PCS Purge: What You Need to Trash Today!

Cleaning out your home can be daunting, but if you start far in advance and do a little bit at a time, your PCS purge will be a breeze.
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PCS Purge - What to Trash Before You Move
Table of Contents
  1. 11 Things to Include in Your PCS Purge
    1. 1. Outdoor Children’s Items
    2. 2. Plants and Garden Items
    3. 3. Grill, Firepit or Smoker
    4. 4. Hazardous Materials
    5. 5. Damaged Furniture
    6. 6. Baby Items
    7. 7. Toys, Games and Books
    8. 8. Clothes and Shoes
    9. 9. Dishes and Kitchen Items
    10. 10. Appliances
    11. 11. Old Electronics
  2. How to Sell or Donate Your Stuff
    1. 1. Sell your stuff online
    2. 2. Sell to secondhand stores
    3. 3. Donate to a charity
    4. 4. Give away for free

There is nothing like a PCS move to make you suddenly aware of how much stuff you have in your house. Some of it is necessary and needs to go with you to the next house, but a lot of it is often less than essential. The task of cleaning out your home can be daunting, but if you start far in advance of a PCS move and do a little at a time, then you will be able to get rid of many unwanted items during your PCS purge.

The more you purge, the lower your moving weight will be. This is important, especially if you are allowing the military movers to pack and move you. Each military family is given a PCS weight limit. This is determined by rank and whether the service member is married. The allowance does not increase for additional children. The more you clean out, the less likely you are to go over your limit.

11 Things to Include in Your PCS Purge

1. Outdoor Children’s Items

It’s time to purge play structures, trampolines, kiddie pools, sandboxes, water tables, large riding toys, bikes, scooters and anything they no longer play with. If these items are worn, rusted or can’t be cleaned out fully, then they won’t hold up well in a move. Since most are not designed to be disassembled, it is best to try to sell them to someone local. Save the money to invest in age-appropriate items for your next house.

2. Plants and Garden Items

You can’t transport living plants during a PCS move unless you drive them in your personal vehicle. You can keep flower pots or planters if they are emptied and rinsed of dirt and insect egg sacks. You can try to sell or rehome your potted plants before you move.

3. Grill, Firepit or Smoker

This depends on the size of the item and its current condition. If you invested a lot of money into a large backyard cooker, then try to take it with you. However, if it is old, rusted or a basic cheap model, then it is easy to replace or buy used at the next duty station. Sometimes the time you spend cleaning up after moving these items is more costly than replacing them.

Also, be aware of moving restrictions for propane tanks or other hazardous items. You may find it cheaper and easier to simply replace your grill at your next location.

4. Hazardous Materials

Moving companies will not transport anything liquid or flammable, so you have to clean out your garage and research the safe way to dispose of these items locally. Look for paint cans, spray paint, fuel, propane, cleaning supplies, car maintenance fluids and motor oil. Some military installations have an area to donate these leftovers for incoming families, so check with your local installation.

5. Damaged Furniture

Many families have plenty of furniture purchased from thrift stores or local yard sales that’s been used and worn for years. Some pieces will survive a PCS move. But plenty of second-and third-hand furniture will have a weak leg, a cracked drawer or a broken slat. These items can be easily replaced at your next duty station, rather than taking up space and weight in your shipment.

6. Baby Items

Even if you’re planning to have more children, it’s ok to let go of baby items during your PCS purge if your child no longer needs them. Bulky items like bouncers, high chairs or strollers can be easily replaced by searching the next base yard sale pages. Naturally, it’s fine to keep sentimental items — but try to keep those to a minimum.

7. Toys, Games and Books

If you have kids, you can use the PCS purge to get rid of some of their toys. Throw away anything broken or with missing pieces. Give away or donate anything they no longer play with or that takes up too much space. Use the same process when going through bookshelves and closets. Not only will you lighten your load you can usually sell or donate to other families who would happily accept your used items.

8. Clothes and Shoes

Almost everyone has extra clothes they no longer wear that are just taking up space in a closet or garage. Get rid of anything your children have outgrown or haven’t worn in the last year or so. You can always find second-hand clothing at the base Thrift Store. In your own closet, take everything out and think about the last time you wore it. Do you even like it anymore? Will it be functional at your next duty station? Donate seasonal clothing that won’t be needed in your future climate. But don’t forget that military uniforms do not count towards your weight allowance, so keep those items separate!

9. Dishes and Kitchen Items

You probably have some mismatched dishes, souvenir cups and extra kitchen items you rarely use. If you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably don’t need to own it. Sell or donate any items that are still in good condition. Although you are entitled to submit a claim if these items are damaged you don’t usually get the full replacement value, so selling the set could be a better plan.

10. Appliances

Depending on where you will live next, you may not need to take a washer, dryer or microwave. Research your future housing so you only pack the large appliances you will need. Otherwise, sell them. Storing these types of items is not recommended by many manufacturers.

11. Old Electronics

Are you still holding onto an old broken laptop or an extra printer? Maybe you kept your PS3 after upgrading to a PS4. If you have electronics that are no longer usable, destroy the hard drives and then recycle them. If they still work but you don’t need them, then sell or donate.

How to Sell or Donate Your Stuff

1. Sell your stuff online

If you have big-ticket or rare items, it will be worth your time and patience to sell it on Craigslist, eBay, or even Amazon.com. You will earn more from these sites than you would by selling your items in a traditional garage sale.

For example, remember when bread machines were all the rage 15 or 20 years ago? There is still a cult following of machine bread bakers, and they may want the bread machine you used twice and haven’t thought about since. A quick search on eBay shows that even parts are going for around $10-$20 plus shipping, which is far more than you would get for the machine in a garage sale.

Who knows what other treasures you have in your pantry, closet, or basement that a dedicated internet shopper might happily pay you for?

As a rule of thumb, eBay is the best place to sell rare or unusual items, Craigslist is good for large items that would be easier to sell to a local purchaser who can pick up, and Amazon is the right site for more generic items like CDs, DVDs, and books.

2. Sell to secondhand stores

For clothing and books, selling to second-hand stores can be a great option. National chains like Plato’s Closet and locally owned clothing resale shops will take gently used, good-quality clothing for either cash or store credit. This wallet-friendly way looks good for individuals who like to stay on top of clothing trends. Avid readers will also find that selling to secondhand bookstores can help with their book addictions. Like clothing stores, bookstores offer cash or store credit for your unwanted books.

3. Donate to a charity

Some stuff simply isn’t worth your time to sell—charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or a local church group will be able to do a lot of good with your unwanted items. This is a great way to help charities without having to write a check. Remember that these charities are looking for salable items, not junk, and you should always ask for a receipt. Even donating can help your bottom line come tax time. Here are ways to learn more about reputable charities.

4. Give away for free

For the stuff that you know a charity would not be able to resell, there is always freecycle.com. If you’re like me, you hate to think about something languishing in a landfill just because it doesn’t look too pretty anymore. Freecycle.com is a great resource for such items—everything posted is completely free and you can feel good about helping another individual and the environment. The best part is that freecycle etiquette calls for the recipient to pick up the item, meaning you can just sit back and watch your home become less cluttered.

Preparing for a PCS move can be a long and frustrating process. The sooner you begin your PCS purge, the less you will pay the movers to pack. And, with all the money you make from a yard sale, you can buy new things for your next home!

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About Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot is a military spouse who has been following her Marine around the world for 15 years. A mom of 4 young children, she loves military resources, and anything free. Lizann is a published author, and the voice behind The Seasoned Spouse blog.

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