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July’s Task: Organizing Strategies for the Bathroom

Your bathroom is a very private place. Besides using it for the obvious reasons, you start every day there, getting showered, shaved, and coifed for the day. Later, you go back to get ready for bed. You spend a lot of time there, but most visitors to your home don’t. They use the other bathroom—the public one, or the one the kids use. That means your bathroom is your very own place to treat as you wish.

Here’s the problem: if a space in your house isn’t seen by the public, then it tends to get neglected. I’m always surprised that we’re motivated to clean a room when others will see it, but we have no energy for the spaces we use the most often. And we’re the ones who have to live with the mess every day, not our guests!

Bathrooms collect a certain kind of junk. More than any other room in the house, there’s a class of products that belong uniquely to this space. Body washes and hair gels, medications and first‑aid products—they collect under the sink and in the cabinets, and before you know it you’re drowning in bottles and jars. We buy way more products than we need because they smell good, and what’s one more bottle under the sink? But we can only use those products so fast, and if you’re buying faster than you’re using, you end up with exploding cabinets in the bathroom.

Bath products lure you to buy with the promise of peace and tranquility in a relaxing bath. But all those bottles and jars falling out of the cabinet certainly don’t deliver that experience. Instead, let’s thin out the contents and clean up the bathroom. Then you can really have a peaceful sanctuary each day.

Here are some ideas for reclaiming your bathroom:

Bathroom clutter
Organize the bathroom as quickly as you can say, “Calgon, take me away!”
  1. Acknowledge your product habit! Bath products are a cheap and easy indulgence. But it would take years to use the products you have right now! So stop buying bath products just because they’re a good deal. See how long it takes you to use up what you have. I bought eight Bath & Body Works products on sale 2½ years ago. I’m down to three now. That’s a bottle every six months. How many years’ worth of products are in your cabinet right now?
  2. Time to thin the herd. You’ve tried tons of products that you didn’t like, but they’re still in the cabinet. Time to pass those on to someone else or throw them out. If the product is very old, it may no longer be safe to use.
  3. All medicine cabinets need help. First, you’ve kept those meds way too long. Anything expired needs to go. Second, those little shelves can barely hold anything. Trying to stand everything up on those shelves guarantees it will all fall on your head. Find some narrow open containers to sit on the shelf to hold all the little doodads and tiny bottles that belong there.
  4. Linen cabinets hold more than linens. Use the same container strategies in the linen cabinet that you use elsewhere in the house. Stacking boxes and slide-out drawers and trays will help control the contents you decide to keep. This is a great place for a lazy susan product, too. A two-tier lazy susan holds a lot of aspirin and cold medicine bottles.

These are the program notes from the June 24, 2010, meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group. The group is free and open to the public. Visit the meetup group page for information about upcoming meetings.

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