Choose fewer bathroom things

Let’s examine somewhere a little less emotional than the bookshelf, but often just as full: the bathroom.

Bathrooms are full of necessary stuff. Soaps, creams, tooth care stuff, medicine, hair care stuff, shower stuff, shaving stuff, eye care stuff, etc.

But because of how important a lot of that is, it’s easy to keep extra bathroom things “just in case.”

We all know the feeling of running out of toothpaste or toilet paper. We also all know the feeling of rummaging around a bathroom drawer and finding everything except that one thing you're looking for.

Too much “just in case” stuff often just means too much stuff. 

So let’s choose less in the bathroom. This will not only free up a lot of space, but it will keep your bathroom cleaner.

First, get a couple garbage bags. Then, take everything out of everywhere in the bathroom. This might be particularly taxing. Bathrooms have a good way of hiding things that you had no idea existed.

Lay it all out on the bathroom floor and counters.

Start with shower stuff. What soaps, skin care goods, shampoos, and conditioners do you use every day? Keep those. Discard the rest. Even chuck samples or small bottles you took from hotels. If you aren’t using them now, don’t keep them. 

Next, move onto what you use after the shower or before bed — skin creams, makeups, etc. I am the first to admit that I am not an expert in what many people need in this realm. I only use one moisturizer every morning. But, I can recommend applying general Choose Less principles when deciding what to keep or what to get rid of: keep what you use on a regular basis, toss what you don’t.

Next, dental care. I keep one toothbrush, one toothpaste, one floss, one bottle of mouthwash, and my retainer. I don’t like keeping extras of any of that because I often forget I have the extra, so then I buy another extra. Not efficient. Now, when I get to critical levels of low on an item, I buy another. I swap out my toothbrush every time I go to the dentist. Look at what you have and choose to keep what you use actively and toss what you don’t.

Next, let's look at soft things: towels and toilet paper. My general rule is keep two towels for every one person who regularly uses the bathroom. That way, you can be using one, toss it in the laundry when it needs washing, have a fresh one ready to use until that one needs washing, and a spare if you have a guest. I will keep a few extra rolls of toilet paper, but no more than six or so. Any more than that just takes up unnecessary space. Look at what you have and choose what works best for you.

Next, medicine. I’m not going to be too prescriptive here because everyone has different medical needs. And medicine is a place where you should be thinking about "just in case," but only to a point. Choose to keep what what you use regularly, and maybe some general use stuff for minor medical needs — I keep one bottle of ibuprofen, one box of Band-Aids, some Neosporin, a bottle of Tums, and some allergy medicine. The rest, you probably don't need.

Next, look at everything else I didn’t categorize. For me, that’s a lot of shaving stuff. I have more than the average person, but I use it all every weekend. You probably have other things you use regularly that I didn’t mention here. Choose to keep what you'll use regularly and discard the rest.

Once you’ve chose what to keep, put it all back in a way that makes sense to you. Hopefully this is much easier than when you took it all out because you have less.

Pro tip: choose to keep as little as possible on the counter or sink. With all the moisture and soap scum that’s floating around the bathroom, keeping things put away prevents gross stuff from collecting under what would have been there. This also means you get to choose less counter cleaning! 

Now that you're done, throw away all that extra stuff and enjoy your cleaner bathroom!

This post is adapted from a weekday newsletter I wrote in April 2018, Choose Less.