My college roommate still jokes about my cleaning skills for the bathroom. She hated cleaning it and I couldn’t stand it dirty, so that job fell to me. I didn’t mind because I wanted it kept clean. An uncluttered bathroom is another story. I think of myself as fairly low key when it comes to fashion and grooming. But as a woman, we are the target audience for many advertisements and giveaways and trials. Even the low maintenance among us will probably find a variety of uninvited products that have found their way into our bathrooms. Additionally, this is one area that I was probably the worst at putting things away. I would leave out bottles and brushes because I knew they would be used daily if not more frequently. But since becoming a minimalist, the bathroom area has become one of the easiest to maintain and is one that many a minimalist would applaud me on. Our counters are clear 99% of the time and I’ve cleared out all but the necessities.
A couple of months ago my husband and I were invited to a nice banquet. I was excited to get dressed up (a homeschool mom’s life does not hold much glamour). The excitement rubbed off on my daughter who begged to pamper me as I got ready. If you know us, you know that she could be named Fancy Nancy. I was hesitant but gave in and the below picture is her pulling out all the stops (and every little beauty item of hers and mine put together.)
Ok, the clippers were out for me to cut Andrei’s hair. But you get the picture….chaos, clutter, and for mama, ANXIETY. Now, all that aside she did have fun making me choose nail polish and lotions and massaging my hands and feet.
The next picture is what a somewhat typical morning could look like if I left things out–except I rarely curl my hair with curlers.
This last picture is what it looks like everyday.
Serenity. A vase with seashells, soap, towel and toothbrushes. We’ve discussed putting toothbrushes under the sink, but that has not been agreed on.
So, if this is truly my bathroom everyday-and it is- when for years it looked like one or both of the previous pictures, how does that happen?
1. Completely clean out the cabinets underneath. Go through Every.Single.Item. Just because you’ve had that 1/2″ curling iron since you were in middle school doesn’t mean you need to keep it. ONLY keep the things that you need and use regularly. I had a fairly large bag full of samples, freebies, & hotel soaps. I cleaned those out either trashing the ones that were old or giving away samples I knew I would not use and using the rest. Clean out the makeup you don’t like or use or match, hair products that no longer suit your style, etc.
2. Have a space for everything and return it there AS SOON AS YOU ARE FINISHED. In most people’s case, when getting ready and doing the bathroom routine, you are in a small space and everything is right there. Putting it away as soon as you are finished takes a second or two. Compare that to later in the day when you have 10 things left out on the sink. Its stresses you out and makes you feel like you need time to clean. It took me a while but once in the habit and seeing the peacefulness of having a clutter free sink all the time, there’s no temptation to leave things out.
3. Consider ways you can simplify your beauty routine. It will save time, space, and money. As I mentioned earlier, women are the targets for a plethora of advertisements. Many of those are aimed at our looks, resulting in us buying multiple unnecessary products for every part of our body in an effort to live up to expectations that are not realistic. I fully admit to wearing makeup and using some products, but I have cut out some that were overkill or from me thinking that I had to have it.
4. Considering #3, this might seem odd, but use your products! I would receive nice soaps or lotions or buy a nice hair product and then rarely use it. They are basically just renting space that could be put to use if you’re NOT going to use them. You have it, use it and enjoy it! If it was a gift but you can’t stand the scent, toss it or give it away. Becoming a minimalist taught me about some of my “hoarding” tendencies–not like someone on the TV show, but just the tendency to wait on using things or scared that “someday” I might need it. Author Shauna Niequist recently wrote a blog post about this concept and I loved it! She said, “Open the jam, the journal, the wine. Slather that fancy lotion all over your feet. Put on those sparkly earrings even if you’re just going to the grocery store. Because someone gave them to you out of love. Accept that love. Burn the candles.”
The bathroom is a place of specific utility and usually one of the smallest rooms in our home. By clearing out this space and changing our mindset and habits, keeping it streamlined and clutter-free really is within reach.