It’s easy to say, “cut down the clutter” before a move, but sometimes the doing is harder than the saying. Where do you start? What kinds of clutter to people notice the most and the least? Sometimes, before we can even make the four piles (remember: sort things into piles of must keep, important, get rid of, and trash/recycle), you need a plan.

Even if you’re not moving right now, it can be a good idea to take a good look at your belongings and see what you need to keep. Clutter and mess can really make our homes feel less comfortable. Plus, it’s nice to feel the sense of accomplishment from being able to move around in your closet again.


What’s in your dresser or your closets? There are almost certainly several items you no longer wear. Why is that? Pause on each one, pull it out and look at it carefully. Do you remember why you liked it? Do you need that old quirky t-shirt that you haven’t worn since high school? How about those shorts that didn’t quite fit last time you tried them on? Do they fit now, or are you holding on to them out of a sense of hope? And since tastes can change, do you really love those boots now even though they hurt your feet?

Remember that most clothes that are in good repair can be donated or sold, and find new owners who will love them as much as you once did.

Music and Entertainment

First, check out your shelves of CDs, DVDs, and games. Do you still listen to that music, in that format? Even if you get a hankering for the music of your childhood or your odd foray into foreign crime thrillers, is a bulky physical item the best way to watch it again? Remember that most music, shows, movies, and games can be purchased and stored on small hard drives, or streamed to any of your devices. Is there a sentimental value to the physical media? Can you not find it any other way?

This also applies to older storage media, such as vinyl, VHS tapes, or zip disks or floppy disks. Even if there’s a reason to hold on to these things, do you have ways to play them back?


This can be the hardest one for some people. But the same rules apply here as for music or other kinds of entertainment. Books are pretty bulky and can be hard to box up, store, or move, so think about which ones you need to keep. Again, it’s possible to buy e-book versions of most things, so you should try to only keep the books that have personal meaning or you can’t easily replace. Sure, you should hold onto a signed hardcover, a rare edition, or a beloved timeworn copy, but do you need the mass market paperback version that you already own in electronic form?

Art and Decorations

Some of us have been collecting posters and trinkets since we were young. Some are important to who we are, and those need to be kept. But sometimes we still have collection of those cheap posters we got as freshmen in college and now we’re vaguely embarrassed to hang on the walls, or decorative towels and pillows that have never matched the decor, or that weird “conversation piece” our folks bought when we got our first apartment that no one even wants to look at. Consider how much this stuff means to you.


These just accumulate out of nowhere, it seems. Maybe you really wanted a cheese board and then invited people over only once, or somehow you kept forgetting that you already had a gravy boat or slotted spoon. Even worse are those gosh-wow products you see in infomercials or appliance stores, such as sandwich makers, juicers, or soda streams. When in doubt, you shouldn’t need more than one or two of any particular cooking utensil or appliance, and if you don’t remember ever having a use for an item, it needs to go. And if you find something still in its box gathering dust, then you don’t need to hold on to it.

Bath Products

Shampoos and soaps, razors, hand towels, loofahs, two dozen different kinds of towels, and of course all the associated beauty products like colonies or perfumes, makeup, or hair-dye products–these just pile up in drawers, medicine cabinets, and linen closets. Take a good look at what’s still useful, what’s old, and what’s just gotten scary. Here’s a hint; if you don’t remember buying it, then you probably shouldn’t keep it. Plus, unless you have a huge family or a lot of guests, two sets of towels per resident are probably enough.