Cut Clutter in the Bathroom: Easy as A-B-C!

cut bathroom clutter

Location: a master bathroom in any suburban location. Goal: a clean, uncluttered space for personal care.

Home to grooming rituals and personal care chores--and heir to all sorts of oddments and obsessions--a master bathroom can hold surprises of all sorts.

Time to cut the clutter with a session of sorting, tossing and decision-making. A simple A-B-C concept will make short work of organizing the bathroom's limited space.

Tool time

As with any decluttering job, the declutterer assembles her tools. Three boxes and a black plastic garbage bag help make decisions about each decluttered item.

Remember the Four Box Rule: close your fingers around each out-of-place item, and open them only to deposit it in the appropriate container. Put Away Box, Storage Box, Garage Sale/Donate Box and a black plastic garbage bag (known as the Grim Reaper) await the spoils.

Our declutterer lines up her boxes and bag at Clutter Central, an unused stretch of floor along one wall. A note pad and planner, with pen, reside in the same location as standard declutter tools. Here she'll make notes, assign chores to future cleaning days, note shopping list items. The portable computer permits our declutterer to share her experience with cyberspace, up close and personal.

ABCs of storage

To a bathroom, however, the declutterer brings an additional concept: the ABCs of Storage. Bathrooms, like other activity-intensive rooms such as kitchens, need a refined, systematic plan for storage.

It's not enough just to stuff it all in there somewhere. Has anyone, anywhere ever had enough storage in a master bathroom? No, put stuff away according to the ABCs to make best use of that scarce domestic real estate:

  • "A" storage areas are active, accessible, and meant for daily use. In a bathroom, the "A" areas get the toothbrush and the blow dryer, the shampoo bottle and the razor. "A" storage areas should be user-friendly. They should welcome the groping hand with no hidden hazards, even before the poor blind showerer has inserted her contact lenses or found her glasses. The vanity countertop, the top drawer, a chrome mesh bucket in the shower area are all "A" storage areas.
  • "B" storage areas hold items used weekly to monthly. The box of nifty pore-unclogging strips, the collection of scrunchies for exercise-class ponytails, nail care equipment and the battery-operated beard trimmer are all consigned to "B" areas. "B" areas aren't so easy to reach. You'll stretch or bend to reach the middle drawer, the under-sink spaces, the toilet-top storage cupboard.
  • "C" storage areas require excessive bending, stretching or standing on tip-toe. They're where you stash the gold-flecked makeup for fancy nights out, the foot-massage machine, and the upper-lip wax cooker. If you use an item less than once a month but more than twice a year, it's a lowly "C". Put it where the sun doesn't shine.

Bring on the boxes

The declutterer has assembled her tools and reviewed the rules. Time to begin, with the vanity top. No surprises here: the countertop is covered with his-and-hers daily grooming clutter. First step: sort what stays on this "A"-level surface, decide where to consign the rest.

Spouse's side first. [Interesting how it's always easier to declutter someone else's stuff, our declutterer muses.] Sets of shaving brushes, an affectation in a bearded man. One is a keeper, entitled to "A" status, the others are demoted to "C" and storage. 

Our declutterer begins to pile the rejects in the Put Away box. Tooth care items are segregated for incarceration in a less-obvious "A" site, the top drawer. Pretty bottles of stinky aftershave stay if used often, are consigned to "C" land and storage if they sport a coat of dust.

Her side? Crumpled tissues go to Garbage Bag. Her tooth care items will join her husband's in the top drawer (separated by a modest divider), so they're put aside.

What's this? A chorus line of never-used, expensive skin care bottles (the ones that caused such a lovely rash).

Ignore that pang, declutterer! The bottles are nearly four years old. Who knows how contaminated their contents have become?

Into the maw of the garbage sack, and let that be a lesson to you. Anybody will buy anything after a wonderful scalp massage, so hang onto your wallet next time you're in the hairdresser's chair.

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