The Complete Guide To Decluttering Your Room Before College

The Complete Guide To Decluttering Your Room Before College

One of the biggest events soon-to-be college Freshmen are excited about is Move-In Day. But there is a whole process that has to happen (or at least should happen) before then. And I’m not talking about packing.

I’m talking about decluttering.

Unless you have moved recently or move fairly regularly, your room is most likely filled with 18 years worth of stuff. You obviously can’t bring everything to college and storing everything is just too much of a hassle.

Don’t worry because I have a very comprehensive guide for you if you don’t know where to start.

1//Choose An Area To Declutter

My biggest reason to declutter was because my closet was overflowing with clothes, board games, stuff my mom kept for storage…..just a whole bunch of junk that had accumulated over the years.

I didn’t remember the last time I saw the floor of my closet empty, let alone organized, so I made it a goal to declutter EVERYTHING before I started college.

I divided all the areas I needed to declutter and made a list. (I will get more into this later). Each day, I chose an area to declutter and went from there.

The Complete Guide To Decluttering Before College

2//Take Everything Out Of The Area You Choose

Pro Tip: Start with the easy areas and move on to the more diffucult places. This is a great motivator.

I’ll use my desk as an example. I went through each drawer and took everything out. I laid them out on my bed and started throwing stuff away. Letters from colleges, pens and pencils that didn’t work, art supplies that I would never use, etc.

Taking everything out at once helps you think of the big picture.

Say there are some old post-it notes that are a bit dirty and folded. If you took everything out of your desk one at a time, you’d look at them and think of a scenario where you’d use them some day. When you see all the post-it notes you have in one place, you have a realistic idea of what you have and what you need.

This was after filling 7 bags. Everything wasn't even out of the closet yet.
This was after filling 7 bags. Everything wasn’t even out of the closet yet.

3//Get Rid Of Stuff: Here are some examples of different areas

Make sure to get rid of stuff you know are 100% unnecessary. Even 50% unnecessary. If you haven’t used it in months, it probably isn’t worth keeping.

There is a limit, though. Keep nostalgic items, but make sure you’re not just keeping clothes that don’t fit or broken toys you’ll never use for the sake of it.

Related: How to Create a Memory Box and What’s in Mine

//Closet + Drawers

  • Clothes that don’t fit
  • Clothes that have permanent stains
  • Old t-shirts that have faded
  • Repeats (Like too many black leggings or tank tops)
  • Clothes that you haven’t worn in over a year
  • Clothes that you probably won’t wear again
  • Shoes/Scarves/Hats you never wear

//Desk + Bookshelf

  • Crumpled papers
  • Letters from colleges you won’t attend
  • Extra pencils, pens, and other office supplies
  • Broken office supplies
  • Old workbooks and textbooks from previous classes
  • Books you don’t read and don’t plan on reading again.
  • Books that can be put in storage

//Jewelry + Makeup + Toiletries

  • Jewelry you never wear
  • Broken Jewelry
  • Jewelry to give to others or donate
  • Perfume samples
  • Makeup samples
  • Makeup you never wear
  • Expired makeup
  • Expired lotion, acne cream, etc.
  • Extra Contact Containers (Only keep 2)

//Old School Papers

  • Broken Binders
  • Papers you’ll never read again
  • Notes that won’t be useful in college
  • Old Planners
  • Old Folders that can’t be reused
  • Old Backpack that can’t be reused
  • Old Projects that you don’t want to keep.


  • Board games that are missing pieces
  • Crafting Supplies you won’t reuse (Stickers, scrapbook paper, etc.)
  • Insignificant Birthday Cards
  • Empty boxes
  • Old awards that you don’t care about (After a while, honor roll medals stop meaning anything.)
  • Purses you’ll never use
  • Old Toys
  • Photos (To Organize)

4// Once You Decide To Get Rid Of It, Get It Out Of Your Room.

Once I filled a trash bag with donations or trash, I’d get it out of my room. If it was garbage, I’d throw it in the garbage bin outside and if it was a donation bag, I’d put it in the living room.

Out of sight out of mind, right?

If you leave the stuff you are donating or throwing away in your room, you’ll start having second thoughts. You’ll want to go through everything again and end up keeping stuff you don’t actually need.

(I also couldn’t fit 17 trash bags in my room)

5//Do It All At Once. Don’t Divide The Tasks Into Different Days

I sound like I’m contradicting myself, but I mean this in a different way. Clean out your desk one day, then clean out your closet another. Don’t clean out your closet in a span of three days. That’ll just hinder your motivation.

If you take three days to clean out your closet, on the second day, you’ll see all the mess in your room and end up just throwing it back in your closet, telling yourself, you’ll take it out when you “continue cleaning.” (Guilty!)

When you decide to do it all in one day, you’ll be motivated enough to finish it all that day.

The Complete Guide To Decluttering Before College

6//Get Rid Of Everything ASAP

I found a Goodwill bags from years ago in my closet. I’m not even joking. I gave my mom a bag full of clothes to donate and she never donated them. She planned on doing it later, but that never happened.

This time, I woke up in the morning after cleaning and all the bags were gone. My mom put the donation bags outside to be collected, and I never saw them again, which is a good thing because I considered looking though them again before taking them to Goodwill. (Unfortunately, she accidently donated my purple sweatshirt, but it was probably time for a new one anyway)

I had considered selling my clothes online or take them to a pawn shop to make a little money but my mom donated the clothing before I could go through them. That’s probably a good thing because selling them would have been too much of a hassle.

7//Get Organizing

Now that you know all the things in your room are things you want to keep, start organizing them.

If you are moving out, start putting things in storage boxes.

Things like books and DVDs are stuff you probably won’t bring to college (at least not all of them) and can pack up and store during the summer. Same goes for Winter clothes.

If you’re commuting from home like me, you can just organize your room.

I did buy a few things to help me get organized. I bought wall hooks and hung them next to my door for purses and hats. I also bought some organizers for my desk, so that everything has a place.

It’ll get disorganized again, soon. The natural order is disorder as the Law of Entropy says (That’s a reference for my fellow nerds out there). I’ll do a post on organizing your room some other time, but other than that, that’s all I’ve got for you today.

I hope this post helped you with your cleaning endeavors. I meant to publish this a while ago, but I truly didn’t know where to start. Oh well. I can see my closet floor now. (I texted my mom a picture immediately after I finished cleaning it.) I also listened to 18 chapters of an audiobook while cleaning out my closet.

You can see the floor!
You can see the floor!

Are you getting ready to move into college? How much old stuff did you get rid of before packing? If you decided not to declutter all your stuff, why? 

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