Bathroom organizing mistakes – experts explain where you're going wrong and how to fix it

Where are we going wrong? Our experts explain how to better organize your bathroom to make it a more functional, stylish space

Bathroom organizing mistakes
(Image credit: Christopher Horwood / Simon Bevan / Future / McGee & Co)

Bathrooms are spaces where clutter and mess can hardly be hidden or shoved into a corner, yet many homeowners don't prioritize practical storage solutions that can significantly improve the aesthetics and functionality of their bathrooms, making some key bathroom organizing mistakes that can undermine the beauty of their bathrooms.

Indeed, there are plenty of bathroom organization ideas that our experts recommend to elevate your bathroom space. 

Whether you are planning these requirements when designing your bathroom, or have realized that something needs to change in your disorganized bathroom, our experts have you covered with these eight bathroom organizing errors and tips to fix them.

Bathroom organizing mistakes

The best way to pinpoint your individual bathroom organizing mistakes is by considering your bathroom routines and where your bathroom fails to properly and seamlessly accommodate those.

1. Overcrowding countertops and surfaces

Bathroom vanity

(Image credit: Future)

'One of the most common bathroom organizing mistakes is cluttering countertops and other surfaces with too many items,' explains Hashi Mohamed, president of Ivy Cleans. 'When you leave multiple products, toiletries, and accessories out in the open, it not only looks messy but also makes cleaning more difficult. 

'Instead, designate specific storage areas for daily essentials, and keep countertops clear for a clean and spacious appearance. Use cabinets, drawers, or storage bins to store items you don't use daily.'

To keep bathroom countertops clear, Rich Mullins, interior expert and founder of H2O Plumbing says: 'Keep hand soap and a stylish tray on the counter to corral items like toothbrushes and soap dispensers. Consider a vanity with built-in storage or add baskets beneath the sink to conceal personal care items and keep your bathroom countertop organized.'

2. Neglecting vertical storage

bathroom with tub and vertical storage with baskets under the vanity area

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'One of the biggest mistakes I see is not utilizing vertical space in the bathroom,' says Jonathan Faccone, an interior designer and the founder of Halo Homebuyers. 'Many people focus on organizing items in cabinets or on the counter but forget about using wall space for storage. This can lead to a cluttered and disorganized bathroom. 

'To overcome this mistake, consider installing bathroom shelves or hanging baskets on the walls to store items such as towels, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, [such as this Mira hanging basket, from Anthropologie]. You can also use over-the-toilet shelving units or a hanging shower caddy to maximize space.'

Bathrooms are often compact, and every inch counts. Wall-mounted storage units or hooks can hold towels and toiletries, freeing up precious counter and floor space.

There are also a number of inbuilt vertical storage options that may be preferable for those who want to create a more streamlined look, favoring a minimalist bathroom aesthetic. For example, you could install an in-built cabinet into your bathroom wall, or shelf cubbies into the side of a cabinet (see above) to discretely store essential items so they are easy to access. 

Ritika Asrani, owner of St Maarten Real Estate also recommends, 'Utilize the space behind your bathroom mirror for hidden storage. Install a medicine cabinet or consider retrofitting an existing mirror with a storage compartment. This adds a discreet yet practical storage solution for items like medications, toiletries, or even small grooming tools.'

With the ample tools to keep all bathroom items in a designated place, you can organize your bathroom shelves, hooks, and cabinets to ensure items are conveniently positioned to make using your bathroom stress-free.

3. Overlooking drawer and cabinet organization

bathroom with roll top and vintage rug and arched wall

(Image credit: Ema Peter)

Many homeowners overlook the importance of organizing their bathroom cabinets, drawers, and bathroom vanity effectively. However, with such a wide arrange of toiletry items, and general bathroom supplies, this can be a costly time-wasting error, and not to mention this lack of organization means clutter can easily accumulate.

'Bathroom cabinets and the area under the bathroom sink is often a mess due to poor organization,' says Hashi Mohamed. 'Common mistakes include not using storage containers, allowing cleaning supplies to spill and mix, or letting this space become a catch-all for random items.'

Rikki Asrani adds, 'Instead of tossing items into drawers haphazardly, invest in bathroom organizers such as drawer dividers to categorize and separate different types of products. This not only keeps things tidy but also ensures that you can quickly locate specific items, saving time during your morning routine. Look for customizable dividers that fit your drawer dimensions for an efficient organization system.' This makes a world of difference in the long run, saving you from buying duplicates because you can't find the toiletries you need. 

4. Lack of proper sorting

Green and yellow tile backsplash, stone bath, yellow stool

(Image credit: Christopher Horwood)

In the same vein as unorganized drawers and cabinetry is the mistake of not categorizing items. Besides the fact this can make finding items more difficult, it can also lead to an increase of clutter, and mean you lose track of which items you're in need of or those that have gone out of date. 

Jonathan Faccone, interior designer and founder of Halo Homebuyers says, 'A mistake I often see is holding onto unused or expired products. Not only does this take up unnecessary space, but it can also be unhygienic and potentially harmful to your skin. Take some time to go through your bathroom products and throw away anything that is expired or that you haven't used in a while. This will free up space and make your bathroom feel more organized.'

So, when investing in bathroom organizers, first categorize your items to ensure you find the appropriate containers for each category of item (skincare, haircare, cleaning supplies), then arrange your supplies so that items with the closest expiry date are at the top/front and keep new items at the back. Maintaining this organizational cycle and keeping items categorized will ensure your bathroom works efficiently and no products go to waste.

5. Inadequate lighting

Bathroom with timber wall and vanity

(Image credit: Gunter & Co.)

'Inadequate lighting can make a bathroom feel gloomy and hinder efficient organization,' says Mohammed Ahmed, founder of The Home Guidance.

Lighting is one of the most important parts of any bathroom since it is a space that often requires full visibility as well as atmospheric lighting, whether for searching for items or for shaving and applying makeup.

Mohammed Ahmed recommends, 'Use bright, task-oriented lighting near key areas such as the mirror, and shower and softer, ambient lighting for overall comfort. Proper lighting enhances the functionality and aesthetics of the space.'

You can also consider installing motion-activated lighting in dark bathroom cabinets or under vanity sinks to ensure full visibility to make it easier to organize cabinets. 

We recommend this under cabinet lights battery-operated motion sensor, from Amazon.

Mohammad Ahmed
Mohammad Ahmed

Mohammad Ahmed is an interior designer and home expert. He did his bachelor's degree in Interior Designing at the University of Minnesota in 2013 and since then has worked as an interior designer in various companies, designing functional and beautiful spaces for clients. 

In addition to his interior and exterior design skills, Mohammad is also Home expert with a talent for creating bespoke furniture and other accessories. He has been featured in popular publications such as Forbes, Yahoo, Realtor, Real Homes, Bustle, and Living etc. for his exceptional design tips.

6. Having an unattractive toilet-storage area

Toilet, pink and white tile floor

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

One bathroom organization mistake homeowners often fall into is neglecting to find aesthetically pleasing storage solutions for items stored near the toilet such as sanitary products, toilet rolls, and cleaning products. 

Part of creating a convenient flow in the bathroom is considering where to locate certain items to make accessing them most convenient, which is why many store these items on hand next to their toilets, however, these are not the most attractive items and should therefore be kept in aesthetic storage containers.

'Keep cleaning supplies accessible but organized in a designated storage area so you can easily tackle any messes as they arise,' says Anu Kurup, interior designer at Persimmon Design

7. Disorganized shower and bath areas

Neutral and minimal bathroom with wooden stool

(Image credit: McGee & Co)

Another mistake people make is ignoring the shower and bath area when organizing their bathroom.

Showers and baths often become cluttered with numerous shampoo bottles and toiletries which will ultimately mean an unrelaxing bathing experience in addition to the visual clutter this creates. 

Anu Kurup recommends, 'Don't overcrowd your shower with too many products. Use a shower caddy or corner shelves to keep your shower essentials organized and easily accessible.' For showers, we recommend this Colette shower caddy, from Pottery Barn.

Keep key items in a shower caddy, bath caddy, or a freestanding caddy, such as this bath caddy from Anthropologie, or this Brockton bamboo bath caddy from West Elm, and keep other items that are not everyday essentials stored away out of sight to keep an organized space.

8. Poor towel storage

Bathroom storage with trolley

(Image credit: Simon Bevan / Future)

A key bathroom organizing mistake is not finding appropriate storage solutions for towels. Many homeowners keep all their towels hung over radiators or on piled up on hooks, but not only can this look disorganized and messy, but will also mean wet towels sit on top of dry, leading to the build up of mildew and leaving your towels smelling.

Instead, choose a select few towels to keep on bathroom hooks next to your bath or shower and find towel storage solutions to store the rest of your towels nearby so they can be switched out at any moment. We recommend utilizing a storage basket or assigning a cupboard shelf to storing clean towels until they are ready to be used. 


Where shouldn't you store cleaning supplies in a bathroom?

'One common mistake that people make when organizing their bathroom is mixing cleaning supplies with personal items,' says David Mason, interior designer and the founder of Knobs

'This can lead to potential health hazards. Cleaning supplies often contain harsh chemicals and should not come into contact with personal items like towels, toothbrushes, or toiletries. Not only can this cause damage to your personal items, but it can also be harmful if ingested or used on the body.

'To avoid this mistake, designate a separate storage area for your cleaning
supplies and keep them away from any personal items.'

Can you store medicines in a bathroom vanity?

Although people commonly store medicines in their bathroom vanity, this can actually be a safety concern. 'Bathrooms often have fluctuating humidity and temperature levels, which can affect the potency and shelf life of medications,' warns Nathaly Vieira founder of Inspire Clean, making medicines an item never to store in a bathroom vanity.

'Everyone has different daily routines and habits, which should be considered when organizing a bathroom,' advises Muffetta Kruger, founder of Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants. 'Customized solutions based on individual habits leads to a more organized and efficient bathroom.' And when it comes to organizing your morning routine, a neatly organized bathroom is key.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.