How to Declutter Your Home Before Moving

Full article 14 min read
Moving From An Apartment To A House

Do you want to be light when shifting from your old to the new house? Nearly all of us agree that moving is a welcome time to declutter’. It is an excellent time to look at the loads of things you have and inspire you to get organized before moving to your new place. You’ll have much less stuff to pack, transport, load, unload, and unpack when you declutter. It saves you a lot of work, energy, and money. Let’s go through some tips and tricks to help you declutter.

Declutter as early as possible

Begin the decluttering process as soon as you know about your move. Get on it!

Do not leave decluttering until the last days of packing and close to the moving date, as you might feel rushed and pressured to complete the job quickly. When decluttering, you need to make thoughtful decisions and scan everything one at a time. You must sort your things into different categories to simplify your thoughts and make wise choices. If rushed, the quality of your decision-making will deteriorate, resulting in disappointments later.

Another important reason to declutter is to beautify your house. A clean, uncluttered, well-decorated home will make a great showcase house for you to crack a deal.


Plan the decluttering process

Generally, people do not realize that decluttering can take a long time. Sorting, purging, recycling, giving food to family and friends, donating, and throwing. All this needs a keen eye and a calm mind, so it is better to do the process in spurts. Be prepared and aware that this is a tiring job too.

It is a great tip to have a decluttering plan. The plan will help you take out a certain number of hours each day, focusing on one place at a time. By chalking out a plan, you will be mentally and physically prepared with boxes in different shapes/sizes to accomplish the task in the designated time. A good plan should keep you motivated and cover all areas of your house. General rules when decluttering are:

  • It is time to part ways with broken or torn things.
  • You do not need to save items for the future unless they are heirlooms or valuable.
  • Give away things that you do not use to another home.
  • Get rid of expired consumables like toiletries, food, and medicine.
  • Donate books that you don’t intend to read again but have just saved.
  • Give away things you don’t even remember owning, which means they were never important to you.

Use up the consumables

  • Consumables in the kitchen: Food tins and packets can take up a lot of space and weight. Start using them, make recipes around the canned and fresh food available in your kitchen pantry.
  • Consumables in the bathroom: Do not buy new shampoos, soaps, body wash, lotions, etc. Use up all you have, share, and exchange toiletries to finish the products between the family.
  • Housekeeping consumables: The category of laundry detergents, softeners, cleaning supplies, etc., has the biggest and heaviest cans and boxes. You should be aware of the quantity of supplies and stop buying these products the minute you find out you are moving.
  • Miscellaneous: Many things might not fall directly into the consumables category but can be given away once used, like books, CD collections, older versions of gadgets, etc.

Load minimal or maybe no consumables in the moving truck. The liquid packets of shampoos and detergents, tins of food can blast or snap when packed tight, leaving all the other things soiled. So, buy less food and perishables, use up what you have.


Simple Techniques To Declutter Your Home

There are many well-defined processes to implement your declutter process. Here are some techniques:

Practical Approach

It is one of the most uncomplicated techniques. Go through all the house items methodically and keep asking yourself whether you need this thing or not. If you have used that item in the last year, then you can keep it else; let it go. If you haven’t used something in a year, you probably might never need it again.

One Item A Day

In this approach, you should discard, donate, sell or gift one item every day until you feel you have decluttered your house. It is an easy technique, especially for people who cannot easily part with their belongings. This technique requires a lot of time. You should implement it for a year before moving.

Clear Flat Surfaces

In our houses, most of the flat surfaces gather clutter. Places like kitchen countertops, tabletops, side tables are very prone to the accumulation of unnecessary things. Clean these spaces and keep them clear. Click pictures of before and after to motivate you.

The 12-12-12 Rule

It is a straightforward and ruthless technique. The rule is to find 12 items of 3 categories in your house:

  1. Donate
  2. Sell
  3. Throw/recycle

Using this technique will clear 36 objects in your house in one go.

Daily Plan

The plan is about making a daily schedule for decluttering. You need to assign a certain number of hours per day for a defined number of days until you go through everything and are ready to move.

Storage Units

You should rent storage units if you are shifting from a big house to a small one and don’t want to begin the decluttering process immediately. Also, if you have too many possessions, even after decluttering, which cannot be accommodated in your new home.


Declutter by category

There are many methods of decluttering. The ideal way is to declutter by category. Gather all the similar items from different parts of your house at the same pace and analyze. Because the bathroom of your bedroom might have two body washes and two big shampoo bottles stored in the cabinet, the kid’s bathroom might have extra body wash bottles and one big shampoo. The guest bathroom might have one body wash and another three small shampoo bottles. So, you have an inventory of six body washes, three big and three small shampoo bottles in your house.

The same is the case with books too. You might have stored or displayed books in different nooks, corners, and shelves of your house. You can stack them all together, take only the required books to your new home, and donate the rest. When you see a collection of all the items of the same category, it is easier to declutter, organize and make decisions.

Get rid of the weight

Keep an eye on when packing heavy items. Are all the bulky pieces of gadgets, furniture, or consumables important? Do they need to go with you to your new home? Avoid packing hefty boxes as they can’t be moved, loaded, or unloaded easily. Always pack heavy things in small boxes and light items with more volume in big boxes.

Create “holding zones.” Before decluttering, arrange big boxes or bins and label them into different categories to decide later.

Donation Pile

You should donate things that you don’t use anymore and are in good condition. There are several centers for donations where you can drop off these boxes. Many of them have a pickup service for your convenience.

Trash pile

Categorize your trash into either throw away or recycle category. Discard things in bad shape, falling apart state, torn, expired or non-functional. It’s great to be environmentally aware wherever required.

Sale pile

Decluttering is a good time to make some extra money. You can keep away a pile of things that you do not use or have never used and are in very good condition. Click some good pictures, upload them on thrifty apps and websites, or put price labels on your stuff and organize a garage sale in your backyard.

Pack and move pile

Some of your things may not fall into any of the above categories, and you may want to take them along to your new house. Sort these items and put them in the delegated boxes. These things also can be organized into two categories.

  1. Take them to the new home.
  2. Send them to a storage unit.

However, you will need a storage unit only if you move from a big house to a remarkably small one.

Be prepared for the last-minute mess and clutter in the house while packing boxes. You will always find some extra items coming out of the most unusual places. Keep room for such things until the packing is done completely. Do not tie up the bins/bags for sale, giveaways, donations, and throw-away stuff. Typically, the house gets quite messy during the decluttering process, which leads to a cleaner and neater place.

See Also: How to Save Space When Packing for a Move


Sentimental items and “someday needed” items

The most difficult items to declutter are the ones with sentimental value and “What if we need it someday.” Work on these items towards the end of your decluttering process.

Make two separate piles of the following:


Go through all the items one at a time and ask yourself if it still sparks joy within you. If the answer is a definite “Yes,” you should keep it, and if the answer is a “No,” let it go. Use the Marie Kondo method of making a sentimental box for each family member. Avoid making rushed or hasty decisions when decluttering items of sentimental value.

Things that you might need

We often keep holding onto things that are not sentimental to us but with the thought that they might be useful in the future. Shifting is the best time to tackle such things and check if you will use the item you are holding onto in the new house. If not, let it go!

The new home will have new needs

Do not consider the new house as phase 2 of the current house. The new home will differ in the floor plan, number of rooms, storage size, and pantry. When decluttering, keep in mind the new house and its needs. If you have an extra bedroom in the new home, the spare couch in the living area might be of no use and might be a good piece of furniture to fit in there. Or, if your kitchen is smaller than the current house, you have to pack, keeping that in mind, and let go of extra utensils and pantry items. The rule of thumb is never to carry a broken or very old unused piece of bulky furniture or electrical item which was of no use to you in the old home. Minimize the weight and save money, space, and energy.

Also Read: Things to Buy for a New House


Decluttering is immensely helpful when shifting houses as it helps you save money, space, and effort. It leaves you with a feeling of calm and peace. Decluttering should be a habit in our daily lives too. It’s a happy feeling to have a harmonized and clean home. An organized home leads to organized lives.



What are the main benefits of decluttering?

You’ll have much less stuff to pack, transport, load, unload, and unpack when you declutter. It saves you a lot of work, energy, and money. It helps to give you perception regarding the things you have and allows you to choose correctly to move clean and organized to your new place.

Why is it so hard to pack a cluttered house?

Packing a cluttered house can be very stressful. You will be utterly confused about how and what to pack with so many things around. You will be surprised by the innumerable things that you have. This will cause a lot of confusion and give an unsettled feeling.

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.