A Zone-by-Zone guide for streamlining that big mess you call a bathroom
Every bathroom user has her own quirks. One needs her nail polishes neatly lined up; another can’t let her floss out of her sight. Bathrooms have quirks, too. Shelves too shallow(or none at all), sink tops the size of postage stamps(or smaller). Here are some rules and guidelines for organizing any bathroom-and keeping it that way. They involve a lot of letting go, a little sorting and grouping, and a new attitude about older-than-thou almond masks.
ZONE 1: THE MEDICINE CHEST
You go in it every day. Make sure things don’t come tumbling out every morning.
- Most medicine chest have adjustable shelves. Group products according to height rather than category(as shown at left) so you don’t waste overhead space.
- Keep things in their original packaging for quick identification.
- Store loose objects in clear plastic boxes or cups(as shown at left)
LAWS OF ORDER
Professional organizer Linda Rothschild’s rules for a consistently clean, clutter-free bathroom:
- Get rid of what you don’t use. Be honest and be ruthless.
- Don’t buy more than you can store. A 36-pack of toilet paper can’t double as an ottoman.
- Don’t start a second anything until you’ve finished the first.
- Assign each product a specific storage space. You’ll know what you have and you’ll know what you’re out of.
- Use only clear plastic containers for storage.
ZONE 2: THE SHOWER
Don’t try to balance everything on the ledge of the tub or shower stall. Get a caddie and get things under control.
- Pick a caddie with enough slots and space for all your shower necessities but not so many that it begs for clutter.
- Look for the extras: hooks to hang wet washcloths, platforms for soap.
- Don’t rely on suction alone. Choose a caddie that hooks over a shower head or a towel rack and that uses suction cups as stabilizers, not supports.
- Keep it clean. Chrome or plastic-coated wire models require less wiping than solid versions. Brushed Chrome Euro Caddie, $15, Bed Bath & Beyond, www.bedbathandbeyond.com.
Logic to the contrary, the medicine chest isn’t for serious stuff. Relegate prescriptions and flu and allergy medications to a cool, dry place. A bathroom’s heat and humidity can shorten shelf life and sap potency.
ZONE 3: THE STOWABLES
The products you use infrequently or seasonally should be stowed on high shelves in bins with snap-on lids (right). A linen or hall closet works best for most people. Clear, plastic, stackable, and sturdy are the four qualities to look for.
What they ‘re good for:
- First-aid supplies; medicines(prescription or otherwise); sunscreens; multiples of toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, and bars of soap. Heller storage bin, $6, Ad Hoc, 888-748-4852
ZONE 4: THE PORTABLES
Caddies with handles work well for:
- Under-the-sink storage. Choose caddies narrow enough to fit on wither side of the drain pipe.
- The things you carry from room to room(like the cleaning supplies above right).
How to organize them:
- By purpose. Hair care in one, skin care in another.
- By family member. Each kid fills her caddie back up after bath time. Oval cleaning caddie, $5, the Container Store, www.containerstore,com, 800-786-7315
[left] This three-tier container was designed for pills, but it works just as well for detaining ever elusive hair elastics, clips, and bobby pins. Three-section round medication case, $3, the Container Store.
[center] Cups for the medicine chest should be unbreakable and transparent. Clear acrylic cups like this one, available at home stores for about $6.
[right] Sloppy squeeze tubes stand at attention in a toothpaste tripod. And it helps you eke out every last bit of toothpaste. Toothpaste-tube squeezer, $3, the Container Store