You may not have the perfect bathroom, but no matter how small, awkward, or unusual your space, you can always take steps to make it as clutter-free and functional as possible. And if you do have a fabulous bathroom and you’re not sure how to make the best use of it, there are even more options once you learn some organizing basics. Here’s all you need to know about how to organize your bathroom.
The benefits of an organized bathroom go beyond aesthetics. Of course, a bathroom in which everything is stored neatly looks more attractive, but it’s also easier to use. When you need a Band-Aid or a cotton ball, you can find one; when you open a cabinet door, cleaning products don’t tumble out onto your rug.
An organized bathroom is also more relaxing–compare a shower where shampoo bottles and soaps are constantly falling on your feet to a shower where all the products you need are neatly arranged and easy to access.
If that’s not enough to convince you, an organized bathroom is more sanitary. Organizing a space makes it easier to keep clean, and regular decluttering gets rid of health hazards like ancient mascara and expired prescription medications.
After you’ve gotten everything out of the bathroom that doesn’t belong there, then you can start organizing what’s left. Depending on the setup of your bathroom and what you already own, you may not need any new organizing or storage products. If your bathroom is lacking in storage options (e.g., if your sink has no storage space underneath, your counter is small or non-existent, or you have no closet or shelves), then you might need to go shopping.
To determine what you’ll need, take stock of what sorts of items you want to store and organize. If you have a lot of bulky items like bath towels and extra paper goods, you might need a piece of furniture like a chest or shelving unit. For a budget option or an unusually shaped room, several large square baskets could work too. If you already have a place for the big stuff but struggle to corral lipsticks, hair elastics, and other small items, you need smaller containers that won’t take up too much room and will let you stash little things where you can easily reach them.
Always shop for organizing products with a good understanding of your own needs and not a vague idea of what you think you “should” buy. If you’re inspired by a gorgeous bathroom on Pinterest but your own space is less luxurious, you can take the elements that work for you (e.g., the calming color scheme) and leave those that don’t.
When looking for bathroom organizers, look for ones that will help maximize the space in your bathroom and reduce the time you spend rummaging in drawers and searching through closets. Bulky storage boxes with heavy lids, however nice they might look, are impractical. And always measure your bathroom carefully to make sure you’re not buying something that won’t fit in your space.
Equipment / Tools
- Boxes or storage containers for sorting
- Plastic trash bags
- Cabinet and drawer organizers (as needed)
- Additional cabinet or storage shelf (as needed)
No matter what type of space you’re planning to organize, it’s always a good idea to begin by decluttering and cleaning. All you need in order to declutter your bathroom are some sturdy plastic trash bags and some cleaning wipes, paper towels, or whatever other cleaning products you like. (Decluttering always reveals hidden areas that tend to become dusty or dirty over time.)
In a badly organized bathroom, items can be stored all over the place. So begin by sorting through everything you keep or use in your bathroom, separating them into categories, such as:
- Hair care products
- Hair tools like brushes and clips
- Skin care products
- Prescription medications
- Over the counter creams and pills
- Grooming tools like nail files and razors
- Towels and mats
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper goods like tissues and toilet paper
- Q-tips, cotton pads, etc.
- First-aid supplies
- Old storage products you don’t use or don’t enjoy using
- Anything that’s been sitting around unused for a year
You can put the sorted items in temporary boxes or storage containers as you prepare to organize the bathroom and find places for everything.
Get Rid of Old and Unused Items
Once sorted, have a hard look at each category and get rid of any items that have outlived their useful lives—or things you just can't see yourself ever needing or using. A few of these items may be suitable to give away, but most will be best suited for the trash. The fewer random items you're left with, the easier it will be to organize your bathroom.
Old prescriptions that have passed their expiration dates should never be flushed down the toilet or sink drain, and avoid disposing of them in household trash. Consult local authorities; there may be a prescription drop-off location in your area. Or, consult the FDA website for information on how to dispose of unwanted medications.
Deep-Clean the Bathroom
While the surfaces of a bathroom get cleaned often, the deep recesses of closets, drawers, and shelves often go many months without being inspected and cleaned. So before you begin to organize and put things back in their places, take some time to deep-clean the closets, drawers, and shelves—any area that doesn't often get washed down.
Organize the Bathroom Closet
Linen closets are one of the least favorite household spots to organize. There’s a lot of folding involved, a large and sometimes bizarre range of items to weed through, and often a shelf that's too high to deal with without a ladder. That said, organizing a linen closet can be easy with the right process.
First, determine what you want to store in the closet and what to store in the bathroom itself. (This decision might be made for you if you have no linen closet, or your bathroom is extra small.)
Then, arrange everything so that the most used items are towards the front and center. Group smaller things in storage bins or boxes. Make towels easier to find by grouping them by size, color, or in sets, whichever makes sense for you.
If you’re stuck for ideas, looking at beautifully organized linen closets can help.
Organize Your Shower and Bathtub (Yes, Really)
Showers and bathtubs can be tough to keep organized because they’re not always built with storage in mind (as anyone who’s ever had an old tub “modernized” with a shower head stuck on a pipe can attest). But keeping your shampoo, conditioner, razor, body scrub, and whatever else you need within easy reach is a must. Any organizers you use in the shower should be reliably stable—be wary of soap dishes that suction to the wall and towering caddies that claim to stand perfectly upright in the corner of the tub. And if your shower is packed full of products, consider streamlining your routine or at least storing rarely used items elsewhere.
Organize the Sink and Counter Spaces
Keep as few things on your countertop as possible. For one thing, that makes the counter easier to wipe clean, and for another, it reduces the chance of other items creeping in to join those already there. (Clutter tends to attract more clutter.) The appearance of a bare counter just looks better, too. But if you prefer everything to be visible or like to display your beauty products’ pretty packaging, that can work too—it just requires a bit more vigilance in keeping everything clean and neat.
When organizing items on a counter, always keep them closest to where they are used. Hand soap, for example, should go right next to the sink. You might also like to have hand lotion there or whatever products you use to wash your face daily.
As in the linen closet, keep less frequently used items towards the back or the side of the counter.
Organize the Bathroom Cabinets
If your bathroom has a medicine cabinet above the sink, reserve it for items you use most frequently, like daily medications, toothpaste, or eye drops. A medicine cabinet is a good location for items you use almost but not quite as often as the few things you keep right beside the sink. Of course, how much you store in a cabinet above the sink depends on its size—a small, old-fashioned cabinet will hold just essentials, while a spacious modern one can take the place of drawers or a large counter.
Cabinets under the sink—if you have them—can be good for storing extras such as toilet paper and toothpaste, though you should keep in mind that they often house the plumbing pipes as well, and any drips can ruin paper products. These cabinets are always a good location for bottles of cleanser, sponges, and other cleaning supplies.
Organize the Bathroom Drawers
What you keep in your bathroom drawers is entirely up to you—and on the number of drawers your bathroom has, of course.
Just take care not to let them become junk drawers where random unclassified items go to die, and remember that just because you have lots of drawers, it doesn’t mean you have to fill them. If you like the idea of a minimalist bathroom, go ahead and ignore the drawers.
And if your bathroom lacks cabinets and drawers, think about how you can use vertical space—in the form of a shelving unit or floating shelves above the toilet or towel bar—to store necessities.
Organize the Bathroom Vanity
If you have a vanity, you probably already have a good sense of what part of your morning routine you prefer to do there. Organize your makeup and skin and hair products as you realistically use them. If you consider moisturizing your face to be part of your shower routine, keep your moisturizer on the bathroom counter or in the medicine cabinet. If, however, moisturizer feels like a part of your makeup application, keep it with your foundation and eyeshadow on the vanity. Organize the tools that match the products along these lines too —e.g., makeup brushes with makeup, exfoliating gloves with body wash, and so on.
Maintain Your Organized Bathroom
Once you get your bathroom organized in a way that feels comfortable and works for you, it will be easy to keep it up. You do have to put in a bit of effort—return items to their proper place after using them, don’t let things that belong elsewhere accumulate in the bathroom, etc.—but this kind of maintenance can be done as part of your daily routine or whenever you clean up. And because bathrooms are relatively small and easily divided into manageable areas, such as the shower and counter, it’s easy to organize any bathroom quickly.