House Clean-Out Checklist – Game Plan

  • Collect up boxes now. You will need them to box up stuff for charity.
  • Start cleaning out the attic, garage and basement EARLY! I would suggest you start with these first.  This is where the stuff that is most difficult to dispose of is stored – toxic waste, metal scrap, building materials.  Getting rid of this stuff takes a good deal of time.
  • In the first pass, go through with Post-its of different colors – one for KEEP, SELL, CHARITY, and TRASH. This will make it much easier for you when you are coming back through with dealers, junk removers, etc.
  • Make sure the yard is cleaned up. Buyers have made a big deal about piles of leaves, compost, logs, bricks and such being left behind.  Call a landscaper to remove all this, if necessary.
  • Move items that are not going with you to the garage. It will be easier for charities and junk haulers to get them out of the garage and there will be fewer people tromping through your house.
  • Once the attic and basement are cleared out, have a cleaning person give them the once over. They do not have to be spotless, but there should be nothing remaining, and they should be swept and free of cobwebs.
  • Sell items of great value to a dealer or through an auction house.
  • Give items to family and friends that you will not take with you that they may want. Give them a deadline by which they must pick up the stuff or they will wait until the last minute.
  • Call the town to see what they will take from the curb. Doing so could save you on the cost of junk removal.  Put as much as you can in the trash each week to save on trash removal costs.
  • Have one or two junk removal places come to give you a quote. If the quote is more than $500, then consider a dumpster.  You can get a large construction dumpster delivered to the house and throw 2 tons of trash in it for roughly $450.  Of course, you will have to hire labor to get the stuff into the dumpster.  You can typically keep a dumpster for 2 weeks so time for it about 2 ½ weeks before closing if you can. Towards the end is when you realize you have WAY more junk than you thought.
  • If you have valuable items you want to sell, contact one or two dealers or estate specialists to find out what they are worth.
  • If you want to sell items on eBay or Craigslist, hire someone – a high school or college kid to take care of that for you. There are also pros who take a cut of the proceeds for doing that for you.  Trust me, you will not have the time to do it yourself.  Do not let Craigslist responders into your house.  Put the stuff in the garage and let them pick up from there.
  • I am not a fan of doing yard sales. Professional yard sale stalkers will steal valuables.  You’ll spend all day out there and it is tiring.  For how much money they produce it is not the best use of your time.  There are so many online resources for selling your stuff.  If you want to have a yard sale, do it early so you can donate remaining items.  Do not do a yard sale alone.  Plan to have a charity come to take whatever does not sell.  Do not bring it back into the house.
  • Get receipts for all charitable donations.
  • Dispose of items that charities will not take – there are companies that will take old metal scrap. Paint, fertilizer and chemicals need to go to toxic waste disposal.  Junk removers may not take these items.
  • If you don’t want to give stuff away online, put a FREE sign on a stake in front of your house and start dropping stuff out there next to the sign for things that are not worth selling and decent enough not to throw out.
  • Pack up what is left. Pack a separate bag and/or boxes with essentials in case the moving company is late getting to the new location.
  • Schedule cleaning person for the last day.



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