Marie Kondo’s “life-changing” method of tidying up—putting everything through the lens of what brings you joy—is lovely in theory. In practice, and especially when turning an eye to your cluttered medicine cabinet, it can be a challenge. After all, your allergy meds might not exactly bring you joy, but they can make you feel like a functioning human when little else will.
So how, then, do you turn a de-cluttering eye to your more physical spaces? Quite simply, by applying the theories of self-care to them. Ann Lightfoot and Kate Pawlowski of Done and Done Home, a professional organizational company in seven cities across the country, know firsthand the difference an organized space can make. “Having an organized home reduces stress,” Pawlowski says. “It not only saves time but also money—you never purchase things you already have.”
In the quest to practice a bit of “shelf care,” what better place to start than that inconspicuous cubby in your bathroom that’s likely a daily staple in your getting-ready routine? Here, Lightfoot and Pawlowski share their step-by-step guide to making over your medicine cabinet.
Keep scrolling for the play to clean up your medicine cabinet.
Lay it all out
Take everything out and group like items together. “This way it will be much easier to see where there are duplicates and what isn’t used anymore,” says Lightfoot.
Toss anything you haven’t used in months. Though bathroom items are less likely to be kept for sentimental reasons, it can still be hard to get rid of them. If you do have a favorite scrunchie you’re reluctant to part with, Pawlowski suggests ways to help yourself detach. “Talking about objects and what they mean to you helps with the process of letting go,” she says. “Sometimes taking a picture to remember the item makes it easier.”
Take care: When disposing of old medicines, don’t throw them in the trash—where children or pets may find them—or flush them down the toilet—which can have harmful environmental effects. “Many pharmacies and police stations have drop-off boxes,” says Lightfoot.
Give it a clean sweep
Clean every nook and cranny of your now-bare medicine cabinet, wiping down all of the contents and all of the surfaces.
Maximize your space
Find containers to corral loose items that allow you to see the contents at a glance. “We love acrylic organizers from The Container Store,” says Pawlowski. Make the most of vertical space with shelf dividers. Whatever system you implement, make it easy to maintain; if it’s too complex, you’re less likely to stay organized.
Give things a good home
Everything should have it’s own space, and that may not be in the medicine cabinet. The pair says that this small space should be dedicated only to items you use on a daily or weekly basis. “Everything else should be stored under the sink, in a vanity, or in the linen closet,” Lightfoot says.
Keep it up
Like making your bed every morning, reaching into a tidy medicine cabinet will help start your day on the right foot, so commit to maintaining the order. It won’t add but an extra 60 seconds to your routine. The biggest key to staying organized? “Watch what comes in the front door,” Pawlowski says. “Be a careful shopper, keep track of what you already have, and don’t over-purchase.”
The medicine cabinet is a good place to start, but if you also need to de-clutter the rest of your home, here’s one strategy that will keep you home cozy and this is how to finally get your desk in order.