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Top 10 tips for cleaning out your parents’ home


By Susan Devaney, CEO, Moving Mavins
Guest Blogger

Downsizing isn’t just about the stuff. It’s about the emotions and fears of becoming invisible as the trappings of a life are moved out into the larger world, or worse, into a dumpster or big black trash bag. So keep these tips in mind. 

1. Think Aretha: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Regardless of how frustrating your parents’ lifestyle is to you, respect should be at the forefront of communication. It’s how you say what you say; you’re a team with a cooperative spirit.

2. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t just a cliché. Our stuff is personal, but it’s also generational. Each generation has its triggers: priorities that trigger fear. Many of our parents either lived through the Great Depression or grew up with vivid impressions of how it framed their parents’ lives. “Save, save, you may need it someday” was a mantra. Baby boomers are disposers. No wonder there’s conflict over how to sort the stuff.

3. From babies to centenarians, none of us functions well when hungry. So, if the attitude seems to be heading south, add a healthful snack or meal. A change in activity, and being fortified, will re-energize you.

4. Keep work sessions brief. Everyone should return to the sort with a sense of accomplishment.

5. Focus on what’s being used now, current interests, and what fits the next phase. There’s so much change with a move, now isn’t the time to review everything in the house. If it hasn’t been sorted in the last 40 years, it doesn’t have to be sorted right now.

6. Your home turns into a house as you peel back the personal elements. It helps to emotionally let go as you consider the house to be a shell of space to be marketed.

7. Sparkling clean and fresh is key. Let buyers add their style and equity to the house. Invest in professional window cleaning immediately prior to placing the home on the market. Toothbrush clean grout and around faucets. Pour on the elbow grease.

8. Purge the corners of clutter. Create curb appeal from the basement to the attic. Photograph the rooms. Then look at the pictures. This lets you see the space as an observer. Purging now means money in your pocket.

9. Stage the house. Keep colors serene. Your goal is to appeal to the largest pool of tastes, for buyers to immediately envision their belongings in your house.

10. Have fun in the process. Treasure the time together. Share stories, memories.

Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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These are good moving tips for any age group.



Yes. And, another one is keep your clutter to a minimum so when you move, you don't have so much to deal with.


Tom Aker

My mom would get a heart attack if I tried touching here stuff.... lol.

Did it a few times in the past and she would whine and get stuff out of the garbage can.


I had to move my gran from her 3 bedroomed home to a old peoples home, the problem was that she loved to hoard things, so the task of moving her was emense and took 2 skips to get rid of most of the stuff, in this day and age though alot of the stuff could be put on an online auction site.

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It can almost appear to be an personal invasion when you help an older relative to clean up. Even if they are not moving and you just want to help them spring clean or clear away clutter. What we may see as trash is actually treasure in their eyes and needs to be respected as such.

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One mans trash is another mans treasure definitely holds true. My old man has many unique items which many would consider junk but are held very close to him. You don't want to stuff up here

Gerry Bossier

Hmm, it's nice to bring something back to them, especially as you clean their homes. You can probably put in some replacements. A bit of general cleaning will also help make them feel more comfortable with their home. It's cool when you see your parents enjoy their lives.

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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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Thanks for sharing this tips. When there's love, there's respect between the members.


The second point is really important, what may seem like trash to you may hold deep sentimental value for your parents. Just because something is old doesn't mean it has no value or does not deserve love (there is a metaphor somewhere in there).


Yes, your parents may treasure something you think should be thrown away. It’s important to talk to your parents on how to proceed with any sorting. Tom, above, said he sorted his mom’s stuff a few times in the past and she would whine and get stuff out of the garbage can.

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