found that we buy the most physical items between the age of 18 and 44. After 44, how we spend our disposable income shifts, with the focus moving towards experiences rather than things.

While we may stop adding to the items in our homes when we’re older, our data shows that the older we are, the less likely we are to declutter. 25% of over 55s said they disliked getting rid of their belongings, with a further 23% refusing to get rid of sentimental items. 

At the other end of the scale, millennials are much more likely to part with their items, with only 13% saying they didn’t like to do so.

It’s a similar pattern across the age groups; overall, just 14% of under 44s dislike clearing out old items on average, compared to 23% of over 44s.

While Dostadning is primarily aimed at the older generations, our research shows over 55s are the least likely to declutter. However, with younger people finding it easier to get rid of their items, it is potentially a trend we’ll see future generations adopt more readily.

Google Trends data shows searches around the topic are expected to reach peak interest in February 2020, as an increasing number of people research the movement and put it in practice

UK Search Interest in Swedish Death Cleaning, 2004-Present




UK Search Interest in Swedish Death Cleaning, 2004-Present


As a concept, Dostadning can be divisive. Some people praise the movement for helping ease the pressure on the family members left behind once a loved one passes away. Clearing a home can be a stressful undertaking, especially if you’re preparing the property for sale, adding unnecessary emotional turmoil at an already difficult time.

Likewise, the volume of things we accumulate throughout our lives can be staggering and items can often hold hidden personal value. Dostadning gives individuals the opportunity to select the items that mean the most to them, so they can be passed on and treasured. 

London-based decluttering practitioner Sal Walford helps people of all ages sort through their belongings and clear their clutter. She commented:

“The older generation struggle most of the time with their possessions, as they are part of a generation that had to keep hold of things and reuse. While to me this is a wonderful ethic, knowing what to keep and what not to is the key.

My parents downsized considerably and when they did, they gave me a vast amount of boxes of things they had collected for me over the years, ranging from school reports to a set of my own baby teeth!

It’s important to let go of things so that the family doesn’t have to sift through piles of stuff, or debate over whether an item meant the world to someone or not, at what is undoubtedly a difficult time. The new wave of death cleaning is a movement that hopefully, like decluttering, will catch on.”

Others think that it is odd to start clearing a home before an individual has died. Rather than focusing on what will happen after they’ve gone, they should concentrate on enjoying their life.

Regardless of where you stand on the Dostadning movement, the concept is arguably growing in popularity. For future generations, this could become the norm once they reach later life.

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