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A Declutter Check List

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

Congratulations!  You have decided to put your home on the market.  Now you need to get the property ready for sale.  If you struggle to find the motivation to declutter your home, a decluttering checklist can make the task so much easier. An often-overlooked part of why decluttering is so hard comes down to decision-making. But, if you utilize a decluttering checklist, you already have a list of things that you can jettison—no need to get hung up on decision-making.

You also want to set up your structure for disposing of the now decluttered items.  Most things fall into one of five categories - throw away, donate, gift, sell or recycle. Do some research on places that you can drop off donations like Goodwill, A Wider Circle, or your local pet shelter. 

Another benefit of using a decluttering checklist is the ability to check things off as you work through the list. This simple act is not only motivating but also empowering, as you can physically see progress as the checks build up.

Before You Begin Decluttering

When working with a decluttering checklist, it’s best to start simple.  Looking at the whole, long list at once can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on small quick wins.  Focus on the steps, not the whole job. 

Pick a room to declutter, and from there, break it down further by choosing an area within that room.  For example, in the kitchen you could choose the spice drawer or the pantry to tackle first. Only move on once you’ve decluttered your chosen area.    Take your time and finish the job. 

Room-by-Room Decluttering Checklists

Bathroom Decluttering Checklist

  • Expired and no-longer-used make-up
  • Expired and no-longer-needed medicines and prescriptions
  • Dried-out nail polish
  • Extraneous hairbrushes, combs, and hair accessories
  • Skincare and make-up samples
  • Old or threadbare towels
  • Unused hair styling tools.
  • Expired sunscreen

Bedroom Decluttering Checklist

  • Paper clutter
  • Books that won’t be read again
  • Old magazines
  • Unused or unnecessary furniture
  • Excess decorative pillows
  • Sheets that are past their prime  (You can donate them to your local animal shelter) 

Closet Decluttering Checklist

  • Clothes that no longer fit
  • Clothes you haven’t worn in over nine months
  • Socks and tights with holes in them
  • Gifted clothes that you won’t ever wear
  • Underwear that is worn or frayed
  • Extra hangers/dry-cleaning hangers
  • Shoes that hurt or are uncomfortable
  • Broken jewelry
  • Clothes that haven’t been repaired in over a year
  • Unused fitness gear
  • Clothes you've never worn but you’re holding on to because they were expensive
  • Old and excess wallets and purses

Home Office Decluttering Checklist

  • Paper clutter (receipts, old bills, old insurance papers)
  • Excess pens and pencils
  • Dried-out pens, markers, and highlighters
  • Expired gift cards and coupons
  • Used notebooks
  • Unused cords, cables, and chargers
  • Unused tech accessories (stands, mouse pads, thumb drives)
  • Manuals for items you no longer own or use

Kid's Room Decluttering Checklist

  • Outgrown clothes and shoes
  • Toys that are broken or no longer played with
  • Worn-down stuffed toys (Unless it's the Velveteen Rabbit)
  • Used arts-and-crafts supplies
  • Books they have outgrown
  • School books from previous years
  • Old school projects
  • Toys, games and puzzles with missing pieces
  • Paper clutter

Kitchen Decluttering Checklist

  • Duplicate kitchen tools (vegetable peelers, bottle openers, garlic presses)
  • Appliances used once a year or less
  • Out-of-date spices and pantry items
  • Spices/dry ingredients bought for one dish that will never be used again
  • Mismatched and excess coffee mugs
  • Excess serving dishes, plates, cutlery, and glassware
  • Stained food storage containers
  • Food storage containers without lids
  • Rarely used recipe books
  • Old and worn dish towels
  • Fast food utensils and straws
  • Broken or chipped dishes and plates
  • Rarely used or unused special occasion serving pieces (use it or clear it out)
  • Takeout menus  (That's what the internet is for!) 

Living Room Decluttering Checklist

  • Furniture you no longer like or that no longer fits your decor
  • Old magazines
  • Books that you won’t read again
  • Broken or not-in-use remote controls
  • Excess couch pillows and throws
  • Decorative objects that you don’t use or like
  • Broken or chipped decorative objects
  • Extra cables and chargers that you no longer use
  • Any stained textiles that can’t be cleaned
  • Dead plants that can’t be revived

General Household Items Decluttering Checklist

  • Old electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras
  • Old photos (pick your favorites and clear out the rest)
  • Unused or broken holiday decorations
  • Old holiday cards and birthday cards
  • Excess and unused luggage
  • Hobby-related things that are no longer used (musical instruments, camping gear)
  • Unused exercise equipment
  • Extra bed linens (two per bed is ideal)  (Remember to donate to the animal shelter) 

What to Do After Decluttering

  • Anything that’s in the throw pile should be thrown away on the day that you declutter. Don’t wait until you do the whole room—this will stop you from having second thoughts.
  • When donating, it helps to choose somewhere meaningful to you.  Goodwill, the Salvation Army, A Wider Circle or Second Chance are all possibilities. This makes it easier to part with things, especially if you have trouble letting go.
  • If you’re giving something away as a gift, focus on the pleasure it will bring to the person receiving it. Knowing that it’s going to a home where it will be loved will make it easier to give away.
  • When selling, set a firm ‘sell by’ date. Anything not sold by that date should be donated or gifted.
  • Much like the throw pile, everything in the recycling pile should be taken to wherever you take your recycling on the day that you have the clear out. 
  • Finally, make sure you have decided on a reward for yourself each time you declutter a room. Maybe it's a break to read a new book (from the library and returnable) or it's a cup of tea with a friend using your favorite serving piece.  It's your job to declutter - and your joy to decompress after your task is complete! Congratulations! 
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Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent decluttering checklist!!!

YES to all of your suggestions. It really makes a huge difference to chop the job up in to manageable sections. People are far more likely to continue on when they feel accomplished rather than overwhelmed.

Feb 14, 2024 09:14 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That is quite the comprehensive list. Finish that and the house will be almost barren.

Feb 14, 2024 09:17 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

What an excellent list, my wife when she retires is going to start decluttering, not sure how long it will take, but hopefully by the time we move to our next home in many years from now she will have completed the decluttering.

Feb 14, 2024 11:51 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Lise Howe  my other half keeps nagging me about decluttering my home office... I love to be in disorganized place, I know where everything is:)Endre

Feb 14, 2024 10:36 PM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Every seller needs a declutter checklist and they need to adhere to it fully in order to get their home ready for the market.

Feb 15, 2024 04:43 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good information to share. We need to get rid of a lot of stuff at our home.

Feb 17, 2024 08:12 AM
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Homes

This is quite a list!  If only I could get all of that done I would be very happy.

Feb 17, 2024 09:06 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

What a great list, Lise. My favorite...and something I do...is to take one area at a time. If not, it's overwhelming. Editing my clothes is a hard one for one of the reasons you mentioned, I have clothes that still fit and have not been worn a lot and some never at all. I'ts hard to give them up. 

Feb 17, 2024 06:05 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Feb 17, 2024 06:28 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Flower Mound, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Lise Howe - Clutter and Dust go together like brick and mortar. You can't have one without the other! Your clients will benefit with your list. It's a good one. 

Feb 17, 2024 08:32 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Kathy Streib  as always thank you for the attention!  I always appreciate it. Have a great week

Feb 18, 2024 05:06 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP - I am laughing at your comment - so true!  Have a great day

Feb 18, 2024 05:06 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Lise. The wife and I have been decluttering for years as a necessity to living in an apartment in the sky. Now as we consider a move to the suburbs, it is time for an additional decluttering. Thanks for the list. Enjoy your day.

Feb 18, 2024 05:33 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I have thinned out some , but I still have clothes in my closet that need to go !!!

Feb 18, 2024 07:11 AM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

Really a great list and with specifics on the how, what, where to get rid of stuff!

Feb 18, 2024 10:07 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Decluttering is one of the simplest and best ways to get something off your mind and have a fresh start and there are a lot of decluttering aspects to go onto Feng Shui

Feb 18, 2024 08:59 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

This a fantastic list to help figure out what to eliminate/sell/etc. Thank you for sharing!

Feb 19, 2024 04:34 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Every American family needs to declutter and reduce hoard. 10 years ago I could see those in mortgage defualt by looking at their garage and hoard. Also cars drove.

Feb 19, 2024 07:36 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA
ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN

Reading through your lists, Lise, it is impossible to not of find objects that I should let go.

Feb 20, 2024 03:35 PM
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hi Lise, all very very good.  btw: I have a bumper and trunk lid sitting in my living room with guitars everywhere!!!

Feb 21, 2024 10:22 AM