By Nicole Gabai
Published in Cape Cod Parent and Child
October • November 2006

Guess what’s one of the busiest rooms in the house, as well as one of the most crowded per square inch? THE BATHROOM!

Is yours in order? Even for all the people who share it with you? Do you know where your tweezers are? How about your favorite missing comb? After spending a little time using the following tips, your bathroom will feel squeaky-clean and luxuriously orderly.

Bathrooms are one of those places where we tend to loose control over how much we accumulate – lot’s of containers of shampoos, toothpaste, hair gels, make-up and gift-with-purchase items can easily pile up because we don’t know what we have and we keep buying more. Organizing your bathroom products so that you can do a quick inventory can help you limit your buying. The magic formula is to eliminate, categorize and organize!

Sometimes bathrooms have very limited storage space so people will often stash their toiletries wherever they will fit, then they have no idea where to look for individual items. The solution is to assign a specific home for everything so you can find things in the same place every time. As for the limited space, the key here is stretching the space with the right containers to maximize the sometimes odd-shaped areas. Sharing the bathroom with multiple people is a perfect time to implement the use of “zones.” Assign a separate ‘zone’ for each person, that way each person can keep their space according to their definition of ‘neatness.’ Also, store items at the point of use, and according to how frequently you use the item.

First things first: find 2 good sized boxes (like the size copy-paper comes in) and bring them into the bathroom. Collect all the items and place them in these boxes…..yes, ALL the items. Now when you go through these, use one box for all the items you will keep and the other box for all the items you will throw away.

Sort them into the most used categories:

  • bathing
  • grooming
  • medicine
  • cleaning
  • feminine-hygiene products

As soon as you clean off every surface, including the counters, and wipe it all down with a clean dry towel, you can start to replace the items one by one starting with the medicine cabinet. Use this area only for essentials you use every day – each person gets their own shelf. Consider moving all the medicines to the kitchen or linen closet (the heat and steam in the bathroom can ruin them).

Eliminate the obvious items:

  • Expired medicines, or excess quantities of remedies you seldom use
  • Half used bottles, shampoos or hair-care products or creams or anything else that’s been used and abandoned
  • Rusty nail clippers tweezers or scissors
  • Old nail polish or other make-up that’s discolored or you no longer like
  • Left-over skin care products, almost finished after-shave lotion or unused cologne
    Any mascara, eye-liners or crèmes over one year old
  • Old toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-6 months for maximum usefulness
  • Clogged, bent or twisted tubes( of toothpaste or ointments) that no longer work and look “scummy or sticky”
  • Tattered old towels with holes or stains

Any extras of toiletries and small samples size items, try using a tip from fashion models, and store these in a travel make-up bag ready for your next journey. Check these ‘levels’ regularly after every trip to make sure you have re-filled the containers and all the contents are fresh and up-to-date.

When it comes to shower items, your best bet is to use a shower caddy, preferably the kind that has corner shelves and a pole to support it up to the ceiling. The plastic ones are best for this, and they are relatively inexpensive. Bed, Bath and Beyond is a great resource and also Container Store. Here, each person gets their own shower shelf. And the shelves can easily be cleaned.

The next best storage place is under the sink. If you have a cabinet under the sink, this is an excellent place to stack clear plastic drawers. Remember, measuring is essential here. Take careful and accurate measurements of your “usable” space and stack, stack, stack. Put all items of a related category in each box and label it! Using that labeler here will save you lots of time when getting ready.

If there is no under-sink cabinet, you can attach fabric around the sink and hide your boxes underneath, or buy a small cabinet to place in the bathroom or on the wall. If you have drawers in the bathroom, be sure to use conveniently-sized drawer dividers in them. You can find these at Container Store or at

Assign each member of the family a different towel rack or hook to hang wet towels on to avoid confusion. Also assign each person their own toiletries bucket or bag to tote grooming supplies to and from the bathroom each morning eliminating confusion and clutter.

Use the bathroom door to place a heavy-duty hanging rack on the back. This is great for robes and towels. For more towel storage, consider rolling them up and stacking them in an attractive basket or container.

Organizing the Linen Closet

To maximize the storage area in a linen closet, keep only the related items there for use in the bathroom. Store all placemats, tablecloths and cloth napkins in the dining room area.
Stack towels with the folded sides out so that it is easier to remove the towels one at a time. When the towel edge is facing out, it’s hard to grab just one.

A great tip when organizing the linen closet is to slip sheet sets inside their coordinating pillowcases. It keeps the closet neater and saves time when making beds since you don’t need to rummage through stacks of old sheets. Have only one or two complete sets of sheets for each bed in the house and one emergency backup mattress pad for each size bed in the house. Keep all the beach towels on one shelf, all together.

Keep toilet paper on the floor under the lowest shelf and extra soap, shampoos, toothpaste and other items in bins or clear plastic drawers stacked up next to the paper clearly labeled. The key thing is to put items away in containers that are grouped together by category.

If you’ve followed these simple steps, you can now enjoy your clean, neat and organized bathroom! Congratulations!