Decluttering When Downsizing

Decluttering When Downsizing title

Decluttering When Downsizing

There are several steps to decluttering when downsizing.  As I mentioned in last week’s blog, “Preparing to Downsize,” work through one room at a time, in small increments of time.  Unless under a tight time frame, declutter for just 2 to 3 hours a day so it won’t become too exhausting or overwhelming.

Begin decluttering the storage areas first.  Items in attics, basements and garages have often not been used in a long time.  These are usually the quickest and easiest items to part with.

Prioritize all other rooms and work through one room at a time.  Starting with guest rooms or other rooms you may not have in your new place is a good idea.  You will eventually whittle it down to just the rooms you plan to have in your new space, for example, just the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen areas will remain.

Here are some areas & items to declutter when downsizing:


Purge your closets and dressers of any clothing that doesn’t fit, is out of style, or you haven’t worn in the past year.  Then narrow it down to your favorite clothes that will reasonably fit in your new bedroom.


Remove excess toiletries, expired medications, anything you haven’t used recently, that can easily be replaced, or will not be used in your new home.


Reduce the number of place settings, remove appliances you haven’t used in the past 6 months, narrow down pots, pans, glasses, etc. to just enough for your new lifestyle.


Keep just enough towels and sheets for your needs (2 to 3 sets per person).


If you are not going to read certain books again, sell or give them away.  You can always use a kindle, library, or re-purchase a book at a low cost if you really need it again.

Old Media

Part with media you do not use such as audio tapes, CDs, film, video tapes, and DVDs.  If any of these are home movies, give them to a family member or have them digitized so they can be watched.

Photo Collections

Keep your favorite photos and give the others to family members and/or scan the photos.

Items from Old Hobbies

Tennis rackets, golf clubs, bowling balls, painting supplies, sewing supplies; if you don’t plan to continue with a hobby, give these items away.

Current Hobby Supplies

If you do have a hobby you plan to continue, still minimize your hobby supplies to an amount that will fit in your new place.  For example, perhaps you sew, but can only fit one bin of fabric in your new closet, keep your favorite fabrics and give away or sell the rest.


Sell or give away all furniture you won’t be taking with you.  Measure all of your remaining furniture to make sure it will fit in your new place.

Once you’ve moved to your new space, begin unpacking in an organized way.  If you’ve done a thorough declutter before moving, you will have a lot less to unpack.  You may still find that not everything fits into the smaller space, and few more items may need to go, but your overall move will be so much easier if you declutter first.

About the Author:

Nancy Haworth is a Professional Organizer and Owner of On Task Organizing, LLC located in Raleigh, North Carolina. She assists residential clients throughout the area in organizing homes, decluttering, moving, and managing time. She has been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers since 2011.

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