How to Fix a Cluttered Bathroom

This post will walk you through how to fix a cluttered bathroom so you can turn it into another organized space inside of your home.

It’s just a bit ironic, that one of the smallest rooms in our homes can quite easily become one of the messiest. I’m talking about the bathroom. A room that gets used routinely throughout the day which means it can quickly end up a chaotic mess if we do not have shortcuts set into place to keep things neater day in and day out.

how to fix a cluttered bathroom

If you struggle with keeping a neat and tidy bathroom this article will give you tips to streamline things in a way that is easy not only for you but for your entire family.

When we built our forever home, all four of our boys were at an age that I refer to as the “living and breathing tornado” stage. No matter where they went they kicked up dust like pigpen from peanuts. When we designed our home I remember telling my husband I wanted the boy’s bathroom to have tile from floor to ceiling with a drain smack-dab in the middle. That way I could go in there and hose the place down every single week.

He thought I was kidding, but actually, I wasn’t. And years later we found ourselves having to replace the linoleum because of the wear and tear my four rambunctious boys put on it.

A white and purple towel sitting in a bathroom on a vanity counter

Let’s face it boys are messy, and if I’m being honest most kids are messy too. It’s not as if they do it intentionally, when they’re young they are living in the moment. Not thinking much of what the next step is after they take a bath. Such as putting the towel on the towel bar so it will dry off before you need it again, picking up your socks and putting them into the hamper, or lifting the seat (gosh darn it) before you use the toilet. 

If you struggle to keep your bathroom clutter-free, I totally get it. With a house full of 4 boys it was a struggle for me to say the least. Lucky for us we were able to dedicate a room just for our boys to use so I wasn’t having to share that spot with them.

But I also realize many families have to share a bathroom, and if that is you then this article is really going to help you out. I am going to give you tips and tricks that you can use to keep a family bathroom just a bit neater so when you walk into this space you don’t run out screaming from the state of things.

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Before we can begin streamlining and organizing this space however we first need to declutter what is in there.

How to declutter a family bathroom

When it comes to decluttering any space in your home I find it’s easier to break things down into steps. Instead of looking at the overall picture and risk getting stressed out just by the job itself, when you can break things down and only focus on that one step it allows you to make progress rather quickly.

Step #1. Remove the Obvious Trash

Before you can even begin working on the clutter and excess stuff that is in your bathroom you first need to uncover it. This is part of the Three core steps, the foundation of Declutter in Minutes. 

Take an empty trash bag and gather up and trash from this room. Look for any trash that you find on the floor, look around the bathroom sink, behind the toilet, and even in the bathtub and shower. Toss any empty bottles, papers, or used-up slivers of soap.

Your first goal is to get all of the obvious trash out of the way.

Step #2. Dig a Little Deeper for the Rest

Once you get the obvious trash out of the way it is time to dig a little deeper. What I mean by that is, look for anything that you see that needs to be replaced.

A few ideas are:     

  • Toothbrushes that are way past their use-by date.
  • Loofahs in the shower that have not been replaced in months.
  • Dried up makeup.
  • Makeup brushes with massive wear and tear.
  • Broken tub toys.
  • Ratty torn towels.
  • cartoon with a towel quote: Life is too short for ratty towels

DM Pro tip: As you are decluttering, make a list of any items you see that need to be replaced from the store. Remember to always make a shopping list as you are in the moment, this is a clutter-busting tip that will keep you from overstocking your home and ensure you do not run out of any tools or supplies that you need.


Step #3.  Put it Away

Next up is gathering all the things that are in the bathroom that does not belong there.

More often than not clutter in a room ends up being something that just needs to be put away. For some reason, our family tends to drop as they move along the house and that means items can migrate from room to room without us even realizing it. Then all of a sudden we’re hit in the face with random items in the wrong room. It’s like a scene out of Sesame Street but it’s quite possibly one of the biggest struggles moms have with clutter.

Having a family that simply does not put things away.

To fix this, I like to use a laundry basket. I think it is the perfect tool for this step because it can hold a large number of items, and has the ability to keep everything inside without the risk of smaller items falling out as we walk through our home.

Go into the bathroom laundry basket in tow and fill it up with any items that belong in another area.

A few ideas are

  • Toys that are not for the bath.
  • An overstock of books or magazines.
  • Dirty or even clean laundry.
  • Any miscellaneous items such as dishes, water bottles, and school supplies. 

Once you have everything gathered up into your laundry basket simply walk your home and put things away where they belong.

a woman putting a candle away holding a laundry basket

Step #4. Set up a Work Space

Whenever I am working in a space I find it is easier to set up a work area to sort through things. I know it can be tempting to work in the space itself, but when you’re in such a small room like a bathroom it is best to take everything out before you put things back in.

You can set up a table in the hallway to work on, or simply pick a spot on the floor. I like to use bath towels to help me designate a sorting spot more easily. Bath towels are a great boundary line and you can have one just for the vanity, one for the tub, one for any shelves. Seeing things sorted out by area can really give you a visual and allow you to more easily see if you have too much stuff in one space. 

Next, you will want to have containers ready for when you sort things out. Boxes, bags, or plastic bins work great for this. You will want to have 3-4 containers.

  • Toss
  • Donate
  • Put away
  • Keep
laundry baskets used for sorting clutter, labeled keep give away donate baskets copy

Step #5.  Time to Get Busy

Now that you have done the first run-through, set up a sorting area, and have all your bins ready to fill up, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. 

Begin with any open surfaces such as the vanity, open counter space, or the back of the toilet. Your goal is to designate what the next step is for each item as you remove it from the bathroom.

Let’s go over each container quickly.

Trash– this is for anything that is used up, worn-out, broken, cracked, chipped, no longer useful, and not in good enough shape to pass on to someone else.

Donate– this is for any item that you or your family no longer needs and is in good enough shape to pass on to someone else.

Put Away– this is for any items that need to be put away somewhere else.

Keep– anything that you plan to put back into the bathroom

Step #6.  Shelving

If you have any shelving in this room you were going to want to put your attention there next. Just like we mentioned above you want to remove everything on the shelves and sort through them one by one. Anything that is going to go back into the bathroom, put in your keep pile. 

Remember, bathrooms are small and confined spaces, especially family bathrooms, and this means your space is limited. For that reason, you may want to rethink having knick-nacks or other nonessentials in this space.

D/M PRO TIP: As you Are working your way through the shelving you might just find you could use a bit more storage space. If this is the case, make a note on your shopping list of the type of shelving you need, the location where you hope to put it, the size that will fit, and what you hope to house on the shelves. Being specific with what it is you need to be kept in a space, will allow you to pick the perfect match so it becomes a tool and not a hindrance

Step #7.  Decluttering the Bathroom Vanity

When it comes to decluttering a bathroom vanity, I find it is easiest to work your way from the top to the bottom going through each drawer and sorting things as you do. Remember to make a note of anything that needs to be replaced or updated on your shopping list.

D/M PRO TIP:  If you have a large family and a vanity with multiple drawers you can assign a drawer to each family member. This is a great way to give everyone their own space and, in turn, keeping the clutter off of the sink top. Use drawer organizers to hold toothbrushes, razors, or other items your family members need and use.


Step #8.  Decluttering the Bathtub and Shower 

It can be so surprising how clutter ends up in this small area. This is one of those spaces that you will want to routinely declutter every week or month depending on the size of your family. When my boys were all at home, I decluttered their shower weekly. This not only helped me to keep things neater but it also alerted me to when they were running low on supplies. 

  • Start with the toys. Go through your tub toys and remove any that are moldy or have signs of mildew.
  • Work through any personal care items that your family no longer needs or uses. Toss and make a note of anything you need to add to your shopping list.
  • Grab any empty bottles or scraps of soap you may have missed. 

D/M PRO TIP: Take a look at your shower curtain. Does it need to be replaced? If so, now is a great time to do that! Set a reminder to update the curtain liner every 3-5 months or as needed. 

Step #9.  Clean

Now that you have everything removed from the bathroom, take some time to clean. Start at the ceiling and work your way down to hitting every single surface with a soapy rag or a bath cleaner. 

woman doing chores in bathroom at home, cleaning sink and faucet with spray detergent. Cropped view

There is nothing more refreshing than cleaning a space that has nothing in it. It not only makes a big cleaning job a sinch but it also allows you to pay attention to all the surfaces and really give things a thorough once-over.

As you were cleaning make a note of any updates that need to be done in your bathroom. If you see a chip on the wall make a note to repair it. If you notice a rip in the shower curtain, a burnt-out bulb, or a stain on your window curtains, make a note of what you need to do so you do not forget.

Step #10.  Time to Organize

With the hard work done, it’s time to have some fun. This is your chance to set up a room that is neat, orderly, and clutter-free. Remember, your goal for this step is to set up an area so it is easy for your family to keep things put away.

A few bathroom organizing ideas are:

A basket of extra rolls of toilet paper on the back of the toilet to encourage your family to change the toilet paper when they run out.

a basket on the back of a toilet with toilet paper and towels

A bin to hold current magazines in other reading material.

A bag to hold toys in the bathtub

A makeup organizer for the vanity sink

A basket on a shelf to hold washcloths

Multiple towel rods, or Command hooks to hold wet damp towels

A small basket of cleaning supplies

A basket on the wall to hold bath towels

A shower organizer to hold shampoos and soaps

And I LOVE these Remember what your goal is, to create a space that is easy to keep neat and clutter-free. Test out a few options and see what your family is able to stick with. If you find they are not using a system you have set up, this is your chance to try something new.

I have found with my family the easier I am able to keep it, the more likely they are to stick with it

A basket of bath supplies sitting on the edge of a tub

Step #11.  Keep it That Way

Using shortcuts to keep a room put away is really the trick to not having to do a full decluttering job ever again. These are super quick tips that take just minutes but will save you so much time in the long run.

Clutter-Busting Bathroom Tips

1. Do a room reset. Every time you leave the bathroom take a few minutes to reset the room to the way it was. Pick up towels, toss dirty clothes in the hamper, and close the shower curtain. These small things will give you a room that is neater and cleaner.

READ: HOW TO DO A ROOM RESET

2. Give a tour. It sounds silly but once you have organized your bathroom give your family a tour. Let them know what goes where and why. Tell them that you hope they will help you to keep things put away and how happy it makes you when they do. Be positive and encouraging and have a bit of patience as they learn the new routine.

3. Use big labels. I have found the bigger the label (especially in the beginning) the more likely my family will remember just what goes where. Use index cards and a big gold marker. Give them no reason to not know what goes where.

4. Wash the sink. Whenever you are in the bathroom washing your hands, take a few seconds to wash the sink out as well. This quick little habit can make a huge difference in a bathroom.

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When organizing a space in your home it is important to use family-friendly containers. Let’s face it decluttering a space is nobody’s idea of a fun time so keeping things neat and clutter-free going forward is our number one goal.

Baskets and bins are your friends when you are looking to organize a bathroom, use the steps in this article to create a space your family can use and chip in to keep neat in clutter-free.

3 Comments

  1. You have some very good ideas here. I find that the more drawers and cupboards you have in your bathroom the more likely you are to let too much unused or obsolete stuff just gather. As our children (3 girls and a boy) went off to college we never really figured out what was theirs and let it all sit there even after they were married and out-of-state. Last year (pandemic decluttering) it was absolutely amazing how much stuff (especially shampoos and lotions!) that we removed from the main bathroom. Now my husband uses that bathroom for most of his grooming paraphernalia while I use the master bath. A cousin says that not having two sinks in a bathroom is camping. We camp in our 1955 home — but each bathroom has a separate tub and shower!!!

  2. Some of the paragraphs at the end of the post are in red: they APPEAR to be links, and act like links but aren’t. They are causing issues trying to save this in doc form. Could you please see what is happening?
    Great post and I hope to be using it soon! Whole house re-set due to construction! OH MY!

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