How to Declutter Before Moving

If you are looking for tips on how to declutter before moving, this list is just what you need. Step by step help to have you moving with less stuff, stress, fewer boxes, and minimal stress.

How to declutter the excess so you can move stress-free.


Are you feeling overwhelmed with clutter? Do you feel like you can’t seem to get ahead because there’s always something taking up space in your home? If so, now might be the perfect time to declutter before moving. By getting rid of unnecessary items, you’ll make packing and moving much easier on yourself and your entire family.

Let’s face it, moving is already a stressful experience, so don’t make it harder by trying to move all of your clutter as well. Get rid of anything that you don’t need or use and see how much lighter and less stressed you feel. It may take some time and effort now, but when you are in your new home and starting fresh with a clutter-free slate you will be happy you did the work.

How to Declutter Before Moving

Start Early

When faced with a huge and intimidating job, it can be easy to put it off until the very last minute. Rather than adding to your stress, why not get started now? The sooner you start removing the excess stuff out of your home that you no longer need, the fewer things you will need to pack and unpack later on. That right there should be the motivation to grab a box and start sorting.

I suggest setting a timeline of a room a month if you are able. This will probably work out to be an 8-12 month start time meaning you may be decluttering before you find a new home to move to. However, the stress of decluttering will be much less without a fast-approaching deadline constantly coming your way.

Donation Area

Since you will be doing quite a bit of decluttering as you prepare to move, you will want to have a centralized donation area to place boxes and items. For loose items, have trash cans filled with sturdy bags in your garage to toss them into. Once full, tie the bag up and put it directly into your car to drop off the next time you are out.

woman putting donation boxes in the back of her car

In a pinch, you can have a wall in your garage to stack boxes, bags, and random items. Contact your local donation center to see if they offer pickup for large amounts.

The good news is every time you walk past those cans; you will be gently reminded to put something into them. A great subtle motivator to keep working on your goal.

a pile of stuff and clutter in a garage

Start in the Back

It is best to start with the rooms that get the least use. This way, you can stop and start as you find your flow. A linen closet, guest bedroom, or dining room are all good areas to begin in. Save the busy rooms such as the kitchen or master bedroom for closer to your moving date.

Decluttering a space tends to make things look worse in the beginning before they get better. That is why it is best to start in the back and work your way up. The anxiety of boxes or bags sitting out will be a bit much at first, but as you create a routine, you will find it easier as you make your way to the more active rooms.

More Decluttering Hacks:

Get Busy

I wish there were a shortcut for this part, but unfortunately, there is not. You will need to go through everything working in one room at a time. I find it helpful to remove the trash first as this is the easiest to get rid of, and it can make a huge impact on what you have left to go through.

Next, look for things you can see that are donatable. Grab those items and take them to your donation area, making as many trips as needed. If you have more than one trip’s worth in a room, you can bring a trashcan with wheels into your room to put these items into. Have someone with a strong and healthy back take the full bags out to your car or holding area if you will have a truck come in later for pickup.

Click here to subscribe


Since you will be moving, you may want to invest in storage pods to hold items you know will be going with you. These can be delivered to your home so you can begin to fill them as you go through the rooms in your home. As you put larger items into these storage containers, you may uncover more clutter. Furniture has a way of masking the stuff; once it is gone, it will give you a new view of what you have left in a room.

packing a truck for moving

Get Help

If this job is a bit bigger than you can handle alone, enlist help. Family can lend a hand no matter what their ages are.

  • Young children can sort through their toys.
  • Teens can do the items in their bedrooms.
  • Spouses can do their clothing and misc items.
  • Movers can help with large items that need to be put into storage or donated.


Yes, even your food will need to be gone through before packing. What you have in your kitchen pantry may no longer be good; take the time to check the dates, only bringing with you the food that is going to be eaten in your new home.

clutter kitchen island counter (1)

Whether you’re neighborhood-hopping to your new Miami rental or planning a coast-to-coast move from Boston to the west coast, planning a move can be a stressful process. From packing up your things to loading up a moving van and transitioning to life in a new home, moving can quickly take over your daily life.

But by embracing a minimalist approach to moving, packing up for a move can be the perfect time to start fresh. And what may seem like an all-or-nothing approach becomes a way to part with items that no longer bring you joy or have meaning, simplifying the process. 

To help you start living in your new home with less stress, Redfin reached out to us and other experts to create the ultimate guide to minimalist moving. Follow these tips and tricks to help you lighten your load and have your smoothest move yet. 

The Ultimate Guide to Minimalist Moving: Experts Reveal Packing, Organizing, and Moving Tips for Your Smoothest Move Yet

More Decluttering Resources:

Click here to subscribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *