Decluttering your house before your move

Author: Joe Beverly | ,

Over a lifetime, stuff tends to accumulate in people’s homes. Clothing, cookware, home décor, tools, and many other goods fill the house, one item or one shopping trip full of items at a time. Before we know it, we have too much stuff, and it seems overwhelming to declutter. People all over America, in cities like Houston, experience the need to declutter, yet put it off because it’s not very fun.

Is there anything worse than a cluttered house? 

Yes, a cluttered house when you’re moving. You’re forced to deal with packing and moving a household full of goods. You have too much to pack, making the move harder. When it gets close to moving time, you end up with no choice but to pack everything in boxes and say, “I’ll get to it at my new place.” Will you want to unpack all that? Where will you put it all?

No one wants to clear out clutter but it’s much less overwhelming when you do it before moving. Decluttering before you move has several benefits that can make a positive difference in your life and your move. Let’s explore the why, how and what of decluttering before moving.

Why Declutter Before My Move?

It’s moving day and you’re running around throwing thousands of individual items in boxes. You know you should have finished packing days ago but there’s just so much stuff. 

Maybe you hired Houston home movers or movers in another city with full or partial packing services, and you cringed as they put so many useless, unwanted items in your boxes. You don’t know what you’re going to do with all this stuff because it may not fit, it might contain things you don’t want, or it might not work out in your new home. Here it is, moving day, and you’re just throwing everything in packing boxes because you don’t have time to deal with it.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? A cluttered living space that must be emptied to move presents a packing challenge that can defeat the best of us. If you declutter first, before you pack to move, you know things would be better. What are those things? Let’s explore why you should declutter before moving.

Cost savings

Packing materials have a cost. If you pare down your possessions before moving, you’ll require fewer boxes and other supplies. Fewer boxes equates to less weight and a smaller load, two money-saving benefits of decluttering. A bigger load might mean hiring a mover, possibly requiring extra movers and a bigger, more expensive truck. Moving more items takes more time and will factor in the estimated cost.

If you have furniture and other big items you don’t want to use, it’s not worth it to take them with you to sell later. You’ll be paying more to move them. Sell big items and worthwhile goods well in advance of your move or donate them to a worthy cause. Don’t wait until the last minute because you’ll add stress to packing days.

Faster Packing

Every box you pack takes time. You’ll wrap fragile items, try to find the right size boxes to fit everything, move the packed items out of the way and so on. It takes more time to load the cars or truck yourself or more time for the movers to complete the job. Fewer items and boxes can be wrapped, packed away, and moved out more quickly. You’ll get closer to the last box faster, just as you’ve been waiting for.

Faster unpacking

There’s no mystery here. If you’ve packed fewer boxes and have fewer items because you decluttered, they’ll be easier to unpack when you arrive. We’ve all seen or heard about people who still have unpacked boxes sitting around six months after moving. They haven’t had time to unpack and don’t know where to put everything. Decluttering to reduce moved items can help to ease that problem.

Faster Packing

Every box you pack takes time. You’ll wrap fragile items, try to find the right size boxes to fit everything, move the packed items out of the way and so on. It takes more time to load the cars or truck yourself or more time for the movers to complete the job. Fewer items and boxes can be wrapped, packed away, and moved out more quickly. You’ll get closer to the last box faster, just as you’ve been waiting for.

Less stress

Moving inevitably comes with stress. A great deal of it is created by the preparations. You may get concerned about affording the move or having enough time to get it done by moving day. If you take the time to declutter before moving, you’ll be less stressed about the process. You should also feel less stress when you arrive at your new home, knowing that you only brought what you wanted with you.

How to Declutter

Such a need for decluttering exists that experts have devised decluttering methods for us to follow. Some, like the Minimalist Game by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, take a long time to complete because you declutter over a month’s time, starting with getting rid of one item on day one, two on day two, and so on. 

Marie Kondo has introduced her decluttering method in books and on television. The KonMari Method involves putting like items, such as all shoes, in a big pile and choosing those you love and want to keep. It’s thorough but takes a long time. 

Start decluttering well before your move. Last minute decluttering usually doesn’t get done. Here we described a simple method of decluttering that may work for you.

  1. Start by gathering things you won’t need to use until you move. If it’s spring and you’re moving in early summer, you might begin by decluttering and packing winter-related items and clothing. As you complete round 1, you can move on to other items, saving a few items used daily for last.
  2. Set out packing boxes, a different type of box for donations, and a can or bag for trash. You’ll want a packing box labeled for each category of items. Try to not mix like items that can fit in their own boxes, such as kitchen tools and reading books. This will make finding and unpacking items much easier.
  3. As you go through each item, consider if you truly believe you’ll use it and can picture it at your new home. Pack “yes” items in your box. If there’s doubt, place good, usable items in the donate box and throw broken, torn, dirty or unsafe items in the trash.

Some people prefer to unpack room by room. If you choose this approach, keep with the like items in labeled boxes. Whichever way you do it, make sure that you’re scrutinizing your inventory, a.k.a. clutter, so that the donation and trash containers are filling up, not just the packing boxes.

You can attempt to sell valuable items through online listings or hold a garage sale. However, you should only do this if you have plenty of time before the move. Meeting people for sales and holding garage sales can be very stressful and time-consuming, so you don’t want to sell items close to the move date.

What to Declutter

Now it’s time to consider items that are ripe for decluttering. Their items that are easy to collect and ignore or to hold onto because you might need them some day. Maybe you have items that you never got around to taking to the dump or the donation bin. Here’s a review of these items to target for a lot of decluttering.

Let’s begin in the bedrooms:

  • Clothes: look for clothes that you and your family haven’t worn in years, pieces that you aren’t crazy about, and sentimental items such as t-shirts
  • Mattresses: How many mattresses will you need in the new house? Are any of the mattresses in bad shape? Take only the ones needed. Throw out worn mattresses to replace at the new house.
  • Shoes, Purses, Bags, Backpacks: Do you need 27 pairs of shoes? Old purses and backpacks that might come back into style? Rid yourself of the weight of too many and keep your beloved favorites for the move.
  • Toys, Games: Toys and games may have been kept in the bedroom, a playroom or a family room. If you start sorting them out early, it’s easy to spot those that your child or children have outgrown or have lost interest in. You can decide if you want your kids to help with this task; some can separate from items, others have a harder time. Sell, donate, and trash the unneeded toys and games.

You might find these items in the living or family room:

  • Books and magazines: Favorites that you’ll read again or that have monetary value as a collector’s piece, keep and pack. Others are often welcome at used book sales by your library or other nonprofits. If you have a bunch of old paperbacks that you don’t want and you don’t have time to donate or sell, put them in the recycling bin and let them go.
  • Home Décor: Of course, you want to pack your family photos. For your other décor, decide if you love each piece and if it will fit in your new surroundings. You may not have room if downsizing, or beach-themed items may clash in a new Midwestern home. Let go of what doesn’t fit.
  • DVDs, Videotapes, Audiotapes: Many of us keep our DVDs and cassettes when we only stream our shows and music. Anything that can be accessed digitally doesn’t need to be kept in physical form, unless it has strong personal mean or significant value.

Are you getting the idea? Here’s a simplified list of other items to declutter in the remaining rooms of the home.

  • Office: Old paperwork, unneeded equipment and office supplies
  • Bathrooms: Expired medicines, unwanted personal hygiene products, old cosmetics, worn and extra towels and washcloths
  • Kitchen: plastic food containers, extra plates and mugs, fast food packets, pots and pans in poor condition, cleaning supplies, craft supplies
  • Garage and Garden Shed: Unneeded planting pots, lawn ornaments, old equipment and tools
  • Attic: anything stored there and not used for years, old holiday decorations

The list of items to declutter is as long as those goods in your home. Choose wisely and say goodbye to those you don’t need or want. You’ll feel lighter as you progress.

Houston Moving Storage Company

When you’re planning a move, Blue Ox Moving & Storage can help. Houston’s best moving and storage company can offer full and partial packing and the smoothest, most professional move money can buy. Contact Us for an estimate, and keep on decluttering!

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Joe Beverly

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