How to declutter before moving

If you have ever tried moving before or helped someone else do the same, you know how overwhelming it can be to have so much to pack. This is usually a time that you are forced to declutter, even if you have never thought of doing so before.

Apparently, decluttering could give one the time to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, many people find the process overwhelming. It does take a lot of time and energy to start going through your belongings one by one as you keep some and give away others. The good thing is that when you do this early enough, especially when you are about to move houses, you make the moving experience much more manageable.

So how does clearing clutter before moving work? The following tips will help you efficiently get everything in its place and finally get ready for moving. According to our friends at Shift (experts in moving), decluttering for a move doesn’t have to be an upheaval.

How to Declutter for a Move

Before you start the process of decluttering before a move, it’s important to put together a game plan. This should include the steps that you will take to identify items that you really need and those that you should get rid of. Then, it’s a matter of digging into everything step-by-step to declutter as much as possible before you start to pack for the big move. Here is our list of how to declutter your home when you’re moving.

Allocate Adequate Time

You have to be smart about how you do the entire decluttering thing. If you have a big house, you already know that getting everything out in one day is not being realistic. It would help if you had a bit of time to go through everything and consider their places. Many people end up rushing through their items at the last minute, which causes a lot of pressure and stress.

To avoid this, allocate enough time to declutter. This will depend on how much work you have in your hands and your schedule, but try as much as possible to start early. Many things could change in between your moving process, but when you have enough time to deal with disruptions, it will be like they never happened, or you will not give too much negative energy to the experience. The secret is to start early.

Spread Out the Work

Another advantage of having enough time to clean and deal with the clutter is that you could quickly spread out the work such that every day has a particular room you are dealing with. Feeling overwhelmed comes from a place where you see so much work to be done in a few minutes. When you allocate different activities for several days, you will spend about an hour or two each day clearing things out.

A closet being decluttered before moving

This is a much better approach, compared to ten hours dealing with the entire house. Also, spreading the workload gives you enough time to rest in between. You will even have the space to be more thoughtful as you turn covers and find things you had forgotten existed in your house. The entire experience will feel more therapeutic.

Clear Extras First

This is where you start wishing you had played the minimalist card earlier. So many people stuff many things to save for a rainy day. The discipline comes in handy often, especially during a crisis, but there are times the idea gets out of balance, and it becomes a security fill in. Sadly, when you have too much, and you are about to move, you start wondering where you will take the extras.

If they are foodstuffs, try to declutter them as soon as possible. You do not want to throw away food and have to repurchase it once you relocate. Clear your fridge and store, and if you can, share it with your neighbors. Better so after you declutter your kitchen, you could throw a clearing excess food party. You can always have fun with the whole decluttering idea.

Consider Expiration Dates

To build upon the previous tip, make sure you are not eating things that are way past their expiry date. Worse so, throw a party, and people end up falling sick. You do not want that responsibility on your hands, and neither do you want your moving plans to get interrupted by a running stomach.

Be patient and go through everything in the storage and make sure that everything that could expire has not yet reached its due date. If you find some that have, throw them away.

Create a Necessity Box

Onto the parking side now. Start by getting a necessity box. It could be one or more, depending on the things that you always need, especially during a move. These might include a box cutter, toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, nails and hammer. When you start to declutter, move items that you know you will need into this box and don’t think about them again.

When you get to your new house, it is not a guarantee that you will start unpacking as soon as possible. Sometimes you have to sit around with unpacked boxes for a while before you fully settle in. When this is happening, you will still need a few essentials to keep you going. Also, having a necessity box will save you the agony of digging into twenty boxes before you find what you urgently need.

Play the Three Boxes Card

Three boxes card is often a technique that helps you declutter efficiently while knowing where everything is going. Box number one is for the things that you get to keep. The second one is for items that are good enough to give away when you are getting rid of them and the final one, some things that you don’t need to keep in your new place and are in a condition too poor to consider sharing.

Use a System

The three boxes card is part of a system one could use to keep everything moving swiftly and in proper order. You can decide to use colors as part of the system as well. The three standard colors used for such a decluttering system are red, green and yellow. You could use a different set of colors or decide to label your things altogether, although this is a bit tiring. Red could stand for items you are disposing of, yellow for giving away and green for keeping in your new home.

The idea of allocating different times for different activities is also a form of system. If you are working with other people, come up with a way to make sure that everyone is accountable for what they choose to handle. Keep a record for this as well, to help you have a reference point once everything is done. Something like a checklist will be quite helpful.

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Ask the Right Questions

The one place that people often get stuck when decluttering before moving is deciding what gets to go and what needs to remain. Letting go is not easy, especially if you are the one who likes holding on to stuff or always attach your belongings with a particular emotional aspect. For this reason, you need to be as real as you possibly can so that you are not carrying over unnecessary clutter.

Instead of asking yourself if you need it, ask if you will honestly use it even if you decide to keep it. Clothes that you have not won for over a year, you will likely not put them on again. Such stuff needs to go. Also, ask yourself why you think you need to keep an item. Some people later realize that they are only attached to something because they believe they should keep having it and not necessarily that they need them.

A few other questions you may have when you’re moving:

How soon before moving should you start packing?

Generally, you should start to declutter in the 3-4 weeks before moving. Once you have decluttered most of what you don’t need, it’s good to start packing 2-3 weeks ahead of your move. Focus first on items that you won’t need before your move, then work your way down to the more frequently used items, finishing up packing a couple days before your move.

What should you move first when moving?

We recommend starting with large items that take up space, but aren’t used frequently. Furniture that is used infrequently, landscaping tools, sporting goods, off-season clothing, and anything “extra” can be transferred well ahead of your final move (if you have access to your new home). When you get to your final move, focus on furniture first, so you can move everything in around it. That way, you will at least be starting with a bed, dressers, or other furniture used for storage before you start moving in smaller items.

Should you still declutter if your new home is larger?

Yes. Even if you have more space in your new home, you should absolutely declutter before moving. Not only will your new space be more organized, you will move in knowing where everything is and living with the peace of mind that comes from a decluttered house.

Have Time to Deal with Paperwork

This is the most nagging aspect of moving. All the paper could feel like too much to handle, especially if you are one who is in a working at home office situation. To make dealing with this much more manageable, set aside a couple hours specifically to deal with all the paperwork. Make sure that you do this when your mind is clear and when you do not have to rush out right after. You want to be in your best state of mind when you are going through essential documents. If you have a personal assistant, this would be the best time to use their help. Label files as well if you have not been doing so. This will make sure that nothing is getting lost in a pile and that you will have an easy time looking for documents after the move.

Get Help

Speaking of personal assistants, if you could, look for all the help you need to deal with clutter. An extra hand will make everything more comfortable, and the process will also be much faster. Another person in your space when you are decluttering will help you decide what you should keep and what it’s time to let go of.

A person with a more clear mind compared to yours will be the best help in such situations. If you have family close by, you could turn the whole decluttering process into a bonding session, and celebrate the memories hidden behind certain closets.


Decluttering when you are preparing to move is an excellent opportunity to look through your home and decide which items matter and those that you have been holding on for too long for no good reason. The lighter you get in a moving season, the less stress you will have. Remember, the process is not as easy as you might think, so try as much as possible to get all the support you could find or hire removals man with a van. Transitions might be overwhelming, but also don’t forget to have fun.

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