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How to Declutter Your Home Before Moving

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
28th March 2017

Now, listen up all you hoarders, packing up your home for a house move is serious business, it is a heap of work and you’re not going to want to shift a load of useless junk to your new home. That’s a massive waste of effort and energy… the energy you are going to need to get you through the rest of the work involved in house removals.

If you will soon be moving then now is the time to declutter your home. Whether the move is in six months or if it’s two weeks away, the time to begin your clear out is always like, yesterday. It is often a surprise to people when they truly contemplate just how much ‘stuff’ they have accumulated in the time they have lived in their home. Some families move out of a home they have had for over twenty years so they naturally have a mountain of stuff, but it’s amazing how one person living in a small apartment can have so much junk that their home is bursting at the seams. Decluttering will help to reduce your removal company costs too.

This article will cover the following points

Why you should declutter before moving house How to Declutter your Home Room by Room Guide Moving Forward

Why you should declutter before moving house

Decluttering is pretty therapeutic, clear home, clear mind, that’s what we say. If you are surrounded by disarray then you are allowing yourself to live in chaos. More mess…. more stress. When you declutter before moving house, you are starting as you mean to go on, freeing yourself of junk and unwanted items and moving on in every possible sense.

If you are using a removal company then a good old fashioned spring clean and a clear out will save you money too. The quotes you get from removal companies can be dependent on the size of your home and the volume of your belongings. If you can toss the broken chair, the Midsomer Murders DVDs and the ‘emergency plates’ then you are doing yourself and the movers a favour. Lightening the load so to speak. Don’t forget, if you declutter after you’ve been given your price then let the removal company know as they may adjust the quote.

How to Declutter your Home

1. Start Early

There is no reason to put off the declutter job because it’s likely that you are unknowingly adding to the pile and creating more work for yourself. The best advice we can offer is to start making that conscious effort to bin items you don’t need nice and early, as soon as you know you will be moving… even earlier than that… You could start tossing things just when you’ve started thinking about moving home. The bigger the head start, the less it will feel like an endless task. You can start by placing some boxes around your house labelled ‘donate’ and ‘toss’ (and one for storage if you will be using storage facilities). As you are going about your usual day, rummaging through the wardrobe for something to wear or laying the table, you can grab a few items that no longer fit or the plates you don’t use and add them to the donate box.

Another simple way to start is to allocate 15 minutes to decluttering every time you carry out any of your usual, daily chores. You will gradually start chipping away at the overall task.

2. A little bit at a time

Contemplating the mammoth task of sifting through and organising years of clutter can overwhelm you to the point of hyperventilation. Relax… breath. Let’s refer to the age-old ‘elephant rule’... How do you eat an elephant? ... The answer is one bite at a time… warning… side-track… Where on earth does that expression come from? We don’t eat elephants so why do we need to consider how we would do so? Stupid expression… But the point stands. Anything that seems too big or impossible a task needs to be broken down. This goes for a spring cleaning or decluttering project. Don’t expect to just thrash your way through the task… a little bit at a time is all you need to do.

3. One Year Rule

Decluttering before a house move is not for the faint-hearted and it’s no time to pussyfoot around. If you are someone who gets attached to things then you need to have a word with yourself. It is time to be brutal and approach the declutter task with a cut-throat attitude – If you don’t need it and you don’t use it, then it goes. We find that the ‘One Year Rule’ is a good’un. If you haven’t used it in a year then you don’t need it, you haven’t missed it and you won’t. Why bother lugging it to your new home so it can take up space and not be used?

4. Question Time

When you are sorting through your bits and pieces, you will undoubtedly come across things that you just can’t decide if you should keep. Don’t worry – We have a tip for you... Adopt the ‘three question’ rule. Look at the item…. The sound-activated, dancing sunflower or the Charles and Diana Royal Wedding Plate and ask yourself these three questions:

- Does it work?

- When did you use it last?

- Do you love it?

You need to be honest because when you convince yourself that you need an empty hamster cage, an old paddling pool and the birthday card that the neighbour gave you three birthdays ago, you are only lying to yourself. Toss it!

5. Clutter Points

A great way to minimise clutter in the run up to the move is to actually allow a reasonable level of clutter in the rooms you frequent. We suggest ‘organised clutter’. Yep, this is an actual thing. We all have miscellaneous items that we need and often these are the things that we throw down on our kitchen counters, coffee tables or bedside cabinets. You can make these clutter points in your home, designated clutter hubs if you like. Place a small tray or a bowl in these spots so you can put remote controls or keys, receipts, wallets and loose change into them. If you keep these spaces open for clutter, you will be more aware of what is accumulating there and you can limit the junk whereas when you allow clutter to build all over the house, you lose track of just how much you are holding onto.

6. Use an ‘Inbox’ System

Set a day aside, perhaps a weekend and use this time to do an inbox. This is one of our favourite decluttering tips. Let us explain… The ‘inbox’ method involves getting a big box and what you are going to do is a quick ‘sweep’ of your entire house – grabbing items that are not put away, are just lying around or are stuffed into cupboards or drawers because they don’t really have a place. Things that are dumped on the kitchen counters, on the kid’s bedroom floors, down the side of the sofa and so on and so on. You will end up with all sorts of odds and ends in this box. The idea is that all these items are now in your ‘inbox’ and it’s time for you to sort through them deciding what’s junk. Anything in your inbox that you need can be placed into a ‘keep’ box. Anything you don’t want or need either goes into the trash or into the ‘donate’ box. Charity shops are always happy to receive your unwanted items or, if you think you can make a buck or two yourself then you can bung it all on eBay.

Room by Room Guide

So, we have discussed the one bite at a time approach – And we have established that starting early and being cut throat with your junk is absolutely necessary but let’s now get into the finer details – a room by room guide to decluttering the heck out of your place before the movers show up.

Clearing the Attic and Garage

People tend to assume that these are the hardest rooms to declutter. This is true to an extent. They usually have more clutter than anywhere else because unused spaces often become dumping grounds. Hoarding is rife among those with spare rooms, garages and lofts. People feel like having that extra space means they don’t have to be mindful of clutter, it’s out of sight out of mind right? WRONG! Eventually, you will move out so you will need to get through your piles of junk. OK – so it’s a big job but here’s why you can consider the task a simple and straightforward one. If these things have been sat in the garage for weeks, months, even years on end, then the odds are, you don’t need them. Hire a skip and load her up!..... It really can be that easy. Don’t be deterred when you pull out the roller skates you had 10 years ago and distract yourself with sentimental ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’, you ain't gonna use them… there is a spider’s nest inside one of them and they will do nothing but collect dust in the new garage until you move again. Incidentally on the topic of spiders... Clearing out a garage or loft can bring emotional turmoil and hysteria for the arachnophobes among us so be sure to prepare yourself to whack, smack, scream or burn the place down if necessary. Alternatively, recruit the help of someone who isn’t afraid of the little beasties.

Declutter the Bedroom

Let’s start with the wardrobe. Wardrobes are like breeding grounds for clutter! We are all guilty of only wearing 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time... So, ask yourself if you really need all those clothes. A good way to decide is to do the reverse hanger trick. This is a case of putting clothes that you have worn back into your wardrobe with that hanger facing the other way – This will show you in a few weeks/months what you are wearing and what you are not. Anything that hasn’t been turned around when you come to declutter can go – you haven’t used it, you haven’t missed it... You don’t need it.

You can also use the aforementioned ‘inbox trick’ for the bedroom. Go through every drawer, empty everything into the inbox and then sort through it.

Tidy the Living Room

Areas of your living room can be buried under documents and old mail you no longer need. Perhaps you have a cabinet, a bureau or a drawer jam-packed with envelopes, junk mail, take away menus and leaflets. This is easy – Get rid of it! Have a quick look through so you can separate any important documents from all the rubbish and fluff and then throw all that you don’t need into the recycling bin.

Lots of people keep their DVD/Blu-Ray collection in the living room. In the era of Netflix, Spotify and the like, do you really need them anymore? If you have started the declutter nice and early then you can employ a similar hack to the hanger trick and put any DVDs, CDs etc. you use back into the rack or shelf backwards. This way, when the time comes to pack up you can see what you have used and what is just collecting dust. Donate them.

Decluttering the Bathroom

OK, this is day 1, week 1 stuff people... If you have a shedload of nearly empty bottles – throw them in the bin. How long are they going to sit there all sad and dented with hardened product near the spout? You’re not going to use them, no one is – Bin! Now, look around… how many flannels or loofah’s do you have?... OK, and how many do you need? Hmmmmm? You know what to do.

Towels are a big culprit too – you are bound to be hanging on the mismatched collection you’ve acquired over the years. We bet your towel collection goes something like this… A few matching towels that are the same colour as your bathroom décor… OK, all good, nothing wrong with that... Next, we predict 2 or 3 garish beach towels of various colours and patterns? Are we close? OK, you might also have a couple of ‘off-white’ hotel towels… You rebel you….. A couple more you just might be holding onto… The towel that’s been stained with bleach or hair colour, fake tan perhaps… and you think to yourself… I’ll keep that in case I ever need an old towel for anything! Then there’s the teeny towel that’s no use to man nor beast? You know the one… it’s too big to be a face cloth but too small to actually be used as a towel. Why do they even make these? Honestly! Take a step back and look at all these towels… which do you need? The matching ones? Sure?... The beach towels? One or two maybe… But the hotel towels, the bleach rag and the tiny towel? C’mon.

Organise the Kitchen

The kitchen is the worse place in the home for storing things that don’t belong. You’d be amazed how many people keep their paperwork in the breadbin or store batteries and tape measures in the cutlery drawer. Any little bits and pieces that you can’t be bothered to put away usually get dumped on the kitchen counter or into the kitchen junk drawer. That stops right now my friend. You know what we are going to say… It’s time for the inbox again. Throw everything in and let’s get started.

The other big contributing factor when it comes to kitchen clutter is the parade of extra, spare, old crockery, pans and cutlery. You only really need one set of plates… 2 at most… if you are a bit of an entertainer and you tend to throw lavish soirees or dinner parties then you might have a regular set and a fancy set…. far be it for us to tell you otherwise. You know what you need and what you don’t but now is the time to be brutal. Seriously… how many cheese graters or apple peelers do you need and how about the tens of Easter Egg mugs filling your cupboard space. Get shot of them.

Moving Forward

The very fact that you had the task of decluttering on your hands goes to show that you dropped the ball somewhere during your time in your old home. We all do it. If we stayed on top of things and had a strict ‘no junk’ policy in our homes then we wouldn’t be in this pickle now. So, let’s start as we mean to go on. Moving home is a great way to turn over a new leaf. Why not vow to live a ‘clutter free’ life?... If only it was that easy eh?

Feng Shui

A really great way to turn decluttering into a way of life in your new home is to follow the ancient principles of Feng Shui. It’s not for everyone but it could be for you. Not only is it a method of keeping your home calm and junk free but there is a certain element of therapy and even spirituality to it which can be good for your mind. That may sound like nonsense to you and that’s fine …. Just keep your place tidy, jeez.

Storage Hacks

If you want to avoid re-cluttering (so to speak) in your new home then you ought to be savvy with your storage. You are going to need to unpack when you move in so make sure you allocate a ‘place’ for everything. In doing so, anything that is out of place will be noticeable and can either be given a place or thrown out. Take pride in how organised and junk free your home is and refrain from purchasing unnecessary or unwanted items. Do this and, believe us, next moving day will be a breeze.

That’s everything you need to know – So…. Decluttering Stations…. Go Go Go!

Last updated on Monday 13th November 2017