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March 18, 2024

A Guide to Pre and Post-Move Organization

Reviewed By: Benjamin Johnson, Sr. Director of Operations, Atlas Van Lines - 10+ Years in the Moving Industry

A Guide to Pre and Post-Move Organization
Moving is the perfect opportunity to de-clutter your home and get a fresh start with your belongings. After all, clutter is a huge problem in many American homes. 1 in 4 Americans admit to having a clutter problem. This could be due to the average of 300,000 items we keep in our homes.

Research conducted for The Huffington Post revealed that this clutter is a large stress point in 55% of people’s lives. This kind of clutter eats up valuable space, but it also becomes a real problem when you are trying to move. 

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to de-clutter your home and make your move smoother. Selling and donating are great options for many items, but there are certain things that need to be disposed of before your move.

Items You Should Throw Away Before Moving

1. Foods

A moving truck is not a great place to keep perishable food, as they often do not have temperature and humidity controls required to keep food safe. As a rule, Atlas does not transport perishable food, including frozen, refrigerated and open food products.

These items often cannot be donated, either, so the best thing to do is use them up in your cooking during the days before your move. If you can put together a meal plan, you can minimize waste and not have to worry about what you will eat in the days before your move. From there, you can throw away or compost the remainder.

There are limited exceptions if the items are properly packed, require no servicing in transit, will travel fewer than 150 miles, will be delivered within 24 hours of pickup and your local Atlas mover agrees to carry the items. To learn more, reach out to your local agent.

2. Plants 

Houseplants are similar to the perishable food category, as they face related issues in transit. The lack of sunlight, ventilation, or water in moving trucks poses a threat, as does the act of moving plants. 

You can always move a plant in your own car or give away a plant that is too large to move to a friend or neighbor. Learn more about moving plants.

3. Old Medications

It is best to transport your own current medications to avoid the possibility of a delay or other complications preventing you from having access to them. 

When it comes to old or expired medication, moving is a great opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and make sure potentially dangerous substances are disposed of properly. 

From the drop-off locations offered at many Walgreens to the Food and Drug Administration's guide for do-it-yourself disposal, you have options to choose from. You can also learn more about items Atlas can transport but suggest you move yourself.

4. Paint, Gasoline, and Other Non-Allowables

There are a variety of items that are too dangerous to transport in a moving truck, whether due to the risk they pose to drivers, the vehicle, or others on the road. We call these non-allowable items. 

You can find a specific list here, but a simple rule of thumb is to consider it non-allowable if it is flammable, pressurized, explosive, corrosive, or otherwise poses a major potential danger.

Disposing of these items is important before a move. As with most things, you can try to give them away to a friend, neighbor, or relative who might have use for them. 

If you have items like gas lawnmowers or weed eaters, these items will need to be completely drained of all gas and engine fluid before being transported.

If you cannot give away your non-allowable items, you should carefully read the product label to determine how to best dispose of it safely. While it may require getting in touch with your local health department, you will need to dispose of these potentially dangerous products safely.

How to Purge Your Belongings Prior to a Move

1. Get Organized

One of the most essential steps in ridding yourself of pre-move clutter is to figure out what is coming with you and what is staying. The easiest way to do that is to create piles and categorize all your belongings. 

There are those items you plan to keep, like family heirlooms, everything you want to sell, and the rest that can be recycled. 

Making these distinctions will get you thinking about what you want and what you do not need, and that frame of mind will make your de-cluttering experience an enjoyable one.

2. Ditch the Unused

Some people have issues throwing anything away because they are afraid that they might need the item again down the road. That is often not the case, and as a result, we hold onto objects we almost never use. 

To avoid this, team up with a friend or family member and figure out what gets used and what is just taking up space. 

Some items that you may end up tossing include clothes that do not fit properly, old towels and linens, unused plastic containers, food items, receipts, broken computers or other pieces of technology, and anything you have multiple copies of. Now is also the time to return anything you have borrowed from a friend.

3. Take Your Time

For some people, having a yard sale is a quick and easy way to deal with stuff. But some people have trouble letting go of many personal items. 

If you fall into the latter category, it is a good idea to start the purging process early. By giving yourself ample time - at least a few weeks - you can make sure you have enough time to sort and categorize items, decide what you can live without, and look through personal items. 

The more time you allow yourself, the more energy you have for other moving tasks. Once you are ready to move, you will need to rely on the right partner. Atlas Van Lines can help, and our decades of experience will make your move fast and simple.

4. Hold a Moving Sale

If you want your move to be lucrative, hold a large yard sale. This is a great way to get rid of your extra items while seeing a bit of return on your investment. 

To make this event a success, try advertising for it a couple of weeks in advance by putting flyers around the community or posting the moving sale details in a local social media group. 

When people know a sale is approaching, they will make an effort to attend, so more of your objects will be purchased. There are dozens of moving sale tips to help you declutter and gather extra funds for your move.


5. Sell Items Online

You can find a variety of websites that allow you to post items you would like to sell, such as Facebook Marketplace. This is a good option if you have large items you do not want to transport to sell or if traveling to meet a buyer is inconvenient.

However, make sure you stay safe when selling things online. For instance, you should plan to meet the buyer in a public place, such as a busy retail parking lot, or simply accept online payment and leave the items you are selling on your front porch. 

Be sure to only accept cash or a verified online form of payment like Apple Pay or Venmo, Checks could bounce, and credit cards could be fake, so be smart about selling online.

6. Leave Items with the House

Some homebuyers would not mind moving into a partly furnished home. If you have large pieces of furniture, like a couch and recliner, that you do not want to take with you, see if the new owners would like them. 

If you own your own home or your rental contract permits, this tactic allows you to leave the items where they are in the house instead of trying to find them a new home. 

The same goes for other items you do not want. If first-time homebuyers are moving in, they may find these donated objects extremely helpful.

However, always be cautious about what is expected from your landlord or outlined in your rental contract. Oftentimes, leaving items behind can lose you your security deposit.

7. Donate to Charity

Your city is probably full of secondhand stores and charitable organizations that would greatly appreciate donated household items. Do some research to see what opportunities are near you. 

An organization you already support might have a sister company that takes unwanted sofas and dinnerware to help low-income families. Almost anything you own can be reused in this way, from notebooks to kitchen utensils, so do not throw out anything of value. 


8. Give it Away

If you are not interested in selling or donating your items, you can start giving your items away to friends and family. Most of the time, if people are offered a free object, they will take it. Also, your loved ones may need furniture and bakeware, especially if they have recently graduated college or are starting a new family.

Post-Move Home Organization 

We all know that clutter tends to accumulate. Before we realize it, we may have a large amount of stray objects and struggle to find essential items.

It is no wonder that household storage is a big business. The Washington Post estimated that professional organizers typically charge between $80 and $140 per hour.

Before you shell out your hard-earned dollars for a professional consultation, embrace your next move as an opportunity to put things in their place on your own.

These home organization ideas are designed to help you set your house in order from move-in day forward.

1. Make a Focused Move-In Plan

You cannot expect to be fully moved in after just a day or two. Just like it is a good idea to start packing well before moving day - or to bring in professional packers to handle the heavy lifting - getting all of your belongings in the right places is more manageable when the work is spread out. 

In general, it is a good idea to start with the essentials. Hang up the clothes you need for work, set up your toiletries, and put kitchen utensils and dishware into cabinets and drawers. 

If you have children, make sure you are able to get their sleeping space set up, as well as access to their essentials, such as any night lights or special blankets, clothes, and hygiene products.

This can give you a livable space for the first few days, at least. From there, you can start unpacking the things you do not use daily. Of course, it may also be a priority to set up your TV or home office so you can start working as soon as possible. 

The important thing to keep in mind is making a plan that addresses your individual needs and aligns with how you like to manage tasks, then unpacking and setting up your home from there. 

Break up the work into manageable chunks, like unpacking a few boxes each night or getting one room completely set up each week. Consider giving yourself a reward when you have finished the job. That could mean everything from throwing a housewarming party to going out for dinner. 

2. Sketch Out Plans

Whether on paper or in your mind, sketch out where you want to place furniture, beds, major appliances, large electronics, and other heavy or difficult-to-move items. 

This approach means there is a minimum amount of work for you to take on yourself, and you can always adjust the plan after you become more familiar with your new home. Plus, a plan will help you organize where your items are going and prevent hours of moving furniture back and forth to different locations.

3. Get Help

Get help from friends and family. Unpacking is often less work than moving, so asking for assistance with moving a few pieces of furniture or setting up an entertainment center can sound less burdensome than an entire day of trips hauling heavy loads back and forth. 

Just be sure to offer a sign of appreciation, like a takeout dinner, once the work is done.

Using Extra Space in Your New Home 

One of the most exciting parts of moving into a new home is the chance to work with its extra space and give additional rooms for a variety of specialized purposes. 

As you prepare for the big day with your movers and packers and set up your new house exactly as you want it, consider these useful approaches for getting the most out of every part of your house.

1. Storage and Access

Whether you want to install an entire system designed to organize your closet or add a mix of shelving and racks, consider where these items can best fulfill their purpose.

If you do not plan to use an additional guest bedroom or small office, dedicating that space to storage can free other areas of the home for their intended uses. 

For example, cutting down on clutter in the garage means keeping both cars inside and safe from the elements. Similarly, a specific space for general storage can keep bedroom closets, basements, and other areas more open and accessible.

2. A Home Gym 

A home gym can go in a variety of spaces, from the basement to the garage, and plenty of smaller areas throughout the house. When creating a home gym, make sure to use protective floor mats in a concrete-floored basement or garage to prevent damage to your home, your equipment, or yourself. 

You should also carefully plan around the space available when purchasing large pieces of equipment. In many instances, smaller weight sets and calisthenics are effective foundational exercises and do not require large pieces of gym gear.

3. A Game Room

A game room is a popular choice for adults and kids alike, whether it is for classic board games or the type that require screens, keyboards and controllers. 

A dedicated place for play keeps other areas of the home uncluttered while reducing the impact on family members. When starting the process, get your basics set up - a table and some chairs for board games or the necessary pieces of technology for video games. 

Slowly, you can make improvements and additions as time goes on.

4. A Home Workshop

A workshop is a great place to focus on practical and fun projects, both inside the home and out. Because of the mess that often comes with such a specialized area, it is usually easiest to relegate the workshop to the basement or garage. 

That may mean using a separate room in your home for storage to create enough space to fit all the tools, work surfaces, raw materials, and other items necessary for a fully functioning workshop.

Post-Move Home Decoration


Once you have unpacked from your recent move, there are still a slew of other projects left to tackle. Decorating is one of the most crucial, as it injects a much-needed dash of personality into your new home. 

Whether you have space you are unsure what to do with or are having trouble choosing a style, here are some ways you can decorate like a pro.

1. Simplify

You have already pruned your belongings in the packing process, so there are definite perks to keeping a minimalist style.

The objects that mean the most to you will stand out more. You will also have greater flexibility to modify your decor based on the season or even from year to year. 

As a bonus, getting set up in your new home will be simpler and easier if you are moving less stuff. 

2. Don't Delay

If you wait until tomorrow to paint your spare bedroom, you may never get to it. Over time, you will learn to live with it, but you will always think about how much better it would look in the perfect shade you picked out.

Before you unfurl your rugs or shelve your books, take care of the more labor-intensive improvements you want to undertake.

3. Incorporating Feng Shui

Rather than throwing up drapes or painting a wall, you might try a process that is a bit more purposeful: the art of feng shui.

Dating back to ancient China, the practice emphasizes that every object has chi or internal energy. When everyday items are aligned in a certain way, you can better harmonize with your surroundings. Here are a few ways you can practice Feng Shui while decorating your home.


1. Avoid Furniture on Walls

Karen Rauch Carter is the author of "Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life." Speaking with HGTV, she advised people to never put furniture against any walls. That is because this home design approach is seen as preventing communication and interpersonal relationships. 

However, she added that you still want to put the furniture legs on rugs, as this can cause people to gather more organically.

2. Experiment with Colors

Within the practice of feng shui, color plays an important role in expressing emotions and trying to create a certain kind of energy. For instance, red is among the more powerful colors, while people use purple or green to attract personal prosperity. 

This does not have to mean painting a full wall purple, either as small accent walls or pieces of furniture often do the trick. It is about using colors that make sense in the given space.

3. Avoid Clutter and Broken Pieces

Clutter in general is bad, but practitioners of feng shui recognize what too much stuff can do to someone. According to Feng Shui, de-cluttering your personal space can make you feel lighter. 

That can help with everything from relieving stress to helping you focus on your real priorities. Similarly, you should never leave damaged home goods or furniture around.

4. Make Many Small Changes

Feng shui is not just about where you place your bed or having to paint a wall. Small changes can be enough to make a difference in a room and, as an extension, your personal life. 

For instance, the addition of a few plants is said to produce positive energy and having them in each room of the house creates a good flow. 

Similarly, some kind of centerpiece, like books on a coffee table or photos on a side table, can create "gravity," and that helps boost positive energy.

Let the Experts Unpack for You

Atlas Van Lines is a renowned name in the field of professional moving. With over 75 years of moving experience, we have established ourselves as a reliable choice for packing services, moving, storage, and more. 

Whether it is a local move or a long-distance relocation, we have the resources and capabilities to handle big or small moves with ease. Get your free quote today and discover the Atlas difference.