Bathrooms are typically on the smaller side–at least, mine is–and when you think about the volume of items (especially small items) that belong in the bathroom, it can be easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of keeping everything organized. As a result, many people have bathrooms that are in egregious states of disarray–and when you’re running late and trying to get ready and get out the door, this clutter can have detrimental results. That’s why I’ve compiled 15 creative ideas to help you get your bathroom organized and then keep it that way once and for all.
1. Stand towels upright in baskets.
When it comes to your linen closet, the first thing you’ll need to do for maximum organization is to sort linens by category: put all the washcloths together, put the fluffy bath towels with the other fluffy bath towels, put the old towels you take to the pool all in the same stack, etc. (And if you don’t need something, don’t let it take up prime storage space–for example, in the winter, find a different home for those pool towels.) The second thing you need to do is rethink how you organize your towels. Folding towels gets messy–the stacks of towels in my linen closet are constantly sliding around. So instead of folding your towels, buy some large baskets or containers, roll up your towels, and stand them upright in the baskets. Washcloths are more difficult to roll, but it’s possible; just stick them in a smaller basket or bucket and pack them in tightly so they’re less likely to come undone.
2. Store makeup in candle jars.
At any given store, there are multiple options of makeup organizers you can buy. But to create the right organizer for the space you have–and to save a little money–make your own! Buy some buckets, baskets, and caddies to create your own makeup shelf. One of the best containers for makeup is actually an empty candle jar: when you finish burning a candle, clean out the jar, and fill it with makeup. Large candle jars can hold brushes, while small jars contain eyeshadow, lipstick, and the like. When you clean out the candle jar, make sure to get out all the wax; you can do this by either putting it in the microwave to melt the wax, or putting it in the freezer to make the wax brittle and easy to remove with a knife. And as you organize your makeup, ask yourself whether you really need each item–most makeup expires after 6-12 months, and using old makeup can do big-time damage to your skin, according to Women’s Health Mag.
3. Create a magnetic board.
To save space, hang makeup and/or other small items on a magnetic board mounted on the wall. Creating the board is simple: grab a piece of metal, cover it with cute fabric, and slide it into a sturdy frame. Once the frame is mounted on the wall, all you have to do is attach small magnets to the back of each piece of your makeup and stick your products on the wall. If you don’t have enough wall space for a big magnetic board, create several small ones instead, mounting them wherever you have room and only putting one or two items on each.
4. Put nail polish on a cake stand.
Do I paint my nails? No–never. Do I still have approximately thirty-seven bottles of nail polish varying in shade from plain black to neon pink with orange sparkles? Um… yes. Ladies, if you can relate, don’t despair: there is hope! Get creative and work all of your useless nail polish into the decor of your bathroom by purchasing an inexpensive cake stand and arranging your nail polish on the tiers. This will add a pop of color to your bathroom while simultaneously getting that nail polish neat and organized.
5. Buy a hanging organizer.
Hanging organizers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and can hold anything you need them to. Some have three deep plastic baskets and are designed to hang over your showerhead and hold shampoo; others have cloth pouches to hold lightweight items such as soap, washcloths, and makeup; and still others are made to hook onto the inside of your medicine cabinet’s door and contain the overflow pill bottles. Not sure which one to get? Look around your bathroom and figure out which parts of the room are already organized and which could use some help. For instance, perhaps you already have a bathtub caddy for your shampoo and conditioner, but your hair products are in disarray. In that case, you could search for a hanging organizer with long, skinny pouches to hold mousse, hairspray, and dry shampoo.
6. Use utensil trays.
If you caught the article 10 Creative Kitchen Organization Ideas, you’ll remember the discussion on using a drawer divider to keep your silverware separate. These utensil trays don’t have to stay in the kitchen, though–they’re also perfect to go in a bathroom drawer and store hair brushes, unopened toothbrushes, makeup, or anything else you need to store. Placing items neatly in a utensil tray instead of just letting them float around the drawer will do wonders to cut down on the amount of time it takes you to get out the door. Even if you don’t think a silverware divider is for you, consider using something to contain the various articles that live in your bathroom drawer. For instance, since my bathroom drawers are very skinny and a utensil holder would never fit, I have an empty sour cream container in one drawer to hold all of my bobby pins and keep them from getting lost. It’s all too easy for bathroom drawers to get messy, but if you organize items by placing them into some kind of container, you’ll never lose them again.
7. Use a bathtub caddy.
Shampoo, razors, body wash–there are multiple items that need to be stored inside your bathtub or shower stall so they’ll be within arm’s reach when you need them. If you have a bathtub, your best bet for storage is to do one of two things: add some shelves on one of the walls, or purchase a caddy. Since adding shelves can be time-consuming, difficult, and expensive, I’d recommend a caddy. This can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be: some caddies are like big plastic tote bags, while others are tall stainless-steel adjustable contraptions. Whatever will hold your items will do the trick. If you have a shower stall rather than a bathtub, you have quite a bit less space, so use a hanging organizer as we discussed above.
8. Hang tension rods.
Utilizing a tension rod is another great way to organize the items that need to go inside your shower. Buy a spring-loaded shower rod, just like the one that probably holds your shower curtain, and carefully fit it from wall to wall inside your bathtub. Next, attach some hooks to the bar and hang small baskets from them to hold all of your shower paraphernalia. Not everyone’s shower will be designed in such a way that this idea will work. But if you do have a large bathtub, hang up a tension rod and enjoy ultimate organization.
9. Stick a shelf on top of your toilet paper holder.
A toilet paper holder with a shelf can be purchased at most home improvement stores. It’s a simple concept: a small flat shelf sits on top, and then a hook curves underneath for the roll of toilet paper to go on. If you need extra storage space for something–maybe a bottle of hand lotion or a box of tissues–keep that item on top of the shelf. But if your bathroom is already organized, you can have a little fun using the shelf as a spot for decor. Buy a scented candle or a small plant (real or fake). If you’re not into the shelf idea but you do want a creative way to store your toilet paper, try using a pretty basket or a skinny magazine holder.
10. Get your toothbrush off of the counter.
Toothbrush holders can easily get grimy, and since you don’t want dirt or dust on your toothbrush, it’s important to pick a method of toothbrush storage that allows for easy cleaning. Try covering the top of a Mason jar with wire latticework to hold your toothbrush in place, or attach a toothbrush holder to the wall to a) get it out of the way and b) let your toothbrush air out. In general, anything that gets your toothbrush holder off of the counter to allow more space for other items is going to be a good idea. And remember, you can store unopened toothbrushes in the utensil tray located in your bathroom drawer.
11. Arrange medicine by type.
Medicine cabinets are an easy target for clutter. My grandfather still has metal Band-Aid tins in his, which shows you how long it’s been since he’s cleaned it out (I never knew Band-Aid boxes were anything except cardboard). When it comes to the daunting task of organizing your medicine cabinet, the first thing you need to do is throw away all old medicine and metal Band-Aid boxes. Next, make sure you divide things up into categories–don’t simply throw everything in there and expect to quickly find items again later, because you won’t. Buy a simple plastic drawer organizer, put a specific type of medicine in each drawer, and then label the drawers (“allergies,” “cold and flu,” “nasal spray,” etc.). Next time you get a sore throat, you won’t have to spend so much time digging through your medicine cabinet for that one medicine that’s in here somewhere–instead, you’ll see right where it is as soon as you open the door.
12. Hang some hooks.
If you have a linen closet in (or near) your bathroom, you’ll probably notice a strip of wall in-between the door and where the shelves are hung. This is the perfect place to mount a hook on which to hang your bathrobe or a wet towel. Choose a sturdy metal hook and attach it firmly to the wall to hold anything that should happen to need a home. Hooks can be useful elsewhere in the bathroom, too; for instance, I purchased some small plastic hooks that stick to the inside of my linen closet door and hold my headbands.
13. Don’t air your dirty laundry.
If you’re like me, you store your dirty laundry hamper in your bathroom–and if you’re like me, you don’t particularly want your guests to see your dirty laundry when they come over. If you have room, turn the space below your sink into your dirty laundry station. Perhaps you have a large cabinet under your sink; if so, purchase some large baskets, fill them with dirty laundry, and simply stick them in the cabinet and shut the door. Even the sight of dirty laundry can make your entire bathroom feel unorganized, so storing it conveniently out of sight will help everything feel more fresh and clean. Just don’t forget to wash it!
14. Give your sink a skirt.
If you don’t have cabinets under your sink and don’t feel like putting them in–or if your sink isn’t designed to have cabinets under it, and you can’t have cabinets put in–there’s an easy solution: a sink skirt! The concept is simple: it’s a large piece of fabric that attaches to the lip of your sink and hangs down in front of it, effectively hiding whatever is behind. Place a few large containers under your sink and, for maximum results, sub-divide them into categories of items. You can purchase a sink skirt from most home stores (the majority of sink skirts are in the $10-$15 range), or sew your own.
15. In a small bathroom, conserve space.
If your bathroom is tiny and you need to conserve space, many of these tips might not work for you–so here are a few that will. First of all, hang as many things as you can on the wall without the walls looking cluttered (and as long as you still have space to move around). For instance, if the linen closet (if you have one!) is overstuffed, place all towels on a rack on the wall. Second, think about placing a shelf up high for the things you don’t really use, but you still need to have in the bathroom (air fresheners, extra unopened toiletry items, etc). This shelf could be located above the door, above the toilet (though in that case, it may be best to build a whole cabinet so there is a door and nothing falls out), or wherever is best for you. And third, tension rods don’t just have to go in the bathtub–purchase a small one and place it in the under-the-sink cabinet to store cleaning supplies or whatever else needs a home.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.