How to declutter before moving house – Pro tips

Your complete guide to a stress-less house move. You’ll feel like a pro after this

1.) Where do I start? The Prep-work.

Before you start, you need to think about a few things:

  • Choose a start date

In my experience, most people leave it far too late to start packing before a move, let alone decluttering. A question I’m often asked is, “should I declutter before packing or whilst I pack?” I would always say that it’s safer and less stressful to do it first! Having said that, if you live pretty minimally with not a lot of anything to declutter, you could do it simultaneously.

You must aim to start at least a month before you’re set to move. Before you even go onto the market for sale, I advise beginning as less clutter = better viewings, but that’s another blog post!

  • Make a list

Regardless of whether you stick to the list or not, it’s vital that you have some sort of plan in place and a list is a great starting point.

  • Visualise

This might sound a bit woo-woo, but if you’ve not met me, I’m a firm believer in the law of attraction and the powers of gratitude and manifesting!

How to declutter before moving house - pro tips

But in all seriousness, visualising how you want the room to look is a key tool for achieving your goal. If you can’t picture what you want it to look like, how will you know you’re on the right path? It will also massively help you with staying motivated; if you’ve got a picture in your mind to work towards it’ll keep you going when you feel like giving up.

This might sound more complicated than it is. Just imagine the room looking how you’d love it to look. I.e, no clutter, clean, tidy and inviting.

  • Set a deadline

If you’ve got a fixed completion date, your deadline for decluttering will want to be a couple of weeks before that. This should give you enough time to pack if you’re not doing it simultaneously and you’re not hiring a packing team. Having a fixed date though can be a great motivator if you work well under pressure.

2.) How to declutter

Relax

Relax when I’m trying to move house, are you mad? Hear me out.

You might think this is a pointless exercise, but trust me. You need a clear head. If you’ve got kids running around or your short of time, you don’t need half an hour, just take 5 minutes to sit and try to gain clarity, you’ll want a clear head before you start.

Of all people I know how this sounds, because I go through life at a hundred miles an hour and it’s genuinely only in the last few months that I’ve started taking rest and relaxation seriously. If someone had told me this a year ago, I would have laughed!

Work on one room at a time.

Occasionally you may have to get a few items from another room, but aside from that, start with one room. You’ll likely get overwhelmed and achieve nothing if you flit in between rooms.

Get bin bags, boxes, post-it notes and a thick pen ready

Some people like to use multi-coloured bin bags as it’s easier to tell at a glance which is which. But in the name of sustainability and saving your pennies, I suggest just using old “bags for life”, regular bin bags, old cardboard boxes and recycling bags. To differentiate either label them, or keep them in separate areas of the room.

You could also write in marker pen or print out some big signs for donating, recycling, textiles, selling, keeping, repairing, rubbish. Click here to download the ones I use, they are free!

Take everything out, but start small

If you’re a seasoned declutterer, feel free to get everything out, but I advise starting with a tiny area first if you’re new to this: a drawer, shelf or box. Empty the whole container out onto a clear, flat surface. It’s much easier to manage if you can see everything. Complete that and then move on.

Decide what to keep and what to let go of

Your aim here is to focus on what you want to take with you to your shiny new home. Declutter anything that’s no longer serving you. Keep only what you genuinely love and need. Try to be strict with yourself, you want to reduce what you have to make your life easier and happier! If you’re downsizing, think about the percentage you need to reduce by. For example, if you’re moving from a 5 bedroom family home to a 2 bedroom bungalow, you might need to reduce your belongings by at least 60%.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I use it?
  • When was the last time I used this?
  • When was the last time I wore this?
  • Does this fit me right now?
  • Do I feel good wearing this?
  • Does this make me feel happy?
  • If I let go of this and find out that I need it in 6 months, can I re-buy it?
  • Do I really need this many…?
  • Is this still in date, or passed its best?
  • Am I keeping this for “just in case”?
  • Where will this live in my new house?
  • Is this going to fit in my new house?
  • Would someone else benefit from this or make better use of it than me?

Once you’ve decided, put the item in the correct bag, box or pile. Are you going to keep it, donate it, sell it, recycle it or mend it?

Have a “not sure” pile

As much as it’s best to try and go with your gut instinct and make decisions quickly without overthinking. Inevitably there’s always the odd few items that you just need to come back to later. I always say it’s better to keep something than regret it to my clients. You can always have another round of decluttering later! Plus, once you’ve got into the swing of it, it’s much easier.

Take the rubbish out

Hopefully you will have been keeping the rubbish separately so this should be easy. Get rid of the general recycling and waste. If you’ve got anything like used batteries or electricals, you can check how to dispose of them here, but your local recycling centre is an excellent place to start. Often supermarkets have a battery disposal station too. It’s important that you don’t put these into the generally rubbish as they can cause real damage to nature and the environment and need to be disposed of properly. For more details on how to get rid of rubbish, you can read my previous article here.

You’ve finished!

Well done, I’m sure you feel so much better now? Use this process on every room in your house; try not to flit in between rooms and you’ll have it done before you know it. If you’ve decluttered a lot of items that don’t fall under general rubbish or recycling. You can either donate them to charities, put them on Facebook Marketplace, sell them on Ebay, Depop or Vinted. For any food that’s in-date but you don’t want, you can take to your local food back. If you have anything that’s still edible but slightly passed the date, food banks won’t accept, but you can put it on Olio. An awesome food sharing app that prevents tons, literally, of food waste each year helps people out. For more comprehensive details, click here to read a full breakdown.

3.) Packing materials and boxes

As of writing this, the price of cardboard is at an all time high because there as shortages and high demand, which unfortunately means you will be paying over the odds. But hopefully this will save you a little bit.

Places like Amazon and Argos sell packing starter kits, and I highly urge you not to order these. Why? They work out very expensive as you only get a tiny amount of each item.

In my experience, the best place to buy is at an independent storage facility, if you’re not too far from Wallingford, Oxfordshire then I recommend Lesters Storage. They are a family owned business and sell all the packing materials you could need at a very reasonable price. This is where I buy materials when I’m packing for a client. They sell big rolls of bubble wrap, which work out way lower price per metre than those tiny rolls you can get from the Post Office and other places. They also sell five different types of boxes for different purposes. From small book boxes, to big wardrobe boxes (you can hang clothes straight into them without having to fold). Mattress protectors are also available and rolls of tape (that actually work) and don’t just peel off, or leave nasty residue like the cheap brown tapes tend to do.

If you can’t get to Lesters, or another independent I’d research online to find the best prices, as the large, chain storage facilities like Big Yellow are also very expensive! Just ask or make sure that the boxes are double walled, not single walled (usually with corrugated card inside two layers of cardboard). This is very important as you can’t stack single walled boxes because they the just crush! Not ideal when the removal guys are stacking them on top of each other in the van…

4.) Is it worth the money paying movers to pack?

This is another question I’m often asked. If you can afford it then yes, it’s worth it. They will usually pack your whole house up in one day, unless you have a sprawling great place. Generally, they will send in as many people as needed to get the job done in a day. Doing it yourself it can take weeks. It’s also a lot less stressful!

Another benefit is that you will be insured for any breakages during transportation if they have packed up your house, but their insurance won’t cover you if you pack yourself. Obviously, it’s different if they literally drop a box and break the things inside.

Movers are experts at packing, well at least the ones I recommend are, so the chances of a breakage is slim.

Bear in mind most companies will require you to report any breakages within three days of them delivering your boxes back! This is written in the terms and conditions, but they should also tell you this. So you can’t leave it boxed up for months and then try to claim as it will be passed the claim period.

When they come to quote, they’ll usually give you three prices:

-Pack yourself, source your materials

-Pack yourself; they provide materials

-They provide materials, and they pack

5.) What to do with everything you’ve decluttered

The good part is you’ve done half of the work by separating items into piles in the first place.

First things first, get rid of all the recycling and rubbish. Click here if you’re not sure whether an item can be recycled. You can also check out this blog post, with full details of

For how to recycle, where to donate and how to sell items click here to read my comprehensive blog post.

6.) How to stay organised during your move

My best advise is to write a checklist and keep it updated. Even better, have a dedicated “house move” folder to keep everything you’ll need during the move inside. Contact details for everyone, paperwork from your estate agents, solicitors, movers / organisers. Oh and make sure you don’t pack it by accident!

Secondly, I cannot stress the importance of clearly labelling your boxes, you’d be surprised at how many people forget. It’s a nightmare when you come to unpacking if boxes havent been labelled.

Try to keep boxes together in the right rooms and ask your removals team to put them in the correct rooms at the other end, they should do this for you.

Start packing the things you rarely need first to get ahead a few weeks in advance.

You really don’t want to still be packing on move day, so only keep the things out that you’ll need on the day and make sure you don’t have more than can fit in your car. I’d advise keeping the kettle and a few mugs out!

Always have a bag packed for every member of the household with things you’ll need for the first night. I can assure you that you won’t want to be hunting through boxes trying to find Pj’s when you’re knackered from move day! Make your life easy.

7.) If you need more help

Moving home and downsizing can be stressful. I will simplify things for you with my home-move and unpacking service. I can take care of the whole process, from pre-move decluttering and cleaning, liaising and managing. To transforming a van full of boxes into a fully-functioning, beautiful home.

Or, I can simply help you declutter prior to moving, so that you have only the things you love and need to pack.

Suppose you’re worried about the look of your home before selling and would like advice on how to show your home in the best light. Do get in touch, I offer a home staging service which will help you to achieve a quicker sale and the highest sale price.

You can schedule a free, no-obligation call here to have an initial chat or reserve your 1 hour home consultation visit book here.

In conclusion, don’t panic…

There is help available and I hope this article of pro-tips will help you to be more organised with your move and avoid a few mistakes.

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Have a great weekend!

With love,

Amy x