Organize & Clean

Organized Bathrooms: Clean and Clutter-free

updated Jul 17, 2020
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Keeping a bathroom tidy, neat and organized can feel like a losing battle. One stray toothpaste cap, a bright orange bottle of Metamucil and a sticky soapdish and the room can quickly appear grungy and cluttered. But with a little planning and some basic maintenance, you can make your bathroom cool, calm and collected. Here are 8 of my favorite tips and strategies for containing bathroom chaos.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Purge, purge, purge! Go through your cabinets and delve under your sink and take inventory. Toss out half-used products or give them away. If you haven’t used that lipstick/lotion/exfoliator for the past year you probably never will. This is especially critical in small bathrooms where space is at a premium. For those of you who like to buy in bulk, there is no need to store 8 bottles of the same skin cream under the sink. Gather up all your duplicates and put them in a clearly labelled storage box. Place that box elsewhere in the house (if you have the space, that is–and if you don’t have space then steer clear of Costco!).

Move the medicine. Most people assume drugs and medical supplies must be kept in the bathroom. Not so. In fact, many medications suffer in the humidity of a bathroom. Pick out those medications you use on a daily or weekly basis and keep those at hand. The rest can be put in a storage bin elsewhere in the house. If you have children, keep this box locked or childproof. We keep many of our medications in the kitchen where we have some extra storage space. Another important step is to check the expiration dates on your drugs. Those that have expired should be taken to your local pharmacy for disposal.

Clear those surfaces! I love a sparse countertop or sink. There is no reason your contact lens solutions and creams need to be out in plain view. Tuck them away in an easily accessible cabinet or drawer. Whatever you use most should be most accessible. Less used items can be relegated to the back of a drawer or under the sink in storage containers. My husband’s massive Gatorade-colored Listerine bottle is such an eye sore that I have finally convinced him that it is not a huge inconvenience to place it in his top drawer instead of on the sink.

It’s all about packaging. Not all bath and beauty products are ugly. Some are packaged so beautifully that it would be a shame to hide them away. I am a sucker for L’Occitane liquid soaps, for example. If you don’t like the look of any of your products, invest in some nice bathroom accessories, such as jars, soap dispensers or lotion dispensers. Just be sure that it is clear which is soap and which is lotion!

Use decorative objects sparingly. If you have adequate storage space you may have some shelf space available for displaying pretty objects, like candles, infusers, flowers, shells or sea sponges. But don’t go overboard or the room will appear cluttered (and dusty!). I prefer to decorate my bathroom with accessories that are attractive but also functional (a nice trash can, a pretty soap dish, etc). Toilet paper rolls and stacks of towels are actually quite attractive if displayed with care. By placing them out on display you free up a lot of space in the linen closet and under the sink.

Be creative about storage. If you don’t have a big vanity, closet or etagere for storing bathroom bits and pieces, try baskets or bins to hide unsightly products. Invest in a wall-mounted cabinet (they can be found quite cheaply) if you have minimal floor space.

Keep extra toilet paper within reach! Toilet paper itself is not ugly or messy looking (in fact, a nice white stack can look rather attractive) and should not take up valuable real estate under the sink or in bathroom cabinets. Moreover, you are doing yourself and your guests a favor by making toilet paper easily accessible should the current roll run out. Place rolls in a nice basket atop the toilet bowl or, better yet, stack them on a toilet roll holder like the one in Image 12.

Consolidate your hair care supplies. Untangling a hair dryer from underneath the sink is a pain but I think hair dryers are ugly and unwieldy and should be kept out of sight when not in use. Putting your brush, hair care products and hair dryer in a single tote (see Image 4) under the sink makes life easier. You can pull the whole bag up onto the sink when primping and then stash it all away when you’re done.

1 If you like displaying your bathroom tools and products use attractive containers. Funnel that technicolor mouthwash into a more attractive ceramic bottle. Stock up on glass apocathery jars for Q-tips and cotton balls. In this bathroom from Every Day Minimalist we see all kinds of organizational tips deployed. Here is a bathroom that is by no means sparse or minimalist (in fact, I prefer my bathroom products to be less exposed) but manages to be very tidy.
2 If you don’t have any decent built-in cabinets but you have plenty of space, consider bringing a piece of furniture from elsewhere in the house. There is no rule that you must use furniture intended specifically for the bathroom. In this bathroom in House Beautiful an antique armoire provides a ton of storage and looks just stunning.
3 Organizing your belongings into baskets doesn’t have to be boring. I love how Kristen Mcashan has used yarn to label her various bathroom containers, as shown on her blog Peace, Love & Crafts.
4 To keep your hair care regimen contained and manageable, I recommend this $12.99 mesh tote from Great Useful Stuff.
5In eep Beep Back Up The Storage Bus, we profiled this handy dandy medicine cabinet, found in Dale & Adam’s Detailed Duplex. This shallow (4″ deep) cabinet is a very clever use of limited bathroom wall space.

6 The folks over at Young House Love underwent a big bathroom renovation last year. The end result is clean, fresh and super tidy. Notice how they have kept all ugly containers and bottles out of sight? The open shelves are full of towels, toilet paper and pretty baskets. If shells and sponges aren’t your thing, you could just stick to the towels and baskets.
7 This bathroom from Alex’s Granny Chic house tour demonstrates that a tidy, uncluttered bathroom is not synonymous with minimalist and modern. You don’t have to have a hotel-like “spa” bathroom to be organized. Here Alex has used a vintage chair to stack a pile of crisp white towels. A great storage solution for homes that lack cavernous linen closets!
8 In their house tour, Julie and Nate show off their lovely, clean bathroom, equipped with Restoration Hardware vanity and furnishings. While they clearly tidied up the countertop for the photo shoot (no toothbrushes in the toothbrush holder!) you can tell this is one tidy couple. With all that storage space there would be no need to clutter the counters with ugly tubes and bottles. Julie and Nate Channel The Colonial Aesthetic.
9 By adding a wall-mounted cabinet Catherine has made it much easier to maintain a clutter-free bathroom. With her tiny sink, even the smallest products would look messy. Now she can easily tuck her essentials away behind a closed cabinet door. Before & After: Catherine’s Instant Bathroom Makeover.
10 Baskets and totes can certainly contain the chaos but they can also make a bathroom look like a baggage claim area. By hanging simple wire baskets on the wall, Apartment Therapy blogger Kristen Lubbe not only reduced floor clutter but she freed up some much-needed space in her linen closet. This solution is especially useful for renters who are prohibited from making structural changes to their bathrooms. Basket Envy Turned Inspiration.

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Exterior view from the street. (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)