Quarantine-induced cabin fever can be frustrating for obvious reasons, but it can also double as a powerful motivator. By now, you may have tackled so many home-organization projects that only the bathroom remains untouched. And as unappealing as a bathroom refresh may seem, it’s a necessary spot in your to address: After all, even if you don’t shower every day, there are certain biological facts of life that require regular bathroom use—meaning you’re in there, doing serious business, every single day. And you know what’s true about spots we visit often? A buildup of clutter. (You know you have unnecessary collections of half-empty product bottles and tiny hotel toiletries.) So what’s the first step to take when you’re wondering how to organize bathroom clutter? Start with a vision.
“Every organizing session should include a visioning process, even in the bathroom,” says organizational expert and certified KonMari Method consultant Patty Morrissey. “The bathroom is where we start and end our day. How we set up that space has the power to shape our habits and mind-set, which shapes our lives. The objects we display are environmental triggers, which serve as prompts for specific behaviors.”
If you want to make a Pinterest board filled with spa-like bathroom inspo, go wild—but this process isn’t just about upping the aesthetics of a space with Turkish towels and mood lighting. You’ll also want to examine what products and rituals you prioritize in the bathroom and think about how to reorganize your space accordingly. Then, consider what you may need to store your bathroom essentials, such as hangers, shelves, and an organizational basket or two that can fit under your sink.
Once you’ve got a solid strategy for your vision, read on for Morrissey’s step-by-step guide to a clutter-free bathroom.
How to organize bathroom clutter in 10 steps, according to an organizational expert
1. Get rid of the unnecessary items
Before you actually start putting things into place, get rid of everything you don’t want to bring forth into your dream bathroom. Morrissey recommends emptying all the cabinets in your bathroom and sorting them by like items. Everyday items (toothbrush, deodorant), infrequently used items (OTC medication, nail polish, waxing kits), surplus items (extra razors, soap), and bathroom linens should all be grouped together. Then, toss or donate what you no longer need.
“Discard those hotel samples you never use, the half-used hair product you tried but didn’t like, and expired medication.” —organizational expert Patty Morrissey
“Only keep items that support your vision,” says Morrissey. “This would be the time to discard those hotel samples you never use, the half-used hair product you tried but didn’t like, and expired medication.”
2. Create “ritual groupings” of your items
The way you organize bathroom clutter can actually help promote good habits. One example: Since you hopefully brush your teeth every day, give your toothbrush a prominent position in your medicine cabinet. “Keep the floss right next to the toothbrush so that you’re prompted to to build the habit of flossing,” Morrissey says.
You can also apply this idea to any ritual or habit you want to form. Is you hair looking extra birds-nest-y these days? Keep your combs, brushes, deep conditioners, protector spray, and hot tools together in one under-the-counter spot. You could also create a self-care corner of your medicine cabinet. (Not to be cliché about it, but mine would include skin-care goodies like rosewater toner, cleanser, moisturizer, and eye cream.) This approach will help you keep a sense of order and make everything super accessible.
3. Keep the counters as clear as possible
While you might want to hold space for some hand soap, Morrissey recommends keeping your bathroom counter clear—and yes, that includes ditching your clunky toothbrush holder. (Morrissey’s a big fan of these Hang-Away wall hooks ($4) for storing toothbrushes upright). “This makes cleanup faster and easier,” she says.
4. Avoid buying in bulk—or keep surplus in a separate storage space
Admittedly, not bulk-buying is a bit trickier in the COVID-19 era, when we’re all trying to minimize our grocery-store trips and also avoid running out of TP. One solution? Automate your delivery of bathroom supplies.
“Use subscription services, such as Cabinet for over-the counter-medication and Billie for razors,” says Morrissey. “This will keep your cabinets clutter-free while also making sure you don’t run out of important items. I even subscribe-and-save my self care with a monthly delivery of bath salts from Amazon.”
If you truly can’t fathom breaking up with your Costco card, Morrissey suggests keeping the surplus in a closet, garage, or basement space. Then, you can just restock your bathroom as needed. Because, let’s be real: Even if you’re living off bean burritos right now, you probably don’t need more than one or two rolls of TP in your bathroom at a time.
5. Get honest about all the samples you’ve collected (again)
These are items you should’ve parted with during the initial big clean, but it’s a reflex for many, for some reason, to save teeny-tiny bottles of mediocre conditioner because…why? In case of a conditioner shortage? To remember your cousin’s awful wedding weekend in Michigan? Take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if there any reason you’re holding on to these items.
“If not, let them go,” says Morrissey. “If you don’t want them to go to waste, move them to the front of the line. Remove your normal shampoo and conditioner from the shower and work through your stash of free samples.” If you really love a brand, make a note of it and then buy it the next time you run out of that product.
6. Consider shelves as a means to organize bathroom clutter
When you have a small sink area, you get the short end of the storage stick—no way around it. You either end up cluttering your counter, which we now know is a big no-no, or you overwhelm the counter underneath, which is also less than ideal. That means you have to think outside the box—perhaps even on your walls.
“If you’re limited on storage space for linens, install shelves on the wall to store hand towels and washcloths,” says Morrissey. “It will be more visually appealing if you have a matching set.”
If installing individual shelves sounds intimidating, this three-tier white wall shelf ($46) provides plenty of space to store smaller towels or any other miscellaneous self-care items.
7. Organize everything in your bathroom by size
When it’s time to start putting things back into the cabinets, size is the most logical way to decide what goes where.
“Store small, everyday items in the medicine cabinet, per your vision,” says Morrissey. “Store larger everyday items, like your brush, hair dryer and so on, under the sink in a basket that you can pull out easily, and keep out of sight when not in use.”
8. Strip down unnecessary stickers
“Consider removing labels from some of your toiletries and cleaning supplies to limit word pollution and create more of a spa-like vibe,” Morrissey says.
“Consider removing labels from some of your toiletries and cleaning supplies to limit word pollution and create more of a spa-like vibe.” —Morrissey
Peeling off the stickers won’t necessarily, you know, save space, but it’ll create an overall cleaner and visually soothing look in your bathroom.
9. Streamline your shower products
It’s easy to accumulate a cemetery of shampoo bottles in your shower. When you organize your bathroom clutter, it’s your chance to clear them out for good. Once you’ve done that, try to limit your shower stash to the essentials.
“Do you really need five different types of body wash? What do you use every day?,” says Morrissey. “Probably shampoo, conditioner, razor, and soap or body wash—and that’s if you wash your hair and shave every day.” Store less-frequently-used items in a cabinet, and only bring them into the shower when you’re actually using them.
10. Bring in an object that sparks joy
To give your bathroom one last dose of feel-good vibes, decorate it with something uplifting. “Consider displaying an inspiring quote or a small sentimental object, which will serve as a reminder to support yourself,” says Morrissey. “I have a small sticker on my bathroom mirror that says “You Are Beautiful”—it’s by artist Matthew Hoffman, and a friend gave it to me. It’s a positive message to help me start and end my day and counteracts negative self-talk.”
To sum up, the most important part of organizing bathroom clutter is knowing what to let go of, what to prioritize, what needs to go where, and what Lizzo quote you want to wake up to every morning. After that? Spa central, baby.
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