There are some rooms that are just easier to keep clean than others — or shall we say, where it’s more obvious when stuff needs to get tossed. Like in the kitchen, when freezer-burned food has more icicles than the North Pole. Or in your kids’ bedroom, the third (and even fourth) time you trip on an overflowing pile of their toys.
But the bathroom? It’s an easy place to forget. After all, most of the things in there tend to last forever, right? Not really, according to the experts. In fact, keeping things like cosmetics and medication for too long can actually be harmful to your health. Which is why this article is all about raising the bar in the bathroom.
So if it’s been a while since you’ve thought about all of the random stuff in those cabinets, here are a few tips from the experts on what it’s time to toss.
1. Old cosmetics
Cosmetics might seem like they should last forever, but Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving,” explains otherwise.
“Cosmetics have an expiration date, so you don’t want to ruin your skin or eyes with built-up bacteria,” she says. “You can hold on to your foundations for up to two years. However, items like mascara and liquid eyeliner only last about three months. If you have a lot of free make-up samples, decide to use them this week. Otherwise, donate them to a local women’s shelter.”
This goes for all of your unused travel-size deodorants, shampoos, perfume samples, and lotions as well. Toss out the old stuff, and replace it with new versions of the things you actually use. Consider even labeling these by date to keep track of when they’re due to be swapped out.
2. Expired medication
From old cough syrup to those remaining prescriptions rattling around the medicine cabinet, medical supplies are vitally important to keep in check.
“Expired medications can not only lose their effectiveness but also become a risk to take as their chemical composition changes,” says Melissa Groff, owner of Namastay Organized.
Some medications can also become contaminated by bacteria, she points out. Set up an appointment with your doctor to get a new prescription and then properly dispose of expired medications.
Before chucking pill bottles in the trash, Groff recommends following these steps to make sure they’re disposed of the right way. First, check the label for specific disposal instructions. If there aren’t any, consider using a local take-back program, or follow these instructions to mix (not crush) medicine with dirt or kitty litter before throwing it away.
3. Ratty towels
We all have some of these lying around, and while having a few old towels for cleaning can be helpful, you don’t need to keep every single old towel you own, especially when they’re taking up precious real estate in the bathroom.
“I recommend two sets of towels for each household member, in good condition, with no holes,” says Groff. “Stick to a colour scheme like white for adults, and coloured towels for kids — this will make it easy to spot which sets go where. If you wouldn’t let a guest use a towel, then it might be time to repurpose it.”
4. Shower overflow
Much like with cosmetics, we’re all guilty of collecting too many partly used bottles of product in the shower or tub. Take back your bathroom by paring down some of that chaos.
“Start fresh in your shower,” says Wenzke. “Throw out the sliver of soap and imagine you were staying at the finest hotel. Now put out the items that you absolutely need. Instead of looking at a collection of bottles, pick your two favorite.”
For any that don’t pass the hotel test, it’s time to rinse them out and send them off to the recycling bin.
5. Too many hair accessories
Hair accessories are one more thing that makes our list for the simple reason that we all have too many of them floating around. We’re talking about the stray scrunchies, bobby pins, clips, and even double sets of hairbrushes, dryers, curlers, and straighteners. Unless you’re using all of these items every single day, it’s time to purge.
“Hair accessories tend to multiply,” says Groff. “Keep your stash simple, and go through it routinely, tossing anything that’s damaged and donating anything that is no longer your style. Keeping it streamlined will have you using more of what you like to wear.”
6. Counter clutter
You’ll enjoy your bathroom more if the counter clutter is kept to a minimum.
“The counter is a major source of visual clutter,” says Groff. “That is, when objects in a room compete for your attention — it’s distracting and fatiguing. Clearing off the countertop is essential for your mental and emotional well-being.”
Keep out a few favorite decor items, but plan on storing the rest of your stuff — like all those hair accessories, medications, and cosmetics — out of sight somewhere.
“With all of the space you’ve created clearing out all of the items above, you now have room to store some of the items that are cluttering up your counter,” says Bloomer.