It seems simple to declutter at first: just get rid of some stuff, and there will be much more space to utilize at home. But every item is (probably) there for a reason, and it can be difficult to let go to some things without enough of a rationale. It’s easier to determine which belongings to get rid of when each of these items is listed in an inventory sheet. The only other time that is likely to happen in everyday life is during the moving process, as then every item needs to be accounted for its relocation to a new residence. When you have that list ready, comparing each item in your home to one another becomes a lot more simple. Once the list is ready to go, the person moving can still be stuck with their decluttering process. There are no defined rules for the decluttering process, but there are best practices utilized by the professionals to create space in an efficient way. 

home house

Determining What You Don’t Need

New school methods from the likes of Marie Kondo suggests holding individual items one might declutter to determine if they “spark joy”. Those methods are effective for those who they speak to, but might be a little abstract and aggressive for the layman. Decluttering can be simpler than that. To start the process, certain items that make the most sense to purge should be identified.

Does the item fit in the new home?

Household belongings work best within the right context, and a new home might alter the context in which an item made sense to keep. As an example, a garment rack might not be necessary in a larger home with more closet space, and an l-shaped couch might not be a good fit in a small studio apartment. 

Is the item easily replaceable?

It is less painful to part with anything that can be retained if the day comes when the item is once again needed. With larger items like furniture, moving companies often recommend their clients replace anything they are comfortable replacing  at their destination, as shipping larger items across the country can be pricey.

Can the item turn into cash?

Some items have enough ubiquity and utility that they can easily be sold to just about anyone. Typically, this is the case with one-size-fits-all items with universal product codes, like CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, blu-ray movies, video games, and books. This can often be the case with more valuable items for which a robust secondary market exists, like sports memorabilia, sneakers, or handbags.

Is your item valuable to the less fortunate?

Certain items are always in demand at shelters and other charitable organizations, such as winter coats, socks, and toys. Contact a local charity accepting supply donations and see which of the items you’re considering giving up would be most helpful to a vulnerable person. 

How to Purge Your Clutter: Selling, Donating or Disposing

Once items have been designated as clutter, there are three primary outcomes that will befall them, for the most part. They can be sold to another person, donated to a charity, non-profit, or friend/family member, or simply thrown out like common trash. Determining which fate is assigned to each item is a simple process. 

Selling Items 

There’s always a chance that a market exists for whatever item that one tries to remove from their home. After all, the item was likely purchased before it before it entered. For larger pieces like furniture or electronics, local listings on sites like Craigslist and Facebook are likely to be most successful in moving them on to their next owner. Certain specialty sites do exist for kinds of larger items, like AptDeco, a marketplace of used furniture. Smaller items that can be mailed easily could be sold a larger array of places, like eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, or OfferUp. The trusty “garage sale” craigslist or facebook post is generally a good idea for any types of clutter.

Donating Items

Dropping off suitable donations at a local non-profit is the best way to distribute clutter to the needy, but a busy move planner can simplify the process. Charities like the Salvation Army offer donation pickups for certain items, and websites like provide free pre-paid postage to send clothing donations via UPS. Much of what is provided by nearby local charities changes based on local availability, so mileage may vary.

Disposing Items 

If the item in question isn’t valuable enough to be sold and is too difficult to donate, the only option left is disposal. Some things, like paper, plastic, and cans, can be recycled. Most things can be thrown in a common trash bin. Every city has its own disposal policy, but New York is particularly strict about allowing large items to be disposed in accessible areas. For people who live in a city, the building manager for their apartment or condominium will specify these larger items have to go in a certain place at a certain time. Depending on the city, a service provider like 1-800-Got-Junk that specializes in removing large pieces of trash can assist in the disposal process.