Real Talk: What to keep, toss or sell

Real Talk: What to keep, toss or sell
When moving or decluttering, you may realize you can't or don't want to take all of your belongings with you. File Photo.

By Mary Ellen Rotondo 

I recently packed up several rooms in my house to get ready for a big kitchen renovation. I can’t help but think about my clients who are planning a household change this year, either going to a larger house, downsizing, furnishing a second home or renovating their existing space.

Moving means that many hours of decluttering and packing are in store for you. When going through years’ worth of items you’ve collected, you may start to realize you either can’t – or don’t – want to take it all with you. Parting with some items can be difficult, especially if you’ve held onto them for ages.

Even if you aren’t moving, you and your home can benefit from a good spring cleaning, decluttering and organization. Spring cleaning can be a great opportunity to declutter your home and get a fresh start. If you approach it as if you were moving, you can make the most of the process.

Find below my list of helpful tips that I typically provide to my clients as they prepare for this sometimes overwhelming task:

1) Start with a plan: Make a list of all the areas in your home you want to clean and declutter, and prioritize them based on their level of clutter.

2) Tackle one room at a time: Rather than trying to clean the entire house all at once, focus on one room at a time. This will help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

3) Sort and declutter: Start by sorting through all of your belongings and get rid of anything you no longer need or want. Donate, recycle, or dispose of items that are still in good condition and throw away anything that’s beyond repair.

4) Clean thoroughly: Once you’ve decluttered, give each room a deep clean. Dust and wipe down surfaces, vacuum or sweep the floors and wash windows and mirrors. Pay special attention to areas that are frequently overlooked such as the tops of cabinets, behind furniture and inside closets.

5) Store items appropriately: Once you’ve finished cleaning, put your remaining belongings back in their proper place and consider storing items that you don’t need on a regular basis in a storage unit or attic.

6) Maintain your clean space: Once you’ve finished your spring cleaning, make a plan to keep your home organized and clutter-free. Consider implementing new habits, such as cleaning up after yourself each day and regularly going through your belongings to get rid of anything you no longer need.

If you are planning to move any time soon, you will want to approach things with more definitive parameters, such as deciding what to keep, toss or sell.

What to keep

Let’s start with the easiest category – things you should keep. When planning your move, taking everyday items with you will save you time and money once you are settled in your new space. Taking complete bedroom sets, favorite pieces of furniture such as tables and couches and any dining room chairs and high tops is a smart move. You’ll also want to keep any chargers for new electronic devices and manuals to go with them.

Pack your frequently used clothing, accessories and toiletries. Basic cleaning supplies are a must, too. These items can be expensive to replace and you will likely want to give your new space a good clean before unpacking your items. Kitchen supplies such as basic cookware should also be taken with you.

What to sell

You can make a lot of money from selling your gently used items. Posting items on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Mercari or taking goodies to your local thrift store can help you make some extra cash to spend on your new space. Start by getting rid of redundancies. For example, if you have five cooking skillets, – you could probably spare one or two. Office supplies can be difficult to travel with, so this is another area where you can shed clutter.

Keeping a pair and a spare of sheets is wise, but any extra towels or linens that are taking up space in your closet should be donated. The same goes for luggage. Keeping one travel tote and suitcase will help you ensure a smooth transition into your new home and selling gently used items will make someone’s day.

You can also explore selling furniture that no longer matches your style and taste or that doesn’t fit into your new home.

What to toss

Deciding what to toss can be the most challenging part of this process. This is especially true if you are someone who holds onto items for many years.

Start by decluttering your old magazines and home decor. Any seasonal pieces that don’t fit into your new life can be donated at your local Savers or thrift market. Broken items that can’t easily be fixed should go and stained or ripped clothing can be tossed or turned into rags for cleaning your new space.

Take a look at your medication and cosmetic collection and check the expiration dates on these items. You’d be surprised by the short shelf life of many of these products. Start fresh in your new home and toss any expired items.

By approaching your spring cleaning as if you were moving, you can make the most of the process and create a fresh, organized and clutter-free home. Make an effort to spring clean at least once a year and you’ll be prepared for the next move or home renovation. February is a great month to tackle spring cleaning.

The writer is a realtor with Compass, located at 1004 King St., Alexandria, 22314.