When you’re on a mission to declutter your home, some rooms take obvious priority. The kitchen and living room are always at the top, and closets often get lots of attention. There’s one room, though, that doesn’t get nearly as much spring-cleaning focus as it deserves: we’re talking about bathrooms.
Maybe it’s because our bathrooms get cleaned so regularly, or maybe it’s because there’s usually enough storage for an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach. But, if you’ve looked around your bathroom lately, you might have noticed that things can get out of control quickly.
We turned to the experts to find out what the major bathroom clutter-causing culprits are, and here’s what they had to say.
Meet the Expert
- Alex Wojenski is a cleaning guide for the sustainable cleaning brand, Grove Collaborative.
- Marissa Hagmeyer is one of the co-founders of NEAT Method, a luxury organizing company.
Culprit #1: Doubled-Up Products
When it comes to the biggest clutter causes, Alex Wojenski, cleaning expert at Grove Collaborative, notes that it’s almost always an excess of products—usually because we buy multiples of something we like and accidentally stock up.
“There are so many clutter-causing culprits in the bathroom, but cleaning products, hair and makeup products, and related accessories tend to out-clutter the rest,” she says. Though it's great to store backups, only do so if you have the space for them.
Culprit #2: Samples and Hotel Freebies
Marissa Hagmeyer of NEAT Method tells us that one of the biggest things she sees in her clients' bathrooms is an excess of travel-sized freebies.
“Hotel toiletries and freebies, in general, are a common collector’s item in the bathroom,” she says. “However, we find that there are often way more being stored than are actually being used."
Her best advice? Pair down your travel-sized products to an amount you can reasonably store and consume. If you already are loaded up on shampoo, skip bringing it home the next time you travel. We know, easier said than done.
Culprit #3: Out-of-Date Products
Along with having an excess of products, Wojenski also points out that often, they’re expired—and this build-up of expired products becomes unwieldy, fast, Be sure to go through your bathroom every so often and dispose of out-of-date cosmetics, old first aid products, expired prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications, as well as old cleaning products and personal care products, Wojenski suggests.
“Keep an eye on toiletry expiration dates,” Hagmeyer agrees, who also notes that it might not always be clearly marked. “Look for the jar symbol, which indicates how long an item can be used after opening and toss or recycle when appropriate.”
And if you feel guilty, remember: a lot of personal care items aren’t meant to last a lifetime. In fact, it’s hygienic to replace them.
"These items are not meant to be kept forever, and removing them from your bathroom periodically will make a huge difference,” Wojenski says. “It’s time to ditch that old loofah that's been in your shower for an unusually long time, or the adhesive bandages that no longer adhere.”
Culprit #4: Medicine Cabinet Buildup
Even if you’re not guilty of keeping an excess of products (expired or not), the medicine cabinet often becomes the place where all your bathroom clutter gets shoved away, says Wojenski.
"The best place to start when cleaning out the bathroom is with the medicine cabinet,” she tells us. “They tend to store many unused items, many of which are likely expired and no longer effective.”
Culprit #5: Forgotten Products Under the Sink
Another major problem zone in the bathroom? Under the sink. Lots of products are sitting stale down there, like half-used shampoo bottles or strewn-about hair tools.
“Underneath the sink is another problem area that should not be overlooked and should be de-cluttered next,” Wojenski says. She suggests removing duplicate and unused items and sorting what is necessary into a caddy or bin, nice and tidy.
How to Break the Cycle
While you can do a quick clear-out, Wojenski says it’s far more important to stop creating product-related clutter in the first place. This is the only way to ultimately cut out bathroom clutter for good.
“It can be easy to get excited about a new product and start using it before finishing another, leading to multiple half-used products that either won’t ever get used or expire,” she tells us. “Using up an entire product before opening a new one is a great way to break this cycle." This goes for both bathroom cleaning products as well as cosmetics, skincare, and personal care products.
Hagmeye agrees. “Everyone tests out new products from time to time, but the key to avoiding clutter from building up is to get rid of those you decided you don’t like or are no longer using," she says. "Be aware of available space in your bathroom drawers and cupboards before buying something new. If space is an issue, either edit to make room or tell yourself no.”
If space is an issue, either edit to make room or tell yourself no.
Their Parting Words? Prioritize Your Most-Used Items
If you’ve cut out all the excess products and still feel cluttered, Hagmeyer gave us one more tip: tackle your most often used categories first, for example, daily use items like contact lenses, toothpaste, and deodorant.
"Place them all together in a top drawer or medicine cabinet for easy access," Hagmeyer says. "Because you use them frequently, you’ll see immediate results and improvement in your daily routine which will encourage you to organize further.”