Loft clearance is not a job for the faint-hearted.

Packing and decluttering for a home move fills most movers with dread, and the worst job of all has to be clearing out the loft.

In an ideal world, your loft should only be used for seasonal storage, things like winter or summer clothes, suitcases, Christmas decorations, and winter sports kit.

But most attics contain a mixture of anything and everything, all out of sight and out of mind, the ‘I might need those one day’, ‘just store them out of the way’, and sentimental keepsakes.

So when it comes to decluttering a loft before a home move you have a jumble of items, collected over the years, which have not seen the light of day in eons.

Removal Companies will usually not venture up into a loft space for health and safety reasons, so even if you are hiring a removal company you will need to declutter and empty your attic yourself.

So here you will find top tips for getting your loft sorted for your home move.

Not only that, but we have great ideas on what to do with sentimental items such as children’s school art that has been gathering dust for years in your attic.

You may also like to read: The Epic Guide to Decluttering for a Home Move. Decluttering is the one guaranteed way to reduce your home moving costs and make your move easier and quicker. Here we go through the home room-by-room offering some tips on how to declutter your unwanted and not needed things.

How to Empty a Loft When Moving Home

If you are lucky you will have light and a boarded floor to walk on but an attic still poses plenty of hazards

You will definitely need a plan of action when sorting out the loft.

This step-by-step guide will cover everything from safety to packing, to bespoke loft clearance services.

Top Tips on Clearing out a Loft

  1. Wear suitable clothing and use safety equipment.
  2. Test how safe your loft ladder is.
  3. Consider what light source you will use to illuminate the loft.
  4. Ensure there are at least two people available to help you lower things down from the attic.
  5. Set a room aside so that you can sort the items you bring down.
  6. Have plenty of rubbish sacks available.
  7. Prepare your packing materials.
  8. Pack the remaining items.

Safety First

  • Wear suitable clothing that is not tight fitting but also not so loose that it can easily snag. Footwear should have a flat sole, no heels, and with a good grip.
  • Use a face mask, it will be dusty up there.
  • Beware of wasp nests or other creatures that may have made your loft their home. If you discover an insect nest call a pest control expert.
  • Loft ladders are rarely used so are likely to be old or not safe for the purpose. If in any doubt about the rigidity of your loft ladder, remove it and use a sliding sectional ladder that extends beyond the loft hatch. If possible tie the ladder to an immovable object so that it cannot slip away from under you. Always have a helper to hold the bottom of the ladder to prevent slips.
  • Avoid walking on the ceiling joists as you may slip off and go through the ceiling. Use boards to walk on, preferably that are fixed to the joists.
  • Use a portable light source if the attic has no electrical light fixture already in place. Avoid using a light source with a trailing cable as this is a trip hazard. Head torches are great as you are then free to work with your hands.
  • Work with at least two other people in the following way: One person in the loft who hands down the items to a second person. They then pass the items to a third person who stores them in the packing room.

Prepare a Sorting and Packing Room

  • Empty a room as close to the loft as possible. This will be your sorting room.
  • Arrange an area for going through the things you bring down from the loft
  • Make available some cleaning materials, things are going to be dirty having been stored. Wet wipes and dusters are a minimum.
  • Have three areas available within the room, one for things to be thrown out, another for items to be sold and a third, very small area for things to be kept.
  • You will also need a packing station to be set up after the big sort out
  • A table or large flat surface will be needed for packing
  • Prepare your packing materials: Boxes, tape, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and marker pens.
  • You may also like to read: How to Pack a Garage for Moving. Along with the loft, the garage has to be one of the worst packing jobs to do when moving home. In this guide, we look at ways to make this job as easy as possible.

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    How to Decide What to get rid of When Clearing the Attic Clutter

    Having a car boot sale of your unwanted things is a great way to raise some cash for your moving costs

    Once you have brought all your items down from the loft you will now face the task of deciding what to keep, sell and throw away.

    As a rule of thumb, if an item has been in the loft and you have not used it for the last year, do you really need it?

    Remember that the more things you don’t have to move home with, the cheaper your home removal costs will be.

    Be as ruthless in your discarding of items as possible.

    It may help to decide on the fate of some items as a family but stick to the majority decision.

    Items such as those below are easy to decide what to do with so do the easy wins first to help motivate you to tackle the harder items.

    • Books – Most are available as downloads or can be borrowed from the local library. Reference books are all but obsolete with the information available on the internet. Books are heavy and will add significantly to your moving costs so consider donating these to a charity or selling at a car boot sale.
    • Clothes – Unless you store them out of season, the chances are they were in the loft because you liked that particular piece of clothing and ‘maybe one day it will fit again’. It is more likely that they are now outdated and of no use to you. Another set of items that can be donated to charity, sold, or recycled.
    • Household items – These are in the loft because you no longer use them. Time to find them a new home, and not your new home!

    Ok, that was the list of easy things to sort out.

    But the majority of your loft hoard is likely to be sentimental: old toys, the kids’ old school books and paintings, photo albums, your wedding dress, and maybe a christening robe or two.

    These items you have an emotional attachment to, and probably cannot bear the thought of parting with them.

    But here are some suggestions where you can keep those memories alive, but have them as a part of your new daily life. And they won’t be cluttering up your loft or costing you money to relocate.

    • Photo Albums – When was the last time you browsed through these? Probably not since the day you put them in the album. So how about scanning them and then displaying them in a digital picture frame? These are picture frames that you can insert a memory card into, the images then scroll through on the screen in a loop. Now you can see your old photos every day without the need for a dozen cumbersome albums.
    •  Old Toys – Why keep these? Some toys are extremely valuable these days. Why not sell them and put the money to good use? Those you cannot sell can be donated to charities.
    •  School Books – There really is no reason to keep these.
    •  Children’s paintings – Why not photograph them and display them on your new digital frames if you really want to remember them? You could even make a selection of fridge magnets or a framed collage. How about having the pictures scanned onto mugs? Ask yourself what is your reason for storing them.
    •  Wedding and Christening Dresses – Apart from the obvious of selling it or donating it to a charity, here are our top five uses for your old wedding dress or christening gowns:
      1. Cut a piece out of the fabric and use it within a pendant case or earrings.
      2. Make a tablecloth and napkins out of the remaining fabric.
      3. Cushions are also an item that you can make and admire.
      4. Frame a section of the fabric to display.
      5. Make a ball gown or graduation dress for family or friends.
    • Old birthday cards – Are you saving these because of the picture, or the words inside? Why not scan these cards, inside and out, to make another digital frame display? If the cards are from a milestone birthday, you could make and frame a collage from them.

    Bonus Idea: Why not buy one scrapbook to display as a coffee table book? This will give you a way to display your precious memories and a talking point when friends and family visit.

    Because you will only have a set number of pages, this will determine the number of things that you can keep, and help you to decide on what really really means the most to you.

    You can have a mixture of fabric, postcards, birthday cards, kids’ drawings, and photo’s all in one place, which will give you joy every time you turn the pages.

    If you come across anything whilst decluttering your loft that you think might be worth more than a few pounds at the local car boot sale, you can get them valued online on sites such as

    You may also like to read: The Ultimate Guide of Where to Donate Things. During your clearing out of the loft and decluttering, you will likely have things that you want to donate to a good cause. This guide lists places to donate things by category of item so it is quick and easy to use.

    Packing Tips for Things Found in Attics

    Get creative to find ways to display your sentimental treasures

    Here are some great packing tips for things commonly found in the loft:

    #1 Christmas Decorations

    Christmas decorations are one of the items that you will most likely still want to store in your attic in your new home.

    Often Christmas decorations are fragile, can be of an awkward shape, tie themselves up in knots, and may contain small, easily lost parts.

    Because of the vast array of different types of Christmas decorations, there are various packing strategies you will need and therefore we have dedicated a complete guide to this very subject: How to Pack Christmas Decorations for a Home Move.

    #2 Seasonal Clothing

    Seasonal clothing will need storing too if you don’t have the space in the wardrobes of your new home.

    Vacuum bags are a great space-saving way to store clothes, blankets, and other spare textiles.

    You may also consider using plastic tote boxes which are easy to handle, quicker to use than having to construct cardboard boxes, and are not prone to dampness or decomposing like cardboard is.

    #3 Suitcases

    Suitcases are often stored in the loft so you could utilise them by storing your vacuum-sealed clothes in them.

    It is not a good idea to fill suitcases for moving your books. Books soon become extremely heavy.

    You could mix a layer of books with lighter items such as textiles to distribute the weight, just don’t put anything in with the books that will get damaged.

    #4 Sports Equipment

    The last category of items that you may still want to store in the attic is seasonal sports kit.

    These should be stored in their own protective bags such as ski bags or cricket kit bags.

    #5 Fragile and Odd-Shaped Things

    You may come across fragile, delicate, or oddly shaped things whilst clearing out your loft that you want to take to your new home.

    These items require special packing techniques so we have prepared in-depth packing guides for both these categories of things which you will find invaluable.

    How to Pack Fragile Things for a Home Move

    How to Pack Awkward and Odd-Shaped Things for a Home Move

    Packing for a home move is no easy task and is often best left to the professionals. After the sorting of your loft, packing is probably the last thing you want to do anyway.

    Whilst hiring professional packers is yet another expense they represent great value for money and will make your home move considerably easier.

    You may like to read: Are Home Packing Services Worth the Money? In this guide, we find out just how much packers cost, what they do, and whether it makes sense in your circumstances to hire them.

    Final Tips for Clearing the Attic

    Many home movers do not have the time, available help, or fitness of body to undertake the often huge task of clearing clutter before moving.

    In such circumstances you may want to consider hiring a loft clearance company who can do it for you and an online search will find you a local company to do just that.

    If you intend to hire a removal company to move your things to your new home be sure to have decluttered your loft and home before having an in-home survey done by the removal company so that they will be able to give you an accurate price.

    There is no point in them quoting for items that you will not be moving, and equally, if you do intend to relocate some items from your loft, then having them at floor level will make the price calculation easier for the removal company surveyor.

    If you found other easy ways to declutter your loft why not share it with other home movers in the comments below, and if you know someone else who is moving home, be sure to share this guide with them.

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