Bathroom and bathroom related items can take up quite a lot of space. Either in the bathroom, or possibly also in other parts of the home. I think it’s nice, and good, to have some really nice products. It’s a bit of self-care. And self-care has so many benefits – both physically and emotionally. However, if your bathroom, and/or the cabinets in it, start to look very full and cluttered, your bathroom can make you feel not so great. Also, it makes it more difficult to clean your bathroom. A clutter-free bathroom is much easier to keep clean and tidy. So this blog is all about bathroom decluttering and organisation.
All your bathroom products out in the open
Take all your personal care products out of wherever you keep them. I keep the products I use in the bathroom, and any “stock” in my wardrobe. You can display them all on the floor in your bathroom, bedroom or any other room. Or, on your bed. You might want to put a sheet on the bed to protect it from any leaks and spills. Or, you could put everything on your kitchen or dining table.
Bathroom decluttering – let’s get physical
Decluttering your home is both a mental process of deciding what to keep/discard, but also a physical/practical process of moving items from one place to the other. Once I was working with a client who was wearing a smart watch which started beeping halfway through our Tidying Session, notifying her that she had just completed a work out!
As decluttering and organising can be physically challenging, it’s important to be mindful of how you move, lift, sit, stand, etcetera. So, if you know that you’ll get uncomfortable sitting on the floor, look for other places to display all your items. It could still be on the floor, but perhaps use a cushion to sit on.
Once you’ve got all your products laid out, put them into categories, for example: bath/shower products, hair products, body creams/lotions, sun care, skin care, oral hygiene, nail products, make up, shaving/hair removal, etcetera.
Then, it’s time to decide what to keep/discard. Do you have lots of half used bottles in your bathroom? Some untouched for months or years, because they didn’t live up to your hopes. Or their promises. I see this especially with hair products and skin care. So many of us, including myself, are hoping for that miracle product that makes our skin glow and look like we’ve had the best 9-hour sleep ever. And don’t we all want lush locks, full of volume and bounce?
Even though you’re not using the products, can you not get yourself to throw them out, because you’ve spent (quite a lot of) money on it? But what’s the point in keeping them? Holding on to these items won’t replenish your bank account…. I’m not suggesting you simply throw them in the bin though. There are other options.
Alternatives to discarding toiletries
Feeling guilty about putting unwanted bathroom products in the bin? Guilty, because you’ve spent money on it. Guilty, because you’re adding to landfill. Rather than discarding bathroom products that still have life left in them, you might want to consider the following:
- Perfume that you’re not going to wear anymore, could be used as an air freshener
- Face cream that didn’t live up to its standard, or perhaps didn’t agree with your skin, could perhaps still be used as a cream for your hands or feet?
- If a hair conditioner makes my strands go limp, I pass it on to my kids. Their hair looks amazing, whatever product they use. So even if something doesn’t work for my hair, their hair always responds with a bouncy smile. I wouldn’t usually spend a lot of money on my kids’ hair products, but if I would otherwise not use up my expensive conditioner, at least it gets used.
I want to share one more alternative to discarding, but this option gets its own heading…..
Travel size toiletries and (free) samples
Do you have lots of travel size products and (free) samples? In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Marie Kondo says:
“Do you have a collection of cosmetic samples that have been hanging around for a year or more unused? Many people keep these to use on trips but then never seem to take them when they travel. I contacted various manufacturers to enquire about the shelf life of these products. The answers were varied. Some only last a few weeks while other are good for a year. When the quantity is very small, such as for samples, the quality deteriorates faster.”
My advice, use them up as soon as possible, either as they were intended (use up a skin serum on your face) or downgrade these products to foot creams. And don’t build up a collection again. Once you’ve experienced some of the benefits of having decluttered and organised your home, you’ll notice that you’ll more often say ‘no’ to free samples. Because you want your home to stay clutter-free, and you know that a lot of these samples don’t spark joy.
Recycling toiletries falls into three categories: unused products, partly used products, used up products (so empty containers).
Unused personal care products can be donated to Beauty Banks, which is like a food bank but then for personal care products. The Hygiene Bank is similar, but they also accept other items such as cleaning products for the home, and products for babies/children such as nappies and nit combs.
The packaging of many toiletries and make-up products are made of a variety of materials. Mixed-material is difficult, if not impossible, to recycle. When you’re stuck with half empty packaging, then I don’t think it’s possible to dispose of your unwanted toiletries in a completely eco-friendly way. If you’re emptying them so that you can recycle them via Boots or Maybelline, then it’s better to empty the contents in the bin rather than flush them through the sink or down the toilet. If you’re sure that something is made out of one type of recyclable material, you can put it with your household recycling bin. Think of shampoo and conditioner bottles with a recyclable lid. Pumps need to go in your normal bin, so remove these before recycling the bottle.
Do toiletries have a best before date?
Earlier I already touched on the shelf life of samples. For full size toiletries and skincare products, you might be able to find an expiry date on the packaging. Sometimes it as simple as ‘exp 08/2025’.
If you can’t find a date on your product, have a look for a symbol of a pot with an open lid. Next or on it will be a number, and the letter ‘M’. This symbol is called the Period After Opening (PAO). When you see ‘24M’ on or next to the symbol, it means that the product should be good for 24 months after opening.
If there’s no expiry date and no PAO, there might be a batch code or LOT number on your product. If you enter this code or number into the online cosmetic calculator, you can check the manufacture date. You’ll also be given the general shelf life for the product.
Organising your bathroom storage
Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, here are a couple of tips on how to organise your bathroom storage:
- If you downgraded any products, eg perfume to air freshener and face cream to foot cream, put these clearly at the front and clearly in sight, so that you can start using them up.
- Store like with like, so hair products together, body lotions and creams together, etcetera. If items from different categories share a cabinet or drawer, it’s easier to keep things tidy when using separate storage containers for each category. It also gives a clearer oversight of what you have, avoiding over purchasing in the future.
- Don’t scatter storage spaces. I don’t have enough storage space in my bathroom to store all my and my family’s toiletries, so we keep some in my wardrobe. But try to avoid scattering toiletries all over the house, because you won’t know exactly what you own, and where it’s kept. And when you want to tidy, or get your family members to tidy with you, it won’t be clear where to put things. People with scattered storage spaces usually end up with far more than they need.
Going forward – how to keep your bathroom clutter-free
And finally, some tips on how to keep your bathroom looking neat, tidy and clutter-free.
- Buy no more until the backlog is used up.
- Don’t buy new a new shower gel when you still have lots left in your current bottle. I keep the products I use in the bathroom, and any “stock” in my wardrobe. I try to only buy replacement items, a.k.a. stock, when my current products have almost run out.
- Only say yes to free samples if you really like it, and will actually use it.
- If you don’t want to take full size toiletries when you travel, instead of buying travel size products of your favourite brands, buy some reusable empty travel containers and fill these up with your favourite products. A little bit more work, but less plastic waste, and less clutter.
- Shops often run multi-buy offers. Even though it seems to make sense financially to go for this, because you pay less per item, consider if you really need/want so many. I quite like mixing things up a bit, and not use the same shower gel each time. So I only ever buy one bottle at a time. I think it actually saves me money, because I don’t end up with lots of multiples that I then get bored of and not use.
- Don’t keep your shower/bath products on the edge of your bath, or the sides of your shower cubicle. It makes it more difficult to keep the bath and shower cubicle clean, because to clean it properly, you first need to move things out of the way. It also makes the bottles look grimy. Instead, after use give them a quick wipe down and put them away in your cabinet or drawer. It takes less than a minute, but it makes your bathroom look much more zen.