Decluttering your home before you move house is a crucial step in making the transition to your new home smoother and more manageable. Not only does it help you get a fresh start in your new space, but it also helps to reduce the number of belongings you need to pack, move, and unpack. Decluttering your home before you move can also be an opportunity to simplify your life and create a more organized living space, which can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall well-being.
Spending a few hours decluttering now will make the moving process less stressful and more efficient. By getting rid of items you no longer need or use, you can also save on packing materials and the cost of moving.
If you are moving without the help of a moving company, you'll literally lighten your load. If you plan to hire movers, decluttering will help you save money as you will have fewer items to move. Those are just some of the benefits of decluttering before you move into a new home.
Here are some tips for decluttering quickly and efficiently.
The most effective way to declutter your home is to set aside some proper time and prepare with a strategy. While you can declutter on a whim, it's easy to get distracted and end up off task or fail to not be in the right mindset which can make the task of letting go of your possessions more difficult. Here's how to get prepared for decluttering your home:
Set a date a month prior to your move
Decluttering your home should be tackled at least a month before you move. Don't try and declutter while you're packing up your home. You'll just create more work for yourself, or worse, give up halfway through and end up carting your unwanted belongings to your new home. Give yourself enough time to plan, sort, sell and donate your belongings. Dedicate at least one weekend to decluttering your home and another weekend to the selling and donating stages. Spreading out the load will make the task feel less daunting, especially if you have a lot of items to get rid of.
Get the right boxes or packaging ready
Spend some time gathering several different boxes or packaging ready to house your unwanted items. You'll need a few different items so that you can more easily separate your items. Don't just dump all your unwanted belongings into a pile. Instead, as you declutter sort it into bags that can be donated to a charity or a friend. For example:
- Put unwanted clothing into plastic bin bags so that you can easily drop them into a clothing bin.
- Stack your unwanted books into small boxes so that the boxes don't get too heavy
- Store medium-sized items in a plastic box so that you can easily carry them to your car.
Get yourself ready emotionally
A lot of times, we keep items because of their sentimental value and this can make parting with your stuff a real challenge. Before you begin decluttering, set some rules for yourself. Anything you haven’t used for a year should probably go. If you have trouble letting go of sentimental items consider donating them to a family member or friend that may get a similar value out of them. Or, if you own several items that are sentimental, keep one or two and donate the rest. Other options include taking photos of the item or considering new ways you can display the item you don't want to part with.
How to perfect the art of decluttering
This is a checklist you can follow to declutter your home one room at a time.
- Expired foods. We tend to keep some expired food items unknowingly. Spices and condiments do have a shelf life and should be thrown away after they reach their expiration date. The easiest way to know if your spices have expired is to smell them. Expired spices won't have a scent.
- Kitchen tools and utensils. Gather all your kitchen tools and utensils and start sorting them according to their type. You’ll be surprised as to how many of each you own. Keep the ones you use the most and donate the others to a local charity.
- Pots and other cookware. Pots, cookware and cooking gadgets like waffle makers, sandwich press machines and other niche machines take up a lot of bench and cupboard space. Consider how often you really use these items and donate or gift the cookware you don't use.
- Tumblers and water bottles. Most people are guilty of owning several water bottles. While it's a good idea to have one water bottle for each member of your household, it's likely you also have water bottles that are damaged, leak or that no one reaches for. Select the ones your family uses and donate the rest.
- Old cookbooks. It's easy to amass cookbooks that you never use. Take the books you don't use to your local second-hand bookstore. You may be able to get a price for them. If you struggle to donate cookbooks because there are one or two recipes you use, digitize the recipes by scanning them and keeping them on your phone or Google Drive.
- Books. Books are heavy to move and can take up a lot of boxes. Go through your library and hold onto the books you enjoy re-reading or lending out to friends. If you didn't like a book there's not much point in holding onto it.
- Old media (DVDs, CDs, VHS Tapes and Cassettes). Accessing forms of entertainment such as movies and music is easier with the use of online streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. Declutter old media items, especially if you don't play them in their original format anymore.
- DVD and VHS players. If you don't play your old media items on these stereos or players get rid of them. If they are in good working order you can sell them on trading platforms like Facebook Marketplace or TradeMe.
- Magazines. Donate your old magazines and consider subscribing to them digitally.
- Toys. Kids outgrow a lot of their stuff pretty fast so it's likely you may have a lot of toys that your kids no longer play with. Now is the best time to get rid of them by donating them to local charities. Get your kids to help you.
- Hangers. Hangars can be donated to thrift stores. You can also ask friends or neighbours if they would like some of your extra hangers.
- Clothes and footwear. Fashion moves quickly and while it's good to take a slower approach to buy clothes, most people have items that don't fit, are out of style, are stained or are too big or too small in their wardrobes. Take your quality clothing to consignment stores or donate them to a local charity. Only throw away items of clothing if they are stained or have broken zippers or fastenings.
- Fancy pieces of jewellery and accessories. Like fashion, most people have more jewellery than they actually wear. These items can also be donated or sold to consignment stores.
- Expired medicines. Expired medicine poses a health risk to children or pets in your household. Throw these away and place the bin bag in the wheelie bin to ensure no one gets into them.
- Old cosmetics and beauty supplies. Using old cosmetics can harm your skin. Throw away any makeup that is past its expiration date or has separated or broken. Old beauty supplies can easily accumulate bacteria and you don’t want that near your skin.
- Linens, old towels and blankets. While it's useful to have a few old towels on hand for cleaning up spills, most people have a linen closet full of old blankets and towels that will never get used. Donate these to animal shelters.
- Sewing supplies and other craft items. Got a craft cupboard bulging with items you never use? Go through all your supplies and throw out the items that are expired, dried out, or missing caps or lids. Throw these away and donate the good items you don't use to a school or local charities.
- Old documents. Almost everything now can be digitized. Other than birth certificates, passports and other essential documents, digitize, shred and throw away old documents you don't need.
- Old and unused electronics. Given how fast-evolving technology is, it’s easy to have a collection of old unusable printers, phones, or even computers lurking in a home office or garage. The eldest tech can be recycled at an electronic recycling centre.
Your home garage is usually the biggest offender when it comes to collecting unwanted junk. Go through your garage with a bin bag and boxes for placing donatable items. Remember that plenty of items that you don't want can be donated to recycling centres. Look out for:
- Broken furniture
- Construction materials
- Party supplies
- Gardening supplies
- Appliances that are no longer working
- Car parts you no longer need
- Outdoor decor you don't use
- Chemicals like paint, kerosine or gasoline
Donate, sell or drop off
Now that you've separated the items you want to keep from those that you are going to get rid of it's time to donate, sell or drop off your belongings. Selling your items will take the longest amount of time. If you don't have long, consider holding a garage sale and donating any items that don't sell at the end. You'll need at least two weeks to sell some items on TradeMe or Facebook Marketplace. Selling items is a great way to raise extra cash for moving expenses.
Next, organise your items into piles for donation. Hopefully, the bulk of this is already done and you can just grab the bags or boxes you've packed up and take them on runs to local charities or second-hand stores. For items that can no longer be donated or sold, make sure to properly dispose of them. You can call your community recycling centre to help you get rid of them properly.
Now, take a little break and give yourself a pat on the back. Packing your items for your big move is now a lot easier!