9 Items You Need to Toss (or Recycle) (or Donate) Before Moving

Moving can be a stressful time, but on the upside, it forces you to get rid of all the junk you’ve been holding onto. It’s also easier and cheaper when you have less to pack and load onto the moving truck. But letting go can be hard, and sometimes you need a little push to get started or a little insight from the experts as to which items are likely to make your move most difficult. Elite Moving and Storage has been in business for more than a decade, and with thousands of local and cross-country moves under our belts, we’ve seen our fair share of household purging.

But before we get into what you need to get rid of, let’s talk about how you can get rid of it. What can you recycle, what can you donate, what can you sell, and what has no place left but the garbage shoot?


Trash it.

This one is the easiest. If it can be of no use to anyone in any re-purposing or recycling option, and if the item is broken or damaged beyond repair, toss it. Try to use this option as little as possible—if you look into it, you’ll be amazed at how much of your stuff you can recycle, donate, or sell.


Recycle it.

The good news is, most of this is pretty intuitive, but here’s a list of what you can recycle and what you can’t, just in case you need a refresher


  • Newspaper
  • Envelopes
  • Junk mail
  • Phone books
  • Brochures
  • Magazines
  • Recycling
  • Catalogs
  • Paperback books
  • Ream wrappers
  • File folders
  • Poster board
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Milk cartons

Plastic Recycling

  • Milk jugs (wash out all liquids first)
  • Water/Soda containers
  • Shampoo/Soap/Detergent bottles

Aluminum/Metal/Glass Recycling

  • Aluminum beverage cans
  • Food cans
  • Scrap metal
  • Beverage containers
  • Glass food jars

What CAN’T be recycled:

  • Appliances
  • Batteries
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Christmas Lights
  • Coat Hangers
  • Diapers
  • Electrical Cords
  • Food Waste
  • Food Wrap
  • Garden Hoses
  • Plastic Bags
  • Polystyrene
  • Rubber Balls
  • Sports Equipment
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Syringes/Razor Blades
  • Tires
  • Waxed Cartons
  • Wood/Yard Waste

Now that you have a good idea of where your things might go, what kind of possessions should you actually part ways with, what’s worth keeping, and how can you tell the difference?


Sell or donate it.

The primary difference between the two comes down to the price you can get for it, and whether that’s worth the hassle of selling it. New, rare, expensive, or high-end items may be worth cataloguing online, meeting with potential buyers, and figuring out mailing or transport. Things like new technology, quality furniture, or jewelry in good condition may be things you want to sell. There are even specific sites and platforms dedicated to sales of particular kinds of products like Chairish for furniture, Poshmark for clothes, and Decluttr for technology. However, if things aren’t in the best condition, or if you’re just not in the mood, donation is a great way to declutter fast. The thing you need to be considerate of is that your donation pile is not a dump. It’s not a place for your trash or broken items. Only donate gently used things in good condition. If the reason you want to give something away is because it’s beyond repair, the donation pile is not the right choice.


Old clothes

If your closet can be divided into “eras” maybe it’s time to do a little bit of clearing-out. Clothing, while it may seem light and easily folded and packed away, can easily become cumbersome. Especially if you’re stuck moving delicate garments or those which wrinkle easily, it can really become a hassle, and while using wardrobe boxes may keep your clothes immaculate, they’re some of the largest and most awkward boxes to move.

When cleaning out your closet, there are plenty of questions you can ask yourself: “Have I worn this in the past year?” “Will I have something to wear it to in the near future?” “Is it still in style?” “Is it clean and undamaged?” “Does it still fit?” If “no” is the answer to most of these, maybe it’s time to kiss that particular outfit good bye. And on the plus side, a cleaned out closet is the perfect excuse for a celebratory shopping trip once you’ve settled in your new place.


Knick-Knacks and Tchotchkes

Remember that one time five years ago you mentioned that you like koalas (substitute any cuddly animal, sports team, food item, etc)? How now every time anyone is unsure what to give you, it’s koala t-shirts, coffee mugs, baseball caps, keychains, and shot glasses? Well maybe it’s time to move away from the marsupials and onto bigger and better things. Tchotchkes like these pile up so fast that sometimes you forget they’re even there. Before just shoving everything off your cupboards and directly into your moving boxes, make sure you’re only taking the things you want. Useless knick-knacks are all well and good for a laugh every once and a while, but they’re not worth carrying across the state, or even across the nation. And in your new home, make sure you tell all your new friends that what you really like isn’t koalas but cold hard cash.



If there’s anything that’s a hassle to move—for you and your movers alike—it’s furniture. It’s heavy, awkward, and certainly not something you can just throw last minute into a box. Moving furniture requires more planning and effort than moving almost anything else, so if you want to keep your furniture, make sure it’s really worth while. It’s also important to be certain that your favorite comfy couch will fit in your new place. Before you decide to move anything too big, make sure you measure, measure, then measure again. Know exactly where it’s going, and think about how the colouring of the room and everything around it will look. That way, you can be sure the strain you put into getting your furniture into a new place will be worth it.

But don’t let perfectly good furniture go to waste, either. Furniture can be incredibly expensive, so it’s best to sell or give away unnecessary furniture. Look into having your local Habitat for Humanity pick up the furniture from your house, or try hosting a garage sale to sell belongings still in good condition.


Out of date electronics

The latest gadgets can get pretty expensive, so it’s no wonder we sometimes have trouble giving or throwing them away. It can feel like money down the drain. But if you’re really not using your old tech, it’s even more of a waste to haul it around with you. Before you move, assess each of your electronics to determine whether: the item is properly working, the item is up-to-date, and whether the item is something you need in your new home. If your electronics are less than five years old and still in good working order, you may be able to donate them to a non-profit organization or sell them with platforms like eBay or Craigslist or even those designed for selling old electronics like Gone or Decluttr.


Old toys

Toys, like so many other mementos from childhood, can hold a lot of nostalgic value. But unlike a downloadable tape of a baby’s first steps or few old 5×8 photos, giant lego sets or life sized stuffed animals can be difficult to pack and move. Unless your kid still plays with it, or you think it might come in handy as a hand-me-down for a child later, it’s best to cut down on the clutter in any way possible. Before you pack up the playroom, ask yourself: when was the last time you or your little one gave Tickle-Me-Elmo something to laugh about? Toys can be easily donated to places like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and The Salvation Army, or even sold on Craigslist, eBay, or at your very own yard sale. However you want to play it, there are a multitude of ways you can declutter the toy chest.



Obviously you’ll want to clean out your fridge—no one’s packing leftover Pad Thai or a jug of milk into cardboard boxes—but there are some items that can be packed. Canned foods, pantry staples like pasta, oats, or rice, could all theoretically survive a move, but that doesn’t mean they should. It may not seem like a lot when you’re scrambling to come up with a last minute dinner plan, but once you start packing, you realize just how much stuff you may have. It can get quite time consuming, voluminous, and heavy, and after a certain point, it’s just not worth it, especially since you’ll surely be doing a big grocery shop as soon as you get settled into your new home.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. That’s wasteful. But it doesn’t have to be. Donating non-perishables to a local food bank, homeless shelter, or other charity can not only help you purge your pantry, but will also provide food for those who need it. If you don’t know where to start, there are even companies like move for hunger that will help you donate leftover food.


Expired products

It seems obvious that you wouldn’t want to bring expired medication and pantry products to your new home, but when packing up your bathroom or other drawers and shelves, it can be easy to forget to check. It only takes an extra second to glance at the label, so make it a habit as you look through your cabinets, and save yourself a little bit of clutter. This will also ensure that you never use those out-of-date products, which could be, at best, ineffective and, at worst, very dangerous for you and your family.


Books, CDs, DVDs

With the growing popularity of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, Apple TV, Showtime…the list goes on and on…as well as music streaming with Spotify or Apple Music, CDs and DVDs are quickly becoming obsolete. Of course, no Kindle or Nook can replace the worn paper smell or the tactile tingling of flipping a page when it comes to real books, but books too can be hefty and cumbersome to transport. Depending on the size of your collection, transporting your library can be like transporting a second couch!

So before you pack up your collections, make sure you narrow them down as much as possible. Most music can be copied to your computer—dvds too if you have the right equipment. As for books, make sure you donate or get rid of the ones you don’t need: old textbooks, books worn or ripped beyond repair, old children’s books, stories you didn’t like, or ones you just know you’ll never read.


Old paint

Unless you’re planning to leave a can or two for the new residents, you’ll need to responsibly dispose of it all before the move. Unfortunately, most donation sites won’t accept hazardous items, which include aerosols, propane tanks and (of course) paint. Most local curbside trash programs won’t accept or pick up your paint either. The best way to properly dispose of old paint is by bringing them to a local drop off site for hazardous and chemical-containing items.


And for the rest, there’s Elite!

When it comes to your move, you need someone you can trust with your most prized possessions—the things that weathered the decluttering.That’s where Elite comes in. With over 15 years of experience in the field and 3000+ moving jobs per year, Elite Moving and Storage has moving experts who will know the best way to make your moving experience the best it can be for you, your family, and your environment. Visit elitemover.com for a free quote today.