Super Quick Decluttering Tips To Try Before A House Showing

How do we learn around these parts? By doing. And sometimes by panicking. So when someone called us to see our house out of the blue, and wanted to drop by in an hour, we panicked. But only for five to ten minutes. Then we used the other 50 minutes to do the ahh-someone’s-coming-to-look-at-our-house shuffle. Luckily the house was already pretty clean since we knew we would be showing it sooner or later. But what about that recommended pairing down step to reduce clutter and make cabinets and closets look bigger (so you don’t seem like you’re bursting at the seams)? Here’s how that went:

  • Step 1: Take two large plastic bags (ideally big black lawn & leaf bags as opposed to smaller white trash bags)
  • Step 2: Designate one bag as the donate/toss bag and one bag as the store-out-of-sight bag
  • Step 3: Work your way around the house (every closet, nook, cranny) and toss anything that you can stand to get rid of forever into the donate/toss bag
  • Step 4: Remember if you don’t want it in this house, it’s not likely that you’ll want it in your next one
  • Step 5: Also remember that the bag isn’t going to the dump or Goodwill right away, so when in doubt just shove something in
  • Step 6: As you go, if you see anything that you want to keep, but won’t need around while you sell the house, drop it into the store-out-of-sight bag in the name of decluttering (which can help sell the place)
  • Step 7: Try to think of the store-out-of-sight bag as one of those Pods in your driveway (it’s only a temporary drop spot, nothing permanent)
  • Step 8: Pop both bags into the trunk of your car to later be sorted (into a donate and a trash pile and a keep-this-in-the-car-during-open-houses bag)

Oh and we figure that people look in cabinets and closets but it takes an odd individual to peek into your hamper – so in a pinch it seems like a great place to toss those last one or two things that you didn’t get a chance to pare down or store in a smarter way. Not that we would know. Ok, we shoved some errant books and magazines in there in the final minute before the doorbell rang. Hey, whatever works.


    • says

      Baby blankets and toys and a few out of season coats in the store-for-now bag and some clothes we didn’t wear anymore, an old non-working hand vac, and a few other electronics (old power cords we don’t use) into the donate/toss one.


  1. Liz W. says

    Ever think of selling your un-wanted stuff here on your blog Craigslist-style? I bet some of us would be happy to take some things off your hands :)

  2. Angela N says

    We just recently sold our house ourselves and with 2 small kids at home all the time it was tough to keep it tidy. I found that I could stash a bunch of stuff in our washing machine (not just clothes ;-)) and also in the oven. Once I had a whole sink full of dishes in the oven. lol The Swiffer vac became my best friend. I also bought a tub of the glass cleaner wipes for a quick once over before getting out of the house for a showing. I normally would never buy those, but it sure was nice for when I was in a pinch for a clean house on the fly.

  3. Christin says

    But you guys are so good at not keeping things that you don’t want and your closets are so organized – I can’t imagine you needing to do any rushing around to get your house “show-ready”!

  4. says

    Ha! I’ve totally used the hamper trick when we have unexpected guests – usually someone who wants a tour because they haven’t been over since we made a lot of updates. It’s the only time the hamper lid is on, so you know there’s probably a magazine and hairdryer in there!

  5. Erin says

    Oh, how I remember those days. I used to toss things in the washer and dryer, too! And then I’d grab a laundry basket full of “I have no clue where to hide this” items and quickly stash it in my car!

  6. Tracy says

    HAHA! And this is why I love you guys so much. I would totally do that. Probably not quite in such an organized fashion though.

    So excited to be watching the new house journey as it (really) happens!

    • says

      It went really well! The only thing is that they have a lot of antiques so they’re not sure they can fit them all in our wee little house! We’ll keep you posted if they (or anyone else) makes an offer!


  7. says

    Gosh, I hope no ones looks in hampers, that would be so weird, definitely sketchy to say the least.

    I’m so excited for you guys, hopefully the house will sell fast! By the way, since you have to sell this house first in order to buy the next one, does that mean you will have to do your own house search in a really short span of time??

    • says

      Hey Laura,

      We’re planning to negotiate a closing date that’s 2-3 months away if we get an offer on our house so it gives us plenty of time for our hunt and to close on the house that we want! Will keep you posted.


  8. Richard says

    I think a good word to the wise would be to but HUGE labels on each bag as well, just so you don’t confuse your “Toss” bag with your “Stash away” bag, or even, God forbid, your actual trash (which is also a good thing to remove when a showing is happening!)

  9. Alice says

    I am curious if you are removing/storing away all family photos displayed while your house is on the market?? All those shows on HGTV say you shouldn’t have any personal items displayed when showing your home. That would be a hard one for me since I have framed family photos displated on tables here and there and a whole wall of framed family (black and whites only) going up my staircase wall!

    • says

      No way! We think seeing a house that feels customized and like a real family lives there helps to sell a place as long as there’s not a huge oil-painting of the family above the fireplace!


  10. Cathryn says

    Hey, Youngsters!
    You can also use your luggage to store your off-season clothes and other large items in your car, basement or garage. People expect to see luggage in an out of the way place in your house, but they won’t check to see if it is full. This also may prevent any accidental garbage bag mix ups! Hope this helps!

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