Where to start with decluttering before you move house

Moving house is a stressful time; not least because of the financial worries and time delays, but because of all that ‘stuff’! You know, the ‘stuff’ that you’ve managed to accumulate over a period of time and that can fill your current home to the point of bursting but moving into a bigger space means you don’t have to get rid of anything as you’ll have more space to keep it, right? Wrong! It’s a big mistake that can cost you time, money, stress and effort.

We spoke to an expert, Amanda Manson of Orderly Office and Home who is a Professional Organiser and accredited member of The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (www.apdo-uk.co.uk). Amanda helps people to simplify their lives by getting more organised, providing support and hands-on help to enable people to make changes to their office and home space so they can save time, money and become more efficient. Below are Amanda’s top tips to help you declutter your life and home in advance of a move.

declutteringWhen you’re thinking about moving house it’s important to declutter, not only so that potential buyers can imagine their own things in your home, but so that the actual packing and moving part of the process is simplified.  So here are my tips for helping you to declutter and organise your house room by room before you move:

Decluttering tips for hoarders

Start as soon as you can!

  • There’s no time like the present and just 10 minutes a day could make for a great start on your decluttering mission!
  • Little and often; don’t try a whole room in one go – you’ll end up exhausted and disheartened.
  • Keep your goal of moving into your new home at the forefront of your mind and you will be spurred on to continue each day.

Should it stay or should it go?

  • Look at what you have in your home and ask yourself ‘do I use it, love it or need it?’ If the answer is ‘no’, ask yourself why you still have it if all it’s doing is cluttering up valuable storage space. If you can’t give yourself a good enough reason – get rid!
  • Clothing that you haven’t worn in over a year – will you ever wear it again?
  • Gifts that you hate and will never use – why bring them with you?
  • Furniture that will be too big in your new home – can you replace it with something smaller now?
  • Time for a reality check. Consider passing things on to a relative or friend, donating to charity, selling in the local paper or on an auction site, or listing online for free collection.
  • Recycle your unwanted items where possible, but if things aren’t suitable for someone else, then take a trip to your local rubbish tip.

Declutter visible spaces

  • All open surfaces and room space should be as clear as possible ready for the estate agent’s photographs. Buyers can be easily put off by what appears to be a dirty, cramped or cluttered space.
  • Go around your home with your ‘buyers hat’ on (or ask a friend or the estate agent themselves) to take a look at things from a buyer’s perspective. Is your collection of treasured teapots on your kitchen shelves everyone’s cup of tea (excuse the pun!)?
  • Packing up and leaving only a few items on display will be far more pleasing to the eye, and will mean less packing up when you actually come to move. Don’t forget the same applies to garage, shed and loft spaces too.

Hidden spaces

  • ‘Will they look in my cupboards?’ If you’ve got fitted wardrobes and sleek kitchen cupboards, buyers will want to know what they can fit into them! A wardrobe stuffed full of clothes, with things strewn across the bottom of it will suggest that there is not enough storage space.
  • Likewise, a kitchen cupboard bursting at the seams with cookery paraphernalia will set alarm bells ringing as buyers ask themselves ‘where will I put my mixer, bread maker, blender?’ and so on. Organise and clear out your cupboards of accumulated clutter, or if you just can’t help but hoard invest in some suitable home storage solutions.
  • Time to pack away anything that you’re not realistically going to use for a couple of months, leaving out only what you really need.
  • If the juicer you bought in the January sales in 2003 is still unused, you’re unlikely to ever use it in the future – time to say goodbye to it!
  • Pack seasonal clothing away until the weather warms up or cools down, depending on what time of year you’re sorting out.

How to store

  • Consider timescales when deciding what to keep out, what to pack away and what can go. If you’ve got Christmas items in your storage cupboards in the middle of March, I’d suggest boxing up and storing neatly in a loft, garage, or storage facility until you either move or they are needed – whichever comes first.
  • Leave cupboard/wardrobe/kitchen space for the things you use most often – you’ll find it actually makes your life much more simple!
  • Even if you don’t want to get rid of some things, a quick tidy-up and straightening out of coat hangers, pots and pan drawers, utility cupboards and the like, will give the appearance of an ordered, organised space.

Stop buying more!

  • If you’re move is only weeks away, start paring down the consumables you already have in your home, so there’s less to move.
  • Check your kitchen cupboards and freezer to see what meals you can make with what you already have. Discard out of date items. Plan a list of meals you can make, and amend your shopping list for only the items you really need for that week, not what you regularly buy – I once packed 8 rolls of aluminium foil for a Client’s house move, as she’d continued ordering it on her online weekly shop!
  • Do the same thing with your bathroom cupboards and toiletries. Don’t be tempted by BOGOF deals – it’s just more to move!

Paperwork and reading material

  • Sort through your paperwork piles and discard or shred anything that you really don’t need – outdated bills, manuals for items you no longer have, old invitations, etc.
  • Those magazines you’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t, probably won’t get read at all during this busy time, so cancel or put your subscriptions on hold until you’re settled into your new space.

Make a list

  • You need to keep track of where everything is. If you’ve a new home in the pipeline, give each room in the new property a number, and pack up belongings, noting on each box which room they should go into.
  • If you’re not at that point yet, start by grouping like with like items, and pack winter clothing together, books and bedding (always spread books out across several boxes – your removal men will thank you!), pictures and ornaments, etc.


Removal companies base their prices on the volume of possessions that need moving as well as the distance; the more possessions the greater the cost which is why decluttering your house and life before a move can actually save you money!

These are just some of the tips that can help you get prepared for moving home. Decluttering should be an ongoing process – before, during and after your house move. Being honest with yourself and not allowing sentiment to take over during one of the most expensive investments you might make will keep you on track to having a clear, calm and stylish home.

For more information about Amanda Manson of Orderly Office & Home, please visit www.orderlyofficeandhome.co.uk.

For additional information on moving home read our moving house checklist and packing tips guide, well as our  who to notify when moving house article.

We would love to hear from you if you have any hints or tips that you have found particularly useful, email us on [email protected]