Top Tips for Getting Rid of Unwanted Items Before Your Move


Top Tips for Getting Rid of Unwanted Items Before Your Move

Lisa Wright · Jan 11, 2022
Crumpled clothes thrown into a "Donate" box.

Moving can be an exciting yet daunting project. “Moving house” isn’t just an expression, after all, as we often discover when we decide it’s time to pack our bags that there’s a number of projects that make the act itself stressful, overwhelming, and time-consuming. And perhaps the most stressful part of that process is deciding what items should stay and what items should go.

As we’ve said here on ApartmentRatings in the past, a great move takes planning and organization, and this is especially true of the crucial decluttering and packing stages when you often have to channel your inner Marie Kondo and decide what’s going along with you to your new digs.

And while throwing items away is a good start, there will inevitably be things like are a little harder to get rid of. For starters, what do you do with unwanted electronics? What about beauty and health products that you don’t feel comfortable just tossing into the trash? What if you just don’t feel like creating more waste and want to make your move a little greener?

These questions will undoubtedly come up during your move, and we’re here to help. Below are some of our best tips for getting rid of unwanted things before packing even a single box:

Trash or Treasure?

Once you’ve made the difficult decisions about what you definitely are taking with you, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to do with everything else. A great way to do this is by conducting a quick (yet thorough) assessment where you divide said items into categories, such as:

  • Broken or beyond repair items (fourth-generation iPad with a cracked screen, we’re looking at you!)
  • Items you haven’t used (or even seen) in ages — think that hobby you once loved but no longer have time for, a sport you no longer play, cookware or appliances that are duplicates, out of date, etc.
  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories that no longer fit, children’s toys that your kids have outgrown, etc.
  • Collector’s items that you no longer want, need, or have space for in your new pad
  • Health/beauty products that don’t make the cut

These are just some of the categories you can work with, depending on what you have and what you’re looking to dispose of — and don’t worry, there aren’t any rules! This is just a guide to lead you into the next step: actually figuring out where, and how, to get rid of said items.

Dumpster Dash

While it may be tempting to simply toss all your unwanted items in the trash during the frenzy of moving, this is not always the best strategy. While it does seem a bit cliché, it’s often true: what you consider trash may very well be another person’s treasure, and you may be able to cash in on that. By selling unwanted items, you may be able to earn a few extra bucks during the often-expensive moving process. Additionally, chances are there will be some things among your unwanted items that can be recycled, donated to a charity, or need to be disposed of properly as to not be harmful to the environment — so even if you don’t want to sell, don’t just automatically reach for the dumpster.

Of course, not everything fits into a neat and tidy category, so you may have to trash some things, and that’s okay. Rather than leave a pile of trash behind (you want that deposit back, after all), the best thing to do is rent a dumpster, especially if you have a lot of trash, or very large items to dispose of. That way, you can have the professionals get rid of your garbage without worrying that your landlord will be left with the mess.

A Seller’s Market

Garage Sale sign in front of a home, with objects for sale visible in the background.

Getting rid of unwanted items by selling them takes time — something which you may not have a lot of during your move. However, if you plan ahead, it is possible to try and make a few bucks with items that are gently used, still working, or not beyond repair. Below are some of the best options for selling your unwanted stuff:

Have a Yard/Garage/Moving Sale

These sales usually involve displaying your items outside so neighbors can come and have a look. Just keep in mind that these types of sales always work best during nice weather, and with a bit of advance notice, so be sure to advertise on your neighborhood Facebook page, on your NextDoor app, or in your local paper to make the most of your moving sale.

Sell Items Online

This is by far the most time-consuming option, so if you’re pressed for time, you shouldn’t even consider it. However, selling your stuff online does have the benefit of possibly getting you more money for those higher-ticket items like unwanted collectibles, unused/unboxed sports and music equipment, toys, or appliances, and clothes that are still in good condition. Sites like eBay are a good place to start, but don’t forget about Facebook Marketplace and the NextDoor app for more local options (especially great if you don’t want to worry about shipping). Experts also recommend sites like Poshmark and thredUP for clothing, shoes, and accessories — especially those that are name brand or designer labels.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Depending on where you live, it may be difficult (or even impossible) to find places to recycle certain unwanted items; think electronics, hazardous materials like paint, and expired beauty products and cosmetics. Still, it’s definitely worth checking, as taking even the smallest steps can make your move a little greener and more eco-friendly.

If you can’t recycle, consider donating items to charity, as they may be extremely useful to those in need, even if they are beyond repair. Some charities will even dispose of these items so you don’t have to, and then use the proceeds to fund projects for their organization. Just be sure that your designated charity is using your donations (or profits from them) to fund their work, and aren’t potential scams.

Below are some tips for recycling and donating unwanted items:

Donate In-Person

Donate in-person to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, etc. This is a great way to contribute to your local community while also getting rid of those unwanted goods. Looking to get rid of large items like that old couch? Most charity shops will take appliances and furniture that’s gently used and still in working order, but be sure to check ahead before making the trip.


Old electronics that are beyond repair aren’t the only things that can be recycled. If you’re not sure, just look it up! Chances are, you’ll be able to find out whether or not something is recyclable pretty quickly, as well as where you can recycle it, whether in your area or via drop-off/mail. Even if there’s not a designated center for recycling electronics in your area, there may be someone local that collects and recycles these items. And again, check NextDoor or Facebook Marketplace before tossing these items in the trash.

Other organizations of note include TerraCycle, who collects and repurposes waste products including beauty and cosmetic products, and Waste Management, who offers recycle-by-mail services. Additionally, be sure to check the EPA’s official website for a list of electronics that can be recycled, the proper way to dispose of (or recycle) hazardous materials, and more info about what can (and can’t) be recycled.

Moving can be a huge headache, especially when you have a ton of unwanted items to get rid of. But before you throw everything in the dumpster, it’s important to assess what should (and can) be thrown away. Items like electronics, beauty products, and hazardous materials like paint and some cleaning products must be disposed of properly, and gently-used (or even new!) items can be sold to make some much-needed cash. A little planning always goes a long way when it comes to moving, so make sure you know the best way to get rid of all that unwanted stuff before the big day actually comes — for you, your community, and the environment.

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