How to recycle your clutter – Part 3: Selling it (on auction sites)

If you don’t want to give away the results of your decluttering, you can try selling it! Ebay is the main place to sell used items but there are other places as well.  The big disadvantage about selling is that you don’t get the clutter out of your house quickly.  And, if you are a procrastinator by nature as so many of us clutterers (reformed or otherwise!) are, then selling your stuff can become yet another undone item on your to- do list.  Having said that, as long as you get on with it, it can be quite satisfying to make money from your no longer needed or wanted stuff.   (But if you are a really busy working inside and/or outside the home mum, then our advice is to give it away…) 


I started selling stuff on Ebay in 2006.  My son was a collector of Cadbury’s Harry Potter cards. When he finally decided that he had outgrown them, we tried selling them on Ebay and got about £5 plus postage for each batch of 20 that we sold. 

Since that first success, I have sold quite a few items, including a steam generator iron that I had only used once, a Braun hand whisk, more trading cards, CDs, DVDs and video games, my old Psion organiser (does anyone else remember them!), Beyblades and a Microdome football set. 

My rule is to sell only items that are in good condition and to be totally honest in the description.  When I sold our Turkish rug, I described the white threads starting to appear in the design and included a close-up photo of them.  It still sold (though not for much!) and the buyer collected.   

Ebay have really good Help pages on how to set up an account and start selling so I won’t go into that here.  Instead, here are a few of my personal rules and tips:

1. If you are not sure how much an item might sell for, ‘Watch’ similar items already posted by other sellers via your Ebay account.

2. Don’t make the starting price too high or no-one will be interested; you do run the risk of the item going at a lower price that you want it to but you can always stick on a reserve price if you want to (there is an Ebay charge for this).

3. Make sure you have charged enough for postage and packing.  I have been caught out on this several times.  Usually, it’s when I have tried to match the postage given by other sellers so that buyers don’t get put off.  I think I tend to pack my items more – I love that bubble wrap – and so end up paying more postage, which can wipe out any profit on low priced items.

4. You get feedback judged on the quality of the service you provide as well as the items you sell so make sure that you post the items within the time limit you state and at the correct postage rate (eg 1st class or other); and always keep your buyer informed so that they know when to expect the item. 

5. Payments – I think it is safer to accept PayPal payments only.  I used to accept payments via PayPal and cheque but cheques now take 5 working days to clear your bank account.  If you add up the time it takes for the buyer’s cheque to arrive and you to go to the bank to pay it in, it could be two weeks before you can send the item.  I think this makes the seller look bad so I have decided not to accept cheques any longer.  It is really easy to set up a PayPal account and means you can take payment by credit cards as well.

6. Charges – don’t forget that Ebay charge for listing your item and for any extras eg reserve price etc.  The charges are all clearly explained on the site and it is worth making sure you understand them.  I have sold a cheap DVD before now and made little or nothing once I had paid listing charges and more postage than I had charged for (see point 3 above!).

 Other auction sites

 There are other auction sites but I have never used them as I am used to Ebay.  Anyway, these days I  tend to either give my unwanted clutter to charity shops or post it on Freecycle as I like to get rid of stuff as quickly as possible.  Auction Alfie has a list of auction sites in the UK and you can also use it to search across auction sites for items which could be useful if you want to see where you might get the best price.

Drop-off centres

If you want to sell items, particularly bulky or high value ones, but don’t want the hassle of running an auction yourself, quite a few areas have ‘drop off centres’ which will take your items and sell them  for you.  Try searching for ‘Ebay drop off centres’ on Google.  Do check their fees though!

Love2Declutter tip: If you want to try and make some money out of all that clutter, use Ebay or other similar sites – but set yourself a deadline to sell items or they will hang around your house and ruin all your great decluttering work.

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