Throw it out before moving out

Ready to declutter?

If you’re like most people, you probably own some items you wish you didn’t. Whether it’s clothes that no longer fit, toys your kids have outgrown or gifts you never asked for, these belongings can make organizing and cleaning more difficult than they should be. And if you’re a planning a move, they can make it more expensive and time-consuming. 

Luckily, getting rid of unwanted items is pretty simple! And a move is the perfect time to do it. 

woman decluttering linen closet


How to get rid of stuff before moving

Since you have to go through everything while you’re packing anyway, use this time to pare down. Here are some helpful tips for decluttering before you leave.

Start with the easy things: unusable items

Before you worry about going through the items you use every day, get rid of anything you know you’ll never use again. Things still waiting for repair, random kitchen items that used to be part of set, and that bag full of mismatched socks can all go! Here are some other things to get rid of that will likely not be useful to others if sold or donated:

  • Clothing, towels and linens with holes or stains or that no longer fit
  • Containers without lids
  • Cosmetics you don’t use 
  • Expired food and spices
  • Instruction manuals to things you no longer have
  • Old bills, receipts and paperwork (shred these first!)
  • Old greeting cards
  • Old paint
  • Outdated media you no longer use (magazines, VHS, CDs)
  • Recalled children’s items (like car seats and helmets)
  • Stray cords
  • Toys or clothing your kids have outgrown
  • Unfinished projects or old hobbies
  • Worn rugs

If you have any expired medications, be sure to follow the suggestions from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safe disposal. 

Minimize multiples

You need one or two phone chargers, but somehow, you’ve got five. Or maybe you’ve got a closet full of blankets or enough towels for a family of ten. Now’s a great time to look at these belongings and get rid of anything you have too much of:

  • Bedding
  • Books
  • Chargers
  • Containers
  • Cosmetics and bath products
  • Dog toys
  • Glasses and cups
  • Holiday decorations 
  • Kid’s toys 
  • Luggage and bags 
  • Office supplies
  • Tools
  • Towels

Use a decluttering method for anything you’re unsure about

It’s not always easy to make decisions on things to keep, toss or donate. Depending on how much time you have, you can use one of these decluttering methods to help figure it out. The more time you have, the more thorough you can be. 

  • Five piles. Go through your home and put everything into five piles — keep, donate, sell, recycle and trash — using your gut reaction. Keep anything you know you’ll want in the new home, donate or sell anything with value that you don’t want, and dispose of useless items by recycling or throwing them away.
  • Sort as you use. If you have some time before the move, you can figure out what to keep by seeing what you’re using on a regular basis. For clothes, just turn all your hangers around backwards and put them back normally after you wear the item. In the kitchen, put boxes on the counter and put things inside after you use them. Any quick visual trick like this will let you see what’s just taking up space. 
  • Evaluate each item. For items you’re on the fence about, ask yourself these questions: Have I used it in the last year? Do I have anything similar that I like more? Does it hold emotional value? How much will it cost to replace it? Will it fit into my new home? Is it worth the effort of packing and unpacking it? By making yourself think about the usefulness of each item, it can be a lot easier to determine if it’s something worth keeping.  

Find a new home for unwanted items

Now that you’ve sorted through everything, it’s time to get the things you don’t want out of the way. 


Charities do different things with donations and vary in what they’ll accept, so you’ll want to do some research before donating items. The Federal Trade Commission offers guidelines on researching charitable organizations to help make sure you’re giving to the right cause. Once you know where to give, check their website or give them a call to understand their guidelines and processes. 


To unload a lot of stuff quickly, a moving sale is a great option. Individual items can be sold locally through “get rid of it” apps like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp or LetGo, or sold and shipped through sites like eBay or Poshmark. 

Recycle or trash

Recycling takes a little work to get everything dropped off at the right place, but it’s worth the effort. If you’re new to recycling, check out this beginner's guide to recycling to get started. 

Anything that can’t be recycled is trash. Check with your collection company if there’s a lot to throw out. If it exceeds the limits, a trip to the landfill may be in order. 

Pack what you’re keeping

Once you’ve pared down the items in your house, it’s time to start packing. Use this ultimate packing guide to ensure everything you’re keeping is packed well and protected.

Share your favorite decluttering tips!

What’s your method for getting rid of stuff before a move? Do you have a tip for selling or recycling items once you’ve decluttered? Leave us a comment below to share your experience with us!