Swedish Death Cleaning

Many of us have closets that are full to bursting.  They’re so tightly wedged that you get serious anaerobic exercise shoving heavy rows of clothing to one side or the other, desperately trying to clear a space to hang something, because you know if you don’t clear that space and try to wrestle free a hanger, it’s likely to come springing out of the crush and inflict bodily injury.

If this sounds like your closet, it may be time for a Swedish Death Cleaning.

That’s the grim name for the latest personal decluttering trend that’s sweeping Scandinavia.  The underlying, admittedly morbid “death” concept comes in because the goal is to try to make sure that your estate is as easy for your survivors to administer as possible.  Why make them tackle that jam-packed closet when you could just do it yourself now, and save them the trouble later?

Some of the tips involved in Swedish Death Cleaning seem pretty sound to me.  The author suggests starting by discarding or giving away bulkier items, like coats, to immediately clear space, giving you the feeling that you are already making progress and incentivizing you to continue.  Other tips are to adopt a “uniform” — i.e., accept and embrace what you typically wear, rather holding on to things that you might someday wear for a once-in-a-blue-moon event — donate the impulse purchases that you don’t wear anymore, rather than keeping them because throwing them out makes you feel guilty that you made a dumb decision in the first place, and get rid of things that have no “worth” for you.

It’s all good advice, but the trick is always with the execution.  What to do, for example, with those jeans I wore when I was 25 pounds lighter and hope, someday, to comfortably wear again?

And when you’re done with your closets, it’s time to give the Death Clean treatment to those drawers that are so full that you have to depress the clothes with your hand to push the drawers closed.

Deep Cleaning

Today Kish and I decided to tackle some deep cleaning projects:  the drawers in our dressers, and the drawers in our upstairs bathrooms.

IMG_3908The dresser drawers were bursting.  It’s easy to just shove stuff into a drawer, thinking you’ll get to it soon.  Of course, that doesn’t happen.  You end up, as we did, with dresser drawers jammed with stuff from days gone by, old birthday cards, crumpled receipts for God knows what, stray glasses cases, old laminated cards that show you how to dial into phone messaging systems that haven’t existed since the Bush Administration, and chargers for cell phones that have gone the way of the dodo.

The bathroom drawers are even worse.  Tubes of medication that expired in 2005.  Single shoelaces with no partners.  Empty Band-aid wrappers.  Combs with broken teeth.  Cotton balls embedded with hair.  Oh, yes . . . and safety pins.  Lots of safety pins.

Most of the stuff went into the garbage bag with a toss.  The safety pins — all of which came from our dry cleaner at some point– I decided to recycle.  Dozens of safety pins, joined together and jangling, to be put into the dry cleaning bag.

It’s a beautiful day outside, but sometimes cleaning up inside is a beautiful thing, too.  With our chores done and our drawers clean as a whistle, we can go out and enjoy the lovely weather with a deep sense of satisfaction.