If there’s one room in the house that tends to slip into disarray, it’s the bathroom. As one of the most frequented rooms in the house outside of the kitchen, a clean and coordinated bathroom can quickly turn into a disorganized one. It’s for those reasons that many of us are searching for the best tips on how to organize your bathroom.
So, in our desperation to remedy the chaos, we turned to organizing expert and owner of Rachel and Company, Rachel Rosenthal, for tips on how to organize your bathroom. Let me tell you, she’s serious about organization. After law school, Rosenthal gave up the security and stability of a 9 to 5 career to build a professional organizing firm instead. All of us here, plus Rosenthal’s clients, can say with certainty: we’re so glad she did. Take a glimpse at Rosenthal’s Instagram, and you’ll see why.
Ahead, we share her tips for how to organize your bathroom, from the bathroom drawers to the bathroom cabinets and so much more!
Featured image of Catherine McCord’s bathroom by Teal Thomsen.
Tackle Your Bathroom (Or Any Space) Mentally First
How many times have you said to yourself mid-week I’ll clean out the bathroom this weekend and then come said weekend, you somehow find a million other things to do? The result—nothing gets done. This could go on for weeks, months, years… you get the picture. Want to know why we keep putting it off? Rosenthal says being in the right mindset for organizing is so important before you jump into tackling any space (the bathroom included).
“Getting yourself mentally ready to declutter as well as ready to change your systems is crucial to making any organization project stick,” she tells me. “If you try to conquer a space without the right mindset or motivation you are less likely to maintain the systems in the long run.”
If you’re struggling with the mental side of organization, Rosenthal reminds me that you don’t have to organize room by room. “You don’t have to declutter and organize your whole bathroom in one sitting,” she adds. “You can start small with just a drawer or just the space under your sink. Organizing one small space well will have a much greater impact than organizing a larger space without the right headspace behind it.”
First Things First: Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Before you do any organizing, Rosenthal urges all of us to declutter first—”it’s the most crucial step.” You need to start by taking everything (yes, everything) out of the space you are organizing and then follow her steps for decluttering below:
1. Take everything out of the space and lay it out in one spot.
2. Do a quick initial sweep of the items to pull out any trash. Think empty toiletries—such as containers of floss or stray cotton balls.
3. Review products for expiration dates. Even in the bathroom, products have expiration dates (especially those miscellaneous medications). Rosenthal uses this guide here for makeup products, but be sure to check the dates on your specific items.
4. Create categories of products and items. This will be slightly different for each person and their routines in the bathroom. Make categories that make sense for you, like hair care, skincare products, medicines, etc.
5. Review categories for duplicates and declutter where possible. Do you really need 12 mascaras? Are you ever going to use that clarifying shampoo that you can’t stand the smell of? Having like with like will allow you to see what you have more easily to be able to part with the items you don’t need.
6. Take notes of the items you need to restock. The organizing and decluttering process is mostly focused on parting with items but can also be a great way to set you up for success down the line by evaluating what essentials you might be running low on and need to pick up at the store.
Create Product Categories to Streamline Your Bathroom Routine
This might be a new concept for many of you reading this, but if you want to streamline your morning and evening bathroom routine, think of your bathroom products in terms of categories. Be sure to keep your bathroom routines in mind when creating them to streamline your mornings or evenings in the bathroom, aka not spending a lot of time searching for the right products.
“This might mean you are categorizing morning routine together and nightly routine together vs. all cleansers in one spot,” says Rosenthal. “Your bathroom routine is personal and your organization of the space should be no different.” Hear, hear.
Invest in Bathroom Storage
Once you have those categories in place, Rosenthal says it’s important to keep them together and organized. Below, she outlines some of her favorite products for organizing bathroom categories.
To organize a drawer:
These deep bins are perfect drawer organizers and create multiple categories within one drawer. Whether your bathroom vanity drawers are deep or shallow, these offer ample sectioning for all of your necessities.
To organize a cabinet:
These multi-purpose bins work great in a cabinet or under the sink space to create definition between different categories.
To organize a shelf:
These pantry bins are wonderful on a shelf. I use these for everything from organizing sunscreen to keeping extra makeup that is not in my daily routine.
When you need storage out on the bathroom counter:
Not all of us are blessed with lots of hidden storage spaces in our bathrooms. These clear stackable drawers and space-saver hair and makeup station are great for creating a system on your counter that looks good enough to stay out all the time.
So, what about really tiny bathrooms?
If you live in a small apartment like me, then you’ll know the struggle is real. But fear not, Rosenthal has a solution for how to organize your bathroom when it’s small, too. She recommends turntables (like this lazy Susan or this two-tier pick) as fantastic options for small bathrooms. “Turntables allow you to really maximize space efficiently by allowing you to easily access items that would otherwise be hidden in a corner or only accessible by moving a number of other products,” she says. These spaces are great for storing bigger items, such as extra toilet paper and hand towels.
If you don’t have any counter space and limited square footage, then Rosenthal says to go up. “Utilizing height is a great way to maximize storage in any bathroom,” she recommends. “This might mean using a multilevel drawer system under your sink or getting stackable bins on taller shelves to store items you don’t use as often.
Separate Your Backstock From Your Day-To-Day Items
If there is one organizational hack Rosenthal wants to stress, it’s to separate your backstock from everyday items to allow your bathroom to function better on a daily basis. “No one wants to run out of toothpaste or be scrambling when you have just a tiny sliver of soap left, but all of those extras can create clutter in your bathroom,” she stresses.
“Backstock can be stored somewhere out the way (a laundry room, linen closet, or even under your bed if you live in a small space). Use bins to keep your backstock contained and organized.” This is also a great way to store first aid products in your bathroom (something we all don’t think we need until we definitely need it).
Rosenthal’s Top 5 Tips for How to Keep Your Bathroom Organized All Year Long
1. Start Labeling
Labeling is key to maintaining an organized space. Having labels on bins, drawers, and cabinets will make it so much easier for you to put items away in the correct spot and continue the systems you put in place.
2. Schedule Monthly Refreshes
Organization is not a one-time event. Having an organized space requires maintenance and refreshes every so often. You don’t have to do a full deep declutter and organization each month but setting aside a little time to do a quick once-over of the space to put everything away and tidy up will help your bathroom from getting out of control.
3. Give Everything a Home
If you start off with everything in your bathroom having a home, you will be much more likely to keep the space clean and organized over time. This means deciding where each category you created during decluttering goes in the space and perhaps investing in some bins or baskets to house those categories.
4. Be Mindful of What You Bring Into the Space
It can be easy to fall back into a disorganized mess if you are not careful with what you bring back into your space. You don’t have to be as ruthless as one in one out, but as you purchase new products, make sure you are thinking through if this can replace something you already have. (And if so, toss that duplicate item.) If not, is there a spot that it will fit within the organization system?
5. Don’t Forget About Laundry
Yesterday’s clothes or today’s dirty towel can be the culprit of a cluttered bathroom. Give yourself a space to pop laundry in the bathroom to keep the space looking neat and tidy.
Everything You Need for an Organized Bathroom
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This post was originally published on January 21, 2021, and has since been updated.