How to Declutter Your Home Before A Move

Whether you're building a smaller footprint or adding much-needed space, it's probably safe to say you have some clutter that needs to be addressed before you can move. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, more than half of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have. So, if you feel like the piles of files and of closets of clutter are out of control, know that you're not alone. (And keep reading!)


A Fresh Start


This same study shows that 61% of Americans believe moving is the best opportunity to declutter their home. That means you can consider this move and this moment as a gift. Use this time to let go of the things that aren't serving you, simplify your life, and get a proper fresh start.


And, on ultra-practical terms, decluttering means you won't waste time packing useless things. You'll use fewer moving boxes, take up less space on the truck, and require less time unpacking on the other side.

All About Timing


Ideally, you'd start the decluttering process as soon as you know you'll be moving. It's a lot less stressful to be able to take your time in each room. You'll also be able to make better decisions about your things. Otherwise, you could end up throwing everything in a box to take to your new house simply because you ran out of time.


At the very least, start a few weeks before the move and methodically work your way through the house. We'll talk details in a moment. For now, here's a list of supplies you might find helpful.


Suggested Supplies

  • Timer or Stopwatch
  • Heavy Duty Trash Bags
  • Moving Boxes
  • Packing Paper & Tape
  • Labels & Markers
  • Empty Bins/Bags for Donations
  • Paper Shredder (optional)

Step by Step


When you break things down into smaller tasks, it's easier to stay motivated and keep from feeling overwhelmed. With that in mind, here are four steps to help you clear the clutter and move into your new home feeling lighter and more organized.

Start with small spaces or rooms before you take on huge projects like the garage or attic. You'll eventually need to clear these areas, but it's good to get a few easy and early "wins" under your belt. So, choose a reasonably small clutter hotspot in your home and move along to Step 2.

Decide how long you're going to give yourself to declutter the space. Smaller areas should take 30 min or less. When you're ready, set the timer and get to work.


Pick up one thing at a time and use the "one-touch" rule, meaning you only touch it once. Immediately sort the item into three piles: trash, keep, and take action. (Take action consists of items you plan to sell or donate. If you're sorting paper, these are things you need to handle in some way, like paying a bill or shredding.)


Start with the easy stuff you know you're going to keep or get rid of before deciding on the more sentimental items. As you sort, put everything into labeled containers or bags.


🌟 Pro tip: Considering this process precedes a move, have moving boxes on hand. Put as many "keepers" as you can directly into a box. That way, you're starting to pack as you sort. Use packing paper, tape, and labels as needed during this step.

Once everything is sorted, here's a checklist to divvy up your piles. If you can't do everything in one day, give yourself a hard deadline for each task:


  • Take out the trash.
  • Make plans for your donation items.
  • Take pictures of anything you plan to sell and post them online.
  • Handle any paperwork (shred if needed).
  • Store your moving boxes in the garage or somewhere out of the way.


🌟 Pro tip: If your "keep" pile is significantly larger than your donation/sell pile, it might be time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Here are five helpful questions to ask:


  1. Why am I keeping this?
  2. When was the last time I used it?
  3. Do I already have something similar?
  4. Can I buy another one later if I find that I truly need one?
  5. Would someone else benefit from this more than me?


It might also help to make a list of local charities, family members, neighbors, or others you know in your community who could use some of your excess stuff. When you think of people in your life that could put something to good use that is simply taking up space in your current home, it can be easier to let go.

Now that you've mastered smaller spaces keep going! Go through each room, closet by closet, using the method of touching once, sorting, and taking action with each pile. Keep in mind your goal is to lighten your load, so be discerning as you go along.


Even after you've decluttered every room, feel free to keep making piles as you pack. You may change your mind about certain things or find items along the way that you decide you don't want to take with you after all.


We hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for the exciting adventure of moving. For more moving and packing advice, follow our Pinterest account. If you're still in the market for that perfect new spot to call home, we'd love to help you build a life you'll love.

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