Clear your home for cash

5 min | 31 January 2023

Janice Warman
Janice Warman

If, like me, you’re an empty-nester, chances are you have a house full of stuff. Not just in your kids' old rooms, but any other available spaces, including under beds and on top of wardrobes. And if you have a shed, garage or any other outbuilding, it’s likely to be full up too.

I’ve been there, partly because my adventurous daughter went to live in one country and then another, and also lived at home for a while between those times. Then there’s a son who loves motorbikes, we had a couple of those in the shed for a long time. There’s also a collection of artwork, as both are former art students.

But clutter may not always be down to grown-up children. If you’ve lived anywhere for a certain amount of time, possessions can often build up, seemingly of their own accord.

For me, there’s a psychological aspect to this accumulation of stuff. When I left my country and moved to the UK straight after university, my mother, who had happily stored the possessions of my married and absent older sister in a large box-room for half a decade, decided to throw all my stuff out. My childhood books and toys that I'd hoped to share with my children one day were gone.

Hoarding vs keeping

This experience means that I’m extra-reluctant to throw out any of my children’s possessions. And I’m sure it means that I hang onto my own stuff too. But all that is about to change. I have a plan, and, in case you’re in a similar situation, I’ll share it with you.

I’m starting by clearing a wardrobe of my daughter’s clothes, steaming them for freshness and storing them in vacuum bags. Then it’ll be up to her to sell or keep. Some parents put everything in a storage unit and hand their adult kids the keys (and the contract), but I haven’t got that far yet.

What about my own, perfectly preserved dresses in sizes that I am unlikely to ever fit into? Those are going to my local dress agency in the nearby town, who take a percentage of the sale money. If they don’t sell, the agency will donate them to charity shops.

Where to get rid of your things

You could consider selling clothes online via the established fashion sale apps. That’s because their customers will be searching for specific brands, especially designer clothes or vintage items. Be aware that you'll need to wash, pack and post, and it’s advisable to track your parcels so that you can prove the buyer has received them.

For less perfect clothing, you could donate to your local charity shops. For anything that’s damaged, you could use the fabric recycling bins at your local recycling point. You could also donate old footwear there.

You could try boot sales to shift a lot of things quickly and make a little money. The internet is a great place to search for nearby boot sales. Some social media sites have sections for selling your unwanted items or even giving them away. The non-profit organisation (Opens in new window) is a fuss-free way to give away things you no longer want, as people will collect them, and it’s good to know they will be useful to someone.

I’ve become a fan of some online decluttering gurus, as their ideas can be inspirational. For example, I regularly take a cardboard box into a room and clear a few items that are beginning to look more like clutter than decor. It takes a minute, you can experience the results for a few days, and then if you haven’t missed the items, you can get rid of the things in the box. If you own books, old furniture, ceramics, paintings, curios and carpets that are of good quality, you could consider having them valued and selling them via auction houses.

Where to get rid of junk

For those things that have no intrinsic value, and can’t be recycled at the kerb, such as broken electrical items, take them to your local recycling centre, the details will be on your local council website.

If you've had to clear a parent’s home and end up with extra items you don’t need, some local charity shops will come and collect from you. Make sure any furniture for pickup has fire labels attached. For any items they don’t want, and that are too large for you to transport to the recycling centre, your local council will collect for a fee. When I enquired about renting a skip, I was pleased to hear that whatever I put in it would be sorted and recycled, so it’s not just going to landfill.

This way, you could clear your rooms and open up space for other purposes, such as a cosy guest room, a home gym or a study. You could also consider setting aside a bedroom to rent out on a short-term basis, either through room rental apps or the Government’s Rent a Room (Opens in new window) scheme.

Your home will feel newly spacious – and it could even begin to make you money. What’s not to like?

Looking for more ways to make money? You could try these ideas, none of which involve starting a side hustle.

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