Organizing a bathroom vanity – 10 ways to order essentials

These methods for organizing a bathroom vanity will keep it spick-and-span

luxurious white bathroom with twin vanity and large walk-in wet room style shower
(Image credit: Jane Beiles/Georgia Zikas Design)

Organizing a bathroom vanity is a must to optimize its utility. It’s the key to preventing clutter and making essentials easy to locate.

Not only that, but ordering a vanity well is a pillar of organizing a bathroom well, making bathroom use more efficient when you’re in a hurry, as well as playing its part in keeping the room looking its very best. 

For a bathroom vanity that keeps everything neat and tidy, we’ve put together these guidelines together with advice from organizational experts.

Organizing a bathroom vanity

The best bathroom vanity ideas will elevate the room, but systems for ordering the space it provides are also a must to ensure the bathroom necessities don’t compromise the room’s good looks. For success in organizing a bathroom vanity, categorizing and arranging are essential, and these suggestions will assist you.

1. Think daily use

Bathroom with freestanding bath, twin vanities in gray with mirrors and lights over, rug on floor, artwork on wall and neutral walls and flooring

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Davide Lovatti)

There’s a great rule that anyone organizing a bathroom vanity should be aware of. ‘The vanity is the prime real estate of your bathroom and only daily use items deserve to live here,’ says Janet Bernstein, certified professional organizer and owner of The Organizing Professionals (opens in new tab).

The vanity doesn’t have to contain absolutely everything that’s in everyday use, of course. A few select items can be kept on display when organizing a bathroom countertop, while a few might be on show as part of organizing bathroom shelves.

For items that aren’t used daily, an organized bathroom closet is an alternative spot. Meanwhile, large towels might be kept outside the room as part of organizing a linen closet.

2. Edit a vanity’s contents

Start with a clean sheet for an organized vanity with these decluttering tips. ‘Remove all items from the drawer in order to see what you have,’ says professional organizer Barbara Brock, founder and CEO of Beauty & The Box (opens in new tab) and past president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, New York chapter.

Next put like with like. ‘Sort all items into categories. Look at what you have: makeup, men’s products, hair products, skin care, travel drawer.’

Once categorizing is done? ‘Decide on what you’d like to live in this drawer,’ says Barbara. 

3. Divide and rule

Bathroom vanity with drawer open with bath in room with neutral floor tile

(Image credit: Utopia)

Another of the principles crucial when organizing a bathroom vanity is to use drawer dividers.

’There’s nothing worse than opening a drawer to items that don’t have a home,’ says founder and director of Juliettes Interiors (opens in new tab), Juliette Thomas. ‘Make sure you organize in a way that will have you finding the things you’re looking for instantly – no one has time to go rummaging in drawers. Have separate sections for different uses, such as moisturizers, bath products, teeth cleaning, body wash etc. Keep the top drawers for the items used the most and lower drawers for items not so often used.’ 

Steven Jaques, national development manager for Pelipal at InHouse Inspired Room Design (opens in new tab) agrees when it comes to organizing under a bathroom sink. ’Although makeup and accessories that are stowed away inside the vanity do not have to be aesthetically arranged, ensure that it is kept functional with ergonomic drawer dividers to stop all your products spilling out back on to the countertop.’

4. Customize a vanity drawer

While some vanities are fitted with drawer dividers, it may be necessary to customize one without. If that’s the case, always determine what the daily use items that are going to be kept there are, and then measure the drawers and purchase vanity organizers for these items, advises Janet Bernstein.

‘Do not do this step in reverse (meaning buy drawer organizers then try to cram your items into small containers),’ she cautions.

5. Plan for mornings and evenings

Bathroom with double vanity and mirror above, patterned floor tile and tub

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Mel Yates)

If there are two drawers available for each of the people sharing, this method for organizing a bathroom vanity from professional home organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space (opens in new tab) could prove effective. 

Create a personal morning drawer with ‘everything in the drawer that you need for getting ready in the morning. This could be for oral hygiene, makeup, medications,’ Brenda explains. 

A second drawer should be a personal evening drawer containing ‘everything that you need for getting ready for bed,’ she says. ‘There’ll be times of cross over to the morning drawer but don’t buy duplicates, just open the other drawer,’ she adds.

6. Cater for the whole family

With fewer vanity drawers than two per person another method may be required for sharing the vanity. ‘Have a drawer or set of drawers for each family member (labeled) and this is where their items are kept,’ suggests Brenda Scott. ‘Use drawer dividers to keep items corralled and tidy.’

It won’t be possible to have dedicated morning and evening space with this option. ‘Vanity drawers should hold everything that you need to start and end the day,’ she says.

7. Bring in baskets

Bathroom with vanity with twin basins, toilet and shelves above, neutral floor and wall tile and white walls above

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Jan Baldwin)

A vanity with a shelf below the drawer runs the risk of attracting unsightly clutter to its open space, making the bathroom feel hectic. To prevent mess, find baskets to fit the shelf, which will also have the benefit of adding a contrasting natural texture to the bathroom design.

These are the perfect place to put fresh towels or washcloths for use at the sink. They’ll create spa style for the room, too.

8. Collect makeup brushes

One of the daily use collections in a bathroom vanity is likely to be a set of makeup brushes, and you might want to adopt this tactic for organizing them, alongside employing one of the best makeup organizers.

‘Makeup brushes take up much less space when stored vertically in a small round container or glass,’ says Janet Bernstein. ‘Many bathroom vanities have nice deep drawers so make use of the vertical space.’

9. Corral in a cabinet

Bathroom with double vanity in pink with gray wall cabinets above, cabinet above WC, shower, patterned floor tile and gray tile floor

(Image credit: Utopia)

When it’s organizing a bathroom cabinet rather than drawer style, organizing a bathroom vanity might need some interior additions for the smaller of its contents. Clear containers can hold them and make them quick to locate, while baskets are ideal for larger supplies. Lazy Susans can make essentials easy to grab.

As for maximizing vertical space: ‘If you have a vanity that doesn’t have drawers, you can purchase a set of freestanding tiered drawers that fit under the sink,’ advises Brenda Scott.

10. Keep an eye on shelf life

Even the most perfectly organized bathroom vanity can accumulate items over time. The best way to stop this happening is to recheck the contents periodically. Look at all the cosmetics and beauty products in the vanity, which will indicate their shelf life on the packaging. Get rid of anything that’s out of date. 

And, past their best or not, if there are items no longer used, be sure to remove them and dispose of them appropriately to maintain a clutter-free vanity.

And if you are organizing a medicine cabinet within your vanity, the same applies; you may also want to ensure this vanity drawer is lockable.

How do I organize a bathroom vanity drawer?

To organize a bathroom vanity drawer remove everything and dispose of items that are no longer required or in date. Keep out anything that isn’t used daily so it can be put away elsewhere.

After that collecting together like with like and allocating a section of the drawer for each group is the easiest way to organize a single drawer. If the drawer doesn’t have dividers, purchase some to fit to keep items tidy.

What should I put in my vanity drawer?

A bathroom vanity drawer should be dedicated to those items that are needed daily whether you’re organizing a small bathroom or a bigger room. Think cosmetics and brushes and sponges, hair products, face and body lotions, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and so on. Be careful with medications. Although it’s convenient to keep them in the bathroom, check the labels as the conditions may not be suitable and when that’s the case, they’ll need to kept outside the bathroom.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.