Steps for Maximizing Space in Your Small Bathroom
If you have a small bathroom, you know that the biggest challenge is finding space for all your stuff. Personally, I have never lived in an apartment or home with a large bathroom. You know, the kind with double sinks, separate shower and tub, linen closet included, and lots of cabinet space.
Below are the same steps I use to maximize the space in my small bathrooms. It starts with finding what’s taking up too much space, considering some DIY if possible, being selective with what you keep in your bathroom, organizing your ‘keep’ items, and finally maintaining it as clean and tidy as you can.
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Before You Begin Decluttering
Before you start, I suggest getting out a pen and paper and sitting in your bathroom for a few minutes. Take in everything you see.
- What is taking up a lot of your bathroom space?
- Is your vanity or other storage pieces too bulky?
- What items are you storing in your bathroom?
- What items do you absolutely have to keep in there?
- Do you have enough wall space to put up shelving?
If some DIY is possible, take some measurements and sketch out a plan. You can even use my free project planner to help you put it together.
Steps to Decluttering and Organizing Your Small Bathroom
Step 1: Empty Your Bathroom*
The first thing you want to do is to completely empty the bathroom. Seriously, except for fixtures, clear it out. This includes everything under your sink, the shower curtains, scales, everything.
Why everything? Once you have emptied this space, you will be able to see its potential. You may even have to change some of your plans now that you have a clearer picture of your bathroom space. Plus it makes cleaning it so much easier.
Now, as you empty your bathroom, sort your items into related piles. So, makeup in one pile, hair care in another, medications and supplements in another, towels/washcloths, etc.
Once the bathroom is cleared out, it’s time for the next step.
*If this is your only bathroom and you plan on renovating it, do not start this step. You will most likely need to empty the bathroom of some items as you renovate but you do not need to completely empty it at this time.
Step 2: Clean Your Bathroom Top to Bottom**
To be honest, I hate cleaning. Love organizing, but hate cleaning. However, it needs to be done and this is the best time to do it now that the room is empty.
So go ahead and give it a good clean.
- Scrub the shower stall/tub.
- Clean the sink and toilet inside and out.
- Wipe down all the surfaces including the walls and baseboards.
- Dust on top of cabinets and any wall decor.
- Wipe down mirrors and windows.
- Sweep and mop your floors.
If you have a washable shower curtain/liner, go ahead and toss this in the wash along with any washable bath mats and toilet seat/tank covers.
**If you plan on doing any DIY, you may want to hold off on certain cleaning tasks. Wait until you get all your DIY done, then come back to step 1 and 2.
Step 3: Begin Purging and Relocating Your Items
If you sort your piles carefully, then this next step should be a breeze. Have a trash bag and box (for donations) handy.
Now, visit each pile and determine if there are any items that need to be tossed. This includes:
- Medications that have expired (Click here to dispose of your meds properly.)
- Makeup that has expired (Yes, it expires! Click here for more information. )
- Old makeup tools like blush brushes that can harbor bacteria
- Half used samples you swear you will use again
- Old nail polish that has dried up
- Worn out hair bands
- Broken items
Next, revisit each pile again and look for duplicate items. For example, if you have 3 or more lotion bottles, set aside the one with the least amount in it. This one will go back to your bathroom.
The goal is to keep just one of everything starting with the items that have the least amount. The only exception to this rule are items like soap and toilet paper. I keep a maximum of two bars and 3 rolls.
As for medications and pills, these should never be stored in a bathroom. They need to be kept in a dry location. A kitchen cabinet is an ideal place but you can also use a linen closet or dresser drawer. So look around your home for suitable places to store your extras.
One last thing I should mention is the hamper. If it is taking up space you need, try relocating it to your bedroom or a closet.
But if you are able to fit it in your small bathroom without it cramping up space, then that’s great. Keep it there. In fact, I found this flexible laundry hamper that I’ve had for years and it fits neatly between my vanity and wall.
Step 4: Organizing Your Keep Items
This step requires that you take a good look at all your keep items. Check to see if some of your items require some sort of organizer, bin, basket, or even a Caboodle.
If yes and you have these items on hand, go ahead and sort your “keep” items into them.
If you need to purchase some sort of organizer, then I suggest taking a photo of the items before you buy anything. This is just to make sure you purchase the appropriate size organizer or container.
Extra Storage Ideas
If you are lacking storage space in your bathroom, you may need to purchase a shelving unit like those over-the-toilet kinds.
You can also add shelving to the walls. One out-of-the-way place you can add a
One DIY space-saving project I envy is recessed shelving. This is the kind where shelves are placed between wall studs. I’ve seen a few of these on Pinterest and think they are a great alternative if you are really lacking space. Check out this DIY if you’d like to give it a try.
And finally, another way to save space is by using a portable caddy or cart. This way you get to have everything you possibly need when using the bathroom. Then, when you are done simply take your items with you and store them elsewhere.
Now, with your organizers in hand, start returning items to your bathroom and placing them in the best location possible. And try not to place items on your sink top/counter if you can help it.
A Look at Our Small Bathroom Using Konmari Principles
Below are photos of our small bathroom using Marie Kondo’s Konmari method. To learn more about Konmari, I suggest reading her books, The LIfe-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy for more on the Konmari method.
The only thing on my vanity: hand soap and my little bamboo plant. Very minimal and clean.
Under the vanity is where I keep my shower cap, hair gel, body wash, soap, razor, toothbrush, and toothpaste. On my husband’s side are his toothbrush, razor, shaving cream, and shampoo.
I place our soap, razors, and toothbrushes on two washcloths. Then, on cleaning day, I just replace the washcloths and pop the dirty ones in the hamper. In the drawer below I keep my hair straightener and an extra razor.
The Shower Stall
Because I am a big fan of Marie Kondo, I never leave anything in my shower stall including soap, razors, or hair products. After every shower, I wipe down and dry my items and store them away. Nothing but my bath sponge stays where I leave it to air dry.
I know. This seems unusual and I was reluctant to do it at first. However, I haven’t had to deal with whatever that pink goo was on the bottom of my hair products. Gross!
Now, it takes seconds to wipe down my products and even my husband found it a small sacrifice in order to keep the bathroom cleaner.
It’s now become very routine for us that I can’t imagine what it was like with all the stuff in the shower. So, give it a try. If nothing else, it will make cleaning your shower area much easier.
Cabinet Above the Toilet
This storage unit was added when we renovated our bathroom. If you need additional storage space, I suggest taking advantage of the wall above your toilet.
Slim Storage Unit Between Toilet and Vanity
The space between our sink and toilet was narrow but we managed to add more storage with this slim unit. It’s great for holding bulkier items.
If you decide to tackle your small bathroom the KonMari way, I suggest that you purchase a pack of plain white washcloths so you can wipe down your products before storing them away.
I fold my washcloths and keep them in a basket on top of the storage unit between my toilet and vanity. This makes it easy to grab one after my shower and wipe down my hair products, soap dish, and yes, soap bar before putting them away under the vanity. Then, I just pop the washcloth into the hamper.
And one last thing: my feminine hygiene products. I keep these in a pretty box that I got from Michael’s. This sits on my toilet tank.
Check out my –>feminine products box DIY <–post by clicking here.
Maintaining Your Small Bathroom
And finally, the hard part: maintaining your small bathroom organization. Here are a few tips to help you out in this department.
The first thing is to always, always, always put your things back where they belong when you are done with them. If you share the bathroom with someone, make sure they understand this as well.
Second, clean your bathroom at least once a week. With less stuff in your bathroom, this should be easy to do. And having a small bathroom means you’re not spending so much time doing it.
Third, once a week, do a quick inventory check (I usually do this the same day that I clean the bathroom). Stock up on things like toilet paper, soap, and feminine products that you’ll need in the coming week.
Final Thoughts on Making the Most of Your Small Bathroom
The key to having a well-organized and spacious small bathroom is to prevent overstocking it with unnecessary items. Make it a point to bring in items only after finishing the use of another.
And if you feel like the bathroom is showing signs of clutter, get on it right away. If the clutter is minor, starting at step 3 should be enough.
However, if it’s been months and the clutter is back, full-blown, then restart the above steps again. But this time reflect on why this happened again in order to get a sense of what you need to change in order to keep your bathroom tidy.
I really hope you found these tips helpful. Feel free to leave comments below and let me know how your bathroom organization is going.
Other Helpful Bathroom Organization Posts
- How to organize your feminine products
- Organizing your hair and beauty products
- How to organize your medications and other health products
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I had previously done this with my bath items before reading kondo’s book. However, my motivation was not cleanliness, but that I didn’t want anybody to use my dove body wash or mane n tail shampoo/conditioner! Lol. After a bit I did become lazy and began leaving them back in the shower but afterwards found the shower dirtier and bottles with that pink goo. I then got up to the shower part of Kondo’s book and remembered how the shower was cleaner before and now I realize it makes the shower also seem “bigger” without all the array of products,only the ones I’m going to use! I also, as you mentioned, am cleaning less,or in the least putting less effort into cleaning, and can spray a daily shower cleaner into all the crevices that would be hidden by bottles! Will never leave bath/shower products in the shower again!
That’s great Denys! If for nothing else, the minute put into drying everything off after a shower saves a lot more time having to scrub and clean the shower area more frequently….and who couldn’t use more time? Thanks for sharing.