Even if you pride yourself on living a pretty tidy life, there̵
Why are bathrooms such messy magnets?
There are several reasons why we end up with clutter in our house, but two of the main reasons are the feeling that we might need something (and regret getting rid of it) and that we spent good money on something. (and getting rid of it would be a waste).
Using those two things as a reference point, you can see how the bathroom becomes a great place for clutter. Not only do we use a variety of products and things in the bathrooms – which for most people isn’t a regal space with tons of storage space – but most of us hate trash, so we don’t purge the bathroom of partially used and no longer useful products as much as we should.
Between our reluctance to get rid of things that are “still good!” and the natural limitations of trying to keep too much stuff in the bathroom, it quickly becomes a messy mess that is difficult to clean because there is something on every surface. Let’s do something about that.
How to tidy up your bathroom
Tidying your bathroom is really easy if you follow a simple routine that frees you from the analysis paralysis that often accompanies tidying up. Here’s how to get from maximum clutter to a free and open space pretty quickly.
Get everything out
One of the most powerful ways to clean up a space is to completely empty it. For most of the rooms in our homes, this is a daunting task that may not even be practical if we lack the extra space to transform an entire room into another.
For the bathroom, though, it’s actually pretty easy – and it’s exactly how I always start a super deep cleaning session of my bathroom.
Why? Because when you’re in the bathroom, grabbing each item one at a time, it’s way too easy to doubt whether an item is worth keeping, what to do with it, or where to store it. Taking everything out of the room will break the spell, if you want, and it’s much easier to evaluate the true value and usefulness of each thing once it’s removed from its normal context.
- Remove every item from your bathroom. Everything on the counter, everything in the medicine cabinet, all the little storage boxes you might have on shelves, the stuff under the sink, the stuff sitting on the tile next to the toilet, everything on ledges in the shower, the whole piece.
- Any obvious waste like an empty spool of floss or a razor handle for a razor blade cartridge that you don’t even use anymore should be thrown away immediately when you come across it.
- Place everything outside of the bathroom on the hallway floor, a table, or even your bed if that’s a useful surface near an ensuite bathroom. We highly recommend laying out some towels first so that if any bottles or containers leak something, the towel is there to soak it up.
- Group everything together. Make-up belongs to make-up, everything related to dental care is grouped together, all your shaving supplies should be in one pile, and so on.
Evaluate your pile of bathroom noise
Before you start evaluating your stack, here’s a friendly reminder. It’s okay to lose things. We’ve all bought products that we didn’t use fully (if at all) before they were old and expired. We all bought a product that seemed like it would be useful or great, but it ended up getting a little messy. Don’t keep anything that is useless just because you feel bad that you spent too much money on it.
With that in mind, here are some simple things you can clean up from your bathroom:
- Expired makeup, styling products and medication.
- Expired or not, any makeup or styling products you don’t use regularly.
- Duplicates of items – it’s okay to have extra items on hand, but respect your storage limitations. If you have a small bathroom this is not the place to keep 2 extra bottles of shampoo.
- Excess or old grooming tools. You don’t need three handles for the same razor or to keep that bikini line trimmer that never really worked well.
- Travel and trial toiletries. Throw that little piece of toothpaste that your dentist gave you in your toiletry bag for your next trip, but get rid of the junk. If you haven’t used that hair serum sample that your hairdresser gave you two years ago, you’re probably never going to use it.
- Cleaning products. It’s one thing to keep the toilet brush in a caddy next to the toilet, but keeping all the cleaning supplies you can use in the bathroom in the bathroom itself can quickly lead to a mess.
- Beauty Gadgets and Appliances. Never fell in love with that three-cylinder rotating curling iron? Let it go. Did you give up on that epilator because it feels like torture? You know what to do.
- Decor items. Just because you put it in the bathroom doesn’t mean it should stay there. Is that decorative bowl just a magnet for small junk? Get rid of it. Do you hate how dusty that artificial plant gets? There’s no point in keeping things around you that don’t really love.
Return (and organize) your belongings
For most people so far it was an “so far, so good” experience. It’s here where most cleanup attempts fall apart.
You may have done a pretty good job removing some of the things you didn’t really need in your bathroom. Now comes the harsh reality that some of the things you want to keep probably don’t fit in your bathroom anymore – at least in a way that keeps surfaces clear and clear and things neatly out of sight.
It can be challenging to get everything into your bathroom without cluttering it up, so look for places where you can make the most of the space you have. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles take up a significant amount of space (especially if you’re shopping for huge Costco-sized bottles). You can reduce the mess from all three items by switching to a wall-mounted dispenser. Instead of storing half a liter of shampoo in the shower, you can pour it into the dispenser as needed.
You can easily double the storage space under the sink with an adjustable storage rack. There are a million and one of them on the market, but we ended up buying this particular model because it could fit in spaces as narrow as 16 ″ – many of the under-sink shelves are made for larger spaces under sinks and can fit not under narrow washbasins.
We recommend that you think about exactly how many things you should keep and cut back with you in the shower. When you really stop and ask, “Do I actually use this every time I shower?” the answer is usually ‘no’ or even ‘I never really use this’.
But if you don’t have enough space and want to squeeze some storage in the bath / shower area, we don’t recommend buying a generic tower with corner shower shelf. You can find them in almost any large box store, from Wal-Mart to Bed, Bath & Beyond, but the everyday ones are almost always rust-prone steel or overly fragile plastic. So you spend $ 40-50 and within a few years it’s a rusty (or cracked) mess, you throw it away, buy a new one, and repeat it.
Instead, we highly recommend bite the bullet and spend more up front for something that won’t leave a rust mark all over your shower and doesn’t need to be replaced every few years, like the OXO Good Grips Aluminum Shower Tray. It’s quite expensive by comparison, but it’s sturdy, rust-resistant, and about as good as it falls short of remodeling your shower with built-in shelves.
However you decide to put things back in your bathroom, we recommend that you consider a simple question: “Will this make it more difficult to clean my bathroom?”
Because in the end, difficult spaces are not cleaned. An empty counter is easy to wipe clean, but a countertop covered with bottles, brushes, decorative bowls, a candle, and a toothbrush holder won’t get wiped away because it’s a pain to move everything around to do that.
The less friction there is between you and the cleaning job, the more often it will be done.
The first day of the week of bathroom cleaning is behind us and hopefully your bathroom now has significantly less mess to get in the way. Be sure to follow our Spring Cleaning Challenge landing page or get the lessons, along with all of our other great content, delivered straight to your inbox!