Next to the kitchen, the bathroom might be the most hard-working room of the house. In my home, it’s where we bathe, practice good dental hygiene, put on makeup, apply Korean face masks (me), catch up on the news (my husband), and prepare for “Crazy Hair Day” (our kids). Given the bathroom’s multifunctionality, it’s critical that the room have proper storage. But proper storage in the bathroom doesn’t just mean having enough shelving.
There are three issues unique to bathrooms that need to be considered when planning storage for this space.
- Heat and humidity: Particularly for bathrooms that don’t have proper ventilation (windows, fans), hot showers and baths can lead to mold and mildew.
- Lots of little things: Toiletries and makeup products can make organization difficult.
- Electrical bathroom tools: Electric toothbrushes, razors, and hairdryers can be a challenge to store and/or charge.
Here, 10 things to consider when figuring out what to put where in the bathroom.
1. Closed storage works best in a small bath.
We love open shelving in the kitchen, but in the bathroom? Not as much. That’s not to say it’s impossible to pull off an organized bathroom with open shelving, but having doors and drawers to hide the bits and bobs and the unattractive necessities of your get-ready routine can be a godsend.
2. Concealed isn’t the same as organized.
An addendum to the first tip: Closed storage is great—as long as you don’t use it as license to clutter it up. Take time to create another layer of organization via baskets, bins, buckets, and bags. For more ideas on how to rein in the mess in the cabinet under the sink, see 5 Tips for Under-the-Sink Organization.
3. Towel warmers are actually not meant for warming towels.
Here’s a clue: Towel warmers are also known as heated towel rails, heated towel bars, and drying racks. Yes, they will heat up towels so that you can enjoy a warm one post-shower, but what these products are really meant for is drying your towels. So, though a towel warmer may seem like an unnecessary luxury, it actually has a very utilitarian purpose. See Remodeling 101: Towel Warmers for a primer.
4. Rods dry towels better than hooks.
I will always advocate for using hooks in a kid’s bathroom; little ones are much more likely to hang up towels on a hook than to drape them neatly over a towel rod. That said, if your bathroom is windowless, go for towel bars. They will dry your towels faster than hooks.
5. An electrical outlet inside a built-in cabinet is a necessary luxury.
If you use an electrical tool that needs to be charged (toothbrushes, razors, etc.), having an outlet inside the medicine cabinet is super-useful. That way, you can keep all those items—and their unsightly cords—out of the way and behind closed doors.
6. Finding a dedicated spot for your hair dryer can be life-changing.
Another electrical tool that needs designated storage: your hair dryer. You can buy holsters or hooks designed to store the item, or you can simply hang it up in a pretty basket or a French net market bag (see Economy Class: Is This Ikea’s Best New Bargain Find? for an inexpensive version).
7. You need more than just one hand towel within reach.
Experts say that hand towels should be washed every couple days, and since I’m not convinced that all members of my household use soap when they wash their hands, I’m going to follow that advice. You should, too. Wet towels in the bathroom are breeding grounds for all sorts of pretty nasty bacteria. Keep a stack of hand towels in the bathroom so it’s easy to swap in a fresh one.
8. Medicine should never be kept in the medicine cabinet.
File this under: Irony 101. One of the worst places to store medicine is in a bathroom’s medicine cabinet. That’s because heat and humidity, both of which are common to places where we shower and bathe, can affect the efficacy of many drugs.
9. Toilet brushes need to be disinfected.
Chances are, you do what I do after cleaning with the toilet brush: flush the toilet and rinse the brush under the running water. Problem is, you haven’t truly cleaned it. To do that, you need to disinfect the brush by spraying hydrogen peroxide (a better alternative to bleach) directly onto the bristles.
10. The bath mat shouldn’t be left on the floor.
I have many domestic pet peeves, but chief among them is leaving a sopping wet bath mat on the floor. (On the spectrum of household annoyances, it’s worse than using multiple water glasses a day and equal to wearing shoes indoors, I’d say.) If you have a tub, simply drape it over the side to dry; if you don’t, consider adding a towel rod for this purpose.
For more on bathroom storage, see:
- How to Clean and Maintain the Grout and Caulk in Your Kitchen and Bath
- Remodelista Reconnaissance: A Petite Folding Towel Rack for the Bathside
- 7 DIY Bathroom Ideas to Steal from Nautical Design
N.B.: This post has been updated with new product information. It was first published April 2021