This post was first written as part of The Art of Simple’s Spring Cleaning Party last spring. I think it’s worth repeating as we talk about bathroom organization this week:
I think each room we tackle presents its own unique challenges, and the bathroom is no exception. Bathroom cabinets and drawers are often filled with duplicate or half-used products, and linen closets become overstocked with all the things we might use one day. Because many of these things are expensive, it’s easy to justify the space they take up and then forget they’re there until long after they’ve expired.
Let’s look at a few common obstacles that keep us from having simple and organized bathrooms and linen closets:
Tara, THE Deal Seeking Mom, is one of my best friends, so I know a few things about stockpiling great deals and collecting samples. While it’s easy to get caught up in “the thrill of the hunt” and find yourself requesting every free sample that becomes available and stocking up on every product that someone in your family might one day need, I’m going to take a radical approach and tell you that it’s okay to only request the samples and buy the products you know you’ll use.
I’ve stopped playing the drugstore game, despite the fact that “purchasing” more products was actually saving me money through a combination of coupons, store deals and ECBs (for more on what that all means, visit Deal Seeking Mom). I still take advantage of the deals for products we regularly buy and use, but I avoid the rest because I’m unwilling to give up space in my home to house them, even temporarily.
Another common pitfall we’ve faced in the past is opening a new toothpaste/deodorant/whatever before the first one was completely empty, either because we wanted to switch flavors/scents/brands or because using a new one is easier than trying to squeeze the last bit out of the old one. Having a collection of almost-empty products in our bathrooms was a major contributor to the clutter.
My solution was to pack up all the extras in a storage bin and store it on the shelf in the laundry room. We’re still able to get to them when we need something, but we’re less likely to pull out a new one before we need it. We try to follow the “something in, something out” rule and throw away older products (if we find that we don’t really like them or they’re not really effective) when we get out a new one.
Towels, Towels and More Towels
It’s also easy to keep dozens of extra towels in your linen closet “just in case” you need them one day. If you find that you have way too many for your family’s needs, consider paring back to a number that’s closer to what you really need. Cut up worn towels as rags and pack the rest away in the basement so that you can get to them if you need them without having to deal with them on a daily basis.
The Medicine Cabinet
And finally, the medicine cabinet is another area where it’s easy to become overstocked, but it’s also an area where it’s important to get rid of expired items and keep a list of the basics.
Think about what medicine you use regularly and need to keep on hand and create an inventory list for yourself, similar to the one you keep in your pantry. For us, even though we live in the boonies, the list is pretty basic – children and adult’s Tylenol, children and adult’s Motrin, Sudafed, NyQuil (for my husband), Airborne, Milk of Magnesia, Tums, bandaids, Neosporin, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, a thermometer and a couple packs of Pedialyte. Per the FDA’s newest recommendations, we don’t give our kids (who are all 5 and under) any over-the-counter medicines besides pain relievers/fever reducers, and our inventory reflects this.
Running out of the basics is never fun, especially in the middle of the night with a feverish toddler, so I try to stay aware of what we have and what we might need so that our stock never gets too low. Storing all of our bandaids and bandages organized inside the first aid kit we bought years ago keeps them organized and makes them easy to sort through. The rest of the medicines get sorted every six months or so to get rid of any that have expired.
Maintaining the Bathroom
Because the bathroom, like the kitchen, is used regularly throughout the day, it can be a challenge to keep it sparkling and organized. My advice comes straight from the FlyLady’s playbook. My husband still uses a new towel every day (despite my best efforts to convince him to let it air dry and reuse it for a few days first!), and my morning routine now includes just grabbing his towel and wiping down the sink before taking it to the laundry room. You could also keep a rag and mild cleaning solution under the cabinet for a quick spray and wipe each morning. Because our master bathroom is also the only bathroom on our main level, it’s important to keep it clean, and the simple process of wiping the sink makes a huge difference.
Are you dreading cleaning your bathrooms today? Do you have overflowing cabinets and linen closets full of products you might use one day? What’s one thing you know you should add to the give/sell pile but you really don’t want to?