The post originally appeared on The Seasoned Spouse

If there’s one thing that’s predictable in military life, it’s this: eventually, you’ll have to move. Whether you have PCS orders this year or you’re anticipating a PCS move in the future, it’s always smart to prepare your home for a move by cleaning out closets and getting rid of things you won’t need after you move.

We all know we should get organized and get rid of things before a PCS move. After all, PCS orders come with a weight allowance based on the service member’s rank. If you use a military moving company, going over that weight means paying out of pocket.

(If you do a DITY move, also called a PPM, you are also reimbursed based on total weight. You can read more details about DITY moves here.)

Of course most military families agree it’s better to clean out junk and get rid of things when you PCS. But how to get rid of things… well sometimes that’s a challenge. When you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the details of your PCS move, it can feel like a waste of time and energy to set up a yard sale.

I get it, I’ve been there many times. I’ve one 6 PCS moves with my Marine—including moving to and from an overseas assignment. Through our moves, I’ve learned creative ways to get rid of things when you PCS. There isn’t just one way to clean out your closets before a PCS. Different strategies work best for different home items. The more time you give yourself to start this process before a PCS move, the more options you’ll have.

So here are the best creative ways to get rid of things before a PCS move. Some are ways to sell items, while others are options to give them away for free. Either way, they are out of your house and one less thing you need to pack and unpack when you PCS!

How to Clean Out Closets and Get Rid of Things When You PCS

1. Yard Sale

Yes, a yard sale (or garage sale) is the classic way to get rid of things when you PCS because—quite simply—they work! It’s a great way to get rid of a lot of things at once. Check with your base or neighborhood regulations, because sometimes you must register or pay a fee in advance.

Yard sales are most effective when they are well-advertised and draw a large crowd. Consider teaming up with other households to host a multi-family yard sale, and post notices and pictures on your local social media groups.

Don’t forget—your yard sale can also be virtual! Use local Facebook groups for your neighborhood or for military spouses to list your items. Make sure you follow the rules of the page. And then, be prepared for numerous messages haggling over the price, and lots of people saying they want an item but turning out to be a no-show. It can be a tedious process, so start a virtual yard sale over a month before you move, when your patience is still fresh. When preparing for our overseas move, I made $700 selling off all the furniture and kids’ toys we wouldn’t need! That really helped with our out-of-pocket moving costs.

Best for: Items in good condition worth a little money

2. Buy Nothing Pages

Another idea for online listings is local Facebook groups called “Buy Nothing” pages. You won’t make money listing items here, but you may find a great second home for gently used items you want to give away.

Just post the picture, and someone will take the item from your doorstep later that day. You’re cleaning out your house and helping a neighbor in need. Go, you!

Best for: Old clothing, used kitchen items, kids’ toys, hobby or craft items, and liquids you can’t pack with you on the move

3. Thrift Store

Want to feel good about giving away unwanted items? Take them to a thrift store. There’s one on almost every military base, plus numerous options in each military town. The thrift store on base donates money from sales to military family programs, so your old DVD collection could end up helping someone in need.

Off-base thrift stores often donate proceeds to local charities, support groups for new moms, or to church programs. You can donate year-round, even when you’re waiting for PCS orders.

Best for: Clothing, shoes, household items like dishes and appliances, décor, furniture, baby items, toys, books

4. Potluck Party

Need to clean out your pantry? Most of those baking supplies and liquids can’t go with you when you move, and you can’t take the alcohol either. So invite some friends over for a Pre-PCS Potluck Party! Make whatever eclectic dishes will use up the supplies in your pantry, then send guests home with something for their kitchen.

If they are military spouses, they’ll totally understand, and they will appreciate the tradition.

Best for: That half-used bag of flour, a bottle of olive oil, the teriyaki sauce you never opened, etc.

5. Reverse Yard Sale

Here’s a creative take on cleaning out your closets: if you have trouble getting rid of things when you PCS, try paying people to take items out of your house. If you have large, bulky items, you may need to pay people to take them away.

I have a family member who does this every Thanksgiving when all the relatives are at their house. They bring out all the random items they no longer need, then pay $1 per item for everything we take off their hands. The more you take, the more you make!

Best for: Dated or unusual items people aren’t actively looking for

4. Donate to Charities

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Before tossing out your unneeded items, consider whether someone else can use them.  

Charities like Habitat for Humanities stores or Goodwill will sell your donated items to raise money for those in need. Some charities collect baby items for teen moms. And many churches accept donations for White Elephant sales throughout the year.

Best for: Baby clothes, furniture, and items for moms in need, scratched and used furniture

6. Offer to a Neighbor

Some of your outdoor items may be too large or unwieldy to leave the neighborhood. Ask around to see if another family will take your items for you. We once got rid of a trampoline by passing it over the backyard fence. And we inherited a neighbor’s charcoal grill the same way.

Best for: Large outdoor items like lawn mowers, playground sets, trampoline, grill

7. Use Local Donation Centers

If you have hazardous liquids or old electronics, do NOT throw them in the trash. These items contain dangerous materials we don’t want to end up in landfills. Make the effort to safety get rid of things when you PCS.

There is likely a local charity that collects these items for a purpose. They may have donation areas set up at your local grocery store or shopping mall. Keep an eye out when you’re shopping or scan your city’s website to check on disposal regulations for these items.

Best for: Used batteries, printer cartridges, computer parts, or cell phones

8. Put it on the Curb

If you live on base and put anything useful on the curb in front of your house, it will likely disappear within a day, especially if you put up a “free” sign and upload a photo to the neighborhood Facebook page. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get rid of things when you PCS.

The largest item we ever disposed of on the curb was a broken treadmill! We had bought it used and we didn’t know how to dispose of it. Someone with a pickup truck came by and loaded it up so they could hopefully fix it at home. Win-win!

Best for: Clothes, kids’ toys, furniture, home décor, books, kitchen items

9. Sell Your Scrap Metal

In many counties, you can sell metal items by their weight. They will be melted down and recycled into something useful. Check your local guidelines for details and locations.

Best for: Dented metal furniture, filing cabinets, garage storage systems, car parts, yard equipment

10. Take it to the Dump

There are some items no one wants to take off your hands. To prepare for PCS, take any items that are clearly broken and not usable to the local dump. Check regulations and hours of operation before you go, and make sure you have enough people to get the item out of the vehicle. Hey, it’s better to have it gone than to be charged at your check-out inspection!

Best for: Broken appliances, stained mattresses, anything with mold

There you have it—11 creative ways to get rid of things when you PCS! The sooner you start to clear out all these items, the more space you will have to focus on the things you actually use. I hope your next move goes smoothly, and I wish your family success with each PCS.

the pcs homegirls

Lizann Lightfoot is an experienced writer, editor, and speaker for the military community. After two decades with her Marine—which included seven deployments, six PCS moves, five children, and three years overseas—she specializes in sharing resources and encouragement with families through the many challenges of military life. As an interviewer and storyteller, she helps others share their stories, so their experiences can help fellow service members and spouses throughout their military journey.


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