What To Bring to an Estate Sale

click to learn what to bring to an estate sale

May 29, 2024

I’m Allison.
Design obsessed and self-taught DIYer, I'm so excited to share my journey with you, and be a source of inspiration as well as a resource.
TOp categories
The Monthly Newsletter 
Gimme that

Thinking about hitting a local estate sale? I absolutely recommend it! Estate sales are a fantastic way to find upscale pieces at bargain prices, and they offer a thrilling sense of adventure. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a regular on the circuit, knowing what to bring to an estate sale can make or break your experience.

After you’ve identified which estate sales you’re going to go to, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepped for a successful day. Here are my top recommendations on what to have handy before heading out the door.

Tape Measure

If you only remember one thing I highly recommend a small tape measure. Depending on the scale of the house you’re going to, things can look much larger or smaller in different environments, so sometimes eyeballing can be tricky.

Large houses will have large furniture that will look normal all due to scale. Measure just to be safe!

Bungee Cords

In the market for a rug or furniture? Bringing along a couple bungee cords will help secure furniture and/or keep large rugs rolled up tightly for easier transport.


Blankets are excellent for placing in between and stacking pieces of artwork, mirrors or even wrapping around lamps. I highly recommend having at least 2-3 on hand for any sale you’re going to visit.

I purchased multiple pieces of artwork (including this one!) at the same sale. Having blankets to place in between them was essential to keep them from getting damaged during transport.

Newspapers / Boxes / Reusable bags

You’ll quickly learn every estate sale is very different. I’ve been to some which have provided packing paper for fragile items, but none of them have provided a way to carry your items. You are truly on your own! If you’re eyeing smaller items (especially glassware) it’s wise to bring your own boxes and packing paper to keep items secure.

These red books fit perfectly in a small resuable bag I carry with me


A set of screw drivers isn’t the worst idea, especially if you have a small car. Recently I picked up a long entryway bench and when I flipped it over to lift it into my car I noticed the legs screwed into the top. If I would’ve brought a screwdriver with me the loading process would have been so much easier with my 2 door car.

Disposable Gloves

Estate sale companies do not clean the houses before the sales. Often times houses are dusty and sometimes even dirty. If you think you might be buying a rug, expect it to be quite dirty, as most often the rugs are in the middle of high traffic areas and everyone at the estate sale is walking on them! Same goes for any garage or outdoor pieces. Pack a few disposable gloves just in case you find yourself in this position.

I wish I would have had gloves with me when I had to roll up and carry this rug by myself. It was filthy!

Handheld vacuum

If you already have a small handheld vacuum it may be worth bringing for the same reasons I mention above. Especially if you don’t have a truck or other large vehicle.

Your measurements

One of the most important things! Take measurements of all your spaces. Empty walls you want artwork for. The height of your ceilings and width of your windows. The size of your rooms for both rugs and furniture. Again, the scale of other people’s homes can skew the perception of the size of the pieces. Keep your own measurements on your Notes app in your iPhone for easy reference.

Keep a list of measurements stored on your phone for easy access

Photos of your home

This may sound silly because of course we know our own homes, but it’s so helpful to have snapshots of each space for easy reference. If you’re on the fence about a certain item based on color or style, having a photo of your own space to quickly reference could be the deciding factor on whether you buy it or leave it!

Having some recent photos of your rooms can help you determine if an item will look right in your space

Cash / check / credit card

Most estate sale listings will note whether they have particular payment preferences. I like to have cash, checks and credit cards on hand just in case. Some sales also take venmo which is very easy (but sometimes the wi-fi doesn’t work at the house). Keep all payment methods handy for a quick check out (and sometimes you can negotiate further with cash).

Part of the fun of estate sales is the sense of adventure and the thrill of the hunt! Going in with a little preparation and the items listed above will make it easier on yourself from a logistical standpoint, and you can truly enjoy the experience.

Add a comment
+ show Comments
- Hide Comments
  1. Janet says:

    It sounds to me as though you’ve covered everything a first time estate sale goer needs to know. I would never have thought of most of your hints. Nice job!

    • allison skiff says:

      Thank you so much! I hope they’re helpful for anyone who is thinking about trying estate sales for the first time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get On the List

The monthly newsletter is a true peek behind the curtain. Be the first to see design plans, exclusive photos, shopping guides and more.

Another way for us to stay connected!

Good Things Come to Those Who Subscribe

* indicates required

Intuit Mailchimp


Join the community! Visit me on social for daily updates, design inspo, shopping recs and more.