Whether you’re planning to sell your home, dealing with a loved one’s estate, or you just want to declutter your home from years of accumulation, we’ve put together a list of steps and resources to make cleaning out your home easier!
I have lived in the same home for over 20 years and have raised three kids there. I know how stuff piles up around the house and every day more stuff comes in than goes out. It’s hard to stay on top of it all.
In my professional life, I have helped hundreds of homeowners sell or downsize to a smaller home. Decluttering and simplifying a home prior to listing it for sale and making a move is a really important step. These are many of the methods and resources that I share with our clients.
The first thing to do is have a family meeting and discuss what you are going to be doing and why you are doing it. Get a buy-in from everybody involved to help streamline the process. What is the common goal and what is the benefit of successfully completing this job? With kids, you can motivate them by setting a reward for helping.
As a part of your discussion, help define some piles or buckets that you want items divided into. For me, those four categories are always: keep, sell, donate, and trash.
Stuff to Keep
This step is probably the easiest and pretty self-explanatory! As you’re going through your items, be sure to identify the things that you love, need, or can’t live without. As you find them, this is a great time to re-organize them into a more logical space or to pull them off the shelf and give them a quick wipe-down or dusting. This will help ensure that you have a nice, clean, organized home when you’re done.
The important part here is to really evaluate what you want or need to keep. It’s easy to be attached to items that you “might use someday” or for sentimental reasons. If you haven’t touched it, used it, or even looked at it in the last year (or ten years!), it might be time to let it go.
Stuff to Sell
If you have a pile of stuff that you think you can sell, this is a quick way to put some dollars in your pocket.
Have A Garage Sale
A garage sale is an effective way to get rid of things and raise money quickly! It’s easy to set up, and in one day, you can clear out a lot of stuff if you are determined and organized. Garage sales are not for everybody, they are a lot of work, and you have to deal with many different people. The money you make can be good, though, so if you are up for it, here are simple steps for a successful garage sale:
- Plan. Pick a date. Friday and Saturday morning from 8-12 is a perfect time.
- Get help! Three or four motivated friends or family members is a great start
- Organize items by type and price as much as possible. Price low and let it go!
- Stage and set up. Use folding tables or place your items on sheets or blankets on the ground. Rope-off areas where you don’t want people to go and keep an eye on your visitors. Greet everybody that comes and let them know you saw them.
- Advertising is cheaper and easier than ever with Facebook, Craigslist, Next Door and simple signs. Let us know if you want free yard signs for your garage sale. Use directional signs with arrows to get people to your sale from the main roads.
- SELL IT! The goal is to get rid of stuff; making money is secondary.
- Throw away or give away the remainder.
Having an estate sale company come in and hold a sale in your home is a turnkey way to get rid of things quickly. It is effective for higher-end items, furniture and household collections. They will take a big cut, but the job will be done.
Consignment and Resale Shops:
Below are several Ann Arbor area consignment and resale shops that can quickly turn your higher-quality household items and furniture into cash. These are just a few we have experience with.
- Treasure Mart 734.662.1363 See website or call for details. Great place to consign furniture and sellable household goods.
- Plato’s Closet 734-769-8500 Sell your gently-used, casual clothes today for CASH on the spot. They especially love brands like Forever 21+, Charlotte Russe, H&M, Maurices, & Torrid.
- Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium Ann Arbor: 734-929-4508 Jackson: 517-315-4094
- Encore Online Resale 734- 761-6187 Maximize the resale value of antiques, collectibles, electronics, high-end housewares, designer clothing, shoes and accessories, jewelry and watches, entertainment memorabilia, musical instruments, sports equipment, sterling silver.
- GLR Recycling 855-620-5860 scrap a non-working vehicle in Southeast Michigan.
Online Auction and advertising services
EBay, CraigsList, FaceBook Marketplace. Lots of work, but if you only have a handful of items, this can be very effective and provide the highest return.
Stuff to Give Away
Most of your stuff to give away is probably gently used, and this is a really good time to help people in your community or even your own friends and family save some money.
Giving to Friends and Family
One of the most gratifying ways to reduce clutter, and get rid of household items, is to offer gently used items to your friends and family.
Having a way to pass on clothing to friends or family members can save families tons of money and help keep your closets clean and organized. Kids usually outgrow clothes long before wearing them out. Adults buy things they don’t wear. Get rid of it and let someone else enjoy it.
While some folks would never consider this as an option, it could be a godsend to others while also reducing waste and making better use of resources. Try to give away your unneeded clothing going into each season and give them to someone who needs it rather than hiding it away in your closet.
In the case of an estate, it is important that family members have the opportunity to express their interest in items with meaning or sentimental value to them before selling, trashing or giving things away.
If you are managing the estate, you have to balance getting things done with being respectful of your family’s feelings at the same time. What seems like trash to you may have a special meaning to someone else. You can avoid a lot of heartache and misunderstanding by having a family meeting and dividing up valuable/sentimental items among the group based on the deceased wishes or will. The important part is to set a deadline for having the items removed and a communicated plan of what happens after the deadline.
Donate Your Items
In the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas, if your items are in usable condition, they can be quickly and easily donated.
We have created a list of common types of items, where they can be donated, and a link to their website for up-to-date details. We have also included a list of items they cannot accept to help avoid making a trip to donate items only to have them picked through and rejected by the charity.
Some of these charities are also equipped to come to your home to pick up the items! See each of their websites for details.
Books, CDs, DVDs and other media
What they don’t want:
- Items in bad condition ie, wet, moldy, dirty, or torn
- Encyclopedia sets
- Outdated media like VHS, audio cassettes, and records
- Computer books older than five years
- Textbooks older than five years
Clothing, Shoes, Accessories and Linens
What they don’t want
- Worn-out, ripped, stained clothing
Towels, Linens and Blankets
What they don’t want
- Hand towels
- Anything that can’t be washed in a standard washing machine
What they don’t want
- Broken or disassembled furniture
- Baby items (cribs, bassinets, swings etc.)
- Used mattress and box springs
Electronics, Technology, Small Appliances
Only food items that are unopened and not past the sell-by date.
Toiletries, cleaning supplies
They only accept new, unused containers
Pet Beds, Toys, Food, etc
Humane Society of Huron Valley
Cabinets, Sinks, Building Supplies, Salvaged Homewares
Vehicles in Good Working Condition
Vehicles in Various States of Disrepair
Stuff to Throw Away
It’s hard to get rid of things by putting them on the curb anymore. Many neighborhoods restrict this as a part of their by-laws. Here are a few other ways to throw away your leftover stuff!
- “Church by the Side of the Road” If you’re allowed, put it on the curb. This is a sure way to eliminate anything of even marginal value. Someone will take it! Be respectful of your neighbors, and if it does not go right away, then be prepared to dispose of curbed items an alternate way.
- Dumpster Bag – You Can pick these up at Lowes or Home Depot, and WasteManagement will come to pick it up when it’s full.
- Roll-off Dumpster – for really big cleanouts! – WasteManagement has three different sizes to choose from. They bring it right to you and take it away when you’re done.
- Ann Arbor Recycle Drop Off Station 2950 E. Ellsworth Rd Ann Arbor, MI 48108 This is where to take almost anything you need to get rid of. You deliver it or have a service to haul it. Here is a complete list of their services, and the prices are pretty reasonable. https://recycleannarbor.org/images/PDFs/DOS-Price-List-2019_2.pdf You can also take large quantities of documents for shredding. They do not take any oil-based paints or stains.
- Home Toxics Collection Center 705 N Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. 734-222-3950 Get rid of almost any toxic material, including – oil paints, solvents, batteries, Fluorescent Light Tubes, and many other items. Here is a long list of what they will take https://www.washtenaw.org/295/Acceptable-Materials.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. However, it is a great start. If you would like to have a free consultation on how to downsize, liquidate an estate or declutter your home in advance of a move, please let us know. We are happy to speak on the phone or schedule a free, no-obligation in-home consultation.