by Kelsey Ogletree
For many people, the bathroom becomes a place where you store (or stuff) your personal care items into any available space. Yet that’s not always the best solution, as clutter in there—like in any space—can detract from your overall sense of well-being and cause unnecessary stress.
Chances are, you’re storing items that really could (and should) be moved elsewhere. “You need to store items based on what you use most and what works best for your routine,” says Monica Friel, chief executive organizer with Chaos to Order in Chicago. “Evaluating what you have from time to time is the best way to make sure the space in your bathroom is being used most efficiently for your particular needs.” Here are three experts’ recommendations on what to purge from your bathroom.
Why do we take these from our hotel rooms, anyway? “Perhaps we think we’ll use them at home, pack them for another trip, or just like the brand and want a reminder to buy a full-sized version of the product,” says Nicole Anzia, owner of Neatnik, a Washington, D.C.-based organizing company. “But for many reasons, none of these scenarios usually happen.” Save yourself time and space by not bringing them home in the first place.
Don’t leave dirty clothes on the floor or on hooks in the bathroom, says Friel. Not only is it messy, but it can pose a potential hazard for slipping if the pieces pile up. Get in the habit of picking things up promptly, or just designate a space outside the bathroom for dirty clothing.
Toothbrushes should be changed every three or four months, according to the American Dental Association, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. If you’ve been sick with the flu or another illness, it’s also a great time to toss your toothbrush, says Ruthann Betz-Essinger, a certified professional organizer with Just Organized, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.
Too Many Towels
Keep only the towels you’re using in the bathroom in the bathroom—there’s no need to store tons of towels, says Friel. Beyond those you’re using at the moment, store the rest in a linen closet. Then evaluate how many you actually need based on your family’s habits. Pro tip: Turn some well-used towels into rags if needed and donate the rest.
Kids’ Bath Toys
“If your kids have outgrown their bath toys, it is time for them to be tossed or donated,” says Betz-Essinger. Only donate them if they are in working order and have all the pieces. Make sure to wash them with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly first!
It’s totally understandable that people keep jewelry in their bathrooms since we tend to take items off or put them on before and after a shower, but consistent exposure to humidity damages jewelry, says Anzia. It’s better to keep your rings, necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry somewhere dry—and away from bathroom drains.
Makeup and Lotions
Technically, products like makeup and lotions should not be stored in the bathroom because of the high humidity—but almost everyone stores them there anyway, says Betz-Essinger. If you must keep them there, make sure to check for separation of ingredients and change in color, smell or consistency regularly. If things don’t look or smell like they did when you bought them, let them go. You should also toss any products over one year old, she says.
“Some people argue that you shouldn’t keep any medicine in your bathroom, but I think it’s fine to keep them there,” says Anzia. That said, she doesn’t mean medicine that’s past its use-by date. She recommends going through your supply at least twice a year to get rid of anything that’s expired or that you no longer need. And if you find that your medicine cabinet is too jam-packed with tiny bottles and first-aid supplies, lighten the load by storing things like Band-Aids and sunscreen elsewhere. By the way–did you know even sunscreen can expire?
It’s OK if you like to read in the bathroom, but your reading materials don’t need to be stored there. “If there’s a magazine you would like to read while taking a bath, by all means, bring it into the bathroom—but then take it out when you’re finished,” says Anzia. In addition to keeping clutter at a minimum, this will ensure your reading materials don’t get damaged by water.
Old Hair Tools
Hair dryers and other hair appliances are fine to store in the bathroom. However, “What typically happens is that you buy a new one and you keep the old one,” says Betz-Essinger. Instead, toss the old one, or if it is in working order, donate it. Also, if you are storing hair appliances that you don’t like, that fry your hair, or that don’t work with your current hairstyle, get rid of them.
The fewer unnecessary things you have in your bathroom, the less cleaning there is to do, says Anzia. In other words: Empty space on a vanity does not need to be filled. “Yes, it’s nice to have a candle to light during a bath or to cover up odors, but that’s really all you need,” she says. Skip having a bunch of baskets, bins or plants collecting dust.
Harsh Cleaning Chemicals
Harsh cleaning chemicals have no place in bathrooms, says Betz-Essinger. “Most every surface in the bathroom can be cleaned with a combination of baking soda, water, white vinegar, liquid castile soap, tea tree oil and other essential oils,” she says. (Consider using natural cleaning formulas made with everyday ingredients.)
Friel also recommends not keeping any cleaning products in the bathroom, as they can take up valuable cabinet space, and you don’t necessarily use them in there every day.
Some people own toiletry or makeup bags, which can be useful for travel. But if you own a lot of them, don’t stuff them under the sink. Keep one or two in a drawer or in a bathroom cabinet, says Anzia, and store the rest with your luggage or purses.
Avoid storing extra bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc. in your bathroom. There’s no need to keep five tubes of toothpaste in the drawer, Friel says. “Keep one, use it fully, then replace. This will save a ton of space in prime locations and make your bathroom feel less cluttered.” If you must buy in bulk, she suggests keeping an “extras box” in the linen closet or any nearby storage space.
Photo: PHOTO: HERO IMAGES INC./GETTY IMAGES
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