set of skin care products in contemporary bathroom

Bathroom decluttering

Decluttering the bathroom

Nothing screams “declutter me!” like the counter in your bathroom. Lotions and potions jostle for your attention, all hoping today’s the day you reach for them. Like the long line of hopefuls winding out from a casting call, they all want you to believe the promises they made when you bought them. But how many lived up to your expectations?

Pitch hair products that don’t tame your mane

  • The bottle may say moisturizing or hydrating, in fact it almost certainly will, but if your hair feels like fraying rope after you use a shampoo, will you ever use it again?
  • There’s conditioning balm and butter and then there’s feeling like you’ve just added a coat of Vaseline to your curls. Maybe use the drying shampoo to get some of it off before you declutter them both?

Lose lotions that irritate

  • Eye cream, night cream, face lotion, foot cream and deep treatment lotion all rub elbows on the countertop. But the vat of all purpose lotion is what you use. Forget how expensive the specialty lotions were and put old faithful in their place next to the sink.
  • If you have eczema or sensitive skin, you may have tried many different creams and washes that all make the problem worse. If you haven’t discarded everything that made you break out or compulsively scratch, now’s the time.

Dump deodorants that don’t work

  • When the next hot day comes around, pay attention to how well your deodorant performs. No matter how much you paid for it, no matter how all natural its ingredients, if you don’t feel secure about not feeling stinky, you won’t ever use it. Keeping it as the back up deodorant that never gets used is the triumph of hope over experience.
  • Baking soda at the back of the cupboard that didn’t work out as deodorant needs to go too. Mix a little of it with a little vinegar to watch the volcano swoosh down your sink, cleaning the pipes as it goes.

Ditch dental supplies you ignore

  • The whitening toothpaste that hurts your sensitive teeth.
  • The toothpaste for sensitive teeth that tastes weird.
  • Mouthwash that stings.
  • The little floss sample the dentist gives you that catches on your teeth.
  • Flossers, plackers and toothpicks you replaced with a Waterpik.
  • The Waterpik you never use.
  • The charger for an electric toothbrush you no longer have.

So many choices! What’s one thing you can send away from your bathroom today?

READ MORE >>> How to declutter and organize

by Lucy Kelly


  1. All those little samples that encourage you to try the latest and greatest are leaving my home post-haste. I try to refuse them but then the person behind the counter looks crest-fallen as if they haven’t adequately done their job. Those pesky little things are leaving my home today! As always, I love your descriptions!

  2. Superb advice. On the plus side, my dentist gives out the fancy Glide-brand premium floss. But yeah, the bathroom county isn’t for any of that mess. I have a small rattan tray basket; I lay a hand-towel in it (like you might but a napkin in the bread basket) and keep my cosmetics on it when they’re not in a makeup kit. Dental things live in the drawer, and the only things that live “loose” on the counter is my hair dryer, brush, and those little clips; if I didn’t live alone, those would live in a drawer, too. There’s nothing yuckier than a counter with globs of toothpaste, drips from pump bottles, and hair. Ewwwww.

    1. Kudos to your dentist for giving out the good stuff, Julie! Toothpaste on the counter is my nemesis too – my teenagers shared a bathroom and at one point, I gave them each different colored toothpaste to put an end to the it was them not me battles! Luckily, they got older and it isn’t an issue now.

  3. It is so easy for products to build up in a bathroom. You find something new and give it a try, a sample arrives in your home, company leaves something. I am a minimalist when it comes to hair, face and makeup products so it is easy to have less. This is one room where the one in one out rule is good to keep products from piling up.

  4. The bathroom counters, cabinets, and drawers can be such collecting spots for stuff- especially products that “promised” to provide a certain result. These are common areas that my clients often ask to for help to edit. It’s also one of the most satisfying areas to edit and organize. Because when you let go of the expired, ineffective, and used up containers/products, you end up with so much more space. I have one drawer and one spot in the linen closet that I use for overflow. I typically keep one extra or replacement product of each thing we use. And every once in a while, I do a look through to see if anything can go. There is always at least one thing- a lip color I no longer wear, or a hair product that I won’t use anymore. It’s a useful exercise.

    1. Yes, keeping a back up of each thing we use is so useful, I do that too. It means when I make my list, I can just go straight to the main supply cabinet and see what we need instead of traipsing in and out of bathrooms and rooting through under the sink cabinets. You’re right, there’s always something we can let go of.

  5. I’ve been on a dumping frenzy lately. This includes, the shampoo that promised to give me silky locks and ended up making my hair feel and look like straw. The hand lotion that promised to smooth…maybe so but the scent was awful.Something expensive for my eyelashes that actually didn’t work. I could go on!!

    I find that the thing about dumping stuff is that I don’t think about it afterwards. I never regret it!

    You have definitely inspired me to keep going.

    1. I love that you don’t regret dumping stuff, Ronni – it’s the way to go. It’s not like the conditioner is going to suddenly shape up and working properly after a certain number of years on the bathroom counter.

  6. My funny mouthwash story is that I started using one to help reduce tartar buildup around my teeth. I was loving it initially – my mouth felt so clean. Then I started to notice that my teeth looked a little dingy. A couple of week’s later, it was clear that they were turning brown. Apparently, I am one of a few people who have this reaction to bacteria-killing mouthwashes. I actually had to get the hygienist to scrape it all off. Needless to say, I pitched that stuff LOL!

    1. Ask your doctor about swishing hydrogen peroxide mixed with water (1:4 ratio, I think). It’ll kill the yuckies but shouldn’t give you that reaction.

  7. I had to clear out my mom’s home years ago and found that she kept so many hair products that did not work for her. It was an eye opener. It made me realize that I need to get rid of the beauty items, not just hair supplies, that are left in my bathroom cabinets. Since then, I have been clearing out the linen closet, drawers, and vanity each year and reducing to only the things I use.

  8. Love this because I am militant about getting rid of old toiletries. They change composition in 6-12 months. Yuck! And with my mane of very thick hair, I like to clean the counter and drawer regularly which is impossible to do if the drawer is full of stuff. Great read. Simple. Easy to put into practice.


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