It’s graduation time and parents are proud, but they are also probably looking forward to “moving out” day. As they ponder the potential of the extra rooms, the purging bug takes hold. But as collectors, we know how dangerous “a purge” can be. So before loading up the car and going to a donation center, we have some very important tips.  Here are some general suggestions as you start.

  • Be organized. Have separate piles: keep, sell, throw away and donate.
  • Check with family members before purging anything. Do they have any interest in what you are planning to dispose of that they might want to keep? That Felix the cat childhood toy clock you think is trash may have precious memories.
  • If you are like most people, you have plastic bins full of photo albums and loose pictures. You can start your children off without those paper items to move each time they settle in a new place.  If they aren’t already digital, get them scanned and stored in the cloud or on a removable drive. What a wonderful gift of family history! If possible, include the names of the people pictured, relationships, the year, location, and the event so that information, too, remains with the digital pictures.
  • While assessing old toys that might be in attic bins or bedroom boxes, examine each carefully. The doll in mint condition with its original mint-condition box is worth about 30 percent more than the toy without the box. This is true of most collectibles; original finish, box, labels, and instruction books add to the value.
  • Event-related objects, such as souvenirs of concerts or political campaigns, are worth a lot to some collectors. I have a friend whose sister went to Woodstock. She somehow got a box full of programs and brought them home with her. Ten years after the festival, her parents found the box of programs and tossed them. Similar stories about comic books and other now-valuable souvenirs of events being thrown out as trash are epic in many families. It’s a guess which one will become important later.  So, save for sentimental reasons or rarity. Don’t forget condition is the most important thing.  If it is already in bad shape, go ahead and throw it out.
  • Save the school yearbooks.  They may never appreciate in value, but maybe one of the students will become the next celebrity. And more likely, your child might want to reminisce years from now.
  • Most adult children’s bedrooms still have high school and college textbooks and stacks of class notebooks and old tests. Ask before you donate or throw out. Many textbooks are salable.  If not, check with your local library before getting rid of them or giving them to a resale shop.
  • Do your research when disposing of any of your child’s collections, especially if they collected sports or Pokémon cards. A basic online search can provide you with collectors, specialized clubs, prices, and researched articles, to name a few. If you decide to try selling online directly, it will be more work, but you can expect to get more if it sells.

This is just an outline on how to purge a young adult’s room with care. Good luck and don’t forget to read our complete guide on downsizing at or visit our list of Popular Apps & Websites to Buy or Sell Collectibles, Household Goods and More.


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5 responses to “Stop! Read This Before Cleaning Out Adult Children’s Rooms”

  1. Chilly661 says:

    You mentioned school yearbooks. I do my family geneology & found my mom’s yearbooks. So much information!!

  2. gravesky says:

    Good Lord-why on God’s green erth would anyone toss out family members’ stuff? Don’t do it. Ask first. I have boxed up a lot of my kids’ stuff. Brought it to them and they can decide what to keep and toss. Even then, I give them guidance as to what to save and what to dump. Thier children may want to see what they did as kids (ie: elementary school pictures and report cards, etc) Now that I am “elderly” I even ask each of my children what they may want uppon my death. I’d like to get that straightened out prior to my demise. That makes it much easier in the long run.

  3. a1antiques says:

    Best advice: DON’T CLEAN OUT THEIR ROOM! I never forgave my parents for cleaning out my 1950’s collections of comic books, baseball cards and bottle caps – they said I was too old to keep these childish things. I am now 76, parents are long gone, and I still have not forgiven them!

  4. crabtree says:

    Wait, why are parents purging their kids’ possessions? Disposing of their collections? You advise to check with other family members whether there is anything they want, but don’t mention the kids, who own the stuff, having any part in the process. If I was one of those kids I would be furious!

  5. Babycatcher says:

    My mother threw out all my Barbies and Midge, Ken and Skipper while i was at school one day. I was teaching myself dress design by taking their clothes apart, using them as a pattern, then putting them back together. It took me a loooong time to forgive her. My first Barbie was 1961, Blonde bubble hairstyle, so might have been worth something now. I told her if she ever touched my Breyer models, she might lose an arm(said respectively, of course). I still have all of those. I now have ALL the collectibles from her side of the family, given to me by my grandmother, including all the genealogy stuff! She knew i would take care of it!

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