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10 Things to Declutter Every Time You Move

Moving can be an exciting, pivotal time in your life. Maybe you just purchased your dream home for your family, or your grown kids have left the nest and you are ready to downsize, or you want to downsize your space in order to live a simpler lifestyle. However, relocating can also be an overwhelming process. Read on for some helpful tips that can take the stress out of moving to ensure a smooth transition into your new space.

Preparation is key

Start by getting things organized early on to avoid the stress of last-minute packing or the possibility of running out of boxes and other moving supplies. One of the best ways to save additional packing and unpacking time is to declutter before you move. This is the ideal time to donate or toss items you have been meaning to get rid of. If you are storing stuff for friends or family, arrange for them to pick their stuff up before you move, if possible (especially if downsizing).

This is also the perfect opportunity to minimize your belongings and only keep items that truly matter to you. Sometimes, out of habit or comfort, we unknowingly hold on to things that are no longer useful or meaningful to us. Consequently, all this stuff tends to unnecessarily move with us from space to space. If this scenario sounds familiar, ask yourself: ‘What purpose are these items serving me being stored away in a box somewhere?’ While we all have items that don’t get used as frequently as others, like holiday décor, if you tend to stow away these types of items, they should be sorted through to see what can be tossed or donated.

One helpful way to aid in the decision-making process of what stays and what goes is to go through your items and try to visualize where they will be placed in your new home. If you can’t picture where something will go, or you don’t have the space for it, then it probably should not accompany you. The exception includes items that are valuable or sentimental, like family heirlooms. In regard to decision-making, these items require more time to think through and process. These decisions should never be rushed, as there is often a deep emotional connection to these items.

Now let’s dive into my helpful list of 10 things you should declutter every time you move!

1. Closets - clothing/shoes/accessories.
Edit out items that no longer fit, are out of style, or you don’t feel confident in. Pieces that haven’t been worn within the last year should also go. Items that are stained or an improper fit should only be kept if you plan on having them professionally cleaned or tailored.

2. Kitchen items. Toss expired food from your fridge, freezer, and pantry. If you have multiples of identical opened items, like spices or teas, seal and combine them into one container to save space. This is also a great time to decide about larger appliances that may not get used often, like food processors, mixers, waffles makers. Weed out any dishes, pots and pans, Tupperware you have an excessive amount of.

3. Toys. Work alongside your children to decide what will be brought to the new home and what can be donated. If there will be less space where you are moving, have your children pick out only their favorite toys to bring to your new home.

4. Cosmetics and toiletries. Discard expired items. Try to use up any products that are almost empty before you move (if you take them with you, cover them up tightly to prevent leakage). Go through your bottles of nail polish and toss the ones that have dried or cracked.

5. Multiples of miscellaneous items. Unless you are a professional chef, nobody needs 10 whisks! Keep one or two items of multiples you have (minus things used consistently, like dishes, linens, etc.). Many items end up getting repurchased if they cannot be found when needed or you forget you had them in the first place! This is another great reason to consistently keep a tidy, organized home. If similar items are always kept together and easily located, you save money by not having to buy them repeatedly.

6. ‘Just in case’ items. Aka, things you rarely use, but are saving for ‘just in case’ you may need them down the road. These items aren’t worth holding onto (unless they are expensive or hard to find) as they will take up extra space in your new home and can be repurchased.

7. Hobby supplies/projects. Think of unfinished projects that have been sitting around and decide: ‘If I haven’t completed these projects by now, do I plan to in the near future?’ Come up with a completion timeline for these projects and get rid of the rest. Consult with friends or check local ads to see if there are any organizations, seniors’ homes seeking extra supplies like yarn, fabric, beads, reno materials, etc. Maybe someone would love to finish a project you started or reuse the materials for their own project. Leave anything you feel could be useful to the new tenants or homeowners, like paint samples, extra flooring, baseboards and safely dispose of old chemicals, varnishes at your local hazardous waste drop-off location.

8. Furniture/lamps. Sell or donate large items that will not fit in your new home. This will save the hassle of transporting them and the stress of storing them. If you have dimming switches or pot lights in your new space, bringing additional lamps may not be necessary.

9. Electronics/cords. Does your new home have the space to set up all of your current electronic devices? If not, consider getting rid of unusable items prior to moving. As for the infamous miscellaneous cord collection (which a good portion of the population owns!), go through them and match them up with their devices. If you don’t have the matching components, there is no point in keeping them. Do some quick research online, and you will discover some companies recycle these items.

10. Paperwork and books. Start shredding! Paperwork takes up a lot of space. If you have the time to shred or recycle irrelevant paperwork before you move, then you won’t have to worry about packing and unpacking it at your new space. And sort through your book collection. Keep your must-haves, but consider donating books you have read numerous times or don’t reference anymore. Little community libraries are great places to leave your books for others to enjoy!

Additional tips:

  • To ensure no items get left behind, check all spaces that are hard to see or reach, like high, deep shelving in kitchens and closets.

  • Clearly label boxes containing fragile items. Set them aside together in a separate area, if possible, so they can be easily identified and handled with care.

  • Hiring professional movers/packers is worth the investment. They will assist in taking the stress out of the moving process, and will get items packed/moved quickly, yet safely, so you can start enjoying your new space sooner.

Now relax and enjoy your new space - welcome home!

Lisa is a Trained Professional Organizer. Check out her personal blog on Instagram, Light at The End of The Clutter. She also works with Daughter On Demand, assisting elderly clients and clients experiencing health and mobility issues with organizing, downsizing, and everyday tasks. For more information, visit

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