5 Big Mistakes You’re Making When Organizing Your Bathroom, Says a Pro

Organizing your bathroom can seem like an overwhelming task. With so many products, appliances, and accessories crammed into a small space, it’s easy for things to get cluttered and disorganized. However, a well-organized bathroom not only looks great, but can also make your daily routine run more smoothly.

We consulted with professional organizers to identify the top mistakes people make when organizing their bathrooms. Avoid these common pitfalls to create a bathroom that is functional, decluttered, and aesthetically pleasing.

Not Purging Unused Items Regularly

Bathrooms easily become cluttered catch-alls for items we use infrequently or no longer need. Over time, this leads to clutter and makes the space feel smaller. “The number one mistake is not getting rid of things you no longer use,” says professional organizer Sandra Long. “Do an overhaul of your bathroom at least twice a year.”

Go through all medications, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, and toss anything expired or that you haven’t used in over a year. For partially used products you want to keep, decant them into smaller containers so they take up less space.

Also go through your towels and linens, and donate any that are worn, mismatched, or never used. Stick to a few coordinated sets in your color scheme.

Failing to Make Use of Vertical Storage

In a small bathroom, you need to take advantage of all available storage space. “Focus first on decluttering, then make the most of vertical storage with shelves, racks, cabinets, and organizers,” advises organizer Melinda Peer. “Use the walls, inside cabinet doors, and the backs of doors to maximize every inch.”

Install floating shelves above the toilet for decorative baskets or frequently used supplies. Over-the-door racks or hanging shelves can house extra towels. Bins and organizers keep inside cabinets and drawers neat.

For more floor space, mount a corner shelf for toiletries. You can find one with a vertical column to store multiple shelves and baskets. Use the top ledge for decor.

Not Having Enough Drawer Dividers and Organizers

Tossing everything into large drawers or cabinets creates headaches when trying to find what you need. The fix? “Use drawer dividers, trays, and organizers to section off categories of items,” says Peer.

Try cutlery trays, stacking bins, or adjustable dividers to corral toiletries, first aid supplies, makeup, hair products, and tools. This makes locating specific items quick and easy.

Lazy Susans, pull-out cabinets, and 2-tier organizing trays maximize awkward corner cabinet storage. Baskets or bins work well for holding spare towels and toilet paper.

Ignoring Your Medicine Cabinet

Many medicine cabinets become overloaded yet disorganized. But these provide excellent storage when used correctly.

“Tidy up your medicine cabinet by regularly purging expired medications and sorting everyday essentials,” Long recommends. Store any everyday pills in easy-access shelves or bins. Use organizers to divide oral care, first aid, cosmetics, and toiletries. Hooks on the door or over-cabinet baskets provide additional storage.

Also utilize the back of the door. Use an over-the-door organizer for backup toiletries and supplies. Or install a mirrored cabinet for hidden storage.

Not Having Adequate Storage for Large Items

Toiletries, towels, and cleaning tools take up a lot of space. Cramming them into cabinets or drawers creates clutter and makes them hard to access.

“Have dedicated storage for bulky items like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hair dryers, and shampoo bottles,” Long suggests. Standalone shelves or freestanding cabinets are ideal. A decorative ladder leaned on a wall can hold rolled towels or bulk toilet paper.

For backup toiletries and first aid supplies, carve out room under the sink or vanity. Caddies hanging from the shower head keep shower essentials handy but tidy.

Failing to Edit Linens and Accessories

Heaps of mismatched towels and shower accessories can make a bathroom feel messy and chaotic.

“Limit yourself to one or two colors and types of linens and accessories,” Peer recommends. Choose classic hues like white, gray, or beige rather than loud prints that will soon feel dated.

For towels, keep only what you need for daily use and remove extras. Roll or neatly fold them into baskets, shelves, or ladders. Coordinate accessories like bath mats, soap dispensers, and trays in the same color family.

The result will be a pulled-together, soothing space. Change out the hand towels and accessories seasonally to freshen up the look.

Not Designating Zones for Different Tasks

Bathrooms serve many purposes, from grooming to cleaning. Without defined zones for these tasks, things easily get disordered.

Professional organizer Melinda Peer recommends thinking through how you use your bathroom and then “creating specific zones based on tasks. For example, your grooming zone might include the medicine cabinet for toiletries, a drawer organizer for makeup, and under-sink storage for backup supplies. Your cleaning zone could be a cabinet for sprays, scrub brushes, and gloves.”

Place items where you use them to minimize rummaging. For instance, keep daily skin care products near the sink and shampoo/conditioner in the shower. A freestanding shelf can house grooming tools or bathroom cleaning supplies.

Forgetting About Hidden Storage

It’s easy to focus on the main cabinets and drawers when organizing your bathroom. However, don’t forget about hidden storage areas.

“Take advantage of wasted space like the area under a pedestal sink or behind the toilet,” says Long. Install a storage caddy or cabinet under the sink for backup supplies. A narrow shelving unit fits nicely behind most toilets for stashing cleaning tools.

Also check for unused space under fixed vanities or above the toilet tank. You can place small baskets or organizers in these discrete areas.

Not Labeling Storage

The containers in your bathroom cabinets all look so similar. This can make locating the exact product you need a hassle.

Organizer Melinda Peer says, “Clearly labeling bins, baskets and storage containers with their contents will save you from rummaging and frustration.”

Use covered bins and trays to corral similar items like oral care, shampoos, medications, towels, etc. Label the front with the category. For opaque containers, affix self-adhesive labels along the side.

Consider using different colored containers to distinguish categories. For example, all oral care tools go in a green bin. Red bins are for first aid. This color coding makes finding things even faster.

Neglecting Adequate Task Lighting

Most bathrooms have a central overhead light, but often this isn’t enough for daily tasks. Professional organizer Sandra Long says, “Make sure you have adequate lighting in key areas. Include task lighting at the mirror, over the shower, and by the medicine cabinet.

Look for sconces or pendant lights to frame the mirror on each side. Under-cabinet fixtures or LED strips illuminate the sink area brightly. Inside the shower, install a waterproof light.

Motion-activated night lights provide a soft glow for middle-of-the-night trips without turning on overhead lighting. Place one near the toilet and another by the sink.

Well-placed lighting makes bathrooms safer and more functional. Plus, it adds style when the fixtures coordinate with your decor.

Not Organizing Kids’ Bathrooms Strategically

Kids’ bathrooms present their own set of organizing obstacles. Professional organizer Melinda Peer says, “Keep things simple in a kid’s bath. Focus on open storage they can easily access like shelving, baskets, and drawers.

Install shelves or cubbies for folded towels and daily essentials like toothbrushes. Use cups, bins, or trays to corral bath toys. Adjustable drawer dividers keep toiletries organized.

Leave space for decor like plants that can tolerate moisture or themed shower curtains. Have kids help choose hooks, bins, and accessories in fun colors and prints.

Peer suggests, “Don’t forget safety. Store medications and sharp tools out of reach. Add non-slip mats and night lights.” Teaching kids to tidy up after bathing promotes organization habits.

Choosing Form Over Function

It’s tempting to choose decorative bathroom storage pieces like embroidered containers or ceramic canisters. But professional organizer Sandra Long cautions, “Form should follow function when it comes to bathroom organization. Opt for storage that maximizes space and access first.

Look for organizational must-haves like adjustable shelves, pull-out drawers, and storage that extends to the ceiling. Make sure plumbing is accessible. Then incorporate style with pretty baskets, matching containers, and designer shelving.

Prioritize functional solutions in high-traffic zones like under and around the sink. Use dressers and floor cabinets to add storage without cluttering counters. Add style with charming accents.

Not Editing Containers

It’s easy for bathrooms to become overloaded with containers—from tissue holders and soap dispensers to trays and bins.

“Limit yourself to one or two matching sets,” suggests Sandra Long. For a unified look, choose containers in coordinating materials like rattan, ceramic, or bamboo.

Long recommends having just what you need daily, like “one tissue box, 1-2 soap dispensers, a wastebasket, and a few decorative trays or bins.

Frequently edit the space by removing unused or off-season items. Rotate out accessories to reflect the season—like swapping in fresh towels and soap dispensers.

Ignoring Wasted Space

Make the most of every inch. Professional organizer Melinda Peer says, “Look for unused or hard-to-access areas where you can add storage.

Dead space between studs is ideal for narrow, customizable shelving. Stash toiletries or towels on shelves inside a cabinet door. Mount a storage caddy inside the tank lid for bathroom essentials.

Install slide-out trays under cabinets and sinks to double storage. Use hanging organizers inside cabinet doors for toilet paper rolls and cleaning supplies.

Small bathrooms need smart solutions like fold-away ladders, adjustable corner shelves, and standalone cabinets for concealed storage.

Allowing Clutter on Counters

Counter space comes at a premium in most bathrooms. But many people clutter this valuable real estate with scattered products and accessories.

Professional organizer Melinda Peer recommends, “Keep your counters clutter-free. Limit items to a soap dispenser, tissues, and 1-2 decorative items.

Store everything else in cabinets, drawers, or freestanding organizers. Under-sink storage or shelves above the toilet provide overflow space.

Peer adds, “Only keep essentials you use daily on the counter. Contain them in matching dispensers, trays, or baskets.” Frequently wipe down your counters to maintain a clean look.

Not Purging Makeup and Toiletries Regularly

It’s tempting to hang onto makeup, hair products, and skincare items long after their expiration. Professional organizer Sandra Long says to resist this urge: “Purge toiletries, cosmetics, medications, and hair products at least twice a year.

Check expiration dates and toss anything that is past its prime. This includes dried out nail polishes, crusty makeup, ineffective skin serums, and stale deodorant. Donate unopened items to charity.

For products you want to keep, decant into smaller containers to save space. Arrange everyday essentials in organizers near sinks or mirrors for easy access. Store the rest out of sight.

Failing to Clean Before Organizing

It’s difficult to organize and declutter a messy, dirty bathroom. Professional organizer Melinda Peer suggests, “Always thoroughly clean the bathroom before organizing. Toss trash, wipe down surfaces, and scrub problem areas.

Proper cleaning makes it easier to edit supplies and refresh the space. You’re able to see all available storage and what needs organizing.

Peer recommends decluttering first before cleaning. Removing unnecessary items frees up space to thoroughly scrub surfaces. Focus on cleaning high-touch areas like counters, handles, and switches.

A shiny clean bathroom makes organizing much easier and more satisfying. The space will also stay organized longer when tidy and free of grime.

Not Grouping Like Items

Storing like categories together streamlines organization and makes daily routines easier. Professional organizer Sandra Long recommends “grouping items by category and daily use.

For example, organize oral care tools together in one drawer organizer. Medications should be grouped in a designated basket or shelf. Backup soaps and shampoos can be corralled into under-sink bins.

Long notes that the most effective grouping depends on your storage options and space. The main aim is keeping related self-care, cleaning, or decor items together.

Labelling storage bins and baskets by category also helps maintain organization when others use the space.

Overlooking Wasted Back-of-Door Space

In most bathrooms, the back of the door is an often overlooked spot for adding storage. Professional organizer Sandra Long says, “Take advantage of back-of-door storage to neatly tuck away bulky or overflow items.

Install over-the-door hooks to hang backup bathrobes, towels or shower wrap. Durable over-the-door organizers have shelves and mesh pockets ideal for rolled towels, toiletries, and grooming tools.

For a custom look, mount a decorative towel ladder. Use the rungs to store extra toilet paper, rolled washcloths, spray bottles or baskets.

This vertical storage provides easy access without taking up precious floor space. Use it to hide seldom-used necessities or back stock of supplies.

Buying Storage That Doesn’t Fit Your Space

Bathroom organizational tools like shelves, drawers, and freestanding cabinets can provide much-needed storage. However, professional organizer Melinda Peer cautions, “When buying storage, carefully measure your space first.

Take detailed measurements of ceiling height, cabinet depth, plumbing locations, and available wall space. Use these measurements to shop for storage solutions that actually fit.

Peer says, “Don’t sacrifice functionality for a mismatching piece you love.” Forced-in storage just creates clutter. Seek out customizable, flexible pieces like adjustable shelves and modular cabinetry.

Measure twice to ensure new organizational additions enhance your space rather than cause new headaches.

Not Displaying Items Creatively

While organization is key, you can also creatively display favorite decorative items. Professional organizer Sandra Long recommends “using wall space and floating shelves to showcase meaningful pieces.”

Arranging a vignette of candles, greenery and framed art above a console creates a soothing focal point. Floating corner shelves can accent a tub and hold flowers or small plants.

Use a bath-safe adhesive to display photographs, art, or inspirational quotes inside the shower. For a unique touch over the toilet, mount a macrame hanger for artwork or a vine.

Add personality with these creative displays. Limit yourself to 1-2 zones to avoid looking busy or cluttered.

Forget About the Vanity Stool Storage

Many vanity stools have unused space inside that presents an organizing opportunity. Professional organizer Melinda Peer advises using this discreet storage spot.

If your vanity stool has interior space, add a tray or bin to hold toiletries, cosmetics, or grooming tools,” says Peer. This keeps them readily available when seated at the vanity.

For a stool without built-in storage, Peer recommends, “Place a basket or organizer under the stool to utilize this often-overlooked space.” Use fabric bins to corral hair accessories, skincare, or bathroom cleaning supplies.

This storage stays hidden but easily accessible. Use the stool top for a decorative tray and frequently used products.


Organizing a bathroom doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or complicated. Start by purging unused items and making the most of vertical storage. Add drawer organizers, attractive matching containers, and products to maximize space.

Group similar items by frequency of use and daily purpose. Make sure lighting is optimal. Regularly clean and edit to maintain organization.

Focus on function first when choosing storage and organizers. Take advantage of all available space, even small or hard-to-access spots.

By avoiding these common bathroom organizing mistakes, you can create a tidy, well-ordered space that is a pleasure to spend time in and easy to maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Organizing Your Bathroom

What are the best ways to organize a small bathroom?

For a small bathroom, focus on maximizing vertical storage, purging unused items, and keeping necessities organized in trays, bins and baskets. Multi-level corner shelves, hanging wall storage, and space under and over cabinets offer prime real estate for necessities.

How should I organize my bathroom cabinets?

Use bins, dividers, trays and Lazy Susans to neatly section off categories like toiletries, first aid, cosmetics, cleaning tools, etc. Label containers clearly. Store items upright and group “like with like.” Purge expired or unused products regularly to maintain the system.

What are the best over-the-toilet storage ideas?

Take advantage of the useful space over your toilet with a narrow shelving unit or cabinet to store extra toilet paper, towels, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. You can also use a wall-mounted corner shelf. Make sure plumbing is accessible.

Should I hang a bathroom organizer on the back of the door?

Yes, over-the-door storage is ideal for stashing bulky, non-daily use items like backup towels, toilet paper, shower wraps, and grooming tools. Look for durable over-the-door organizers with shelves, mesh pockets, and hooks to maximize the vertical storage.

How should I organize towels for quick access?

Roll towels neatly and store them upright in baskets or bins on open shelving or in cabinets. A freestanding ladder placed in a corner can hold rolled towels and looks decorative. Limit yourself to the number of towels needed daily.

What are quick tips for an instantly organized bathroom?