50 Things to Toss When Moving (or Just Because You Want to Declutter)

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If you’re about to move, you’re probably considering just how much of your stuff you can purge before you go. Finding out how to get rid of everything and move — to the perfect degree — is a complex art. 

After all, you don’t want to take everything you own with you. That can get heavy and expensive. Boxes of books add up, and if you’re using movers, the more you have, the more you have to pay. At the same time, you need to resist the urge to toss everything out. It’s just as expensive to donate your items and then buy all new things as it is to bring it all with you. 

But do you really need all of those wire hangers? Or those glass Mason jars? Or your old, beat-up couch?

How do you decide what to keep, and what to say goodbye to? I’m no Marie Kondo, but I did my best to divide up the stuff you should get rid of into four categories: “old and used,” “it’s multiplying,” “what is that?” and “this doesn’t go there.” You will have to think about the things you use regularly and the logistics of your move — but I promise I won’t force you to have strong feelings about your toaster.

The old and used

Be honest with yourself: You have stuff that stopped being useful when the Rachel haircut was still in style. Now that you’re moving, it’s time to reassess. Nix the things that are actually trash. Recycle or re-home other stuff when you can. Some examples in this category are:

1. Clothes that don’t fit
2. Shoes you wore once and then never again
3. Outdated electronics like old phones or VHS players
4. Posters you bought in college
5. Expired food
6. Expired medications
7. Expired makeup
8. Stray cords
9. Nonessential paperwork–shred it
10. Worn sheets and towels
11. Shower curtains — these can get gross, get a new one
12. Instruction manuals
13. Tax returns — shred and keep an electronic copy in the cloud
14. Old bills and receipts

It’s multiplying: The stuff you have too much of

If you’re like me, you don’t realize that you have enough office supplies, so you keep buying them over and over. The same can be said for a lot of things we seem to amass, especially when we live someplace for a while. Moving is a great time to take stock of what you have. Sell, donate, or give away any excess that someone else can use.

15. Dishes
16. Cookware
17. Glasses and cups
18. Stained or mismatched containers
19. Spices, especially ones you bought a decade ago
20. Clips, twists, odds and ends
21. Basically, your entire junk drawer
22. Towels that don’t match or have discoloration
23. Tools you’ve never used (and have no plans for using)
24. Extra vases or knickknacks
25. Water bottles
26. Pens — you only need a few
27. Office supplies
28. Any more than two sets of sheets
29. Unused blankets or comforters
30. Excess luggage — you only need three pieces per person
31. Chargers and other miscellaneous electronics

What is that? AKA that stuff at the back of your closet

If you haven’t seen your stuff in years, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with it.

32. Books you’ve had for years and never read — get them at the library instead
33. Old magazines
34. Obsolete formats like VHS, cassette tapes, or CDs (if you don’t use them)
35. Appliances and gadgets you don’t use
36. Holiday decorations that stay in storage — even when it’s the holidays
37. Toys or games your kids have outgrown
38. Unused serving dishes
39. A big one: Kirsten Fisher, a professional organizer, is officially giving you permission to get rid of “gifts you hate but are keeping out of guilt”
40. Baby gear, especially if you aren’t planning to have another one
41. Broken stuff that isn’t easily fixed
42. Old greeting cards
43. Clothes that don’t look good on you

This doesn’t go there: Anything that isn’t a good fit for your new place

Odds are, your new digs are going to be different from your old place. In some circumstances, this may change what you should bring with you, what you’ll use, and even what might fit.

“Donate anything that you won’t use at your new place,” advises Eileen Roth, author of Organizing for Dummies. “For instance, if you’re moving to a warm climate and you no longer need a snow shovel or sled, donate them. Keep that winter coat and a pair of boots in case you return for a visit. If you’re moving to a condo, you probably won’t need gardening tools or a hose. If you have a pool now, and your new place doesn’t, you can probably get rid of your pool toys.”

Also, use this time to purge the things that you want to replace: “My main advice is to get rid of any heavy and large items that you don’t love,” says Ali Wenzke, author of The Art of Happy Moving: How to Declutter, Pack and Start Over While Maintaining Your Sanity and Finding Happiness. “Consider how much it will cost you to pack it, move it, and unpack it in your new place. Would it be easier and cheaper to sell the item or donate it and then to rebuy it if you really missed it?”

44. Filters for your current AC unit
45. Lighting made specifically for your current fixtures
46. Curtains
47. DIY decor items like flooring, wallpaper, tile, and paint
48. Dining room set
49. Bedroom set
50. Sectional furniture 

Need more moving motivation? See all AT-approved tips and advice in one place.