Home Decor

13 Things to Toss If You're Moving

According to The Home Edit, here's what you should leave behind.

October 23, 2019

There are many silver linings to moving. It’s a fresh start, a chance to redefine a routine, and sometimes, a shot at more space. But who can recognize these impending upsides when boxes are half-full and possessions have exploded everywhere?

That’d be Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, co-founders of The Home Edit.

“Moving is the perfect time to hit the reset button,” says Shearer.

Shearer and Teplin have made a brand and a cult following out of embracing the silver lining in too much stuff, which is that it can be satisfyingly tossed or meticulously organized into an Instagram-ready display. Their eponymous book on decluttering is a New York Times bestseller, and they recently announced plans for a similar Netflix series. In other words, they’re the ones to listen to when you’re in the process of moving.

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“A digital image of a card from my deceased mom is NOT the same as the original that she handled, signed and mailed herself.”
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“It's very important to remember that decluttering should take place before you pack up, not after you are already moved in,” Teplin says. “The reason is pretty simple: You’re avoiding double the work.”

How to Handle the Process

It’s understandable to be stressed by the prospect of moving, but don’t let it overwhelm you—you’re more likely to schlep everything you own to your new place that way. Instead, take a deep breath and remember to keep Shearer’s biggest tip in mind:

“Ask yourself: Do I want it, need it, or find sentimental value in it? If the answer is no, it's time to toss or donate it,” she says. “If you aren't sure about an item, be honest with yourself and note any space restrictions in your new home.”

Shearer and Teplin operate with the mindset of, “You get the item, or you get the space, but you don't get both.” They say that the most relaxing homes have a balance between thoughtful furnishings and absolutely nothing, which should be 80 percent to 20 percent, so that rooms don’t feel like storage depositories. “You need to have breathing room, especially as you are growing into your new home,” Shearer says.

Teplin adds that this quest to be intentional with possessions should continue once all the boxes are in a fresh setting. A before-and-after plan will lessen stress and result in a more organized home.

“Before unpacking, map out a plan, room by room,” she says. “Consider what will go inside each closet, cabinet, and drawer, and place a sticky note to mark the location. Prepping your space in advance will result in a smoother and more efficient move-in.”

If the moving truck pick-up is scheduled and a new address is fast approaching, Shearer and Teplin have you covered. Here’s their advice on the 13 items you should throw out if you’re moving out, so that a new beginning isn’t weighed down by the past.

What to Toss

1. Old Linens and Towels

“Go through your linen closet and toss or donate anything that looks faded or damaged,” Teplin says. New linens and towels will be a comfort as you settle in, and they’ll look polished when guests come to see your new digs.

2. Worn Bath Mats

“Since mats get the wettest foot traffic, they tend to wear out easily,” Teplin says. It might seem like a small detail, but it makes a big difference when it comes to your daily routine.

3. Loose Papers

“Receipts, coupons, and the like are the gateway to the dreaded junk drawer,” Shearer says. “Toss what isn’t necessary, and either store the important documents in a separate box or scan them for safekeeping.” If you’re not sure whether a document is important or not, it’s best to hold on to it—circle back after you’ve moved in.

4. Outdated Technology

“If you don’t have an iPhone 3 anymore, then why keep the charger for it?” Teplin says. “On the same note, if you have a charger and you can’t find the item it goes with, it’s time to say goodbye.” Check local recycling programs for larger technology, like televisions or computers, to dispose of these items responsibly.

5. Expired Cleaning Supplies

“Take an inventory of all your cleaning supplies and you’ll likely find duplicates or some past their expiration dates,” Shearer says. Furthermore, if you never opened an item that is expired, consider it something you don’t need to buy again.

6. Cards

“We’re not saying to completely disregard all of the cards you receive, but if you still find them sentimental, cut down on clutter by scanning and making them digital instead,” Shearer says. Another option is to frame the ones that are particularly special, like a loving note from a parent.

7. Wire Hangers

“Trash all of your wire hangers and start fresh with huggable velvet hangers to create a streamlined look that maximizes space,” Teplin says. And while you’re already wading through your clothes, consider donating anything you haven’t worn for over a year.

8. Expired Medicine

“Toss out expired bottles and take an inventory of what you have or need in your new home,” Shearer adds. In fact, the entire medicine cabinet should also be cleared of expired creams and ointments, too.

9. To-Go Utensils

“No, you will not need the single-serving utensil packs from your delivery orders,” Teplin says. It’s also a good idea to recycle old menus—especially if it’s been a while since you last ordered from a certain restaurant.

10. Instruction Manuals

“If you forget how something works, you can always find it online,” Teplin adds. Feel free to nix the boxes that things came in, so that you can eventually store like-items together.

11. Books

“If you haven’t read them, you probably never will, so donate them,” Teplin notes. Recycle stacks of old magazines, and even un-subscribe to those you haven’t read in months.

12. Stray Plastic Food Storage Containers

“If a bowl doesn't have a lid or vice versa, it's got to go,” Shearer notes. You likely don’t need as many reusable bowls as you think—save that space for other goods.

13. Gifts

“As far as we're concerned, moving is the perfect reason to toss or donate a gift you were only keeping out of guilt,” Shearer says. In case anyone asks, Shearer jokes that this excuse works: “It must have gotten lost in the move!”

Have any tricks for making a move as painless as possible? Let us know in the comments.
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  • Casey K
    Casey K
  • Gammy
  • Mirella
  • Jaxmomo
Kelly Dawson

Written by: Kelly Dawson

Writer and Editor


Casey K. November 23, 2019
These are good tips even if you are not moving. 🤩 I don’t want to overwhelm myself, but going to try a couple before the holidays and see if that gets me started on the way to a more organized home life. Thank you for posting.
Gammy October 25, 2019
A digital image of a card from my deceased mom is NOT the same as the original that she handled, signed and mailed herself.
Mirella October 24, 2019
I think that this article reflects values that I don't share-- everything is not disposable and the author does not even make a nod towards trying to minimize environmental waste. Cleaning products do not expire, whether they have "expiration dates" or not, this is just marketing nonsense. Not everyone can afford to replace linens just because it may be "comforting" and in the real world you sometimes need an old towel or sheet for something..... and getting rid of books, just because you haven't read them yet? I am trying not to be judgmental about the cleaning/decor/lifestyle sections of this website, but this article makes that very difficult....... Declutter before moving is a good idea, but the specific suggestions make me cringe.
Jaxmomo October 23, 2019
I am a professional packer. I highly recommend ziploc baggies for junk drawers, cosmetics and jewelry. Keeps everything neat and easily packed into the carton. Labeling is priority, dont want to spend time on a scavenger hunt after a long day of moving. Designate a "Load last,Unload first" carton. This carton is for all the essential items, you want to get to quickly once you get to your new home.
Gammy October 25, 2019
Love the idea of the zip-bags for the little stuff. I'll take it one step further... When you know you are moving, start saving those zip-bags that you may have used for veges, crackers and any other non-greasy items, thoroughly wash and dry and recycle to use to pack up the smalls. Why use a brand new bag for those junk draw items?
Jaxmomo October 25, 2019
Plastic grocery bags work just as well.