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How to DeClutter

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

Why Should I Declutter Before I Move? Because owning too much “stuff” is not all it’s stacked up to be. Collecting items means that they must also be cleaned, managed and organized; otherwise, it can create a stressful environment that keeps “piling up.” Especially if you are getting ready to move and embark on the packing process — which can be hard enough — clutter can easily take over and leave you feeling burdened and stuck. The good news is that if you are planning a move, now is the perfect time to declutter. Although it can seem daunting to make decisions on what to take to your new home and what to purge, you’ll be glad you did when it comes time to unpack your boxes. And overall, there are so many benefits to owning fewer possessions; you simply can’t go wrong when it comes to decluttering. Below are just a few things you can look forward to once you’ve decluttered and begun the move process:

  • Save money – The scale of your move will likely be quite a bit less after you declutter, which saves you money in moving supplies, equipment, and time on the clock. You might even make money by selling some of those items!

  • Clean less – You’re going to want to enjoy your new place as soon as possible. Transporting fewer dusty knick-knacks and household goods means you can spend more time exploring your new neighborhood and home and less time cleaning those space-taking items.

  • Feel organized – When you start to declutter, you may run across things you thought you misplaced or lost. Having a better grasp of where your things are as you prepare to move your belongings into your new home will make all the difference in settling in.

  • Gain freedom – Whether you’re moving across town or to another state, clutter can tie you down, emotionally and physically. In addition to cutting down on the logistics of your move, you’re likely to find that letting go of items you thought you couldn’t give up is quite liberating.

  • Start new – Unpacking fewer items makes it much easier to decorate. You can start to visualize more functional furniture placement and see each room through a fresh lens.

1. Plan at least two weeks out Do not wait until the day before you move to decide what to pack and what you’re keeping. Give yourself time. Otherwise, you may be tempted to make extreme on-the-spot decisions: throw too much away because you don’t want to deal with packing it or throw it all in boxes because you can’t think it through at the moment. Carve out a few hours a day and set realistic goals on much clutter you want to get through each day.

Also, it’s always a good idea to get the measurements of your new place so you can determine what and where your current furniture will fit.

2. Set up four piles: Keep, Sell, Donate and Trash Make sure you have plenty of trash bags, bins or boxes on hand before you start digging into your clutter and creating piles. Also, you will want to have these piles clearly labeled or sectioned off. Be sure to take out the trash immediately after each decluttering “session.”

Keep: For this category, start with an item you may have intentions of fixing or altering in some way, and ask yourself a few questions:

“When is the last time I used this, and do I really want to pack it up, move it and unpack in my new home? How much will it cost me in time and money to repair the item? How often will I use it if I do repair it?”

Often times, we tend to over-estimate an item’s practical value, when in reality, that broken wall clock or light fixture is outdated and would not be worth the expense and hassle to repair it.

Sell: If you don’t have the time or resources to manage the advertising and selling process of your items, eliminate this pile altogether. Hosting a garage sale, selling items online and/or taking them to resale shops can be very time consuming — and too distracting for someone in the middle of a move.

However, if you do intend to sell some things through online marketplaces, make sure you have your camera on hand to take quality pictures of each item as you go.

If you are taking items to resale or consignment shops, make sure you know which stores you’ll be taking them to ahead of time. For instance, some resale shops only take clothes versus consignment stores that take a variety of furniture and household goods. Keep in mind too, many shops like these require appointments or limit how much you can bring on a single day.

In addition to your local resale and consignment stores, here’s a list that might be helpful when it comes to selling your items:

  • Clothing resale websites

  • Classified ads websites

  • Ecommerce websites

  • Social media marketplaces

  • Your local online marketplaces

Donate: This is the win-win pile. If you think someone else could get enjoyment or use from an item, and you haven’t used it in the last year, it’s time to pass it on. Just make sure it is still in good condition. Broken items or clothing that is stained, frayed or has holes should not be passed on.

Here are some excellent donation-worthy items: clothes, costumes, kitchenware/appliances, books, linens, toys and games, decor, sporting goods and furniture.

Trash: Items in this category reflect the leftovers from the above. Unrepairable items and/or things that are not worthy of reuse should go in the trash.

3. Go room by room Pick a room that you feel is the least cluttered in your house and enter it with your four piles in mind. Again, make sure you have in hand whatever you’re going to use to separate the stacks and a clear labeling system established.

Begin with the heaviest items in each room: sofas, tables, dressers, entertainment systems, beds, etc. If you can’t move furniture by yourself to your sell, donate or trash pile, use a sticky note to indicate where it will go at a later date.

As you’re deciding if you should keep each furniture piece, keep in mind the layout of your new space. Next, break the room down into sections: closets, cabinets, drawers, surface areas, floor areas, etc.

Kitchen – Dig into those cabinets and see what you have NOT been missing! Most kitchen gear tends to be under-utilized and is merely taking up space in the corners of your kitchen cabinets. And let’s be honest, when is the last time you used things like the asparagus peeler, snow cone maker or fondue pot?

  • Under-used china and kitchen gear

  • Mis-matched dishes

  • Chipped cups and mugs

  • Duplicate plasticware and serving ware

  • Small gadgets and appliances with missing parts

  • On-the-fritz large appliances

  • Expired food and drinks from the refrigerator and/or expired perishables from the pantry (spices, cooking oils, etc.)

Bedroom – This is the time and place to go through your wardrobe piece by piece and ask yourself: “Have I worn this in the last six months, or am I holding onto it for someday?” If your answer is someday, the item needs to go today. Keep only the things you love to wear and use.

  • Worn-out clothing, accessories and shoes

  • Never-worn clothing, accessories and shoes

  • Extra winter coats and off-season gear

  • Broken and/or outdated jewelry

  • Outgrown children’s clothing

  • Books and magazines

  • Mis-matched, outdated or worn-out linens

Bathroom – Although this may be one of your smaller rooms, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll purge from this space. Start with the medicine cabinet.

  • Expired medicines, vitamins, supplements and homeopathic remedies

  • Old lotions, soaps, bath products, perfumes, colognes and anti-aging/beauty products

  • Travel-size bath products (ones you’ve been collecting but will probably never use)

  • Unused or old makeup

  • Frayed or ripped washcloths, towels and bathmats

Main living/dining/family room – This is where you might find a good mix of smaller items you can purge along with some bigger ticket pieces. Again, imagine an updated, clean slate at your new place. This is a great time to pare down and ask yourself: “Do these items match my vision for my new style and décor, and will they even fit into my new space?” 

  • Worn-out or torn couches and upholstered furniture

  • Wobbly or damaged chairs

  • Outdated artwork

  • Broken or chipped picture frames

  • Duplicate, broken and/or outgrown toys

  • Under-used pianos and other musical instruments

  • Worn-out, stained or dated area rugs

  • Knick-knacks            

Garage/storage/attic/basement  – These rooms are where you get into the nitty-gritty of decluttering. If you’re having difficulty parting with sentimental items, ask yourself: “Do I really love this object, or am I more attached to the memory associated with it? If it’s a nostalgic connection to a person, place or experience that the object triggers, consider this: you will carry that memory with you wherever you go; the object is not the memory.

Also, consider taking a picture of the object so you have it preserved digitally. Letting go of sentimental items can be difficult, but if you look at it like emotional baggage, you may be less likely to pack it up and drag it with you to your new home.

  • Souvenirs/trophies/mementoes

  • Paint containers

  • Leftover construction material

  • Holiday decorations

  • Antiquated electronics

  • Pet cages

  • Tools and lawn equipment

  • Fitness, exercise and sports equipment

Moving to a new home is a busy and exciting time. So, before you start packing, take the time to declutter and take inventory of what is truly important to you. You’ll appreciate the lighter load!

For more information about moving supplies and packing, take a look at Moving Tips, our Moving Resources page.

Are you interested in A Star Mover packing for you? Learn more about our services and receive your free estimate by filing out our form here.

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