- HARRIET SCHECHTER
Counter bathroom clutter in short
8 a.m., and you’re running late. As you frantically rummage through
the medicine cabinet looking for aspirin, a bottle of mouth-wash falls
off a crowded shelf and crashes onto the crowded vanity counter.
Hair-care products, makeup and toothpaste fly in all directions. Even if
you had time to try to put everything away, it wouldn’t matter —
every drawer is already full.
Trying to keep an overstuffed bathroom
organized is a losing battle. No matter how many clever containers you
use, the real problem is too much stuff in too little space.
But organizing becomes easier when you
learn how to let go of excess and unnecessary items instead of
continually cramming them into overcrowded cabinets and drawers. Here
are key steps you can take to let go like a pro and keep your bathroom
• When should you discard beauty
According to the Mayo Clinic Women’s
HealthSource, you should throw out makeup that has lost its original
texture and consistency or that has changed color or developed an
unfamiliar odor. This is more sensible than trying to follow the
unrealistic rules suggested by beauty experts who recommend specific
timelines for various types of cosmetics, such as three to six months
for mascara and one year for lipstick. Honestly, who’s going to keep
track of makeup purchase dates?
Master messy medicine cabinets.
Look inside most medicine cabinets and
you’ll find a whole lot more than medicine. A store’s worth of stuff
is squeezed onto those skinny little shelves: grooming tools and
supplies, cosmetics, dental-care items, first aid materials, contact
lens solution, sunscreen, maybe even some cleaning products — and, if
you’re lucky, an aspirin bottle that isn’t empty.
If your mirrored, over-the-sink storage
unit has become a clutter cabinet, it’s time to eliminate extra
supplies, outdated medications and ineffective products. (This includes
all those cute little hotel toiletries you’ve stockpiled from every
trip you’ve ever taken.) Be ruthless when decluttering space-hogging
beauty treatments and toiletries. Jettison almost-empty bottles of
perfume and lotions, toss out nail polish that has gotten thick, and
give yourself permission to get rid of any
“but-I-may-use-it-someday” items no matter how much — or how
little — they once cost you.
Next, focus on preventing future
medicine-cabinet clutter. You can keep those shallow shelves chaos-free
with the help of containers that provide limited yet easily accessible
storage. Use transparent, narrow, rectangular containers to cluster
products often used in tandem, such as skin care
(cleanser/moisturizer/toner), dental care (toothpaste/mouthwash/floss),
and shaving supplies (razor/shaving cream/after-shave).
Declutter disorderly drawers.
Cluttered bathroom drawers create a
logjam effect: By making it impossible to put away items without a
struggle, they encourage you to leave supplies out on the sink edges or
Clear out clogged drawers one at a
time. Set a ticking timer for 10 to 15 minutes per drawer and start with
the most accessible one. Take everything out; decide which items you use
most often and where you tend to use them, and put them there; then
relegate the nonessentials to a donation bin or the trash.
Prevent clutter from creeping back by
dividing up drawer space with separate containers for different
categories of products,such as hair-grooming supplies, cosmetics and
toiletries. Multi-compartment drawer organizers like cutlery trays are
also useful but sometimes encourage cluttering by providing too many or
too few sections for your needs and/or compartments with dimensions that
are not compatible with the shapes and sizes of items you need to store
Stop the vanity insanity.
Bathroom counters that look like
department-store cosmetic displays are frustrating to use and hard to
keep clean. Frequently used supplies tend to “grow” on exposed
horizontal surfaces because leaving things out is simpler than trying to
cram them into overstuffed storage spaces.
Fortunately, once you’ve decluttered
your medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers, you’ll find it much easier
to keep your vanity and sink counter surfaces clutter-free. Giving
supplies a good home inside cabinets and drawers means they can be
stored out of sight while remaining easily accessible.
Another way to help surfaces stay
clear: Install wall-mounted holders for such items as toothbrushes,
disposable cups, soap and paper towels. Also, a small shelf with a dish
for holding rings or watches will give you a safe spot to put them while
you’re washing up.
Toss tub clutter.
Bathtub edges and shower corners seem
to have a magnetic ability to attract everything from rapidly
multiplying bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body-care products to
clutter-causing kids’ bath toys.
Take stock of your “product
inventory” and move out anything that doesn’t get used on a regular
basis. Don’t hang onto products like shampoo that you tried a couple
of times but didn’t like, or ancient loofahs that you keep forgetting
A contrasting source of shower/bath
clutter is nearly empty bottles of favorites: Pour the last drops into
replacement containers and toss out the old ones.
If there are a number of items thatget
used frequently by different family members, consider having a small
plastic tote basket for each person’s bath necessities. When not in
use, these can be stored in a nearby cabinet instead of cluttering up
the bath area.
There also are shower and bath
organizers designed to utilize vertical space, such as shower-curtain
pockets, telescoping corner shelves and over-the-showerhead caddies. But
if you’re not careful, these can become clutter carriers, so proceed
• The Penda Towel Bar Shelf creates
shelf space above any standard towel bar, providing easy access to
frequently used supplies. It installs easily without tools and does not
damage walls or interfere with towel placement. $14.95. www.pendausa.com;
or call (866) 467-3632.
HARRIET SCHECHTER is
founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author of three
books, including “Let Go of Clutter.” Her online advice column is at www.MiracleOrganizing.com.