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declutter like your life depends on it!

we’re talking about “Swedish death cleaning,” but it’s not as scary as it sounds. here’s how it works

The latest cleaning trend is here, and while it might not have the most attractive name, we’re big fans of the idea. Based on the book by Margareta Magnusson entitled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter,” the concept is pretty simple: Get rid of your junk now, so your family doesn’t have to do it after you die. But if you remove the morose connotation, it really just means that life can be so much better without all that mess. After all, less clutter means more happiness, right? Here are 4 places to start.

the mystery space

We all have one of these, and we all avoid it as much as humanly possible. Whether it’s your attic, basement, garage, or that spot waaaaay back in your closet, it’s time to go in. Our advice? Pull everything out and separate it all into four piles: keep and use, keep and store, donate, trash. If you want to keep and use it, do NOT stash it back where you found it. Bring it front and center for better utilization, or create a new spot so you can enjoy it on a daily basis. If the item is something beloved and meaningful that you want to keep safe forever, make sure you store it in an airtight container so it doesn’t get musky, dusty, or damaged – no cardboard boxes! If you have the space, you may want to consider a shelving unit for better organization. That way, you don’t end up with boxes stacked on top of each other.

the bedroom closet

Ideally, you should give your bedroom closet a proper cleanout a couple times a year. Not only will you rediscover extra space, but it’s smart to vacuum and wipe down all those hard-to-get-to spots. Start by removing everything and discarding anything you no longer want. Haven’t worn those jeans since who knows when? Try them on and make a decision. For those items that you want to keep but will never wear again, give them a new spot – maybe it’s in that mystery space you just cleaned out! If bags, shoes, and odds and ends have piled up on the floor, consider a shoe rack or over-the-door storage. Replace any broken hangers with fresh ones and, after thoroughly cleaning the space, place a container or two of odor-neutralizing beads in back corners to refresh the area and absorb any humidity or mildew.

the kitchen cabinets and drawers

It might be obvious to clean out the places where you store food, but what about where you keep dishes, glassware, pots, pans, and kitchen wares? You know what to do: pull everything out and place them all on a large surface like your dining room table or countertop. Consider donating or discarding any items that are cracked, chipped, or damaged, and set aside the things you no longer use. Consider finding them a new home, be it on a storage shelf or a second-hand shop. Organize all those food containers and make sure each one has a matching lid, get rid of any misfits, and plan to replace them if necessary.

desks and workspaces

It’s a little hard to get started, but once you dig into those desk drawers, the chore will be over before you know it. The items inside are small, and likely just need a bit of discarding and organization. Say goodbye to those old batteries, broken crayons, and bent paperclips, and shred any mail or paperwork you no longer need. Keep what you do, but store them in a filing system. Drawer organizers and/or drawer dividers are a must for keeping all your random necessities (pens, scissors, chargers, etc.) in place, while a desktop organizer is great for the items you use every day.