Summer, June through August, can be officially described as moving season. Those sultry months claim up to 13 percent of all moves, compared to about 8 percent or less for other months, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. If you’re among those packing up your home to relocate, make sure you pare down before moving out. After all, why should you waste your energy and funds moving belongings you don’t really need or use?
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting rid of unneeded items in every area of your home, from the attic and basement to the kitchen.
This is an area of your home that could be the culprit of a lot of unnecessary or unused items. Take an inventory of your small appliances, for starters. Are there outdated units that you haven’t used in months? Perhaps you have a coffeemaker you haven’t used since getting a new one during the Christmas holiday or a bread machine, deep fryer or ice cream maker that just gather dust. If you haven’t used some of your small appliances in six months or more, chances are you won’t use them in your new home. Consider selling them in a garage sale or donating them to a friend or to a variety of organizations like Goodwill. Likewise, look through your drawers and cabinets to throw away or donate mismatched dishes, chipped glasses, plastic tumblers, frayed dishcloths and broken utensils. Don’t try to hold on to items that you won’t use or that should be replaced anyway.
Tread carefully here. These are the areas that can cause nostalgia to take over your common sense. Although it’s likely you don’t see the items in these areas more than once a year, you keep holding on to them for some reason, whether it’s every worksheet and drawing your child brought home during her elementary school years, old toys, out-of-style clothes, dated holiday decorations or an array of books from your college days. When going through these items, decide which ones hold true sentimental value and which are just taking up space. Also, decide whether you really want to take an item to your new home. For example, do you want to bring along an artificial Christmas tree that has seen much better days? It may be time to purchase a new one that will be a better fit for your new home. Don’t just dump the old tree; various centers will accept artificial Christmas trees for recycling. Take your time in determining which items can be parted with. If it’s difficult to get rid of certain items for emotional reasons, consider taking photos of them as a way to maintain your memories … in much less space.
Start with areas that will have a big impact: your closet and drawers. In most cases, many of us can pare down our closets significantly by taking a look at each item and asking, “When was the last time I wore this?” If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to pass it along to someone who will actually get some use from it. Make sure you include belts, purses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories in your inventory of items. Also, now is the time to seriously check out your bed linens. Do they look worn? Consider investing in new sets to ensure you have a fresh start in your new home.
Family Room/Den/Play Area:
Games, books, electronics and toys tend to take over our family gathering areas. It’s easy to lose sight of which items have been simply taking up space. Make this chore a family exercise. Get buy-in from each family member about which games your brood has outgrown or no longer use. The same with books and toys. Save a few that have been childhood favorites and donate the rest to charity. If you have small children, explain the benefits of contributing to other children who may not have many toys or books. Also, check the room for outdated electronics and accessories, including disc players, VCRs and cords that don’t seem to have a home. Make sure you follow the proper steps for recycling or discarding electronics.
Grab a box or two and a trash can when tackling the bathroom. It’s time to sift through the assortment of shampoos, makeup, blow dryers and other items that have taken over one of the most used rooms in the home. Carefully check the expiration dates on makeup or try to estimate how long you have had them. Most have a shelf life … toss the mascara, foundation, lipsticks and sponges that have been around longer than suggested makeup expiration dates. Look at your remaining items. Do you have dozens of travel-size shampoos, soaps and conditioners that you have collected from various hotels? Donate the unopened containers to shelters that accept these types of items. If you have items that you rarely use, such as curling irons, flat irons or blow dryers, donate them to a social service agency.
Once you have handled the business of reducing the items in your household, you will enjoy a much lighter moving experience. You’ll find that it was well worth the time and effort to shed a bit of extra household weight before moving on.