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Streamline your PCS: 10 essential things to declutter before your move

Blog graphic: 10 Things to declutter before your PCS is the title and in the background is Jana Arevalo decluttering her closet

PCSing soon? Here are 10 things to declutter before you PCS to ensure that your move is efficient, smooth, and organized. Grab my FREE 10-day declutter checklist now to stay on track and focused during your PCS move.

If you would like to hear more military decluttering and organizing tips, make sure to like and subscribe to my YouTube channel here:

10 things you can declutter NOW before you PCS

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Grab my FREE 10-day declutter checklist now!

Graphic for the FREE 10-day declutter checklist to help military families declutter for their PCS

Below is the edited transcript from the YouTube video: 10 things to declutter before you PCS

Today, I’m sharing my top 10 decluttering tips to streamline your PCS preparation. I’ve also compiled a free downloadable checklist with these tips on my website. Whether prepping for a move or just craving a clutter-free space, these quick decluttering strategies have got you covered. Let’s dive in!


Let’s kick things off with the essentials: trash. Yes, all trash needs to go first. You might think, “I don’t have trash lying around,” but trust me, it’s there.

For instance, those boxes you kept from online purchases, just in case? They’re probably trash now. Even if you intend to return something, it’s unlikely you’ll bother once it’s been used. And let’s not forget about random bits of packing paper or the hidden treasure troves of trash in our kids’ rooms.

Trash comes in many forms, so it’s the perfect place to start decluttering. Plus, if you’re moving or PCSing, the last thing you want is to find that trash on the other side. Be proactive and clear it out before packing begins. Military movers pack fast and efficiently, but they won’t hesitate to pack anything in sight, yes, even the trash!

Broken Items

Got broken items piling up? We’ve all been there – holding onto things with the hope of fixing them someday. But let’s face it, if it’s been sitting there collecting dust for ages, it’s probably time to bid it farewell.

Think about it: if it were truly essential, you’d likely have fixed it by now, right? It’s okay to let go of broken toys, furniture, or whatever else is cluttering your space. While parting with these items can be tough, it’s liberating to clear out what’s no longer serving you.

So, say goodbye to the broken stuff and make room for a clutter-free environment where everything works as it should. You’ll feel lighter and ready to embrace what’s next!

Expired Items

Let’s move on to another crucial category: expired items. I tackled our medicine cabinet yesterday, purging expired medications—an easy win alongside trash and broken items in the decluttering game.

Especially when PCSing, it’s essential to dispose of potentially hazardous items like medications, foods, and cleaning supplies. Even items like paint and pesticides have expiration dates, so exercise caution. Plan accordingly and ensure proper disposal, especially for chemicals.

Fortunately, many locations offer resources for safe disposal, so do your research to find the best option. And if you have excess cleaning supplies, consider sharing them with neighbors who may find them useful.

Unused Items

Next up: unused items. It’s a significant category to address, particularly those items sitting idle for a year or more. Take stock of what you have tucked away. While some items may hold potential for future use, it’s crucial to evaluate if they truly align with your current lifestyle.

Consider parting ways with items that no longer serve a purpose or reflect your interests, whether old hobbies, professional tools, or materials from past careers. By selling or offloading these items now, you’ll streamline your move and avoid unnecessary clutter in your new home. Whether you’re PCSing or planning a DIY move, decluttering unused items is a proactive step towards a more efficient transition.

Outdated Decor

Now’s the perfect time to reassess your surroundings and ask yourself: Does this still reflect my style? Would I choose it if I were shopping today? It’s a great way to kick off the packing process and envision a fresh look for your new home.

Personally, I lean towards timeless pieces, but even I found areas for improvement, especially with holiday decor. Asking the simple question, “Would I buy this now?” proved invaluable in decluttering. If it’s outdated or broken, it’s an easy decision to bid it farewell.

Remember, your decor should evolve with you, reflecting your current tastes and personality. So whether it’s decor, clothing, or other items, consider if they still resonate with who you are now.


Let’s talk towels. Whether you update towels regularly or hold onto them forever, PCSing presents the perfect opportunity to assess your towel situation. Are they worn out? Not absorbing anymore? Consider their purpose – old towels become dog towels/rags for us. When the dog towels are too worn or holey, it’s time to say goodbye or donate them to animal shelters. If you’re moving yourself (DITY), towels can double as packing material!


Game pieces can be a constant struggle for families – easily lost or misplaced, especially with younger kids. Now’s the time to gather all your games and ensure they’re complete. If pieces are missing or boxes are falling apart, consider decluttering. Even if the games are intact but no longer played, donating them to youth centers or schools is a fantastic option. Games can accumulate quickly and take up valuable space, so assess whether they align with your family’s interests and storage capabilities as you prepare for your move.

Blankets and Pillows

Over time, these cozy essentials accumulate and can take up valuable space, especially when preparing for a move. Assess each blanket and pillow – are they still in good condition? Do they serve a purpose? If they’re stained, worn out, or no longer needed, it’s time to declutter.

Consider donating them to shelters or charitable organizations where they can still comfort others. Streamlining your collection ensures you’re only bringing along items that enhance your new space, making for a smoother transition.

Spices, Condiments, and Pantry Items

Spices, condiments, and pantry items complete our list of 10 items to declutter before your PCS. These often-overlooked categories can quickly clutter up your kitchen. Start by checking for expired items and donating anything you won’t use before your move to local food banks. To minimize new purchases before your PCS, shop from your pantry and spices in the weeks leading up to your move. If you’re traveling by car, consider keeping non-perishable items in a cooler along the way.

While spices are generally okay to pack if they’re dry, consider updating any clumpy or expired ones, especially if you’ve lived in humid environments. For condiments and toiletries, aim to use them up before your move to avoid spills and save space. Don’t hesitate to donate excess items to friends or neighbors who can use them!

If you like all of these tips, make sure to stay tuned for my next article: 10 decluttering tips for your PCS. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at And until next time, happy decluttering and happy organizing, y’all!

Know someone who is PCSing? Make sure to share this article!

Love these tips? Make sure to check out my other articles about military life:

If you are struggling with decluttering and need coaching and accountability, I’m your gal. Don’t hesitate to reach out and book a FREE 30-minute call to see how I can help!

9 Responses

  1. I’m not sure what PCS is, but I’m guessing it is a move. All of these are great candidates to purse before a relocation. You can buy fresh spices on the other end, right? And things like towels, blankets, and pillows are large. It’s helpful to remember that most people pay by the square footage on the truck, so reducing the amount of “big stuff” can save you money!

    Games is another good one. This is the time to cull the collection. Most people only play a small subset of the games they own.

  2. This is a good list for any move. I’ve helped clients prepare to move and then unpack in their new place to find that the movers not only packed some trash lying about but also food left on the counter that the client intended to eat later!
    Another category to assess might be cook ware. Has your cooking style changed? Have you collected multiple pots and pans that really do the same thing?

  3. I love your list of things to declutter! It doesn’t matter if you’re moving with the military or just moving this list will help to ensure that what you unpack wherever you’re going are things you want to take out of a box.

  4. Moving creates that extra incentive to declutter and let go of those things that no longer serve a purpose. I love how you broke this down into simple and doable categories. Moving is stressful enough, but why pack and bring things to the new home you don’t need?

  5. Great tips for anyone with a move on the horizon! Moving provides the perfect opportunity for a clean slate, so why take stuff with you that you won’t need?

    From experience I can say that no matter how much you get rid of before you go, you’re probably going to get rid of even more as you unpack and realize you don’t need/want/have room for everything.

  6. Non-military families wouldn’t know what you told us on the Facebook group, that PCS means Permanent Change of Station, but they sure would know immediately how useful your process is. I think it’s great that you created a downloadable to make this easier.

    I used to be a whiz at moving (non-military style) as a singleton, but I’ve now been in my current home for 26 years and I dread the thought of ever relocating again. Advice like this reminds everyone that it can be methodical and achievable. Great job!

    1. And trash can be so sneaky! I couldn’t imagine that I had any trash to get rid of, but I whenever I pull out a trash bag and go on the hunt, it’s there. Thank you for reading!

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Jana Arevalo- Declutter Coach, The Organized Military Life

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with Share-a-Sale and List & File, Military Life Binders. I receive a small commission (at no cost to you!) if you purchase through my links. Thank you!


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