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Whole House Detox: How to Declutter, Organize, & Clean the Bathroom

Posted May 17 2012 7:43pm
Bathroom click to enlarge images

After a thorough decluttering, organizing, and cleaning, my bathroom doesn’t look much different than it did before I started the clean out….until you open one of the drawers or cabinet.  You’ll see what I mean with the before and after pictures below.  Big difference.

Don’t expect perfect photos like you’d find in Real Simple because real people live here and we actually use all these things.  The point of this Whole House Detox blog series isn’t to showcase a designer home.  It’s to show how the average person can clean, organize, and declutter every room in their home.

I always start projects with a vision for what I want to achieve.  In this case I wanted my bathroom to have these attributes:  clean, decluttered, and organized.  I wanted to have a spa feeling when I entered the room.

For me, it’s also helpful to tune into the biggest challenges with a project.  In this case, the challenges were too much stuff in a small space and too many abandoned health and beauty products creating a jumbled mess.  Even an organized bathroom can get disorganized and crowded over time.  Periodic decluttering is the solution.  It was definitely time!

My Detoxing Process

Here a simple process I always use to declutter, organize, and clean something–no matter the space.  It works beautifully in every room, cabinet, drawer and closet.

messy cabinet Step 1:  Take everything out.  It’s always amazing how much stuff is behind closed doors and drawers.  Utterly amazing.  Here’s a picture of my bathroom cabinet before I detoxed it!

The benefit of creating an empty space is that it’s much easier to envision organizing things in a different, more efficient way when you have a clean “canvas” so to speak.  My middle name is efficiency, so I love this step.

Step 2:  Clean all surfaces: shelves, cabinet doors and all other woodwork, walls, floor, ceiling, baseboards, mirror and windows.  I use a soft scrubby for challenging dirt and my natural homemade all-purpose cleaner.   I’ll share all my homemade cleaning recipes in the next post.

Because the bathroom is a small room, I like to experience the feeling of cleaning on my hands and knees.  It’s a great way to stretch while I get up close and personal with all the surfaces.

Containers and Zones Step 3:  Set up zones in your drawers and cabinets and gather containers so you can containerize everything.  I divide my stuff into conventional OTC products, dogs, heat/cold/ace Band-Aids stuff, natural medicines, soaps, spa stuff, teeth, lotion, etc.

Obviously the size of the container is determined by the number of items I’m putting into it.  For containers you can use bins (plastic, woven, wood) repurposed dishes, short glasses/mugs, or colorful boxes.

organizing OTC products As you can see from the pictures, I use containers of all sizes.  Inside the tub for conventional medicine, I separate over-the-counter medications for colds, allergies, wounds, etc. with plastic baggies so I don’t have to dig through everything to find what I want.  You could also use short glasses or jelly jars for this.

Step 4:  After gathering your containers, put back only the essentials—this is a key element because we tend to want to keep everything.  Resist that temptation.

organized drawer Give the items you use most often prime real estate.  Follow the one-move retrieval rule in every drawer or cabinet.  In other words don’t put anything in front of or on top of anything else.  For the most efficient organization, you should be able to retrieve what you want with one movement–no need to move anything out of the way before getting what you need.

Be sure to leave empty space in all drawers and cabinets.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to put something away when there’s no space.  Make space by getting rid of the nonessentials–the things you don’t really use.

What to do with the excess:

Do not flush medication.  It’s toxic to our water supply.  See if your city has a toxic waste disposal day.

Bite the bullet and let go of health and beauty products you tried, thought you’d like, but don’t use—even if they were expensive.  They take up valuable space in your cabinet.  Give them away to a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter,, or friend who might enjoy using them.

Consider not purchasing any more toxic household cleaners (which includes almost everything in the cleaning aisle of your super market).  You can make your own cleaners, and you can use the all-purpose cleaner on almost everything so you won’t need as many different kinds of cleaners.  Natural cleaners are safe, inexpensive, and easy to make.

I gradually made the shift to natural homemade cleaners, and it pleases me a great deal to know that there are no toxic cleaners in the cabinet under my sink. 

My next post will go into detail about making your own natural cleaners to clean, deodorize, disinfect, and unclog slow drains.

Please leave a comment.  What are your challenges or secrets for a clean, well-organized bathroom?

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