Moving House? How to Declutter Effectively Beforehand

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

1.) Where do I start? The moving house prep work.

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

  • Choose a start date

In my experience, most people leave it too late to start packing before moving house, let alone decluttering. I’m often asked, “should I declutter before packing or whilst I pack?” I would always say 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!

How to Declutter Before Moving House
  • Make a list

Regardless of whether you stick to the list, it’s vital that you have some plan in place; a list is a great starting point.

  • Visualise

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

But in all seriousness, visualising how you want the room to look is a key tool for achieving your goal. How will you know you’re on the right path if you can’t picture what you want it to look like? 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 for moving house, your deadline for decluttering will want to be a few 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 for moving house can be a great motivator if you work well under pressure.

2.) How to declutter


Relax when I’m moving 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 you’re 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. I would have laughed if someone had told me this a year ago!

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 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, label 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, and 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 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. 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 is it past 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 use it better than me?

Once you’ve decided, put the item in the correct bag, box or pile. Are you going to keep, donate, sell, recycle, 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 are always the odd few items you just need to return to later. I always say it’s better to keep something than regret it. You can always have another round of decluttering later! Plus, it’s much easier once you’ve got into the swing of it.

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 general 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 in every room in your house; try not to flit between rooms, and you’ll have it done before you know it! If you’ve decluttered items that don’t fall under general rubbish or recycling, you can either donate them to charities, put them on Facebook Marketplace, or sell them on eBay, Depop or Vinted. For any food that’s in-date but you don’t want, you can take it to your local food bank. If you have anything that’s still edible but slightly past the date, food banks won’t accept it, but you can put it on Olio. An awesome food-sharing app that prevents tons 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 are 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 are 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 necessary packing materials 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 boxes for different purposes, from small book boxes to big wardrobe boxes (you can hang clothes straight into them without having to fold them). Mattress protectors are also available, and rolls of tape (that work) and don’t just peel off or leave a 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 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 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 to pay movers to pack?

This is another question I’m often asked by people moving house. 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 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. 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 breakage are 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 past 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 information on 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 advice is to write a checklist and keep it updated. Even better, have a dedicated “moving house” 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 how many people forget. It’s a nightmare when you come to unpacking if boxes haven’t been labelled.

Try to keep boxes together in the right rooms and ask your removal 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 don’t want to be still 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 assure you that you won’t want to be hunting through boxes trying to find PJs when you’re knackered from move day! Make your life easy.

7.) If you need more help

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

Or, I can help you declutter before moving house 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 for an initial chat or reserve your 1 hour home consultation visit book here.

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

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Have a great weekend!

With love,

Amy xx

-Your decluttering bestie


  1. Maggie Atkins

    Really useful, thank you 🙏 xx


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