How to declutter a bathroom according to the experts

We’ve rounded up expert-approved tips for how to declutter your bathroom and create a calm space

Bathroom with terracotta tiles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a household space with vital functions but if you're wondering how to declutter a bathroom, chances are, there are too many items and it's all getting under your feet.

Despite being a small room, the bathroom can easily turn into a clutter-filled mess. Take back control with our five-step expert guide, with tips on implementing a clearing system, smart bathroom storage ideas, and being ruthless when sorting.

Whether you’re decluttering a small bathroom or an ensuite our organizing professionals know exactly how to help you reclaim the space. 

Here’s how to declutter a bathroom

The reality is most bathrooms don’t have the luxury of generous square footage, so knowing how to make the most of every inch you have will keep clutter at bay. Our expert organizers have dished plenty of tips on how to organize a small bathroom.

1. Go through everything

An image of neautral colored bathroom with a basin sink, gold rimmed mirror, and wooden shelves with plants and decor on

(Image credit: @thistle.harvest)

A logical starting place when decluttering a bathroom is to sort through it all.

Shantae Duckworth, professional organizer, says, “The first thing I always tell clients is to work through everything in the bathroom first. Take every last item out, throw it in bins, or toss it on a table and go through everything.”

Whether it's a spa-style bathroom or a more luxurious bathroom, chance are it's full of items you have long-since forgotten about so it’s worthwhile emptying every cabinet, drawer and storage basket.

Shantae Duckworth
Shantae Duckworth

Shantae Duckworth is a professional organizer and founder of Shantaeize Your Space in Seattle, Washington. She is a Member of National Association of Black Professional Organizers, and Member of Black Girls Who Organize Group. She is a public speaker and writer about organization as well. 

2. Ditch old toiletries and cosmetics

Don’t hold back when you're clearing out. Be ruthless and unforgiving of every item in your cabinets or bathroom vanity

Shantae says, “Toss any rubbish, including expired beauty items, out of date medication, or empty shampoo and shower gel bottles."

If putting things in the trash brings a pang of eco-guilt, organizing expert, Amy Bloomer, has a tip. “If the products you no longer want are very old," she says, "they are probably unusable, so empty the contents into the trash, and recycle the containers wherever possible.”

Amy also recommends scouting for near empty shampoos and soaps, old nail polish, or half-empty product samples you’ve collected from hotels and beauty counters and quietly hoarded ever since.

Amy Bloomer
Amy Bloomer

Amy Bloomer is a professional organizer who has an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Amy has been in thousands of homes, helping families, professionals and retirees transform their space.

3. Group by type

marble bathroom countertop with two parallel wall mirrors

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

To make grouping items a little easier, set out a plastic bin for each group type and pop things in as you go. If your bins will be sticking around for the longer term, add labels for continued clarity and ease. 

Shantae says, “Once all garbage and expired items are gone, organize the remaining ones by type: beauty, medicine, hair and so on. Then you can look at the space you have in the bathroom and decide what you can do with it.”

The professional organizer likes to sort items by type in her own home, keeping a drawer for hair items such as brushes and daily hair care, with rubber bands, bobby pins, and clips nestled inside the drawer in a small bin brushes. You can use drawer organizers and dividers too.

Shantae advises thinking outside the box about what needs to stay in your bathroom. She adds, "If you have excess hair items or appliances you only use occasionally, store them in another space. Your bathroom is the place you start your day, so you want it to feel fresh, clean, and stress-free.” 

4. Organize your towels

Keeping hold of your best bathroom towels is surprisingly common. Admittedly, towels can be expensive, so when you buy them you may not want to let them go without a fight, even if they are years old. But holding onto ratty towels won't serve you well. Be brave and chuck them out. 

If it's still hard to let them go, Amy says, “Donate old towels to local animal shelters and zoos instead." We can certainly live with that.

With the remaining towels you display in your bathroom, Shantae warns to be mindful of whether they really need to be there. “Obviously, you will have a hand towel near the sink, but you don't have to store towels in the bathroom. 

“Keep extra ones in the linen closet, a plastic bin under the bed, or on a towel rack. I also take this approach on items for guests; store them in a plastic bin and only take out when needed.”

5. Utilize the storage you have

Bathroom with orange walls and white sink

(Image credit: @thejollytownhouse)

Most bathrooms have some built-in storage, so make sure you’re utilizing that space. 

Professional organizer, Leslie Kilgour says, “It's really important to maximize vertical storage. Install shelves or cabinets on the walls to store towels, toiletries, and other necessities, keeping the floor clear and creating a more spacious feel.”

Leslie Kilgour
Leslie Kilgour

Leslie Kilgour is the founder of Get It Straight Professional Organizing. She lives on Long Island and is the mother to two children. 

6. Put storage solutions in place

Leslie advises installing floating shelves, (such as these chic white and gold floating shelves from Amazon) above the toilet or sink, providing valuable storage without taking up floor space. 

Additionally, consider mounting a tall, narrow cabinet or a set of hooks (for rented spaces these self-adhesive door hooks from Amazon work perfectly) on the door to keep towels, toiletries, and accessories within easy reach. 

Finally, using wall-mounted storage solutions like corner shelves (such as this ladder corner shelf from Wayfair that comes in gray or white) or cabinets can help keep the floor clear and create an illusion of a larger, more organized bathroom.

Leslie adds, “Drawer dividers (such as these wooden drawer dividers from Wayfair), over-the-door hooks, and under-sink caddies (like these handy under sink caddies from Amazon) can work wonders for keeping your small bathroom tidy and efficient."

Drawer dividers in a small bathroom play a vital role in saving time and space. They separate cosmetics, grooming tools, or toiletries, making it easier to locate what you need quickly. 

“By keeping these items neatly organized, you maximize the use of limited drawer space," Leslie says, "prevent clutter, and ensure everything has its designated place.

This efficient system not only saves time during your daily routine but also maintains a sense of order, making the most of your small bathroom's storage potential.”

Professional organizer, Leslie Kilgour says, “In a limited space, such as a bathroom, excess items can quickly lead to chaos. By decluttering, you create room for the essentials and maintain a sense of order.”

For best results, the process should be split into two stages: the actual steps of removing clutter, followed by putting in place adequate bathroom storage ideas and a system to ensure that clutter doesn’t start to build up again. 

Now you're in the sorting mood, give decluttering your small bedroom a whirl.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.