Decluttering a bathroom – 11 steps to banish the clutter for good

We've rounded up our top tips into an easy guide on how to declutter a bathroom to help create a serene space

White bathroom with vanity unit
(Image credit: Future PLC)

The bathroom can easily turn from a spa-like retreat into a clutter-filled mess if toiletries, bath toys and other essentials are left to get out of hand, but with a clear system and some clever bathroom storage ideas, decluttering a bathroom can be a simple job.  

Decluttering a bathroom works in two stages: the actual act of removing items from the bathroom, and then installing a storage system that will help prevent the clutter from building up again. 'Decluttering is all about getting organised,' says Ben Bryden, sales and marketing director at RAK Ceramics UK. 'Most modern bathrooms don't have the luxury of a lot of space, so organising those items that you don't use, or that don't need to be kept in the bathroom, is a good place to start.

'Remember, the aim is to create a functional and calming space, so taking this first step will really help when it comes to deciding what kind of storage solutions to include later.' 

How to declutter your bathroom

Before you start organising your bathroom, have a look at the space and note the problem areas. Are your current shower storage ideas cluttered with toiletries? Are cleaning products covering the floor? Or are towels overflowing from the towel rail? It is these signs that will help inform how you tackle the decluttering process. 

If you are looking for an instant dramatic result, tackling the category that has most obviously overgrown the available space is the best place to start. 

1. Empty all the bathroom cabinets

Brown bathroom drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

We're all guilty of having a bathroom drawer packed with years-old stuff, so the first step is to see exactly what you're currently storing in your bathroom. Empty every cabinet, drawer and other clever storage solution and sort it and sort into piles of keep, donate and bin. 

'A clutter-free bathroom allows for head space and a tranquil vibe – both conducive to rest and rejuvenation,' says Natalie Bird, brand marketing manager at Roca. 'Maximise your bathroom storage by having a good declutter, empty bathroom cabinets, drawers and shelving and spend a little time sorting out the contents.' 

2. Get rid of old and out of date toiletries

When deciding what to keep and get rid of, the easiest items to get rid of in a bathroom are out-of-date toiletries. Most toiletries will have either a use-by date or a number on the side of the bottle indicating the timeframe it should be used within after opening. 

'Get rid of anything old, outdated and unused – either by giving to family, friends or charity shops or by chucking items away,' says Natalie Bird at Roca. 'You should be left with the essentials as well as your favourite lotions, potions and showering or bathing must-haves.'  

3. Divide items into categories

bathroom with shelves and storage for towels and laundry

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One thing that professional organisers around the world agree on is the importance of categorising your items before putting them away. This allows you to see if you have too many of the same item and plan the storage more effectively.

Look at the items you have left in your keep pile and, if you haven't already, divide them into categories depending on how you use your bathroom. If it is a family bathroom where everyone needs their own space, do this by person. Or if everyone shares the products divide it down by product type, eg. everyday items, bath products, skincare, hair care. 

Once you can see how many products you have in each category, you can decide how much storage space to allocate to each, and whether you need to cut down on the number of some items even further. 

4. Hide cleaning products out of sight

A vanity unit is a good place to keep bathroom cleaning supplies hidden out of sight for a sleek bathroom look, but if you're fighting for storage space, consider if there is another cupboard at home that you can move them to. 

5. Invest in a bathroom vanity unit

Blue tiled bathroom with vanity

(Image credit: Future PLC / Alistair Nicholls)

After the actual act of decluttering a bathroom, the next step is to invest in a storage solution that will allow you to maintain it. Making an investment in a bathroom vanity unit is a good way to increase your storage potential. 

'Bathroom storage can often be overlooked as the bath or shower usually takes centre stage,' says Phil Etherden, managing director at The Albion Bath Co. 'Storage is incredibly important and is worth serious consideration. A beautiful vanity unit can make your basin a focal point, as well as providing the much-needed storage for cleaning materials and lotions and potions.' 

Alternatively, if you're working with small bathroom ideas a slimline trolley storage on casters or a mirror cabinet is an easy way to keep daily essentials handy.

6. Make use of an alcove

Blue alcove with built-in storage

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

Make the existing space work for you. A key part of decluttering a bathroom is identifying areas of your bathroom that could be working harder to store some of your belongings.

A small alcove may seem like an awkward space but with a bit of creativity, you can turn the space into a handy shelving area. Measure the space and cut some shelving to fit, for bespoke storage space for holding towels or it could become a space for a few decorative items. 

If you've got a couple of old crates kicking about in the shed, dust them off and secure them to the wall for some vintage-style shelving, perfect for holding loo rolls, towels and other essentials.

7. Put items away based on frequency of use

Once you have the bare bones of your storage in place, it is time to create a storage system that is easy to maintain. Similar to how to organise kitchen cabinets, this should be based on how often you use certain items. 

Frequently used items should be stored in locations with easy touch access, such as near the sink or shower. While lesser-used items can be stored on higher (or lower) shelves, just remember to keep products grouped together. 

The only exception to this is products you have multiples off, for example, extra toothpaste tubes can be kept in a general 'supplies' section ready to be swapped in when something runs out. 

However, if you find your items don't fit comfortably within the space you have, it might be a sign to further cut down on. 

8. Invest in baskets and boxes

storage shelf above door in bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

If you have open shelving or are working with large shelves in a vanity unit, baskets and boxes will also help keep things such as towels or skincare products orderly and contained. However, make sure you check the measurements before buying anything as they'll need to be small enough to fit on a shelf but big enough to store things in.

'Small boxes are brilliant for containing products for a sleek minimalist look,' says Ideal Homes Deputy Digital Editor Rebecca Knight. 'I picked up a set of small grey baskets from Wilko for £1.20 to store products in my own bathroom on a high open shelf. Not only do they look good, but I find they're easier to lift down to look through what I have.'

9. Add in decorative storage for everyday items

Glass jars on bathroom shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

Items you use every day are often the culprit for creating the impression of a cluttered bathroom. The best way to avoid this is to consider investing in strategically placed decorative bowls or boxes for hiding way items such as dental floss, nail files and toothbrushes.

'Store toothbrushes in a pot rather than keeping them on the side of the basin,' says Karl Huckerby, cleaning expert at Spare and Square. 'This not only ensures your toothbrushes are kept away from potential germs, but helps your bathroom look tidier.'

10. Use a pegboard for easy access storage

Bathroom with wooden peg board

(Image credit: Future PLC)

No matter how much space you have, it's always possible to add extra storage. Utilising the walls with a pegboard and hooks will give you a handy place to hang things like towels, flannels or sponges that need to be quick to grab. 

11. Keep the spare loo roll out of sight

Bathroom with wooden crates

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Nothing will ruin the effect of a beautiful bathroom quite like a stack of spare loo rolls stacked in the corner. Find space to store a couple of rolls in the vanity, an old crate you might have, or invest in a discreet loo roll holder. 

Where do I start decluttering when I feel overwhelmed? 

Taking things slowly is a good idea if it all feels overwhelming. 'Always start small! Start with one drawer or even the shelf in the shower,' says Jacqueline McLeod, APDO's Communications Director & founder of Bancrofts Organisation Services.

'You don't have to tackle it all in one day. It's easy to say "I'll aim to sort the whole room in a day", but it can be easier to break it down into smaller tasks based on category or zone. This really helps to consider the space and gives you the opportunity to enhance it and really create a room that aids your wellbeing.' 

White bathroom with vanity unit

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

What should you not throw out when decluttering? 

It can be tempting to want to chuck everything out and start afresh, but while this might be a quick solution, it can be a real waste. 'If you have items that are in perfectly good condition, but you no longer want or need them, consider donating them to a friend instead,' says Terry Fisher of national home-buying company WeBuyAnyHome

How do I organise my bathroom with a lot of stuff? 

Firstly, check to make sure you don't have duplicates of products. It's easy to lose an old half-used bottle of something at the back of a cupboard. Also, if you're sharing your bathroom with several family members, dividing storage up can be key to staying organised. 

'A shower caddy or shower shelving unit is great if you have a large family with a lot of bathing products,' says Ryan McDonough at MyJobQuote

'Each family member can have a dedicated shelf for storing their items. That way, everyone knows what is what and everything can be kept neat.' 

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.