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Practical Tips to Clean Out a House After a Death

Gabrielle Applebury
Clean out a house after a death

After a loved one has passed away, you may be faced with the task of cleaning out their home and sorting their belongings. While this may seem like a daunting task at first, there are helpful tips when it comes to cleaning out a house after a death.

Clean Out Houses After Death

Handling an estate cleanout of a loved one's home can bring up a lot of emotions for you and may feel like a stressful task to complete. Regardless of the quality of the relationship you had with the deceased individual, cleaning out their home can feel overwhelming. In general:

  • If the deceased individual had a pet(s), be sure to secure a safe home for them as soon as possible. Keep animal shelters as a last resort, as they may be put to sleep if not adopted out.
  • Allow family members to view the items within the home and take what they'd like.
  • Create a donation pile of items that could benefit others.
  • Organize an estate sale or bring in a company to help you do so if you'd like.

How to Clean Out Parents' House After Death

Cleaning out your parents' home can feel really intense, and you may be flooded with memories while doing so. Be sure to take care of yourself during this time, ask for help if you feel overwhelmed, and break up the cleaning out process in a schedule so you can give yourself breaks. As you clean out the house:

  • Begin by changing the locks and having their mail forwarded to you.
  • Notify necessary entities of their passing.
  • Keep essential paperwork (bank statements, home insurance, house deed, any other insurance information, and any other important documentation).
  • Create a schedule for yourself where you tackle a room, a closet, or a section of the house little by little.
  • Create labels (keep, sell, donate) that you can easily stick on items so you can stay organized.
  • Organize an estate sale if you'd like.
  • Decide what you'd like to do with the home once you've cleaned it out.

How Do You Go Through Deceased Belongings?

When going through a deceased individual's belongings, it's best to create categories:

  • Items you'd like to personally keep
  • Items that you plan on donating
  • Items that should be disposed of or recycled
  • Items that you plan on selling in an estate sale (if applicable)
  • Items that other family members plan on keeping

If possible, have your family members sort through and take what they'd like first so you have less to go through. This also ensures that you don't accidentally donate something they wanted.

What Do You Do With Stuff After Someone Dies?

After someone passes away, you can keep what you'd like, sell their items, or donate their items. Sometimes family members will want to look through items and take some for themselves as well. Keep in mind that there are plenty of charities looking for furniture even if it's extremely worn. For example, some animal shelters will take old chairs and couches and place them within the animals' enclosure to make it a bit homier for them.

woman looks through some memories

What Do You Do With Your Parents' House After Death?

If the house was left to you, you can consider moving in if you'd like. You can also prepare the home for sale if you aren't interested in moving in. You may also consider renting out the house if it's in good condition and you don't mind taking on this additional responsibility. In addition to making a decision to sell, keep, or rent, you should:

  • Make sure the locks on the home are changed.
  • Forward their mail to your address.
  • Secure legal and financial paperwork.
  • Continue paying for certain necessary upkeep services.

Bereavement Cleanout Services

Bereavement cleanout services, also referred to as clutter or hoarding cleanout services, can assist family members in sorting and organizing the deceased individual's belongings. These services can be especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed with this particular task.

How to Declutter After a Death

After a loved one has passed away, it can feel daunting to go through and sort their belongings. Be sure to take good care of yourself and enlist help for anything you may need during this time.

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Practical Tips to Clean Out a House After a Death