How to Simplify Your Bathroom

I'm not one who is opposed to cleaning, but hands down, the bathroom is my least favorite place in the entire house to clean. Getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing tubs and around toilets is the exact opposite of my idea of fun, but it's gotta be done.

One of the ways I've found to make those days when I have to really get in there and scrub the bathroom down less of a pain and also less frequent is by simplifying what I keep in it, which makes doing a quick clean at the end of each day way easier than when my counters were filled to the brim with all sorts of random items.

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Similar to the pantry in a kitchen, the bathroom is one of those areas in a home that can get cluttered fast because it's a weird combination of items we use on a daily basis (like toothpaste and soap) and things we only use on occasion (like ibuprofen or bandaids).

Fortunately, because bathrooms are also generally one of the smallest areas in a home, they're not that difficult to simplify and declutter and can easily be taken care of in an afternoon — or less, if you've got a super small one.

1. Take It All Out

Much like with your closet, start by taking everything out of your cabinets, shower, etc. and putting it somewhere you can see it all. This gives you a visual not just on what you have, but how much you have of it.

2. Divide It Up

Once you have a visual on everything you've got in the bathroom, the next step is dividing it up, which can be done in a couple of different ways.

One option is to divide it up by frequency of use, sticking the things you use on a daily, weekly, monthly, or occasional basis together in groups. Another option is to divide it up by general category like beauty or health, regardless of frequency of use.

3. Toss the Old + Expired

Just like when you're going through the pantry, after you've divided everything up, check it all for expiration dates.

Unlike the expiration dates on certain food items which are often more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule, expiration dates on medications in particular should be taken quite seriously. Using an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen after its expiration date can reduce its effectiveness and, depending on the medication, could pose potential health risks. Similarly, cosmetics can grow bacteria and cause infections or other negative reactions if not disposed of according to recommendations.

Something to note when tossing expired and old items is the size of them. For example, if you're tossing a giant bottle of ibuprofen because it expired before you could use the whole thing, consider buying a smaller bottle next time.

4. Assess What's Left

After you've properly disposed of anything that's expired, look at what you have left and consider how much of it you actually need or use on a regular basis and also how it's stored.

There may be certain items you only use on occasion, and so they would be better stored somewhere like a linen closet rather than cluttering up the bathroom, which is almost always in need of more space.

My general guideline is that if I don't use it on a daily, or at least weekly, basis, it doesn't stay in the bathroom. This means I keep things like makeup, shampoo and conditioner, face wash, tooth paste, and certain hair products in the bathroom, but nearly everything else is stored somewhere near the bathroom, but not in it, to reduce the clutter.

5. Keep the Counters Clear

Once you've decided what to keep, what to get rid of, and what to store in another place, look for ways to store the remaining items without cluttering up your counters.

Take it from someone who, as previously mentioned, hates cleaning the bathroom, this will make keeping your bathroom clean way easier than if you have a ton of stuff on the counter you have to move every time you clean it.

As a personal rule, I keep soap, hand lotion, toothbrush/paste, and cotton balls on my counter. That's it. Everything else goes in drawers or bins that are easily accessible, but keep the bathroom always looking neat and tidy.

Sarah Anne Hayes