Minimalist Mama

It’s time for a bathroom break

DANA BRIGANDI/SUN-GAZETTE CORRESPONDENT Pictured above left, small plastic containers inside a drawer are a great way to keep hair accessories neat and organized.

If you took part in last month’s 30-day challenge, you were tasked with quickly cleaning out a few troublesome areas in the bathroom. This month, it’s time to dig in deep and really examine what’s stored in your bathroom and if it is something you can declutter or discard.

In most bathrooms, there are a few areas in which clutter accumulates: the medicine cabinet, underneath the bathroom sink, and any linen closet or storage units in the bathroom.

First, get your boxes for “keep,” “store” and “trash.” Consider a “donate” box if you have purchased some items in bulk and no longer want to store them.

Then, open all the cabinets and be honest about the number of products you may have that just don’t work anymore. Whether it’s the hair-straightening serum, outdated hairspray or sticky hair gel, if you haven’t used it, throw it out or give it to someone you know who can.

Work on using the products in which you already have multiples. How many bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash do you need? Two — one for the shower and one for when you run out. If the products are unused, consider donating them to a shelter or using them up before you run out and buy more. I used to hoard bathroom supplies when they went on sale, thinking that I would always use them up. But then I learned about the 20/20 rule from The Minimalists: if something cost less than $20 and you can easily get ahold of it within 20 minutes of your home, then don’t bother keeping it “just in case.”

I tend to have a stockpile of trial-sized samples and hotel shampoos. Put one in your overnight kit and either use the others or donate them if they haven’t been opened. There is no need to save multiples of travel-sized bottles and toothpastes.

Check the expirations dates. Did you know that makeup and facial creams have expiration dates? Keeping cosmetics past their prime can invite bacteria — if you haven’t used it in a while, toss it. The same goes for makeup brushes; wash them with baby shampoo and only keep the ones you use.

Toss anything that is broken, dried out or dusty.

Keep in mind that you are not asking, “will I use this again?” — you either use it now or you don’t. Keep your favorites and discard the items used one time or for a special occasion.

Ask yourself, “would I buy this again today?” when it comes to decorative items and beauty products. Don’t just keep it on the counter because you bought it on sale or someone gave it to you.

Check out the condition of your towels. Are they stained and frayed? If so, consider donating them to an animal shelter and replacing them with a brand-new set. If they are in good condition, count how many you have and determine if you need that many. Do you have “guest” towels for guests who never come? Realistically, you only need two towels: one in use and one in the wash. In my family, we switched to colored towels and washcloths so it’s easy to know whose towel is washed and whose is on the floor.

Go through hair accessories and determine a way to store them so they are all together. This was a difficult one for me, since I have two young daughters, who LOVE their hair ties, headbands, barrettes and other accessories. I store the hair ties and headbands separately on carabiners that can then be stored on storage hooks.

If you have medicine in the medicine cabinet, consider relocating it to another area of your home in which it does not have extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. If any medications have expired, contact a pharmacy for safe disposal methods; do not flush them down the sink or toilet. Go through the items in the first aid kit and make a note to replace missing items.

Go through beauty appliances such as hair straighteners, hair removers/razors, foot baths and manicure kits, and discard anything you have not used within the past six months.

If you have a plastic shower curtain, it can be washed in the washing machine using warm (but not hot) water and either bleach or vinegar. Hang it up to dry. If the shower curtain has seen better days, then get a new one.

Go through your bathroom cleaning supplies and safely discard the ones you no longer use. Do NOT combine cleaning supplies as it could cause a dangerous chemical reaction. Consider using fewer cleaning products by switching to all-natural cleansers such as vinegar or baking soda.

As with any decluttering project, the easiest way to organize your stuff is to have less stuff. Purge as much as you can and then contain the items you are keeping. Consider using plastic storage containers or small baskets to keep like items together until they are used up.

The easiest way to make your bathroom look and feel cleaner is to keep the countertop as clean as possible.

Minimalist Mama is published on the first Sunday of each month in the Lifestyle section. Brigandi can be reached at