What to Let Go of When You Move

Jon Fesmire |
Take it from someone who has moved more than most: moving is the great reason to declutter. Even if you don’t declutter before you move, you’ll set aside things to get rid of as you pack. However, consciously going through your stuff will really help. You won’t have to carry as much to and from the moving truck and your new place will feel more spacious.

Here’s our guide covering what to get rid of before your move.

Get Sorting Boxes

Before you get your packing boxes, get a bunch of sorting boxes. In these, you’ll put things you plan to sell, donate, recycle, or trash. We’ll go over some good options for each of those possibilities later in this article. For now, get some sturdy small or medium-sized boxes in which you can put what you plan to let go of.

Now, let’s cover what to remove from your life.

Clothes, Towels, and Bedclothes

For most, clothing is the biggest, and toughest, category. We often have an emotional attachment to clothes. Maybe you received that sweatshirt as a gift, that shirt represents your alma matter, or those pants used to be so comfortable.

Don’t let the past hold you back. Clothes are meant to be worn. So, if something no longer fits, doesn’t represent your personality, doesn’t feel good when you wear it, or you haven’t worn it in the last year, get rid of it.

Yes, there are some types of clothes that you should keep even if you don’t wear them often. Those nice suits or dresses that still fit, and that you wear to special occasions, are worth keeping, but you don’t need an entire closet full of them.

Go through your blankets, sheets, towels, and washcloths. If you have never used them and don’t plan to, or if they’re fraying or discolored, get rid of them.

Furniture

Furniture can be expensive, but you can also get nice pieces at Ikea or at various thrift stores, like the Habitat For Humanity Restore or the Salvation Army. The fact is, moving is a great opportunity to let go of furniture that’s beaten up or falling apart. You can even get rid of furniture that doesn’t match your new place.

Hobby Items

During your life, you may go through hobby phases. Perhaps for a few years, you got into painting, and later you got into scrapbooking. If you have hobby items for an activity you don’t do anymore and probably won’t do again, it’s a good time to let go of the tools and supplies. If you decide to take up the hobby again in a year or more, then you can purchase new equipment. However, if you don’t, you’ll just be holding onto old stuff for no good reason.

Sports Gear

If you have kids, they may have played several sports over the years. If you’re holding onto old sports equipment they’ve grown out of, or stuff they no longer use, you can get rid of these. This will make more space in your home, and their rooms, for things that they enjoy now.

Games

Some people collect board games. If that’s you, then hey, keep all of them. Others, however, just have a bunch of games, some of which they never play. Perhaps you’ve discovered that you have three or four card and board games you enjoy playing with friends, and you never bring out the others. In that case, get rid of the old ones, especially if they have missing parts or game pieces.

Toys

Old toys can accumulate over time in your kids’ bedrooms. However, as they grow up, they’ll lose interest in older toys.

One excellent strategy to help your kids keep their rooms in order while ensuring they always have something new to enjoy, is to get rid of old toys when they get new toys. In this category, we’re including things like tablets, televisions, and gaming consoles.

As the winter holidays or a birthday approaches, look through your child’s old things with them and pick some items to donate. Let them know these should be things they’re no longer into and that they’re getting new presents soon. Then, you can donate the old stuff together if they’re in good condition; otherwise, recycle or throw them out.

Office

Do you have an office? Then you probably have some old items in there you can let go of before your move including outdated electronics, stray cords, old paperwork, and instruction manuals. Once you’ve gotten rid of these extras, you can rest assured your new office space will feel cleaner and more functional.

Miscellaneous Items

We’re not quite done. There are definitely other old items to get rid of. With these, think about if it’s something you currently use or will definitely use if it reflects your personality, and if it’s meaningful enough that you shouldn’t get rid of it. Otherwise, let it go.

These types of items include old posters, dishes, cookware, mugs, glasses, kitchen tools, old magazines and books, and gifts you don’t like.

Some things you need to get rid of regardless of other considerations, like expired foods and medications, stained containers, and old spices.

Sell, Donate, Recycle, Trash

Finally, out of the things you’re getting rid of, decide what you can sell, donate, recycle, or trash.

Items in gently-used condition may be worth selling at a yard sale, on eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, or a similar site. You can donate these same items to Goodwill, Salvation Army, the Habitat for Humanity Restore, or elsewhere.

For things that you can’t sell or donate but that have reusable components, recycling is a strong option. Things that fall into this category include plastics, paper and cardboard, electronics, and even wood. Contact a recycling center near you and ask how to donate.

Finally, anything you can’t get rid of the other ways, and that is non-toxic, can go in the trash or the landfill. For toxic items, contact a recycling center for tips.

One thing that can help you move is renting a self storage unit. To find one near you, check our extensive facility listings.