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The Secret to Decluttering Before A Move

Moving houses comes with a lot of mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s a chance to start fresh in a new space. On the other, it involves a lot of time, energy, and effort, which can be overwhelming. In most cases, we don’t even realize how much stuff we’ve accumulated until we’re faced with the task of sorting through it all and packing it into boxes. Before you know it, you’re standing in front of years worth of household items, clothing, furniture, and dishware, thinking “Where do I even start?”.

If the thought of decluttering for a move leaves you feeling defeated, there’s something you need to know…stress-free moving is possible. There’s a way to not only make packing efficient, but enjoyable. Below is exactly what you need to do to take the stress out of moving and decluttering, so you can focus on the excitement of starting your next chapter and living in a new home that better suits your needs. One simple strategy for eliminating clutter before a move, is the Four Bin Method.

The Four Bin Method

The Four Bin Method is an approach to decluttering which involves sorting items into one of four different bins, each with its own specific purpose.

1. Keep: Fill this container with items you frequently use, or that have value to you. These bins will be a top priority during your move, and will be relocated to your new home and unpacked first, before any others.

2. Garbage: This bin will be used for items that no longer have value to you or that aren’t in good enough condition to donate or give away to friends or family members. These bins will be emptied into a dumpster or brought to a waste management facility, and therefore will not be loaded onto a moving truck or relocated to your new home.

3. Donate: Place items that are still usable, but that you no longer want or need, into this bin. These items can be donated to a local non-profit organization or given away to friends and family. You will not need to relocate these bins to your new home, but you will need to determine what you will be doing with them and arrange to drop them off at a donation center, have your loved ones collect them, etc.

4. Storage: Any items you do not use regularly, but that you want to keep, such as sports equipment, Christmas decorations, books, and magazines, or collectibles, should be placed in these boxes. They will be transported to your new home but will not be the first priority for unpacking. They can be placed in your garage or another designated area until you are ready to unbox them.

Once you have your bins, there are some additional steps you can take to make decluttering before moving even more streamlined, including:

  • Tackle one room at a time. This will eliminate feeling overwhelmed and provide a sense of achievement as you complete each individual space.

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to declutter your entire home in a few days or even a week! Look at your schedule and decide on a window of time that works best for you.

  • Try to make rational decisions as opposed to emotional ones. Ask yourself how much you really use a particular item, or whether or not it serves a purpose. It’s okay to hold onto some sentimental belongings (such as family heirlooms), but it’s also important to avoid accumulating household clutter simply because there is a memory attached to the item. Is there another way to memorialize the experience without holding onto the physical item itself?

  • Eliminate duplicate items. Is it really necessary to have six pairs of winter boots? Or an entire drawer full of cords and phone chargers? When possible, donate or toss items you already have enough of. These items take up a ton of valuable space in your home.

  • Allow your children to sort items into their own bins. This will make them feel involved in the moving process and in control of their own personal belongings. It’s also a great learning exercise in decision-making!

There are other strategies you can use, aside from the Four Bin Method, to simplify your moving experience:

1. Tackle Problem Areas First: We all have spaces in our home that seem to attract clutter, despite our best efforts to remain organized and free of unnecessary “stuff”. If you know which areas these are in your own home, it is likely best to start there while you are at your highest energy level. You’ll feel a rush of motivation after you’ve ticked these areas off of your checklist that will make the rest of the packing process more tolerable.

2. Get Real About Your Weaknesses: Do you avoid cleaning out your pantry at all costs? Do your clothes pile up in your closet? Knowing which cleaning or organization tasks are your least favorite will help you better prepare and tackle decluttering before a move. Consider letting another member of your family handle packing these areas, or dedicating an entire day to them, so you don’t feel rushed.

3. Ask For Help When You Need It: This is one of the most important decluttering tips for moving! Trying to do everything yourself is one of the greatest sources of stress. Why not host a packing party and provide food and drinks for your family and friends who help? Or reach out to a loved one for help with a specific area of your home? You could even hire a professional organizing company that offers moving services. Remember, many hands make light work!


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