Tidying up for a move: what to get rid of and where to start (2023)

One of the best ways to ensure a stress-free move is to declutter your home. Tidying up is also a great way to honor the memories you made in your old home before beginning a new chapter. Even if you don't think your home is very cluttered, chances are you have at least a handful of things lying around that you could do without. The closer you look, the more you find.

There's no shame in realizing that your home has become a repository for broken, surplus, and expired stuff—it happens to everyone. You think you know how much stuff you have until it's time to move it all to a new home. Suddenly you are surrounded by objects you didn't know you had or have never seen before. It's like your belongings are multiplying when you're not looking!

The best time to get rid of all that excess is when you are preparing to move. Getting rid of items you don't want or need will save you valuable time, money, and effort. Tidying up before you move means you don't waste timePackagingThings you no longer want or need. You'll use fewer boxes, take up less space on the moving truck, and require fewer movers to help move everything to your new home.

If you're not sure what to part with, follow our room-by-room checklists below. At the end of the checklists, we also give you a few tips for getting started with tidying up.

Tidying up for a move: room-by-room checklist

The following checklists are organized by room to help you approach the decluttering challenge in a systematic way. The time it takes to declutter each room will vary by household, but as a general rule of thumb, we recommend devoting about a week per room.


In the kitchen, you'll want to get rid of anything that's broken, mismatched, extra, or just never used. This contains:

  • expired food
  • sauce packets
  • Small devices
  • kitchen appliances and utensils
  • cookware
  • Plastic containers and lids
  • water bottles and coffee mugs
  • Old cookbooks

Expired groceries

We all tend to store expired food without realizing it. The most common culprits are things we don't use very often, like condiments and sauces. (We're looking at you, ketchup.) Anything that's expired may not be safe or healthy to consume, so it's important to get rid of it before you move. Search your pantry, refrigerator, and closets. Get rid of anything past its expiration date.

sauce packets

Is it just us, or do sauce packets appear out of nowhere? Gather up and discard all those old packages. They're probably expired anyway!

Small devices

Older devices that are still functional should be thoroughly cleaned and donated. But anything that no longer works or has corroded or exposed wiring should be discarded for safety reasons. And by kicked out we meandisposed of responsibly.You can even considerRecycling old kitchen appliancessuch as microwaves, blenders and toasters.


kitchen appliances and utensils

Kitchen tools and utensils are common items that you have collected over the years. To declutter these items, consider usingMary KondosApproach: Gather all your kitchen essentials in one place and organize them by type or category. This way you can see how many of each tool you have. You'll be surprised how many silicone spatulas, tongs, bottle openers (etc.) you've amassed. Really, how many measuring cups does a household need? Keep your favorites and donate the rest.


Baking sheets and pans often make up the bulk of excess cookware. Other items you can seek out and donate are lids, which don't have pots to match, and the pizza stone, which you'll likely never use.

Plastic containers and lids

Lonely lids are also a problem with plastic containers. Try to match all of your containers with the appropriate lid and you'll likely find some that don't have a partner anymore. Donate the containers that are in good condition and consider recycling the rest. Check the bottom of your plastic containers for the recycling symbol and contact your local recycling facility or waste disposal department if you have any questions. If your containers are Tupperware® branded, they may be covered under one of the reputable brandsWarranty program.

water bottles and coffee mugs

Whether it's due to changing fashions, new product designs, or a simple fascination with liquid containers, many of us have a growing collection of water bottles and coffee mugs. Keep the ones you use the most and donate or discard the rest.

Old cookbooks

Some people have a stash of cookbooks, others have piles of recipes ripped out of magazines. (And then there are those of us who have both!) However you currently store your recipes, your collection could probably use some thinning. A great way to declutter your recipes is to scan them and save them digitally. Of course, if you have old cookbooks or recipe cards, we strongly recommend that you keep them.

Living room & family room

Living rooms and family rooms are shared spaces that collect items from everyone in your household. Often these spaces are one and the same, so we group them together in this checklist. Look around these rooms and look for items that are old/obsolete, broken, or that you simply no longer need. Tidying up your living room and family room before a move not only makes your move easier, but also brings a sense of calm to these active spaces in the weeks leading up to the move.

  • Books
  • DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes and cassettes (legacy media)
  • DVD and VHS players
  • Game consoles, equipment and additional controllers
  • children's toys
  • magazines
  • animal toys and bedding


We're not suggesting that you should throw away or give away all your books. However, with e-reader technology, there are more efficient ways to store and access books. Books are heavy items to transport and require several smaller boxes, resulting in more waste. Instead of moving an entire home library, consider finding electronic versions of books you read frequently and donating the printed copies. Donate anything you don't read or never will read to a library or local school. (Let's face it, we all have books on our shelves that are more sophisticated than practical!) If you have special books that have sentimental value, be sure to put them in the "Keep" pile.

DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes and cassettes (old media)

It is common to collect many entertainment items such as movies and CDs over the years. Are there any that you are willing to part with? With the advent of streaming services like Netflix, Pandora, and Spotify, there is no longer a need to keep large physical collections of music and movies. These are some of the easiest items to declutter before a move. Donate your old media to a library or thrift store. If you have collector's editions, it might be worth publishing themEbay.

DVD and VHS players

Since you're already cleaning out your old media, you don't need those old media players! You also don't need all the included cords and cables. Clean up these items before you move and you'll thank us. Serious.

(Video) Deep Cleaning/Decluttering My Room for the First Time in TWO YEARS!

Game consoles, equipment and additional controllers

If you have kids (or are just a kid at heart), chances are you have a stash of video games to retire from your collection. Just like with old media players, this means you can also get rid of all the extra cables and extra components that come with your old gaming systems.

children's toys

Children accumulate many things. They also go through phases and grow out of things quickly. Anything your children outgrow can be donated to help another family. Help your children understand how donating their toys can help other children find joy. Also, let them realize that they're making room for new items so they don't focus on missing out on what they're giving up.


If you have one or more magazine subscriptions, you probably have a collection of old magazines that you no longer need. Consider converting your subscription to a digital subscription (most publications now offer this) and recycle your old issues. If you'd rather find creative ways to use them, check out this article byNC State University.

pet toys and bedding

Is Fluffy's favorite toy falling apart? Has the scratching post seen better days? Pets are tough on their belongings. Instead of taking all those old toys and bedding with you when you move, tidy it up until you only have a few items for each pet. You can (and probably should) buy new items to replace the old ones.


Bedrooms are some of the best places to do a thorough clean before you move. Closets and dressers are becoming storage locations that are often inaccessible due to the sheer volume of items they contain. It's a good habit to go through our clothes, shoes and accessories at least once a year to weed out anything we no longer want or need.

  • hanger
  • clothes and shoes
  • jewelry and accessories


Who doesn't have more hangers than they know how to handle? Extra hangers make for great donations to friends, family, or thrift stores.

clothes and shoes

Everything that no longer fits, that you haven't worn in over a year or that you simply don't like or want anymore should be donated. find oneTextile recycling collection point near you. Do you feel smart?Repurpose your old clothes! Would you like to make some money with new clothes or shoes? Take them to a consignment store.

jewelry and accessories

Jewelry and accessories go out of style quickly, so there's plenty of room for decluttering. Keep your special pieces of jewelry, but consider making someone else's day by donating the pieces you no longer wear. Jewelery and little-used handbags and belts can also be brought to a consignment store.


Like kitchens, bathrooms tend to accumulate items with a shelf life. This should make it easier to declutter your bathroom before moving. When it's expired or past its prime, get rid of it.

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  • Expired medicine
  • toiletries
  • Old cosmetic and beauty items
  • Beauty tools (makeup brushes, combs, hair dryers, straighteners, etc.)

Expired medicine

Your medicine cabinet, vanity drawers, and under-sink storage are likely filled with expired asprin, ointments, and prescription drugs. You definitely don't want to keep these items in your house, let alone bring them into your new home. be sure toget rid of expired medicationresponsibly - don't just flush it down the drain or throw it in a bin. ThatDrug Enforcement Agencycontains helpful information on the correct disposal of medicines.


Toiletries may not have an expiration date, but there are definitely things you don't want to pack and move. Almost empty containers with lotion, liquid soap and toothpaste can go. However, extra (unused) toothbrushes and floss should probably be saved for future use.

Old cosmetic and beauty items

I, Kosmetik uBeauty items have a shelf life! Bacteria will begin to grow on most items, especially when exposed to heat and moisture. Keep these items off your skin and be sure to declutter (dispose of) them before you move.


Most households only need one (or maybe two) hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons. More than that is likely surplus that can be donated. Combs and brushes can also accumulate over the years, so consider decluttering those items before you move. Makeup brushes should be kept clean, and if they're past their prime or just too dirty to sanitize thoroughly, then consider getting rid of them.

linen closets

Is there anything more reassuring than a tidy linen closet? Tidying up your closets before you move is a great way to inject a little serenity into your everyday life. Bedding that you don't want to get rid of can be used to wrap fragile items for more efficient packaging.

  • Linens (towels, blankets, sheets, quilts and duvets)
  • Craft and sewing accessories


Old bedding makes a great donation to animal shelters. They also make great cleaning rags and paint drop cloths! (This will come in handy if you plan to do thisstage your houseand need to repaint walls.) Look for ways to declutter your linen closet by repurposing or donating your old linens before you move.

Craft and sewing accessories

Unless you plan on having your own craft room in your new house (or crafting is your hobby), chances are you'll never use all the crafting and sewing supplies you've been hiding. Instead of just throwing these items away, consider donating them to a local school, camp, or nonprofit organization.


The garage -- also known as a storage room -- has a reputation for being cluttered with all the stuff you probably should get rid of but keep for some reason. Be extra critical when decluttering your garage before moving, and be aware of how much space you will have in your new home.

  • tools and hardware
  • Building materials (plywood, insulation, etc.)
  • garden supplies
  • camping equipment
  • Parts of devices that you no longer use
  • yard decor
  • broken items
  • party supplies
  • children's toys
  • Additional car parts
  • Other

Every garage looks different, but for almost all of us, the garage is where we keep the things we don't know what to do with. Evaluate everything you have saved carefully. Anything that has not been used for years can be thrown away or donated. Broken items (you know, the ones you wanted to fix but didn't get around to) should also be thrown away or donated.freewheelis a great way to keep all this stuff out of landfills and give it another chance.

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home office

  • Old Documents
  • Old electronics
  • operation manual

Old Documents

Since everything is digitized these days, it is not always necessary to keep physical copies of documents. Although there are exceptions (such as birth certificates and social security cards), most items can be transferred to your computer or external hard drive for safekeeping. All documents older than 7 years do not have to be kept. Consider purchasing a paper shredder or taking documents containing sensitive information to a location such as aUPS, which offers shredding services.

Old electronics

Technology is constantly evolving, so most of us leave old cell phones and other electronic devices gathering dust in a drawer. do you really need her Most electronic devices can be sold or recycled for their parts.

operation manual

Giving away a lot of electronics or household appliances? Make sure you don't keep the manuals. If you are donating items that are still in working condition and you have the manual, you can also donate the manual. If you keep manuals for items you no longer have, then by all means recycle them (if you can) or discard them (if they're not recyclable).

How to start decluttering for a move

Now that you have your checklists, it's time to get started! The best place to start tidying up is the room that has items you use the least. This allows you to fully pack up or get rid of items without fear of having to unpack and use anything in the near future. Below are some more tips to help you on your decluttering journey.

Start early

Once you know you're going to be moving, it's a good time to start decluttering. Don't try to do everything in one day; Start a few months in advance and take your time with each room. It's a lot less stressful if you give yourself plenty of time to get it done. You'll also be able to make better decisions and weigh each item fairly, rather than tossing everything in a box to take to the new house because you ran out of time.


Have enough heavy garbage bags ready, as well as somemoving boxes. You will need the garbage bags for anything you don't want to keep and boxes for the things you want to keep, as well as anything you want to donate. A paper shredder is very useful for documents that are more than seven years old and that you don't need to take with you. Also, make sure you have enough packing tape and paper for anything that needs to be packed.

Divide & conquer

While working on a room, you have three stacks: keep, throw, and donate. (You can also start an optional fourth stack for anything you're still unsure about.) When you're done with the room, look back at the stacks and see if you want to make any changes—maybe have You have decided that you don't want to keep something and would rather donate it - and then pack it in the respective bags/boxes.

Be demanding

It can be very tempting to keep everything. An important thing to remember when cleaning a house for a move is to think about how often you actually use an item, where that item goes in the new home, and whether you love it or not. Anything you haven't used in the last year should probably be thrown away or donated as you probably won't need it if you haven't used it in over a year. When it comes to things like decoration or clothing, ask yourself if it's something you really love. If you don't have strong feelings about it, get rid of it. Remember that whatever you take with you will take up space in your new home. If you don't love it or need it, leave it so you can make room for things you really want or need.

let it go

Even after you've cleaned up each room, you can add things to each stack as you start packing. You may change your mind about certain things as you walk, or find items when you start packing that you end up not wanting to take with you after all.

Wrap up

So there you have it! Your ultimate guide to decluttering for a move. If all the talk about packing and moving has been stressing you out, let us do it for you. Megan's Moving offers premium, full-service moving packages that will make your move a whole lot easier.Request an offer today!

(Video) 10 Amazing Tips from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo


Where do I start decluttering for a move? ›

The best place to start decluttering is in the room that contains items you use the least often. This allows you to fully pack or get rid of items without the anxiety that you will need to unpack and use something in the near future.

What should I declutter first when moving? ›

3. Start with the rooms and things you use the least. Get your feet wet by starting the decluttering process with rooms and stuff you don't use that often. “I highly suggest you do not start with memorabilia,” warns Maija.

What is the 20 20 rule for decluttering? ›

Then we tested our hypothesis: the 20/20 Rule. Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this hypothesis has become a theory that has held true 100% of the time.

What is the 80/20 rule for decluttering? ›

The Pareto Principle

Research shows that people use 20% of what they own 80% of the time. The rest takes up space, mostly untouched.

What items are not worth moving? ›

What Not To Pack When Moving
  • Clothing – It is easy to overdo it when it comes to packing clothes. ...
  • Bulky Items – DVDs and books take up a lot of space when packing, as do large electronic items like unused laptops/desktop computers, or DVD players.

How do you declutter for beginners? ›

10 Creative Decluttering Tips
  1. Start with 5 minutes at a time. ...
  2. Give one item away each day. ...
  3. Fill an entire trash bag. ...
  4. Donate clothes you never wear. ...
  5. Create a decluttering checklist. ...
  6. Take the 12-12-12 challenge. ...
  7. View your home as a first-time visitor. ...
  8. Take before and after photos of a small area.
22 Oct 2019

What are the 7 steps to declutter your life? ›

Below, our experts offer tips that will make reorganizing your life quick and easy.
  1. Rearrange your fridge. ...
  2. Simplify your desk. ...
  3. Tame your purse. ...
  4. Invest in a closet system. ...
  5. Sort your digital files. ...
  6. Categorize your children's playroom. ...
  7. Upgrade your Christmas-decor storage.
25 Jan 2022

Which room should I declutter first? ›

Because the bathroom is hands-down the best place to start decluttering, especially when you're too overwhelmed to start.

What is the fastest way to clean and declutter? ›

How to Declutter Fast – Quick and Easy Steps
  1. Toss the Trash. In every area you organize, start by tossing the obvious trash. ...
  2. Move Non-Kitchen Items Out of the Kitchen. ...
  3. Tidy Reading Material in the Living Room. ...
  4. Organize the Bathroom One Drawer at a Time. ...
  5. Let Go of Unused Items in Your Home Office.

What decluttering does to your brain? ›

Getting rid of excess stuff can benefit your mental health by making you feel calmer, happier, and more in control. A tidier space can make for a more relaxed mind.

What are the three steps to decluttering? ›

The three-step hack to simple and fast decluttering
  1. Step One: Do a brain dump. First, get messy. ...
  2. Step Two: Categorise your creativity. Next, choose a day to sit down and categorise the ideas you've jotted down. ...
  3. Step Three: Break it into chunks. Declutter 15 minutes at a time.
17 Feb 2020

Where do you start organizing when you are overwhelmed? ›

Here are 9 ways to get more organized, without getting more stressed!
  • Deal with one situation at a time. ...
  • Zero in on essentials first. ...
  • Set realistic expectations. ...
  • Declutter the excess. ...
  • Build in margins. ...
  • Make more room for things you love. ...
  • Collect experiences, not stuff. ...
  • Don't overthink.
27 Oct 2016

How do you decide what clothes to get rid of? ›

Here are seven signs to consider when getting rid of clothes.
  1. It Has Stains, Holes, or a Smell.
  2. You No Longer Love It.
  3. It's From an Outdated Trend.
  4. It Hasn't Fit in a Year.
  5. You Haven't Worn It in a Year.
  6. It No Longer Fits Your Style.
  7. It's Uncomfortable.
13 Nov 2020

How long does it take to declutter an entire house? ›

Recent surveys indicate that household decluttering takes on average 208 hours a year, at least. In a lifetime, this is 1 year and 3 months. Some will use up to 2 years based on their yearly average time decluttering.

How do you throw everything away and start over? ›

How to Get Rid of Things: Tips to Start Decluttering
  1. Start with Your Mindset. ...
  2. Think About Your End Goal. ...
  3. The 80/20 Rule. ...
  4. Choose a Place to Begin. ...
  5. Just 10 Things. ...
  6. Try a “Power Purge” ...
  7. Use a Decluttering “Snowball” Method. ...
  8. Declutter Every Single Day.
12 Jun 2022

What are the heaviest items to move? ›

Boxes of books. Many people will fill large boxes with dozens of heavy books, leading too a large package that can easily weigh 50 pounds or more. — Sofas, couches and chairs. Furniture is often fairly light-weight for its size, but it's hard to get a good grip on and may be fragile when lifted from certain angles.

What do most people forget when moving? ›

10 Commonly Forgotten Things During A Move
  • Personal Documents.
  • Library Books and Borrowed Items.
  • Valuables and Jewelry.
  • Clothes and Dry Cleaning.
  • Manuals.
  • Plants.
  • Keys.
  • Coffee Makers and Small Kitchen Appliances.
3 May 2017

What room should you declutter first? ›

“If you don't know where to start, we recommend decluttering room-by-room! Start with the most high-traffic area in your home – probably the kitchen or family room – and go through the decluttering process of deciding what to keep, toss or donate.

How do I become a minimalist before moving? ›

Minimalist Moving: Decluttering for a Lighter Load and New Home
  1. Acknowledge That Our Belongings Have an Emotional Footprint. ...
  2. Decide What's Clutter—and What's Not. ...
  3. Recognize That More Stuff Equals More Time. ...
  4. Start with the Easy Stuff First. ...
  5. Don't Keep Stuff Out of Guilt or Obligation.


1. Move-in Cleaning Routine! (Clean My Space)
(Clean My Space)
2. 5 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home!
(Clean My Space)
3. My House Is a Mess! Where do I Start? Cleaning Tips!
(Joyful Living with Jen Lefforge)
4. EXTREME CLEAN WITH ME | How To Clean & Declutter An Overwhelming Mess
5. How to Deal with Clutter When You Have ADHD
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6. Put the Piles in the PAST!! Declutter Paper Quickly for a fresh start!
(The Minimal Mom)


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