“If you look at your entire house as one unit of junk, you’ll never do anything because the job is too overwhelming.”
Now that you’ve set up your calendar and shopping lists, it’s time to move on to eliminating clutter. It sounds like a big job, but remember, this is a blog about gradual minimalism, so we’ll take it slowly.
At first you might feel like you’re not making much progress, but if you stick with the program, you’ll see how these small steps will quickly simplify your life.
Starting with Bathroom Clutter
We’ll start with bathroom clutter. For now, we’re ignoring linens as well as cleaning and paper products. Just go through your medications, vitamins, personal hygiene products and cosmetics.
Things That Aren’t Even Good Anymore
Is there anything that expired long ago, looks dried out or otherwise deteriorated? If so, these items need to go now.
Pay special attention to gifts you’ve received. A lot of people hold on to presents like soaps and bath oils that they felt were “too pretty to use” and find that, after these gifts have spent years contributing to bathroom clutter, they’ve now gone bad.
I’ll leave the decision about more recently expired products to you. Some items will still be good, especially if they’ve never been opened. Even “expired” medications may be safe to take.
For instance, my pharmacy puts one year from the date the prescription was filled as the expiration date for every prescription medication, even when the drug manufacturer gives a longer time before expiration.
You should, of course, check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking expired medications.
Stuff You’ll Never Use
Do you have any items that are still good but you know you’ll never use them? If so, give them to friends or family or donate them to charity (a lot of homeless shelters are looking for these types of items).
If you can’t find anyone who wants them, you’ll still need to get rid of them to help avoid bathroom clutter, but make sure you dispose of medications, cleaning products and other hazardous materials safely.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Now go through what’s left and make a note of things you don’t need to buy for a while because you already have way too many of them. Unless they’re going to go bad before you’ll use them, you don’t need to get rid of any of them – just make a note of anything you don’t need to buy and keep it with your shopping list. And don’t buy any more. Even if there’s a great sale. Really.
This exception does not apply to non-consumable bathroom clutter. You can argue that you need a new toothbrush every few months so you’ll use the 5 you have, but this is not true for items that you don’t replace very often. If you have one spare comb, brush, electric razor, etc. that’s plenty. The rest should go.
If anything may go bad soon, put it where you’ll see it and remember to use it up. If it might spoil before you’ll get around to using it, try to find someone else who will use it.
Choosing New Products
With things cleaned out a bit, you might notice some products you’re about to run out of. Before you add them to your shopping list, take a few moments to think about whether these products really fulfill a need for you. If not, don’t buy more.
That seems obvious, but we often buy things out of habit rather than need or out of emotion rather than logic. Does this product make your life better? Or does it just sit in the medicine cabinet?
If you feel the product is important, think about whether you can replace multiple products with one. For instance, do you need separate shampoo and conditioner or will a combination product work for your hair? How about using a moisturizing foundation with sunscreen or a combination mouthwash and fluoride rinse?
If you use cosmetics, consider having only a small selection. You might find you’re just as happy using the same shade of lipstick every day or having only a few nail polish colors to choose from.
Also check into whether you might be able to switch to a product that’s better for the environment, costs less or is easy to make at home.
Future posts will discuss your options in more detail, but possibilities include safety razors instead of disposable razors, menstrual cups rather than tampons, vinegar and baking soda instead of commercial cleaners and homemade saline rinse instead of antihistamines.
If you decide you need to buy something, make sure you put it on your shopping list.
Over the next few days, repeat this process for any other bathrooms in your home.
I Still Have Too Much Bathroom Clutter
You probably feel like you still have too much stuff. Actually, you probably do still have way too much stuff, but that’s perfectly okay. This is a gradual process. You’ll continue decluttering your bathroom with the help of the next post, and we’ll come back to the bathroom later for a second go-round.