Decluttering Before Moving: the Perfect Time to Minimize


Decluttering before moving is time well spent. Imagine settling into your new home with only the things you love. By getting rid of things before you pack your boxes, you’ll save yourself time and frustration on the other end of your move. It turns out, moving is the perfect time to minimize.

Benefits of Decluttering Before a Move

Sure, you could buy enough boxes to store all your stuff. Then pay to drag it across town or to another state. Then unload it. But, you might get to your beautiful new home and ask yourself why you even packed a lot of these things in the first place.

Moving is the perfect excuse to downsize and minimize what you have, curating a collection of treasures that bring value and joy to your family. Can you imagine how it would feel to walk into your new closet and love every single item?! Or, spend time in a toy room filled with only the most loved and played with toys?!

Starting to declutter well before your move will allow you to sell things that are worth money and donate items to charities you care about. It also frees up space in your house, allowing it to show better while it’s on the market.

Where to Start

While it would be amazing to declutter an entire house in a weekend, that seems highly unlikely if you’ve accumulated a lot of things over the years… Or, if you have kids…

Instead of trying to tackle it all at once, here are seven slow-and-steady steps to help you tackle your project over a few weeks.

Step One: Containers

Get your containers ready: trash, recycle, donate, sell.

Step Two: Find Your Motivation

Whether you like the peacefulness of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up show on Netflix or you prefer the motivation of The Minimalists’ podcast, turn on some background noise while you get started. You may also want to grab your favorite caffeinated beverage or plan to treat yourself to a bubble bath at the end of a successful day.

Step Three: Declutter by Category

Before you get started with the actual decluttering, things are going to get a little chaotic. Start by moving items in the same category to one space.

When we started this process, I was surprised to find we had arts and crafts supplies in my daughter’s room, the loft, the kitchen, the living room, and the dining room. Take alllll those things and condense them in one space.

While you’re condensing, you can make quick initial decisions. For example, you don’t need to save broken crayons or dried out PlayDoh until step five. Now, put all the similar items in one space. For example, all of our art supplies went to the loft.

Step Four: Schedule Your Spaces

Make a list of the different rooms and closets in your house and then assign a decluttering day to each of them. Depending on your personality and timeline, you may want to tackle multiple spaces in one day. However, taking it slow and steady will accomplish the same result as long as you stick to your timeline.

Step Five: Declutter Your Rooms

Now that you have all of the same type of item in the rooms in which they belong, you’re ready to start decluttering before moving. Go through every single item and decide if it’s worth moving. Taking items out of the drawers and closets makes it easier to determine if you actually like or use them.

Step Six: Schedule Donations

Plan donation center drop offs for the small stuff and schedule large item donation pickups. Your personality will play into this one. My husband likes to donate all the bags at the end of a decluttering day. I, on the other hand, would prefer to keep the donation bags for a week or two to make sure there’s nothing anyone misses. Either way works, just pick what’s best for your family.

Step Seven: Revisit Your Progress

At the end of the process, you’ll have gotten better at this and may want to revisit each area to give it a quick review.

Questions to Ask If You Get Stuck

Parenting + Decluttering + Moving = a lot of brain space.

If you get stuck, here are a few questions that may help you make a decision about whether or not to keep something as you’re decluttering before moving.

  • Does it work?
  • Is it worn out?
  • Have you used it in the last year?
  • Would you re-purchase it if it broke in the move?
  • Would anyone notice if it didn’t come off the moving truck?
  • Are you keeping it out of guilt?
  • Do you like it?
  • Is it bringing value to your life?
  • Is it relevant in your current stage of life?
  • Could you replace it for a reasonable amount of money if you end up needing it later?
  • Is it worth the time, money, and supplies to pack and move it?

Warning: Kids Will Surprise You

Watch out! Kids can be great helpers, and including them in the decluttering process can help shape their attitudes about “stuff” long after the move. But be aware that watching extreme amounts of decluttering and packing may make them nervous about too much change, too fast. This is another reason to work at a slow and steady pace.

Make sure you include your kids in decluttering other parts of the house, so they understand the process isn’t just about their old toys and clothes. Personally, I prefer to start in common areas so my daughter can watch my husband and I making decisions about our own things before it’s her turn.

One Last Tip

While you’re in the process of decluttering before moving, save money by using up your consumables. Eat the food in your pantry and freezer. Use up shampoo, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies. Stop buying new things!

Happy moving!