How to declutter before moving house

A solid plan can save you lots of time and energy during your move.

Find help when decluttering

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Whether you are downsizing to move into a London apartment or clearing the clutter to make a fresh start in a larger British country cottage, there are many benefits to clearing the stuff you don’t need. 

That's why moving house can sometimes be a relief; you are forced to go through all of your possessions with a fine tooth comb and clean up your whole household. The golden rule is to keep only the things you love or are helpful and get rid of whatever you no longer need or want. But how do you create a more streamlined life? 

Read on for some beneficial tips on how to declutter before moving house.

Decluttering methods you can try

Things can be easier and more efficient when sticking to the tried and tested processes of reformed hoarders who have come before you. Here are some of the popular ones:

The Four Box method 

Try the four box method when decluttering for a move

There are many ways to purge successfully. Some decluttering experts advocate the Four Box Method, where the idea is to go through each room in your home armed with separate boxes, one for each of the following: 

  1. Things you want to keep

  2. Items to sell or give to charity

  3. Things to chuck away 

  4. Anything you're still undecided about

The KonMari method

Follow the KonMari method when decluttering for a move

Devotees of the Japanese KonMari method swear by its use. The goal is to pick up each item you own and decide to keep it only if it “sparks joy” or if it is useful.  

Swedish death cleaning

The most metal method, Swedish death cleaning, is a new decluttering technique where you downsize your belongings in recognition of the stark fact that one day, you won't be able to take anything with you and that your junk will only be a burden for your loved ones.  

Too dark and not for you? You've always got the Four Box Method...

Tips and declutter checklist for moving

So, the task of decluttering before a move is upon you; we recommend considering the following to make the whole thing as stress-free (maybe even as fun?) as possible.

Tip #1: Get motivated and do not procrastinate.

Decluttering is both emotional and overwhelming, so you will need a little motivation to prepare. However, decluttering is actually a freeing feeling that will help you save money and possibly even make money if you sell some old belongings. It creates a fresh start in your new space, and all of these good things should serve as your motivation! 

A rookie mistake on the pre-move declutter project is procrastination. Trust us when we say you have way more stuff than you think. The earlier you begin, the easier the process will be!

Tip #2: Tackle one room at a time.

Whatever method you use, most decluttering experts advise tackling only one room at a time rather than attempting to declutter your whole house in one go. Be sure to give yourself enough time, so you don't stress out and become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the job.  

If, however, you are moving soon and want to declutter before moving quickly, don't be afraid to call in help from a professional decluttering service (which can be surprisingly affordable).

Tip #3: Get an assistant.

Our psychological attachment to objects is often why we can't ditch them when the time comes. Sometimes, what you really need is a truly objective person to help you with the task of discerning trash from treasure. Hiring someone who offers a decluttering service can make things so much easier.

Get an assistant when decluttering

Don't mistake the idea of a decluttering service as involving a stranger coming in and charging about, dumping your prized possessions in rubbish bags with reckless abandon. It can be as harmless as having an assistant follow you around, taking your directions, but also being critical enough to say, “So how long have you had these 23 mascaras? A few years? OK, I think it might be time to liberate some of these,” and “Do you think you'll actually ever get this broken sewing machine fixed?” and “Come on now, 12 pairs of harem pants? Who are you, MC Hammer?”

Tip #4: Hire a decluttering service. 

Go the whole hog and engage someone to assist you with a full decluttering service by completely reorganising all your belongings room by room, sorting and tidying, and removing excess clutter – with your approval.

Your helper can undertake all kinds of decluttering tasks, like organising your DVD and CD libraries, rearranging your kitchen cupboards and pantry, or reorganising your clothes. They can also make repeated trips to dispose of junk or take clothes to The Salvation Army for you!

Tip #5: Don't let old memories get the better of you.

Why do we hoard clutter? It's often due to an emotional attachment rather than a functional one. In every decluttering process, you will find yourself sifting through emotional items – and those emotions sometimes win. 

When taking a trip down memory lane, bring yourself back to the present and fight the urge to dwell on old memories. If there is a strong connection, feel free to keep the item and enjoy some nostalgia later. 

Tip #6: Utilise the power of piles.

Organise items into piles when decluttering

Another decluttering hack is separating sorted items into different piles that you can see. This will help determine their fate! For example, you can have piles for:

  • Keep

  • Trash

  • Donate or sell 

  • Recycle 

Customise your piles to suit your needs (you may have a storage one, for example), but this visual process can sometimes be very helpful!

Tip #7: Involve your kids.

Involve kids when decluttering

If you have children, involve them, especially if you are decluttering their belongings. Ask them questions like "do you still play with this toy, or would you like to let another kid enjoy this?" Teaching the emotional skills and know-how to declutter now will help them when they are facing a move as an adult!

Tip #8: Schedule some dedicated decluttering time.

Not everyone likes to declutter, so putting it on your schedule increases the chance of it actually happening. Lock in one to three hours of dedicated decluttering time weekly, on a specific day to create a routine. Pop on your headphones, relax your mind, and tune everything out so you can focus on the task at hand. Who knows, it may even be meditative.

Tip # 9: Make sure you cover everything.

Decluttering can be a long process, but you'll reap the benefits, especially if you go through everything. Search the darkest corners of your cabinets, pick apart the junk drawers, and really think about every piece of clothing. If you leave no stone unturned, your move will become much simpler. 

Spend the time to declutter, and thank yourself later!

You’ve likely been shopping in London, perhaps down at the Camden markets, so you know how much fun buying new things can be! This is more of a reason to get rid of the old and clear space for the new; you know it can all easily be replaced!

Decluttering is a very beneficial exercise. If you need a little help, there are plenty of experts on Airtasker that can help you sort, pack, throw away, and move house. Re-design your surroundings today!

Also read:

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FAQs on decluttering

The 20/20 Rule is to be used when you are on the fence about something to keep or ditch. Basically, if the item costs less than £20 and would take under 20 minutes to replace, it's time for it to go.

Along with extremely heavy or overly worn-out items, you can trim your moving list with clothing that is easy to overdo and replace or bulky items like DVDs and books. These can be heavy and take up a lot of space when packing. Large electronic items like unused laptops or DVD players should also not be making the trip with you.

While this varies wildly based on the size of your house and the amount of clutter, in general, it can take anywhere between 4-6 days to thoroughly declutter your home.

Start decluttering the most high-traffic area, which is likely the kitchen or family room. Then, when you have finished, the next room won't seem as hard! If you are unsure where to start, it's always good to declutter room by room.

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