Purging and Organizing Before You Move-10 Helpful Tips

Purging and organizing before you move can be a daunting task.  We are working on selling our home, and focusing on moving,  so now is the perfect time to share some great tips on purging and packing.  My husband and I have moved a total of 17 times during our marriage.  This will be number 18.  I can’t use the excuse that we are a military family, but I can use the excuse that we are nomads by nature.  If you’ve sold your house and are getting ready to move into your new home, I’m going to give you 10 helpful tips on how to purge your house of items you’ve collected over the years to make your packing easier and less expensive.

10 Helpful tips on Purging and Organizing Before you Move

Packing With Purpose

Most people have approximately 35-45 days prior to closing on their house in which they can begin to start the purging and packing process.  The average three-bedroom home will use approximately 102 boxes in a move.  The process of purging and packing can be an organized, calming process if done properly.  So, get a jump on your purging and packing process early and give yourself time to pack slowly and with purpose.  Most people in a rush will shovel everything into boxes and then deal with it on the other side of the move.  This can be a costly choice. the more you pack, the more boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and people you need to help you make the move. The day you sign your contract, go pick up some supplies, and start the purging and packing process immediately.  Tell yourself, you will do 3 boxes a day, just 3.  If you manage more that day, then pat yourself on the back, but make sure you continue with the 3 boxes a day.  It’s too easy to fall off the purging and packing wagon.  A little tip, U-haul has a program that can connect you to other movers in order to share rides, as well as buy, sell or give away used boxes and supplies.  It’s a nice way to save money and help others out during and after your moving process, while keeping moving supplies out of the landfills and saving on fuel costs for both you and the people you share rides with.

Garage Sale Your Garage Stuff

Your garage tends to be a catch-all for household and outdoor items.  This is also the place where you will need to store boxes for charitable donations and or a garage sale prior to your move. So, the garage needs to be the first place you will begin your purging and packing process.  Remember this motto, if you haven’t touched it in over a year, it’s purgeable.  Start by purging and clearing two areas in front of the garage, one on each side for boxes containing charity items, and one for the boxes containing garage sale items.  Having these areas cleared upfront makes them easily accessible when the time comes for the sale and the donation delivery or pick up.

Tagging Items to Get Rid of

The biggest problem I’ve had with purging and packing is indecisiveness.  I look at something and tell myself, “Yep, haven’t had that out and used in over a year.”  Then about 10 minutes later, I look back at that item and begin my rant of excuses on why I should keep it.  The first step in getting rid of the excuses is to buy a bunch of colored stickers from your local office supply store and pick up some boxes.  If you plan on doing a garage sale and or donating, then label two boxes one for the garage sale items, the other for donation items.  Next, anything that hasn’t been used or touched in over a year, slap a colored sticker on it and stick it in the appropriate cardboard box. Do not look back in that box.  If you put it in there, set your mind to the fact that it is no longer yours.  Once the box is full, close and tape shut, then repeat with a new labeled box.  Put items for charity in one corner of the garage, and items for a garage sale in the other corner of the garage.  You’ve sealed the box, so getting back into it will require some work and remind you why you sealed it in the first place…because you don’t need it!  The other great thing is now that you’ve put a sticker on it, you’ll just need to put the price on the sticker before you set it out for the garage sale.  The stickers are also a trigger of why you decided not to keep the item in the first place…because you haven’t used it in over a year!

Categorize Your Keepsakes

If the keepsake has sat in a box for more than a year and you haven’t touched it, it needs to go.  I get it, we all collect things, keepsakes, love letters, kid’s artwork; memories attach themselves to everything we own.  My kryptonite was my kid’s artwork from school.  I wanted to keep every hand turkey picture, every coil clay pot, and every popsicle stick building.  So, I limited myself and my kids to one box of kid’s artwork, keepsakes, baby items per child.  Make sure it’s a decent-sized box with a good lid and make sure it is identifiable when you go to look for it.  I bought one with a blue designed lid for my son and a pink designed lid for my daughter.  It’s a nice way to go through the memories with your kids and decide what to keep.  I choose only one thing from their artwork per year.  Think about it, one thing after 18 years ends up being 18 things.  If I choose to keep a large item, then I have to be willing to let go of a lot more items.  I also use the baby items I keep to wrap breakable items in to save space.  I kept that mantra up throughout their school years. If I want to keep something, I have to make it fit in the box.  Each of those boxes will be given to my kids when they are older and ready to have their own kids.  Some of it, they may use for their baby’s room, some they may not keep.  It’s up to them.

Keeping the Holiday Spirit in Check

The same mentality goes for holiday decorations.  If they haven’t been opened in the last couple of holidays, it’s time to give it up.  Make sure your holiday items are stored in a box that is easily identifiable.  It means less work for you to find the items at a later date if you choose to purge again.  A bunch of brown boxes with no identification on them can look like an overwhelming task, but if the boxes are sturdy and colored or labeled, going through them is quick and efficient.

Out With the Old and Unused

One thing about garage sales, people love to have them, but they are a lot of work to pull together, so consider some of the online stores that you can sell your larger items on or websites that you can post clothes for sale or go in with a friend to have a big garage sale.  People love going to multi-family garage sales.  Remember what Yotam Ottolenghi said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  Finally, most donations centers have a website where you can schedule a pickup of items to make it easier on you.

Kitchen is Last on the List

Now that you’ve gone through the items you store, start the purging and packing process by sifting through your everyday items.  The rooms that you need to keep intact till the end is your bedroom and kitchen.  However, your kitchen is a BIG one to purge, so do that one last.  I have a breadmaker I got five years ago and haven’t touched in the last two years.  It’s got to go.  Moving the contents of your home can cost anywhere from $200 to $9500 with the typical range being between $568 and $1562.  If you haven’t used something in forever, and it’s taking up space, why would you want to pay to have it moved so it can take up space in your new place?

Office Rules

Do this same process with your office.  Make sure you have a shredder or price out having a company come out to shred any of the old paperwork.  The IRS has certain regulations for the duration of time tax records need to be kept for both business and personal tax records. Make sure you check into their requirements.  Property records, insurance, legal and creditors will also have time requirements for record storage, so check before disposing of those papers.  From my experience, extra office supplies tend to have a way of multiplying without my knowledge.  My argument is all those darn office fairies who show up and cause the supply duplication shinanigans in my office, but no one seems to buy into that explanation, so limit yourself to one or two additional reams of paper, a box of staples or couple rolls of tape etc., and donate or sell the rest.  Remember to pack a separate bag for your bills you will need for the next 2 weeks and important personal records such as social security cards, checkbook, and passports.  Do not ship this, take it with you to your new place.  Replacing these items can be a nightmare!

Necessities, Necessities, Necessities

Your down to just your kitchen and bedroom to pack. First step in purging and packing these rooms is pulling out necessities which should include clothing you will wear for 2 weeks, dishes you will need including a pot and pan to cook, glassware and silverware for the family, animal food bowls, and sheets for your bed as well as a small personal bag with your daily meds, hairdryer, curling or flat iron, makeup, brushes, etc., enough for the next 2 weeks and box in one box.  Label it NECESSITIES BOX and take it with you.  This box will hold your sanity for the next couple weeks so you aren’t trying to dig through boxes to find things.  Believe me, no matter how well you label your boxes, the work it takes to shift and move boxes to find the two or three boxes you need to live functionally till you can get yourself unpacked is a pain.  Save yourself the frustration and pack your NECESSITIES BOX!


When I was young and we moved from Chicago to Texas, my mom forgot to take out the trash, and the movers blew in and packed everything including the trash.  So, if you have your house packed by movers, take out your trash, and put in your car those personal items I mentioned or anything that you do not want them to pack.  When they come in, they are on a mission and will pack up anything that is not nailed down, so keep it out of the house and out of their reach.

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