Lizann standing in a moving truck holding a box.

Purging Closets Before PCS


It’s almost PCS season again, and there’s one thing we can all do to prepare. Whether you already know where you are going, you are anxiously waiting to get orders, or you aren’t sure whether you will move this year, you can get a head start on your PCS prep by purging your closets.

Why is purging important? Over time, we all accumulate more things than we truly need. When you move into a new house, it’s best to take only the things you need. Not only will this free up space in your next home, but it also means fewer boxes for your PCS move. Cleaning and purging before your move make you less likely to go over your service member’s weight allowance. It would be silly to pay out of pocket, only to discard unwanted items as you unpack!

Cleaning out your closets also helps you decide whether you really use everything that takes up space in your home. If there is something that is broken, incomplete or has gone untouched for over a year, then you might not need it anymore. On the other hand, if some items are worn from lots of use, this might be a great time to replace them or upgrade. Instead of moving with old items, give them away or sell them to others. Then treat yourself to something new in your new home.

How to purge closets before PCS:

Everyone has a different purging style, and your options may depend on how much time is available before your move. These tips will keep you on track.

  1. Pace yourself. Organizing your home before a PCS can be a major undertaking, so don’t expect to do it all at once. There are probably some closets with lesser-used items that can be tackled a month or more before the move. Begin with seasonal decorations, collections, sports gear, home décor, boxes of baby clothes or other non-essentials. Make a plan to clean out one space a week, or a different area every day. The longer you put it off, the more daunting it will appear, so try to do one task at a time.
  2. Separate essentials from donations. Before you begin cleaning out closets, decide what you will do with the things you purge. There are many options, depending on the quality of your discarded items, their value and how much effort you want to put into reselling them. Will you gather items for a large yard sale or garage sale? Or just drop them off at a thrift store? Will you list them individually for sale on local Facebook pages? Or should you use an app to sell and ship them to interested buyers? A general rule is to make three piles: Give Away, Put Away (Keep), and Sell.
  3. Ask, “Do we need this?” If you haven’t used it at the current house, you probably don’t need it at the next house. If it is winter coats or golf clubs, that argument could be made. But if it’s clothes you have outgrown, or hobbies you no longer enjoy, then this may be the time to let it go. Everything in your house doesn’t have to “spark joy,” but it all needs to serve a purpose if it is going to make the PCS move with you.

Items to purge before a PCS move:

Your own list will vary, depending on your own family’s hobbies and ages. But here are some of the largest and most popular items to purge before a PCS move.

  1. Items that no longer fit you or you no longer wear should always be purged. This is true for baby clothes and children’s clothing, too. Consider the climate of your next duty station and plan your wardrobe accordingly. While it is tempting to hold onto maternity clothes and infant outfits “just in case,” remember that these items are easy to replace if they are eventually needed.
  2. If it’s broken, bulky, or made of cheap pressed wood, then it probably won’t make it into the next house. If possible, check with your housing office to get your home floor plan in advance, and plan room layouts before you move. Then you will know where everything fits and what needs to be left behind. If you are preparing to move overseas, then you will have to be especially careful about packing too much.
  3. Craft items. If it’s liquid or flammable, the movers won’t pack it anyway. Go through the garage and crafting areas and separate out items like paint, glue or pressurized cans.
  4. Books and Toys. Do the kids really play with these anymore? Would another child enjoy them more? If the kids are too sentimental about giving away their things, then try cleaning out when they are occupied in another room.

The more you purge before your PCS move, the more you can relax about your move, knowing that you are only moving with essential items. The less you take, the less you have to unpack and organize in the new home!

Lizann Lightfoot
Written By Lizann Lightfoot
Marine Corps Spouse

Lizann is the Seasoned Spouse – a Marine Corps wife, mom of four and published author. She loves writing, exploring new duty stations and chocolate!

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